MassINC is targeting 12 designated “Gateway Cities” of Massachusetts to make community leaders aware of state and local resources for creative placemaking and assist them in pairing local teams with design experts to develop new location-specific ideas. The goal is to use art and cultural assets to attract new residents and build new value, through projects that may prove relevant to small and mid-sized cities across the nation.

Marjorie Malpiede, MassINC’s Vice President of Programming, talks about the challenge and excitement of working across 12 communities.

ARTPLACE: As you reflect on your work to date, what unexpected challenges have you encountered?

In Massachusetts, we’re well into the planning for the first-ever Creative Placemaking Summit for the state’s Gateway Cities. These 12 small cities outside of Boston that are both economically important and striving to rebound from post-industrial decline. Creative placemaking is being utilized throughout these cities in varying degrees. MassINC’s ArtPlace grant has allowed the Boston-based think tank to assemble the policymakers and practitioners who will bring these transformative projects to life for a day of hands-on learning and relationship-building.

Probably the biggest challenge we’ve faced thus far is coordinating the outreach to the multiple stakeholders involved in this work around the specifics of the Summit. Public/private partnerships in any area, particularly in arts and culture where many talents converge, involve multiple players, across disciplines and municipalities. There’s a lot of moving pieces.

ARTPLACE: Have you had any happy surprises in your work to date?

We have found that there is so much energy for Creative Placemaking in our Gateway Cities, at so many levels, that we have had a terrific response to the Summit Concept. It gives us the impression that there is pent up demand for the Summit concept as people are immediately embracing the notion of networking in this area.

ARTPLACE: Are there things you’ve learned in your work that others in creative placemaking can learn from?

From our initial efforts, it seems like reaching out to others, even if they don’t seem directly involved, can be invaluable to your initiative.

Photo: View of New Bedford, Mass. from the Whaling Museum by Flickr user fireflythegreat

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