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NEWS: Springboard for the Arts Announces Rural Regenerator Fellow Cohort

The inaugural cohort in Springboard for the Arts’ Rural Regenerator Fellowship.

Springboard for the Arts announced today its inaugural cohort of Rural Regenerator Fellows.

Springboard for the Arts has selected 11 Rural Regenerator Fellows for 2021. All fellows live or work in communities of at most 50,000 people, located across the Upper Midwest (Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, and Native Nations that share those geographies). Each fellow will receive $10,000 in flexible funds to support their existing work or to launch a new project in their community, and will participate in two years of learning exchanges with their fellow rural artists.

The peer selection process prioritized people who are Black, Indigenous, Native, People of Color, LGBTQIA+, women and gender non-binary people, and/or people with disabilities. The inaugural cohort of Rural Regenerators includes:

  • Alice M. McGary (Rural Central Iowa)
  • Amber Hansen (Vermillion, South Dakota)
  • Annie Hough (North Moorhead, Minnesota)
  • Bethany Lacktorin (Ordway Prairie in Pope County, Minnesota)
  • Elisha Marin (Albert Lea, Minnesota)
  • J Erin Hutchinson (Herbster, Wisconsin)
  • Inkpa Mani (Wheaton, Minnesota)
  • Mai’a Williams (Winona, Minnesota)
  • Molly Hassler (Watertown and Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
  • Sandra Kern Mollman (North of Vermillion, South Dakota)
  • Talon Bazille (Bad Nation, South Dakota)

This inaugural cohort brings a very diverse pool of experience and expertise: individual artists, makers, and culture bearers, grassroots organizers, community development workers, public sector workers, and other rural changemakers. With this diversity, the cohort is united by a common commitment to advancing the role of art, culture and creativity in rural development and community building. For the next two years, they will problem-solve together on specific rural issues and build community and collective knowledge on equitable post-pandemic relief and recovery, and questions of community care, land stewardship and creative people power.

“This is one of few programs in the United States that provides unrestricted financial support and long term learning exchanges between rural artists, and it’s long overdue,” said Michele Anderson, the Rural Program Director at Springboard for the Arts. “The artists in this cohort have been doing essential work in their communities. They see wild possibilities when communities are most stuck, and they use art, culture and creativity to help reframe challenges and opportunities, build relationships, repair historic harms, and dream big about a future that works better for everyone.”

One of the purposes of the fellowship is to empower these artists with the financial resource to take their work to the next level. “They’re doing much of this work without consistent or reliable resources and without opportunities to learn deeply with other rural practitioners,” said Anderson. “We’re so excited to support and amplify their work, and to learn alongside them about the best ways to sustain and expand the impact of rural artists in general.”

Springboard’s Rural Program, based in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, recently celebrated its 10 year anniversary. The new Rural Regenerator Fellowship expands on Springboard’s work supporting and connecting creative rural leaders in the upper Midwest who are committed to strengthening their communities through art, culture and creativity. The Rural Regenerator Fellowship will initially support three cohorts between 2021 and 2025, with applications opening for the second cohort in Spring 2022.

For more information about the Rural Regenerator Fellows, see:

Twin Cities Arts Reader