The New Mexico Building Creative Communities Conference fosters collaborative local and state efforts that integrate commercial district revitalization, arts, tourism and preservation.

Only through interdisciplinary strategies can our communities dynamically sustain effective initiatives and be resilient in the face of economic challenges.

At the opening ceremony, internationally accomplished dance artist and choreographer Rulan Tangen brings her ensemble, Dancing Earth, to perform a new piece she has designed to celebrate the theme of our 2015 event, Connecting Creative Communities. This beautiful performance honors diverse grassroots values and collective leadership, shows dance as an inspirational ritual that promotes hometown healing and transformation, and reminds us to open our hearts to make a conscious connection with ourselves, others, and the spirit of community.

With his lunch plenary keynote presentation, At the Crossroads: Arts Trails, Tourism and the Creative Economy, Malcolm White frames Wednesday afternoon's curriculum. Every corner of the world has its own signature music, art, and literature. There’s something magic in every land. The state of Mississippi, like New Mexico, has a depth of cultural richness that few regions can rival. Writers, painters, potters, visual artists, and performing artists call the region home. For visitors who wish to experience the richness of Mississippi culture, trails programs help them navigate the wealth of the Mississippi’s musical heritage. As the former director of Mississippi’s state arts agency and its current tourism director, Malcolm White is especially qualified to share his experience successfully developing trails and other programs in an arts-rich and rural state.

Daniel Marriott kicks Thursday off with a breakfast keynote, Historic Roads: Paths to Great Places and Corridors to Sustainable Futures. When New Mexicans learn about the transportation dynamics that historically created our wonderful array of communities, we can better harness current forces to build great places. Conference attendees then have the option Thursday to choose sessions from two educational tracks, Cultural Corridors or Placemaking.

Friday focuses on cultural landscapes -- the amazing natural landscapes that indigenous people as well as newcomers found here and still find, and the built environment, how those two interact to build creative communities, plus how artists help us to interpret and appreciate it all.  Breakfast keynote speaker Sylvia Rodriguez shares her long-developed understanding of New Mexico acequias to illustrate how a life-sustaining natural resource shapes community resource allocation, rituals and respect. Acequia agriculture extended riparian habitats, transformed regional ecology, and created the cultivated New Mexican landscape we see today. Ditches divert, divide, and deliver water to crops and livestock. They form borders and pathways. They connect and define communities of irrigators who manage water as a commons. They sustain biodiversity along riparian corridors and replenish underground aquifers wherever they reach. The ritual / cultural activities of procession and ditch cleaning inscribe the bodies that perform them and publicly enact personal commitment to a community of place.

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