FRANKFORT, Ky. — A Citizens' Institute on Rural Design (CIRD) conference Oct. 29-31 at the Center for Rural Development, in Somerset, will explore using the arts to invigorate communities in eastern Kentucky.

The Central Appalachian Institute for Research and Development (CAIRD) was one of four organizations in the nation chosen to host a CIRD event this year. CIRD conferences bring together local leaders, nonprofits, community organizations and citizens with a team of specialists in design, planning, and creative placemaking to address design challenges identified by rural communities with populations of 50,000 or less.

Conference topics will include integrating arts and culture into existing community plans, and raising awareness about how artist and craft businesses can serve as economic engines in the eastern region of the state. The workshop will bring together a wide range of participants including local elected officials, tourism experts, arts organizations, cultural heritage experts, Kentucky Arts Council staff, and federal government officials. Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Bob Stewart will address the conference on Oct. 30.

"Evidence continues to emerge linking arts, culture and creative placemaking endeavors with economic revitalization in small communities," said Lori Meadows, arts council executive director. "We hope community stakeholders who are interested in creating sustainable projects driven by arts and culture will attend this conference."

Presenters for the event include Ed Barlow, with North Star Destination Strategies; Sarah Evans, with Southeast South-Central Educational Cooperative; Berea Mayor Steven Connelly; Anne Gadwa Nicodemus, with Metris Arts Consulting; June Holley, formerly with Appalachian Center for Economic Networks; Linda Caldwell, with the Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association; and representatives from the state arts agency. Interactive roundtable and action planning sessions will engage participants in lively discourse and encourage critical and creative thinking.

Registration for the event is free and online at http://upike-board.com/cairdconnect/home/citizens-institute-on-rural-design/event-registration.

The Citizens' Institute on Rural Design is a National Endowment for the Arts leadership initiative in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Project for Public Spaces, Inc., along with the Orton Family Foundation and the CommunityMatters® Partnership. Established in 1991, CIRD has convened more than 60 rural design workshops in all regions of the country, empowering residents to leverage local assets in order to build better places to live, work, and play.

CAIRD is a non-profit, 501(c)3, public policy organization. Through applied research, the organization is dedicated to driving long-term development strategies to alleviate economic distress in eastern Kentucky and central Appalachia. The organization strives to connect research with results to improve economic, community, and educational development strategies for sustainable progress.

The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, creates opportunities for Kentuckians to value, participate in and benefit from the arts. Kentucky Arts Council funding is provided by the Kentucky General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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