NEA grant to help UI study how art can strengthen rural communities

NEA grant to help UI study how art can strengthen rural communities

The University of Iowa has received a $150,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to investigate how the arts build and strengthen a sense of community in rural areas, and contribute to entrepreneurship and innovation.

Charles Fluharty, director of the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI) in the UI College of Public Health, says these dynamics have been extensively studied in urban areas but seldom in a rural context. Because arts and culture play a significant role in contributing to a vibrant rural quality of life, Fluharty says learning more about art in rural communities will help assure policy makers and philanthropies invest in rural places too.

“In today’s economy, young workers no longer just search for jobs; they seek out places with the amenities and quality of life in which they hope to live, and the jobs find these workers,” Fluharty says, “Art and culture is essential to building rural communities where the next generation wants to live, engage, and raise their families.”

Fluharty says the arts also offer a place where rural and urban residents can rediscover their commonalities and begin to reach across the deepening cultural chasm between them.

To pursue these goals, RUPRI has established a national Rural Intercultural Policy Council with the Minnesota-based Art of the Rural. The grant is part of a new NEA Research Labs initiative into how the arts contribute to positive outcomes for individuals and communities in projects involving the arts, health care, education, business, and management.


Tom Snee, Office of Strategic Communication, 319-384-0010 (office), 319-541-8434 (cell)