What is the Rural Arts Initative (RAI)

Rural Arts Initiative was a new endeavor of AAEC, with a plan to recruit 5 rural Alaskan districts to join us and work together to expand arts and cultural arts in their schools and communities.  We spread the word to smaller rural districts and eventually selected the five districts listed below:

Alaska Gateway
Lower Kuskokwim
Lower Yukon

The next step was to hire an RAI Coordinator and we were very lucky to find Maite Agopian who was well-qualified and looking for a little more work!

The overarching goal of the Rural Arts Initiative (RAI) is to expand arts access, equity and quality for Alaskan rural students by increasing the competence and confidence of educators to more fully integrate the arts.

Goals for the Rural Arts Initiative in Alaska
•Build and support district educators and community partners to be leaders and advocates for increased arts
learning for all students in each district
•Develop a multi-year, multi-dimensional Arts Action Plan with each district
•Co-Sponsor place-based and culture-based professional development in the arts suited to the needs and
interests of each district
•Nurture other local/regional partners to be active supporters and resources in project activities

Important Events

In January 2023, we convened the first meeting of the entire cohort. We met in the conference room of the Alaska State Council on the Arts, which was wonderful.  At this time representatives worked through the AAEC ‘continuum’ that helped them identify district strengths and weaknesses.  Each district planned to hold an event during the spring and plan for one at the beginning of the school year.

At this point in time, AAEC was working off of a small grant from the Alaska State Council for the Arts.  Since then our Sustainability committee has bee actively applying for grants to support these districts, and many are excelling on their own account.

Support and Awards

•  Alaska State Council on the Arts, Adaptation and Innovation Grant, 2022.  Funds used to support convening.

•. Block Foundation, April 2024.  Funds will be used to support Arts and Cultural Arts events in one or more rural districts.

Below is a recent article from Nome: Nome RAI Arts article

Also below is a recent article from Skagway:Skagway art article