From the Field: Imagining the future of artists as economic developers
From the Field is Springboard’s new virtual conversation series that brings together artists who are reimagining the future of rural America. These artist-to-artist talks will explore rural-specific topics such as COVID response and recovery, equity and justice, food systems and agriculture, and more, through the lens of rural artists, culture bearers and makers. This series is an extension of Springboard for the Arts’ Rural Arts and Culture Summit, which is a biennial gathering of rural artists and practitioners.
From the Field: Imagining the future of artists as economic developers is a conversation with Em Johnson and Jack Forinash from Blue Sky Center (Cuyama, CA), hosted by Drew Digby from Arrowhead Regional Arts Council (Duluth, MN).
Date: Friday, November 13, 1:00 - 2:30 pm
Online Platform: Zoom, register with the link at the bottom of this page
Recording: This workshop will be recorded.
Captions: This workshop will be captioned.
Through measured and deliberate work, Em Johnson has been leading rural innovation through social enterprises and systems thinking with Blue Sky Center since 2016. She is motivated by holistic community investment that uses celebratory tools of art and creative community engagement, often bringing people together over food. In the Cuyama Valley, Em connects people to resources, developing a self-sufficient model by blending entrepreneurial initiatives to reclaim the power of rural resiliency.
Jack Forinash’s role at Blue Sky Center - and in the Cuyama Valley as a community member - has focused on seeking a definition of Cuyama that is quantified, verified, and self-determined. With an attention to detail and a love of spreadsheets, Jack focuses rural development discussions on the importance of data in communicating the human experience of a place. For the past sixteen years, Jack has preferred to make his home in towns of 1,000 or less, believing that by having the opportunity to know everyone by face and name we have the best chance to exhibit a civil society.
Drew Digby is the executive director of the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council. ARAC serves more than 18,000 square miles of Northeastern Minnesota as part of Minnesota’s system of regional arts councils, providing grants and services to artists and arts organizations. Digby currently serves as the President of the Forum of Regional Arts Councils of Minnesota and as a board member for Minnesota Citizens for the Arts. Prior to ARAC, Digby worked in economic and community development, taught at the University of Minnesota Duluth, and worked as a journalist. He ran a pop-up art gallery in Duluth called Studio 3 West that was part of his consulting business that helps artists with career and business strategies. Digby holds an MA in History from the University of Chicago, as well as a BA in Religious Studies from the University of California at Berkeley.