Creative Placemaking: A Conversation

By     Jul 6, 2014
Let’s talk about creative placemaking. In those five words, I’ve probably lost the attention of 40% of our field. It’s likely about 25% are now busy rolling their eyes. Another 15% might be asking, “What is left to discuss?”

Yes, in many ways creative placemaking has become an often-cited cultural sector panacea. And yes, it’s a great phrase for grant proposals (and who doesn’t relish a good grant proposal?).

But seriously, let’s talk about creative peacemaking

Forget for a moment the capital C, capital P proper noun. Let’s talk about the concept of using arts and culture to better a community. There’s so much happening in this arena (and yes… so much not yet discussed) that we want to spend the next three weeks in conversation about not just the what and the how of creative placemaking but the who and the why as well.

We had initially conceived of this blogging event as somewhat of an online panel discussion featuring the creative placemaking heavyweights that we have all seen/read/admired. The problem with this idea, of course, is that we have all already seen/read/admired these folks. Around this same time we were receiving applications and interviewing folks for our Creative Community Fellows program. As we read and heard the creative placemaking visions of 200 incredible cultural entrepreneurs it became obvious that we needed to give voice to new leaders and new ideas from across the world. To talk about how they define this work? And, just as important… how you define it?

So, this week we here at NAS will kick off the conversation, presenting our take on creative placemaking and what have we learned from our Fellows. We will then turn the conversation over to those of you working in communities. In true NAS fashion, this means a homework assignment. We’ve developed a set of questions about community and the role of cultural entrepreneurs. Next week we will feature conversations with some of our Creative Community Fellows around these questions and we want to hear from you as well. Weigh in using the comments section or send us an email ( with your thoughts on these questions. We will publish the responses here.

  1. How do you define “community?”
  2. How do you see your role in the community?
  3. Talk about the work you’re doing in your community:
    1. What was the catalyst for this work? What started you on this journey?
    2. What is the driving force? What continues to motivate the work?
    3. Who is it for? Who benefits from this work?
  4. When you hear the terms “cultural sector” or “arts and culture field” do you feel that includes you? Why or why not?
  5. Why do you think people are talking about creative placemaking so much now?
  6. Finally, fill in the blank: Creative/cultural work makes communities _______.

Help us broaden the conversation. Share this event with your networks (#creativeplacemaking on Twitter) and add your voice to the discussion. We look forward to hearing from you.