The Future Is Here: Artplace America's Latest Big Move on Creative Placemaking

Last year, we listed three reasons why creative placemaking represents the future of arts funding. In the annals of bold predictions, we admit, it was relatively tame. But we called it as we saw it — ArtPlace America, supported by over a dozen of the country's deepest-pocketed foundations, was poised to bring creative placemaking to the masses.

And while the concept of time is a relative, we can safely say the future has arrived.

ArtPlace America is accepting applications to its new Community Development Investments program from place-based nonprofit organizations with a primary mission of community planning and development. ArtPlace will select one organization in each of six geographical regions that is interested in sustainably incorporating arts and cultural strategies into its work.

This annoucement comes on the heels of a recent post about Kresge and Surdna's ambitious efforts to boost creative placemaking nationwide, a $1.3 million, two-year project called Catalyzing Culture and Community through CDFIs (Community Development Financial Institutions). By giving money to community lenders, the project addresses the greatest obstacle to creative placemaking efforts, which is lack of access to capital.

Make no mistake, these announcements don't exist in a vaccum.

The fact is that all the players involved are working in tandem. ArtPlace, as previously noted, is supported by a who's who of arts funders, including Kresge and Surdna. The underlying message is that as much as ArtPlace is taking the lead, no single foundation "owns" creative placemaking. Instead, they're working together to help transform communities.

To that end, the foundations involved in creative placemaking understand that arts entrepreneurs need more than money alone to help revitalize a neighborhood. Artplace's Community Development Investments, for example, provide winners with access to national creative placemaking experts, a financial capital consortium, a federal grants advisory team, and a community documentation and research team. That's huge.

Both projects also focus on specific geographic areas in need of a boost. ArtPlace invites applications from organizations working in one of the following:  

  • A community of any size in Alaska
  • A community of any size in California
  • A non-metropolitan area community in Arizona, New Mexico, or Texas
  • A non-metropolitan area community in Minnesota
  • One or more neighborhoods of Philadelphia;
  • Or a metro area community in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, or West Virginia

Click here for more information regarding Artplace's Community Development Investments program.

Perhaps most encouraging is that there seems to be plenty of money to go around. The Kresge/Surdna effort spreads $1.3 million across seven community lenders, while ArtPlace's program will provide up to $3 million in funding per organization, a testament to what the support of over a dozen large foundations can do.

So let's summarize: Creative placemaking is here for the long haul, thanks in no small part to the financial firepower behind ArtPlace America and partner foundations. Furthermore, ArtPlace America and these foundations' efforts are rooted in a commitment to collaboration. They're all in this together. Lastly, and most importantly, each of these efforts home in on the most challenging obstacles to neighborhood revitalization: lack of access to capital and expert consultation.

Cool stuff, right? 

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