Dudley Cocke is director of Roadside Theater and has toured its original plays to 43 states and performed in cities from London to Los Angeles. He has recently directed Zuni Meets Appalachia for the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian in New York City and Washington, DC, and he is currently developing Betsy, a musical theater collaboration with Nashville jazz musicians. Dudley has taught theater at Cornell University and the College of William and Mary, and often speaks and writes as an advocate for democratic cultural values.
We know that, in the aggregate, incomes and life expectancies in rural America are significantly lower; infant mortality rates and drug abuse significantly higher. Presently, there is insufficient attention to such disparities—per capita federal spending remains persistently lower in rural communities, and only 1 percent of private foundation giving in...