NACEDA’s Creative Placemaking Immersion Program – Lessons for Leaders

In 2015, NACEDA set out an ambitious goal: to make creative placemaking a frontline strategy for community developers. With an Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, NACEDA launched the Creative Placemaking Immersion Program. Creative placemaking engages communities in the using arts and culture to improve the physical and social character of placesA cohort of three of NACEDA members – community development associations in Ohio, Massachusetts, and Philadelphia – worked with arts partners in their regions to build knowledge about creative placemaking among local community development nonprofits. View our final report to the NEA.

The Our Town grant was NACEDA’s first direct federal investment from a federal agency. Along the way, we added with our own resources,  those of members, and from Woodforest National Bank. Americans for the Arts partnered with us, sharing their expertise and their network. The Ohio, Massachusetts, and Philadelphia Massachusetts networks performed robustly, providing 26 creative experiences to 275 people and organizations over 18 months. Artists engaged neighborhoods in development plans. CDCs became arts advocates. Banks became arts investors. NACEDA networks throughout the country began thinking how artists and cultural strategies could enhance the impact of traditional community development.

Through this pilot, we learned eight key factors that increase the effectiveness of creative placemaking:    

  1. Lead adaptively.
  2. Connect across sectors.
  3. Construct a bridge.
  4. Build knowledge.
  5. Ensure local applicability.
  6. Encourage local judgment.
  7. Build regional capacity to go deeper.
  8. Utilize that regional capacity.
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