Savannah Exchange works as the Exchange Director for Art of the Rural and co-founder of the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange. She has two decades of experience in cultural organizing and arts administration, beginning with a local arts agency she helped to found in high school, and more recently as National Programs Director at the Rural Policy Research Institute.
She was raised in Grayson County, Kentucky where her family has lived for twelve generations, and now lives in South Louisville, in one of Kentucky’s most diverse neighborhoods. She says that living between these worlds has shown her that “when we invest our time, our hearts, and our resources in common ground, we find it. That kind of bridging requires trust, and trust is achieved through relationships. If we can create the conditions for folks to connect in a respectful environment, we give them a chance to drift away from their stereotypes, towards one another.”
That’s the premise of her work with the Rural-Urban Exchange (RUX) - a creative leadership program designed to celebrate Kentucky’s diverse cultural and social fabric while developing the creative capacities of its members to meaningfully collaborate across economic, racial, and geographic divides. RUX now operates in Kentucky and Minnesota.
She is a Field Trips to the Future Fellow, a board member of the Center for Performance and Civic Practice, and a facilitator for PA Humanities. She previously served as an advisor to the Bush Foundation, EmcArts, Kentucky Governor's School for the Arts, Louisville Visual Art, the Oregon Folklife Network, the Robert Gard Foundation, the Rural Cultural Wealth Lab, and the South Carolina Arts Commission. Savannah holds a Masters of Arts Management from the University of Oregon and has widely published and presented her work across the nation. She is a member of Alternate ROOTS, a Kentucky Colonel, and a Commonwealth Ambassador.
Savannah has worked with Art of the Rural since 2013. Alongside this work, she leads an effort in her hometown to reimagine Grayson Springs Inn as a rural social enterprise with ten of her closest collaborators.