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Creative Placemaking

January 27, 201227 January 2012

Cultural facilities / infrastructure

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Based on a literature review and several case studies, this report examines culture-led placemaking and “its contributions to livability, economic revitalization, creative entrepreneurship, and cultural industries”. The study indicates that creative placemaking efforts are “using arts and culture to animate downtowns and neighborhoods, to stoke their creative industries, to stabilize population and jobs, and to attract new residents and businesses” to small and large communities. The report highlights common elements among successful placemaking initiatives and challenges in creative placemaking.

The report indicates that successful culture-based revitalization efforts must be appropriate to local circumstances. (The report defines “successful” initiatives as ones that “produce gains in livability and sustainability as well as new jobs and economic activity, and do so in an equitable and participatory way”.) Highlighting the common components of successful initiatives, each of the 14 case studies included in the report:

  • “is rooted in the talents and vision of one or several collaborating initiators;
  • demonstrates a commitment to a particular place and its distinctive qualities;
  • mobilizes public will around its vision;
  • garners private sector business support and buy-in;
  • enjoys the commitment of the local arts and cultural community;
  • dovetails initiators’ aspirations with those of other partners; and
  • crosses boundaries to leverage support and funds from other functional agencies … and levels of government.”

The common challenges identified by the research include: “creating partnerships, countering skepticism on the part of communities and public leaders, assembling adequate financing, clearing regulatory hurdles, ensuring maintenance and sustainability, avoiding displacement and gentrification, and developing performance metrics”.

The authors argue that recent attention on the arts and culture as community placemakers and a stimulus to the cultural industries “parallels thirty years of emerging consciousness about the environment and its significance for livability and economic competitiveness”. Noting that there is a lack of satisfactory indicators of cultural sector performance and impacts as well as a lack of policy frameworks and networking in the area of creative placemaking, the report concludes with the recommendation that further research be conducted into “how a new intergovernmental policy platform could be constructed to bridge functional and sectoral divides, advancing the livability and economic productivity of American communities of all sizes”.

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