Creative CityMaking is a project that brings artists and Minneapolis City planners together for year-long collaborations, with the goal of providing both with new tools for working with diverse communities. The project also strives to engage artists in critical thinking and art making around important City and urban issues.
Artplace spoke with Theresa Sweetland, Executive Director of Intermedia. The mission of Intermedia Arts is to be a catalyst for building understanding among people through art. Intermedia Arts and the City of Minneapolis are partners in the Creative CityMaking Program. Sweetland shared their plans for increasing vibrancy through the Creative CityMaking program:
SWEETLAND: We are excited about the potential of Creative CityMaking to stimulate fresh and innovative planning activities for addressing the city’s future. In the coming year, the City of Minneapolis will be considering long term transportation, economic, environmental and social issues facing the city. Working together, artists and planners will build cultural literacy, teach one another and try to find more effective and meaningful ways of serving the public. We feel that these collaborations will integrate new perspectives into planning and bring more diverse groups of people to the table to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the city. We also believe that collectively, these artists and planners will create a vision and a living set of policies for the city that will result in a more active, healthy, culturally authentic and vibrant public realm.
This project builds on the international work of many innovative thinkers and doers including Ann Markusen, Charles Landry and public artist Candy Chang. It also focuses on people-oriented and healthy urban planning practices and the role of the arts, culture diversity, the creative process in developing vibrant urban places. Ann Markusen was my mentor and advisor at the Hubert H Humphrey Institute where I received my master’s degree in urban planning. She helped to define the local and national conversation taking place today around creative place-making.
Landry and Chang visited Minneapolis recently as part of an effort to revitalize the downtown Hennepin Avenue Corridor. Their activities brought together hundreds of representatives of the public, private, and non-profit sectors to think about the role of culture and creativity in the development of key neighborhoods within the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Candy Chang is an artist who dares to talk about emotion, comfort and dignity in city planning. Her presentations challenged participants to more innovatively engage the community in defining public spaces that they feel really matter. Landry talked about how vibrancy can result from thoughtful planning that sometimes also requires risk taking. We feel, as he does, that engaging artists and planners in collective work is an investment in social capital – an important investment that will lead to vibrancy, sustainability and good City design. To paraphrase Landry: “A city should not just be a work of art, but a living work of art.”