This paper examines how the processes by which narratives of art in the rural as a mechanism to promote the commodification of rural place through culture are constructed. Using two case study examples of annual cultural events, one an annual arts festival featuring a high-profile visual art exhibition in northern Finland and the other an arts festival also featuring an art exhibition in western Ireland, it examines how local cultural discourses have shaped these place-based events that have been active for at least a decade in each location. In both case study locations, these arts festivals have also played a role in their communities’ restructuring by the respective local cultural communities involved in devising and sustaining these events. They are targeted as much at the local community as at outside populations, and are promoted as key events on the respective regions’ cultural calendars as a means of attracting support and sponsorship. For the artists concerned, these events represent opportunities to raise their profiles and potentially benefit from sales of their work. The exhibitions therefore represent a further dimension to commodification and development of rural place, one based on their relative reputation as events which can attract artists and deliver art that meets the expectations of art consumers, and on narratives of the rural as a place for the development of art that can link the artist into potentially global art networks. In the case of Finland, investment in and scaling up of its art exhibition by a private investor into an event of national and international significance for consumers and artists has generated potentially competing narratives of art in this rural place, with implications for emergent forms of commodification and development at the local level.