Aspen Art Museum wins federal grant to fund rural programs |

Aspen Art Museum wins federal grant to fund rural programs

Staff report

The Aspen Art Museum has been awarded a $102,000 federal grant to support its new three-year Rural Arts Connect initiative.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Museums for America Award Grant will back the new Rural Arts Connect program to better understand how art museums in rural areas can take more expansive roles in addressing arts-based community service in remote geographies. It also will research the role that art itself plays in catalyzing connectivity and addressing community needs through partnerships and civic engagement.

As the only accredited art museum on Colorado’s Western Slope, the museum is uniquely positioned as a community anchor.

In 2017, the museum was among 10 national institutions awarded an IMLS National Medal, the nation’s highest award for museum and library community service. Since then, the institution launched an ambitious initiative to bring museum programming and art education to K-12 schools in the rural and underserved communities within a 100-mile radius of Aspen. The new America Community Anchors Grant will allow the museum to expand these programs outside of school settings and develop and tailor reflective practices for rural art museum community programming.

The leadership of the Rural Arts Connect met for the first time in September, bringing together nine regional arts leaders for a “launch convening” at the museum. Ultimately the museum will bring together national museums from rural areas to review the initiatives findings and methodologies for better serving rural communities across the U.S.

As the only accredited art museum on the Western Slope, the Aspen Art Museum has in recent years widely expanded its education and access programs for the region and for underserved local populations, including the popular Arte en Espanol for Spanish-speakers, programs for seniors and people with autism, at the Pitkin County Jail and the Youth Recovery Center.

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