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Creative Placemaking Resources to Get You Started or Grow Your Practice

Communities around the United States and the world are using arts and culture to physically revitalize blighted neighborhoods, bring back economic vitality and engage communities around a common vision. The effectiveness of arts- and culture-based strategies has been demonstrated time and again. Many local governments, neighborhood groups and other practitioners are looking to replicate this success in their own communities.

But implementing arts- and culture-based revitalization strategies that have real impact is not as easy as it may appear. Fortunately, there are numerous organizations that have done so successfully and are willing to share what they’ve learned. We have compiled a list of some of the available resources that detail how to plan and execute arts-based strategies. Read on to find useful tips and tools for those just starting out, as well as more seasoned developers looking for new ideas or ways to overcome challenges.  

This 2010 white paper describes creative placemaking - what it is and how it works.

Introductions to Creative Placemaking
For those new to creative placemaking, start with our 2014 “Spotlight” series, including Creative Placemaking 101 for Community Developers, a photo essay of creative placemaking projects and programs across the country and other background articles. Also read about how LISC is supporting efforts to revitalize communities through arts and culture.

For a more in-depth examination of creative placemaking philosophy, read Creative Placemaking, the seminal white paper on the topic by Anne Markusen and Anne Gadwa Nicodemus. Prepared in 2010 for the Mayor’s Institute on City Design, the paper discusses how arts, culture and creativity act as placemakers, the challenges of doing this work and the ingredients needed for success.

Creative Placemaking Basics
There are a number of options for learning the fundamentals of creative placemaking – how to plan, engage the community and implement projects. Check out the following resources to ground yourself in the basics.

Project for Public Spaces offers placemaking training events and programs. Its website has a library of resource articles on Placemaking 101, including ways to adapt strategies to the right scale for your neighborhood and Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper (LQC) ways to transform public spaces. There are also ideas and tools for specific types of spaces, such as streets, public markets, waterfronts, downtowns, parks and more.

NEA's report covers the basics of creative placemaking through case studies and expert essays

The National Endowment for the Arts supports the use of arts in community development through its “Our Town” grant program and also offers a set of creative placemaking resources drawn from its own work and its partner organizations. Among these is How to Do Creative Placemaking, a 2016 book including case studies and essays from experts in the field, available for pdf download.

ArtPlace America, a 10-year collaboration of funders and federal agencies working to position arts and culture as a core component of comprehensive community development, hosts an online library that collects creative placemaking studies, toolkits and videos. Among the resources are papers exploring the intersection of arts and culture with housing and with public safety, as well as video proceedings from ArtPlace Annual Summits.

An examination of affordable artist housing is one of several artspace resources.

Artspace, a nationwide nonprofit developer of artist housing and other arts-related spaces, has produced several studies on the importance and impact of creative placemaking, including reports on affordable artist housing, native art, and sustainability in creative placemaking. Artspace also offers consulting services and hosts Art Bridge: the Artspace Distance Collaboration Program, which convenes artists and cultural practitioners in different locations for peer learning using videoconference technology.

Artscape is a Toronto-based nonprofit developer that has been practicing creative placemaking for 30 years. Artscape has compiled its knowledge into D.I.Y. Creative Placemaking, a website that includes a great deal of practical information on creative real estate projects, such as case studies, project timelines, tips for selecting tenants, and advice on site selection. Find this and more in the Creative Placemaking Toolbox.

Special Purpose Creative Placemaking
The following resources use specific frameworks for creative placemaking, viewing it as a way to build local economies, create or preserve equitable communities, and achieve high-impact transit-oriented development.

Springboard for the Arts offers specialized toolkits on its Springboard Exchange website.

 Creative placemaking is often used to spur economic development, attracting outside dollars to neighborhood commercial areas. Springboard for the Arts has a creative placemaking toolkit for business districts. The Guide for Business Districts to Work with Local Artists includes guidelines for how to create partnerships between Business Improvement Districts and artists and how to engage and work effectively with community stakeholders, as well as budgeting and project management. The Springboard Exchange website also offers a host of other toolkits to help nonprofits work with artists or accomplish art projects.

Placemaking as an Economic Development Tool: A Placemaking Guidebook from the Michigan State University Land Policy Institute discusses four types of placemaking – Standard, Tactical, Strategic and Creative Placemaking – each in depth. Also looks at neighborhood types, economics and demographics, design and planning, civic and public engagement in placemaking efforts.  While case examples are Michigan-focused, there are many lessons that will be relevant across communities.

Policy Link's primer focuses on arts and culture development through an equity lens

Policy Link brings an equity lens to its work across community development sectors, including arts and culture. “Creating Change through Arts, Culture, and Equitable Development: A Policy and Practice Primer” describes the role arts and culture play in housing, transportation, health, education and other domains of community development. Each section includes a policy chart describing related equity goals and policies and the arts and culture strategies that support them. The report is rich with real-world examples of effective policies and practices that have through which arts and culture have helped create and sustain communities of opportunity.

Transportation for America’s “The Scenic Route” is a creative placemaking guide focused on transportation hubs and corridors. The guide describes eight approaches to placemaking, with specific attention to incorporating arts into planning and engagement and to leveraging cultural resources. For each approach, the guide highlights local examples. The site also offers in-depth profiles of local efforts from six cities, including background, actions steps and lessons learned.   

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