Laying the Foundation
Story by Camille LeFevre
Arguably, the prospect and success of Minneapolis’ Creative CityMaking and similar projects across the country have been buttressed by the ground-breaking 2010 white paper Creative Placemaking, researched and written by Ann Markusen, Humphrey School professor emerita and former director of the Project on Regional and Industrial Economics, and Anne Gadwa Nicodemus (MURP ’09), who founded Metris Arts Consulting in Minneapolis in 2009. Commissioned and published by the National Endowment for the Arts’ Mayors’ Institute on City Design, the paper outlined ways arts and culture can enhance community livability.
Creative Placemaking had a significant impact on funding for the arts and economic development, according to Gadwa Nicodemus, who says it was a catalyst for a renewed interest in the ways the arts could enhance a community and helped people in a variety of sectors see the arts as an asset. “I’m very proud of that accomplishment,” she notes.
Creative placemaking, as the paper describes, puts arts and cultural activities at the center of efforts among public, private, nonprofit, and community sectors to shape the physical, social, and economic character of a neighborhood, town, tribe, city, or region. Outcomes of creative placemaking, the report adds, include animating public spaces, improving streetscapes, enhancing the viability of local business and public safety, and bringing diverse people together through arts activities that celebrate place and inspire creativity.
The report remains a key resource for mayors, arts organizations, the philanthropic sector, and others. “Creative placemaking has become a major U.S. cultural policy and funding trend,” says Gadwa Nicodemus, who adds that the report has even been translated into Korean.