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Conference builds communities through art

A week ago the Austin Area Commission for the Arts staff had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Rural Arts and Cultural Summit in Morris, Minn. through support from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council.

The Rural Arts and Cultural Summit occurs every other year and is a gathering of leaders from all over the country to share innovative models for bridging partnerships between the arts and community issues, such as health, environment, sense of place, livability and economic development.

This year’s Summit was called, “Leveraging Arts and Culture to Build Thriving Communities.” It celebrated the transformative power of arts-based community development in rural towns. There were numerous examples of communities throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin that have been reinvigorated through their cultural activities. Some more well known examples, including the towns of New York Mills, Lanesboro, and Brainerd.

Others like New London, Minn., and Reedsburg, Wis., are becoming more known, and have had just as important of an impact. The creativity happening in these communities have improved the quality of life for their residents, and have made them destinations for visitors.

It is the AACA’s goal to transform Austin through creative activities so it too will be known as a community enhanced by its cultural activities.

The Austin ArtWorks Festival has been a tremendous step in this direction, and we hope to develop other ideas to enliven our community.

Do your part to support creative community events happening now and throughout the summer at the Historic Paramount Theatre, Summerset Theatre, Hormel Historic Home and the Austin Area Art Center.

The next event at the Paramount is the Texaco Country Showdown, when 13 local contestants compete to be the next country music star at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 22.

Tickets can be purchased online at paramounttheatre.org.