Roundtable: Reaching the Rural: Collections Sharing and Outreach in Rural Communities

From 2016 through 2019, Vero Rose Smith managed the Legacies for Iowa Collections Sharing Project. This privately funded program facilitated 15 high caliber art exhibitions and 137 public programs in partnership with arts organizations across the state. Brady Plunger came to the Stanley in 2017 to direct the museum’s path-breaking statewide K-12 initiative, Stanley School Programs–a privately funded program begun in 2008 that brought works of art from a specially curated education collection into classrooms around Iowa. By 2019 the program reached over 80,000 students in 32 Iowa counties and presented objects from a collection of over 800 original works of art. In this roundtable discussion, we will explore strategies to support art in rural places. Facilitators will share experiences in managing statewide rural arts outreach programs for a public university, and will invite participants to discuss ways in which institutions of higher education can help art thrive outside of major cities and off campus. Facilitators will speak to funding challenges and shifting institutional priorities as well as on-the ground techniques for fostering engagement. 

Brady Plunger, Associate Curator of Education at the University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art

Vero Smith, Associate Curator, University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art