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Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

The first-ever Rural Arts and Culture Summit in Minnesota is coming to this area in June -- and you can help to develop arts, history and cultural enrichment opportunities by being a part of it.

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"We're really excited about this," said Amy Stoller Stearns, director of the Historic Holmes Theatre in Detroit Lakes, who is part of the planning committee for the summit. "This is the first time anything like this has been offered in this area."

Vicki Chepulis, communications director for the summit, said that rural arts and cultural organizations face "unique challenges" that are quite different from their urban counterparts -- and that's what this summit is all about.

"We're coming together so we can figure out how to take the work we do and use it to strengthen the communities in which we live," she said. "We want to address not just the arts, but historical organizations, libraries... we've tried to make this really broad, and to attract people from other states as well."

The summit will be held June 8-11 on the campus of Minnesota State Community & Technical College in Fergus Falls.

"It's a wonderful facility," Stearns said, noting that there is a wide variety of art on display for participants to enjoy.

Though the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, established through a constitutional amendment approved by the state's voters in 2008, has greatly expanded the number and variety of such opportunities available in rural areas, there is much more that can be done, Chepulis said.

"The arts can play an even broader role than people have envisioned in the past," she continued. "It's an $8 billion industry in Minnesota alone -- and that doesn't even factor in the history and cultural aspect."

Besides the economic impact, is also a psychological and emotional benefit to expanding area arts opportunities, said Chepulis.

"In order for people to thrive and be happy, they need access to the arts," she added.

"There are a whole lot of creative folk in this area," Stearns noted -- and this summit will provide an opportunity for them to meet and interact with people involved in arts and cultural organizations from all over the region.

There will be three nationally known keynote speakers taking part in the conference, including:

• Bill Cleveland, founder and director of the Center for the Study of Arts and the Community, as well as an author of several books, including Art in Other Places and Art and Upheaval. He will share his 30 years of experience in building caring and capable communities in the U.S. and across the world.

• Anne Katz, executive director of Arts Wisconsin. She will discuss local, statewide, national and global trends and issues in cultural development, education for the 21st century, and vibrant quality of life. She will provide best practices and actions for arts leaders to speak up for the arts, arts education and creative economy as "part of the solution" for rural America.

• Donna Walker-Kuhne, acknowledged as the nation's foremost expert in audience development by the Arts and Business Council, and author of Invitation to the Party, who has devoted her professional career to increasing access to the arts. She will provide summit attendees with isights and strategies for engaging new and diverse audiences and participants in rural arts and cultural organizations.

A pre-conference presentation on "The Minnesota Legacy Amendment: Living Out the Trust of the People's Investment," will take place on the Wednesday afternoon prior to the summit, June 8.

There will also be over 60 breakout sessions, led by professionals who will explore specialized topics such as building collaborations and networks, board and volunteer development, marketing and public relations, development and fundraising, outreach and advocacy, and much more.

A variety of performing artists from the Midwest will also be featured at the summit, including Chuck Suchy, Kevin Kling, Zeitgeist and the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra.

Continuing education units (CEUs) will be provided free of charge, through Minnesota State University Moorhead, for those who would like them.

There will be an early registration discount to those who sign up before Sunday, May 15, Stearns said. Those who sign up before the deadline can attend all three days (with meals included) for just $100; after that, the cost goes up to $125. If you register the day of the conference, the price goes up to $150.

According to Chepulis, scholarships are also available through Lake Region Arts Council for Detroit Lakes area residents who would like to attend, but cannot afford the registration fee. Call 218-739-5780 for more information.

For more information about the event, visit www.racsummit.org, send e-mail to racsummit2011@gmail.com, or call Vicki Chepulis, 701-200-1375, or Rebecca Petersen, 218-736-5453.

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