Art Opportunity Alert: $10.5M For Creative Placemaking Projects

ArtPlace America has opened applications for its National Creative Placemaking Fund, with $10.5 million available in awards.

This fund is intended for creative, community-minded projects that address local challenges regarding anything from economic development to public safety. Per the RFP, “[funding is for] projects that work with artists and arts organizations to help build stronger, healthier communities anywhere in the United States.”

ArtPlace describes itself as a “ten-year collaboration” between foundations, federal agencies, and financial institutions. Its mission is “creative placemaking,” which it defines as giving art an “intentional and integrated role” in the strengthening of the “social, physical, and economic fabric of communities.” ArtPlace states:

In practice, this means having arts and culture represented alongside sectors like housing and transportation – with each sector recognized as part of any healthy community; as requiring planning and investment from its community; and as having a responsibility to contribute to its community’s overall future.

“Placemaking” is an buzzword that, now that I’ve spent a couple of years reporting in a rapidly developing sector of Queens, NYC, can give me the heebie jeebies. I’ve frequently heard proud developers throw the word around to discuss their creation of (wealthy) neighborhoods as if out of a void. While placemaking doesn’t necessarily have to lead to displacement of existing communities, it’s a hackles-raising possibility.

Next City spoke with ArtPlace America director Jamie Bennett on this topic. According to their article, “Bennet says that placemaking projects absolutely have the potential to inspire investment that displaces people — if they’re done badly.”

To that point, ArtPlace measures successful creative placemaking projects not by the number of new arts centers, galleries or cultural districts in a place, but rather by the impact artists, formal and informal arts spaces, and creative interventions have on outcomes in the community as a whole… The whole notion of creative placemaking, he says, is to put artists at the table with government officials and community-based organizations.

The RFP seems to bear this philosophy out. In their applications, artists must describe their community’s geography, population, and economic landscape, address a specific “community planning and development challenge,” and answer the question, “What will be different in this community when this project is completed?”

Applications are due March 2, but interested applicants must register by Feb. 16.

Here’s the application portal, and here’s an FAQ on the application and review process.