Announcing $2 Million in Grants for Creative Placemaking in Higher Education

November 15, 2019

By: ArtPlace America

Today, we’re thrilled to announce that seven colleges and universities across the United States are receiving nearly $2M to support creative placemaking teaching, learning, and research for undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs.

ArtPlace believes that the higher education sector is an important participant in building the creative placemaking field. To make the field stronger we believe that it is important to grow and sustain the knowledge base of creative placemaking and increase access to teaching and learning about creative placemaking for the next generation of changemakers. Through the grants, these institutions will further their work in building the field of creative placemaking toward furthering healthy, equitable, and sustainable communities.

“Education is one way human beings can become more fully who they are meant to be. Art and Culture are another,” said Ford Foundation Executive Vice President for Program Hilary Pennington. “Through them, we most deeply connect to one another as people, and through that connection we can move beyond the inequality and prejudice that block a future in which all can thrive.  These seven institutions of higher education are investing in future generations of leaders who will be equipped to help build that future through the kind of creative placemaking that connects us to each other and unites the arts and community life.”

Creative placemaking already shows up in a variety of higher education settings—including in arts and design schools, public policy schools, and in architecture and urban planning programs—and the work is called by many different names, including social and civic practice art, art and public action, public art, community art, and art and social change. Current and next generation practitioners do and will hold a variety of degrees as they work toward equitable, sustainable, and healthy community outcomes using arts and culture strategies.

Last spring, following a scan that revealed over 70 institutions of higher education who were offering creative placemaking programs, an invitation was extended to 24 institutions to propose work that further integrates creative placemaking into higher education.

With this Request for Proposals, ArtPlace sought the following outcomes:

  • Creative placemaking certificates, concentrations, degrees, minors, and majors embedded across a variety of types of schools and universities
  • An increased number of undergraduate and graduate level students who are learning about creative placemaking
  • Scholars who count creative placemaking as their area of study or research and who publish on this topic
  • A growing community of practice whose members convene, address, discuss and problem-solve creative placemaking issues
  • Shareable curricula, resources, and syllabi that are easily accessible

Investments for this grant program were chosen following a rigorous review process, including a four-person team of non-ArtPlace advisors. In addition to a dedicated commitment to a vision of equitable, sustainable, and healthy communities, ArtPlace considered the leadership at each institution and their commitment to further embedding this work deeply within the organization. ArtPlace also committed to finding institutions that would partner to strengthen the creative placemaking field, ethical engagement with their communities, struggling with the inherent inequities of education, arts, and community planning and development, an equitable approach to research and evaluation, and those who embraced education for all learners, at all stages of work and learning.

“Each of these institutions is working to bring traditionally siloed bodies of knowledge and ways of teaching together,” said ArtPlace Executive Director Jamie Bennett. “We are thrilled to support these institutions in a way that works for their educational philosophies to further the work of artists as allies in creating healthy, equitable and sustainable communities.”

Each of the seven institutions selected to receive funding have developed a different approach to building the field of creative placemaking:


Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts
Tempe, AZ | $400,000

To create concentrations and minors for multiple degree programs, as well as the case studies, learning modules, and original research that will be required

The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts (HIDA) at Arizona State University, an Hispanic-Serving Institution, is further integrating creative placemaking into degree programs and other initiatives, enlisting partners across the university. The Studio for Creativity, Place and Equitable Communities (SCPEC), a collaboration between HIDA and the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions and led by Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson, will create teaching resources, field-facing scholarship, and pedagogical support tools to advance equitable and ethical creative placemaking practice.


Baltimore, MD | $510,000

To create a sequence of both undergraduate and graduate courses in creative placemaking

Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is launching Creative Placemaking @ MICA (CP@M) to strengthen the field of creative placemaking. Educational approaches include certificates, learning cohorts, and courses at the graduate and undergraduate levels. CP@M will also support the institution’s creative placemaking work in its own community.


College of Performing Arts
Arts Management and Entrepreneurship Graduate Program
New York, NY | $200,000

To develop a university-wide, graduate minor focused on the role artists can play in community planning and development

The College of Performing Arts (CoPA) will draw upon The New School’s significant academic resources and commitment to a more just, more beautiful, and better-designed world by developing a new graduate minor focused on the role artists can play in equitable community planning and development. Fostering cross-sector and interdisciplinary collaboration, the minor will be accessible to students across all graduate schools and programs.


College of the Arts
Center for Arts in Medicine
Gainesville, FL | $60,000

To edit a supplemental issue of Health Promotion Practice, a peer-reviewed publication of the Society of Public Health Education

The Center for Arts in Medicine at the University of Florida, an Emerging Hispanic-Serving Institution, has been exploring the intersections of arts and culture interventions with population-level public health concerns.  Jill Sonke (a dancer, choreographer, and director of the Center) has been invited to guest edit a supplemental issue of Health Promotion Practice to include research articles organized around the five issues identified in the Creating Healthy Communities through Cross-sector Collaboration white paper (collective trauma, racism, social isolation and exclusion, mental health, and chronic disease). This issue will be published to coincide with the Society of Public Health Education national conference.


Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities
Ann Arbor, MI | $208,000

To create a comprehensive repository of articles, case studies, research papers, resources, and tools related to creative placemaking

The Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru) is a partnership of 43 universities that are committed to ensuring institutional support for arts-integrative research, curricula, and practice at comprehensive universities.  Building on a multi-year investigation into creative placemaking, a2ru will produce The Creative Placemaking Hub, a platform where all resource materials, including syllabi, journal articles, case studies, websites, white papers, origin documents, scholarly articles, landmark opinion pieces, toolkits, videos, and more will be available to the higher education community and beyond.


School of Architecture and Planning
Indigenous Design and Planning Institute
Albuquerque, NM | $525,000

To create a learning exchange among Indigenous practitioners that will create case studies and curricula available to Indigenous planning programs at all Tribal Colleges and Universities

The School of Architecture and Planning at the University of New Mexico, an Hispanic-Serving Institution, Indigenous Design and Planning Institute (iD+Pi) is building partnerships and a robust learning community among Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) and 23 of the Indigenous projects in which ArtPlace has invested.  The consortium, Engaging Indigenous Creative Placemakers - Connecting the Dots, will facilitate exchanges between faculty and staff at the TCUs—beginning with Diné College, the oldest Tribally controlled college in North America—and practitioners who are leading and executing the projects. 


College of Design
School of Planning, Public Policy and Management
Eugene, OR | $15,000

To create a special edition of the Journal of Urban Affairs, a peer-reviewed journal of the Urban Affairs Association, focused on arts in the city

Dr. Eleonora Redaelli, Associate Professor at the University of Oregon, and Dr. Deborah Stevenson, Professor at the Western Sydney University, will guest edit a Special Issue entitled The Arts and the City. The Journal of Urban Affairs is a peer-reviewed academic journal published eight times per year by Taylor & Francis on behalf of the Urban Affairs Association. This special edition will explore the role of the arts in the city, including concepts of the creative city, cultural planning, creative placemaking and the creative industries.



In 2020, ArtPlace celebrates 10 years of investing over $100 million in 285 projects and organizations across communities of all sizes, including 45 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. ArtPlace is also investing in artistscross-sector initiativeslocal assemblieslocal governmentsstate arts agencies, and now in higher education