Often, placing a sculpture in a public square, or hanging a painting in a community center right before the ribbon-cutting ceremony are part of the “finishing touches” of urban planning. But arts-and-culture-focused nonprofit ArtPlace believes that familiar timeline needs to be tweaked.
“Arts and culture are too often left out of community planning conversations,” said Jamie Bennett, ArtPlace America executive director, when announcing the six U.S. communities that would receive a total of $18 million for creative community development-driven projects. “These six organizations will demonstrate the unique value that artists and arts organizations can bring to the full spectrum of community development priorities, including community resiliency, economic development, housing, open space, public health, and youth opportunity.”
The winners include Cook Inlet Housing Authority in Anchorage, Fairmount Park Conservancy in Philadelphia, Jackson Medical Mall Foundation in Jackson, Mississippi, and Little Tokyo Service Center in Los Angeles. (Two non-urban grantees are rural Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership and the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project in New Mexico.) They were selected from 21 finalists chosen earlier this year.
Each will receive $3 million over the next three years through ArtPlace’s new Community Development Investments (CDI) initiative, with the goal of holistically connecting placemaking to economic development and neighborhood revitalization. The grantees will also receive help from PolicyLink with researching and documenting the projects so lessons can be shared beyond each community.
In Philadelphia, Fairmount Park Conservancy promotes the role that green spaces play in improving city-dwellers’ lives. “Building upon the rich history of arts and culture within Fairmount Park, we look forward to working with Philadelphia’s extraordinary local artists, arts organizations, and cultural institutions as we infuse arts strategies into our efforts to enhance and activate our city’s parks and recreational spaces,” said Executive Director Kathryn Ott Lovell.
Projects are expected to kick off in October, with community meetings and cultural asset mapping. You can read more about the winning projects here.
“Our fundamental proposition is that arts and culture must be at the core of every conversation we have about community development in this country,” said Rip Rapson, president and CEO of the Kresge Foundation and chairman of the ArtPlace collaboration. “When this happens the dialogue is richer and more inclusive for the long-term visioning a community needs to remain vital and healthy.”
Marielle Mondon is an editor and freelance journalist in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in Philadelphia City Paper, Wild Magazine, and PolicyMic. She previously reported on communities in Northern Manhattan while earning an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University.