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Methods

For this study, key informants were interviewed to explore how the arts have the potential to alleviate poverty in rural towns in the northeast of the USA. Four leaders in the rural cultural arts were interviewed in the autumn of 2015. A combination of purposive and snowball sampling was used to identify a sample of informants who had expertise in cultural tourism and knowledge of how rural areas are incubating and attracting artists as a means of revitalization (Table 10.1).

Interviews were semi-structured, with open-ended questions about how the arts might affect rural poverty. Three interviews were done by telephone and one was conducted in person. Interviews lasted from 30 min to 2 h. Results were supported by findings from the literature.

Data from the interviews are presented by arts-based strategies for economic development adapted from Tom Borrup’s The Creative Community Builder’s Handbook (Borrup, 2006). For the purposes of this study, Borrup’s five categories2 were slightly modified and compressed into four: providing direct employment, attracting investment and improving property values, keeping it local and equitable, and cultural tourism.

Table 10.1. Study participants. (From: US Census Bureau, 2010; US Census Bureau American Community Survey 5-Year Estimate, 2010-2014.)

Informant

Affiliation

Geographic area

Population

Individuals

below

poverty level

Meri Jenkins

Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC)

State of

Massachusetts

6.56 million

11.6%

Carmela

Lanza-Weil

Greater Shelburne Falls Area Business Association

Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts

1731

14.5%

Robert

McBride

Rockingham Arts and Museum Project (RAMP)

Bellows Falls, Vermont

3039

17.5%

Matthew

Glassman

Double Edge Theatre

Ashfield,

Massachusetts

1737

7.7%

 
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