Exploring the Intersection of Arts with Transportation

March 22, 2017

By: ArtPlace America

Amazing news! We have chosen Transportation for America (T4A) as our newest research partner in the field of transportation. T4A helps local leaders come together and ensure that states and the federal government invest in smart, homegrown, locally-driven transportation solutions.

T4A will be leading both our field scan research and working group convening, and we chose them because of their strong institutional commitment to creative placemaking, their comprehensive knowledge of the transportation sector and their recent commitment to the creation of an arts and culture program with Ben Stone at the helm.

We love their interactive guide for transportation planners, public works agencies, and local elected officials who are on the front lines of advancing transportation projects.  Check out The Scenic Route: Getting Started with Creative Placemaking and Transportation.

Ben Stone, Director of Arts & Culture for T4A, said “building on the positive reception to The Scenic Route, T4A has been expanding our work helping diverse communities learn how artists, designers, and cultural workers can help transportation professionals reap tangible benefits. Across the country, there’s a palpable hunger for new, creative approaches to entrenched transportation challenges, so I’m thrilled to continue our exploration into the intersection of arts, culture, and transportation in partnership with ArtPlace to provide even more resources and case studies to help with these challenges.” 

T4A defines creative placemaking as an approach that incorporates arts, culture, and creativity into the planning process to allow for more genuine public engagement — particularly in low-income neighborhoods, communities of color and among immigrant populations. T4A has been ramping up efforts over the last three years to help transportation professionals, community advocates, and other local leaders across the country incorporate arts and culture into their transportation projects.



Check out the brilliant T4A  webinar series which covers the role artists and designers can play in improving the visioning process, along with the ways city agencies are benefiting artist-in-residence programs. You can catch their latest on Thursday March 23 ‘What sort of training is helping artists collaborate with cities to produce better projects?’

In cities across the country, artists are helping to solve civic problems. But what sort of training is helping them and other cultural workers facilitate smoother collaborations and better projects? Their third webinar on creative placemaking will continue exploring how cities and artists are working together in transportation planning and community development. Whether it’s bringing people to an empty plaza through performance, improving navigation options through better design, or connecting neighborhoods through interactive installations, artists bring a unique perspective to many municipal challenges. But artists and civic professionals do not always speak the same language, however. These two groups often answer to different stakeholders and work along different timelines. With the proliferation of new programs integrating arts and culture into community development—like municipally sponsored artist-in-residence programs—artists and cultural producers need to be trained to work with government agencies and community members, and to inhabit interdisciplinary roles that extend beyond the traditional duties of an artist. Recognizing this need, several organizations have launched programs to train artists and cultural workers to facilitate smoother collaborations and better projects. Projects like the Regional Arts Commission Community Arts Training Institute in St. Louis, Intermedia Arts’ Creative Community Leadership Institute in Minneapolis, Nashville Metro Arts Commission’s Learning Lab, Creative Capital’s Community Engagement Workshop, and the Center for Performance and Civic Projects are all designed to help better integrate arts into civic and transportation projects.



There is no better entity within the transportation sector to bring transportation practitioners into the creative placemaking dialogue. Our work together will culminate – in late summer 2017 at our working group, where we will gather together experts from throughout the transportation field and artists doing this work. We will lean on diversity of perspectives in the working group, as well as our collective desire to contribute to transportation goals in communities across the country, to recommend specific resources and tools that (1) make the case that the arts have positive, measurable impacts on transportation and (2) provide a pathway for other practitioners in both fields to take up this work.

Stay tuned for more information and materials as the Transportation Working Group gets up and running.