This rural panel, cosponsored with the Center for Rural Strategies, art and Place gathering Double Edge Theater
took place as part of Double Edge Theater's Art and Place Gathering held in Ashfield, MA, August 8, 2010. The gathering examined the role of place in the creation of art, and the impact of that art on the community in which it is created and brought together artists, writers, policy makers, and community members for intimate, challenging discussions.  The Rural Conversation panel featured Caron Atlas, Arts & Democracy Project; Katharine Pearson Criss and Edeyal Casasperalta, Center for Rural Strategies; Amy Trompetter; Elizabeth Barret, Appalshop; and Russell Peotter, WGBY public television.

Framing questions:  If metro-centric points of view are dominant in the arts, yet eighty percent of our country’s land and one-fifth of our people are rural, aren’t rural communites worthy of focus?  Is there a different art or a different quality of place?  How does art impact a rural community, culturally and economically?

These and other questions are central to the work of the participants present today.  Each has a valuable insight into the life and culture of their community and the way in which culture plays a central role.  We have asked them to make a statement about the context for their work and to think on  three questions:

What are some of the lessons learned in doing their work  in and with rural communities; what are their key questions still present in their work; and how does the work relate to the national and international context.

Finally, each participant is asked to tell a story about the future of rural and to say one thing about the importance of rural identity in the global marketplace.

We will welcome comments, questions and participation from all those present.