In 2015, ArtPlace began commissioning independent researchers to conduct a series of field scans situated at an intersection between arts and cultural practice and another sector within ArtPlace’s Community Development Matrix. Each field scan surveys and analyzes projects, research, policies, institutions and conducts interviews with thought leaders, practitioners, and community members related to the specific lens of one community development sector.
Each field scan document represents an exploratory first step that aims to surface:
- Key goals or needs in that community development sector that arts and culture might address,
- A typology or framework for understanding the ways that arts and culture has and might partner with that community development sector,
- Barriers to integrating arts and culture within that community development sector, and
- Strategies or tactics to advance collaborations with arts and culture in that sector
Each field scan addresses two primary audiences: artists and other arts and cultural practitioners seeking to better understand and collaborate with a particular community development sector; and community development practitioners who are interested in how arts and culture might further their work. Our goal is for these two audiences to develop a shared language and a collaborative set of goals, so that ultimately communities will benefit from the powerful, cross-sector synergies that we know to be a signature characteristic of creative placemaking work.
These field scans pull together vital information from key thought leaders, organizations, and community members that are far reaching and unique in their snapshot assessment of what’s happening in any given sector. Without this in-depth foundation, there would be no cohesive way of knowing where we are now and where we need to go. The field scans, however, are not an end-product in and of themselves, but rather an initial inquiry that is the basis for a subsequent Working Group.
Building off each field scan, ArtPlace brings explicitly interdisciplinary groups of researchers, practitioners, and thought leaders together for an exploratory convening and series of discussions focused on a specific sector within ArtPlace’s Community Development Matrix. Each working group serves as a sort of brain trust or focus group, providing feedback on the field scan findings and guiding ArtPlace in identifying the types of resources – case studies, tool kits, measurement systems, and the like – that best accomplish our research goal of translating creative placemaking to the various sectors of community development.
In support of ArtPlace’s field building goals, we collaborate with a co-convening organization for each working group and target the group's output toward a specific non-arts audience. We hope that the interdisciplinary nature of these working groups, combined with the focus of a strategic co-convener, will lead to new resources that have substantive impact across disciplines. These relationships also encourage working group participants to become stewards of the resulting knowledge long-term, a key element to our institutional strategy given that ArtPlace will sunset in 2020.
Following on a working group, ArtPlace builds on the recommendations of the group and works with the strategic co-convener and other partners to commission research resources appropriate to each sector of community development. The resources will take on a variety of forms and formats in accordance with the ways a particular sector learns, and will be conceived with a specific, target audience in mind. The success of our research resources will not be measured in the creation or quantity of the materials, but in their dissemination and use.