Celebrating the NEA's "How to Do Creative Placemaking"

December 1, 2016

By: ArtPlace America

This year, the National Endowment for the Arts celebrated its 50th anniversary. To mark this special occasion, the agency will release a new book, How to Do Creative Placemaking – a full-service guide to cultivating, nurturing and sustaining all the elements that make for successful creative placemaking efforts.

To commemorate the book’s release, the NEA, the Kresge Foundation, ArtPlace America, and Partners for Livable Communities will gather for a convening at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC on Tuesday, December 6 titled “Creative Placemaking: The Role of Arts in Community Development.” Featuring a jam-packed schedule of presentations, panel discussions, and performances, the convening promises to equip, connect, and inspire leaders from diverse sectors who are committed to strengthening the social, physical, and economic fabric of their communities. If you aren’t able to attend in person, you can still enjoy the fun from home; the Wilson Center will provide a livestream so you won’t miss a beat.

The convening will address some of the key questions that are at the heart of How to Do Creative Placemaking – What does creative placemaking look like? Why work this way? How do the arts intersect with other community development fields? – while bolstering the conversation with insight from artists and leaders who are actively executing the work. The book is the perfect primer course for those looking to integrate arts and culture strategies into community planning initiatives, and the perfect introduction to some of the groups and projects conducting this work across the country.

“So you’re a mayor who wants to make your city better, or you’re a resident of a neighborhood where development is out of control, or you work at a community development organization and are trying to improve the plaza where kids play and folks meet up, or you work in a small town and want to improve Main Street, or you work in a planning or economic development office and are trying to find new ways to engage the public in a project,” Jason Schupbach, Director of Design Programs for the NEA, writes in the book’s introduction. “This book is to help you understand what are the tools for arts-based community development. It’s a primer, and a scan of where some of the best thinking is in 2016. It’s meant to help you get started.”

Designed to help guide community leaders toward authentically positive, sustainable methods for change, How to Do Creative Placemaking is the most comprehensive resource on creative placemaking currently available. Essays from some of the field’s top policymakers, nonprofit leaders, artists and community planners are interspersed with thirteen case studies to provide a holistic answer to the question posed in the book’s title. Anecdotes, advice, and hard-won truths discovered through the NEA’s six years of creative placemaking work and $30-million-dollar investment into 389 Our Town grants in all 50 states have been distilled into their most essential form.

“Over the past eight years, the Obama administration has dedicated itself to investing in and supporting place-based, locally driven solutions,” says Jamie Bennett, Executive Director of ArtPlace America. “The National Endowment for the Arts has been part of that both through its Our Town grant program and through its participation in working groups like the Domestic Policy Council and the White House Rural Council. I am thrilled that some of the lessons from this work will now be shared through How to Do Creative Placemaking for anyone across this country interested in having arts and culture as an active partner in community planning and development.”

To watch the livestream of the convening, click here. To download a free copy of How to Do Creative Placemaking, click here.