ARTPLACE AMERICA (ARTPLACE) was a collaboration among a number of foundations, federal agencies, and financial institutions that operated between 2010 and 2020 to support and strengthen a field of creative placemaking. At the end of 2020, we completed our strategic plan that has worked to enlist artists as allies in equitable community planning and development.
We envisioned a future of equitable, healthy, and sustainable communities in which everyone has a voice and agency in creating contextual, adaptive, and responsive solutions. Over 10 years, ArtPlace invested $150 million in projects, organizations, research, geographies, and a variety of other strategic initiatives to strengthen the field of creative placemaking.
We believed that traditional community planning and development has not always led to communities being as equitable, healthy and sustainable as they could be. We believed that the arts and culture sector had necessary tools, knowledge, and skills that can be deployed in partnership with the community planning and development sectors to improve community outcomes. We referred to this intersection as creative placemaking.
We focused on creating a strong creative placemaking field of practitioners by encouraging the adoption of creative placemaking practices. To ensure the field remained robust, we embedded knowledge and resources within existing networks of practice and strengthened and empowered local ecosystems to own and evolve the practice.
Across many sectors, artists are working side by side with planners, developers, and public officials to think differently and imagine solutions that meet a broad range of community needs and spark and sustain public interest. We worked with comprehensive and sector-based community development practitioners, artists and cultural organizations, higher education institutions, the creative placemaking field, and our philanthropic partners to advance this idea.
What is Creative Placemaking?
Creative Placemaking is the intentional integration of arts, culture, and community-engaged design strategies into the process of equitable community planning and development. It’s about artists, culture-bearers, and designers acting as allies to creatively address challenges and opportunities. It’s about these artists and all of the allies together contributing to community-defined social, physical, and economic outcomes and honoring a sense of place.
How do we Approach Our Work?
We believe that there are a set of people who wake up everyday thinking about the future of their communities, and that these people work across a variety of sectors and desired outcomes and include everyone from residents to artists to teachers to professional community planners. We created this matrix to help us organize our work and communicate about it visually:
We defined arts broadly and used the phrase “arts and culture” to represent many forms, including: craft & culinary arts, dance, design & architecture, film & media, folk & traditional arts, literature, music, visual arts, theater & performance, and other formal and informal creative practices.