Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Arts residencies can have an outsized impact on rural economies and culture; some national parks have them too

"Across the country, hotels, resorts, and even national parks, are offering residencies for artists to help draw in inspiration. Along the way, these rural communities are feeling the effects – both culturally and economically – of new life coming into the community and energizing and offering a new perspective from people who may not otherwise have had the chance to meet locals," Kristi Eaton reports for The Daily Yonder. "Call it rural arts tourism, and it’s catching on across the country."

Rural artist residencies can benefit both artists and communities for little cost. In Maupin, Oregon, for example, the owners of a local cabin resort offer artists free lodging and quiet time to work. In exchange, owners Michelle Taylor and Andy McFarlane ask them to contribute a work from their time at the cabins to add to its permanent collection, Eaton reports.

Taylor said they've gotten plenty of applicants since they launched the program this year, and that it had brought a lot of excitement and optimism to the community of about 450. Tourists, too. "You have folks coming in in droves from places like Portland and Tacoma, and places, far and wide, to see artists and be a part of something," McFarlane told Eaton. That boosts the local economy since they're eating at local restaurants and staying in local hotels.

Local governments aren't the only ones who recognize the benefits of bringing in artists; the National Park Service also has artist-in-residence programs at many of its national parks. "Depending on the location, residencies are open to writers, photographers, composers and other arts-based workers," Eaton reports.

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