Today we are releasing ArtPlace: 10 Years, a publication that tells the story of ArtPlace America. Available now in digital format, it will soon be available as a print-on-demand book. ArtPlace brought together a range of private philanthropy into coordinated partnership, then funded nearly 300 creative placemaking, placekeeping, and placetending initiatives across the country. The introduction below is just a glimpse at the work and dedication of the last ten years. We encourage you to read ArtPlace: 10 Years to learn more.
Welcome to the story of ArtPlace America—the story of an entity created to amplify the power of the arts in building healthy, equitable, and sustainable communities. The core innovation of ArtPlace’s funders was to bring a range of private philanthropy into a coordinated partnership, as a way to define, fund, and build a field of creative placemaking. Since the release of the Creative Placemaking white paper for the NEA’s Mayors’ Institute on City Design, both ArtPlace and the field have evolved and shape-shifted. The deep and nuanced stories of the many people who have contributed to its current strength and beauty are not all represented here, but we acknowledge them all with gratitude and humility.
The power of arts and culture, in many forms, to sustain and enrich communities has been understood and employed for thousands of years. ArtPlace’s work in this more recent era has been to build a shared identity around the notion of creative placemaking as a practice that people responsible for the well-being of communities would recognize and embrace.
To do that required collaboration with community-minded artists, community-based organizations, national institutions, government leaders, researchers, banks, and visionary philanthropies. The pages that follow tell stories of these collaborations—just a few of the many, many stories that could be told. They also chronicle ArtPlace’s evolution from an idea to an established entity to a force for change.
Early in its existence, the decision was made to establish a ten-year horizon for the work, with a sunset in 2020. So this publication is also a summing up of ArtPlace. You’ll read how the ten-year limit gave ArtPlace’s work focus, urgency, and freedom. You’ll also learn how ArtPlace has been embedding knowledge, networks, and narratives, working with partners to carry the torch of creative placemaking, placekeeping, and placetending long past 2020. Through this work, we hope ArtPlace’s closure will be less like a sunset and more like a supernova.
This is a story about how people and organizations who care about communities, from a wide range of practices, perspectives, and histories, got together, did their best to learn each other’s values and languages, collaborated through challenges, and ultimately unleashed the power of the human imagination to try to improve the ways our communities serve the needs, hopes, and dreams of their residents.
We hope this story inspires you.