When I was serving as the chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, during the first Obama administration, we made what is now called creative placemaking our number one priority. We were focused on the points of intersection between art and communities, the ways in which art can promote economic development, civil cohesion, and a feeling of pride about a place. Each “place” is unique, but whether we’re talking about a small rural town or a major metropolis, art can play a decisive role in making that place better... After only a few months of organizing and staffing, ArtPlace took flight as an independent, privately funded entity committed to the singular purpose of creative placemaking. With the establishment of ArtPlace, creative placemaking had a place of its own.
— Rocco Landesman, former Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts
When you talk about ArtPlace and its success and its unusual combination of private philanthropy, federal involvement and engagement at the highest level, and corporate philanthropy coming from the banks, I think that it’s really unprecedented in the history of the NEA — and one of the most interesting things about it is that we made the decision that it should be an independent entity. We thought the idea was too important and too full of potential to have it be caught up in political change. Because it very often happens that when an administration changes, new leadership comes in with new ideas, and in order to implement them, they have to downsize the ideas of the previous leader.
— Joan Shigekawa, Former Acting Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts
Some say creative placemaking preceded ArtPlace, and they are right—community arts, art education, and social protest art have all highlighted ways that artists’ creative skill and vision help people achieve myriad goals. But centering community goals as a dimension of creativity and artistic practice didn’t necessarily have a category of its own—a category that insisted that the work should be dynamic and complex, with far-reaching objectives that sometimes looked like community development goals, sometimes artistic goals, and sometimes both. Creative placemaking is a means and an end.
The success of ArtPlace isn’t represented by a dedicated funding stream or continuation of some version of ArtPlace. It is represented by the maturation of banking, health, community development, and other sectors and their recognition that creativity, art, and culture can help those sectors advance their goals. In other words, the success of ArtPlace is evident when creative process, art, and culture are understood as integral parts of our attempts to solve the many challenges we face as a complex, pluralistic society.
— Judilee Reed, Program Director of Creative Communities, William Penn Foundation
I think ArtPlace pushed funders to work in a more intersectional way. It brought different disciplines and different types of expertise in foundations together, and it probably made certain foundations more effective because of that. We at the Ford Foundation have been one of the largest funders of ArtPlace, and I can say that it has surpassed our expectations. ArtPlace and the movement for creative placemaking have been among the most gratifying and impactful initiatives I’ve worked on in twenty years in philanthropy.
— Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation
Intentional focus on building community power and uplifting community voice will be important for driving the future of this work. It has built the capacity and skill of community developers to understand what it means to work with artists, and their transformative power. This is being embedded organizationally as more community developers have dedicated staff and skills for formally incorporating this practice. I believe that if we are to truly address structural racism, climate change, and inequality through effective public policy and investment, we must understand our shared humanity and our interdependence. The complexity and interconnectedness of these issues has made them challenging to visualize and address, but I believe creative placemaking could be an effective way to look at them together.
— Laura Choi, Vice President of Community Development, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

I remember being struck by Rocco Landesman and Joan Shigekawa’s savvy. To have a truly significant impact, they had to look beyond the NEA’s modest budget to private philanthropic foundations and other federal agencies. I was excited about the potential to draw new attention, resources, and momentum to the practice of arts-based community development. American cities, neighborhoods, towns, tribes, and regions had already been practicing it for decades without the moniker.
— Anne Gadwa Nicodemus, founder, Metris Art Consulting, and co-author of the 2010 white paper Creative Placemaking
I was able to participate in the big celebration of ArtPlace in spring 2019 in Jackson, Mississippi. I learned that ArtPlace, along with the NEA, had succeeded in both broadening the missions of artists and arts organizations in the U.S. and demonstrating how they have much to offer communities, large and small, urban and rural... an achievement that has had a major impact on diversifying the arts in general. And engaging with communities has generated many creative artworks and art forms, too!
— Ann Markusen, Director of the University of Minnesota Humphrey School’s Project on Regional and Industrial Economics and co-author of the 2010 white paper Creative Placemaking
One of the reasons ArtPlace succeeded is that it sat in the gaps between architecture and landscape architecture and art — fields that had boundaries around them. Creative placemaking was much more fluid. There were no boundaries because we were inventing something new. The moment called for boundary crossing, whether that meant crossing from the physical realm to the social, or from real estate value to social and racial equity. ArtPlace has situated art, architecture, and landscape architecture in a much larger context, more about people and the way they experience a place. For me, that’s probably the greatest contribution of ArtPlace and its attendant activity.
— Carol Coletta, President and CEO, Memphis River Parks Partnership and former Executive Director, ArtPlace America
Creative placemaking has already unlocked new ways of thinking within both community development and arts and culture. Community development is a different creature entirely when it moves beyond bricks and mortar to the animating principles of equitable human development. It’s imperative that we work together to ensure that creative placemaking’s ways of working live on, regardless of what specific model or support structure might emerge. Whether in the block club or the national think tank, we must all think critically about how we ensure that arts and culture can bolster the social and racial justice work ahead of us. We must continue to safeguard the artists, community development practitioners, and resident leaders from the vulnerability that comes from challenging systems — a vulnerability that may be even more pronounced in the months and years to come. That’s the way that we do justice to the immense work that ArtPlace’s staff have already carried out over the turbulence of the past decade, and it’s how we fuel the next phase of creative change that our country so desperately needs.
— Rip Rapson, CEO, Kresge Foundation and Chair of ArtPlace Funders Council
You don’t have to look too hard to find the ways that art and artists have been instrumental in helping the country navigate a turbulent phase. Today, amid a global pandemic, an economic recession, and protests over police brutality, we must consider the convergence of these life-altering events when talking about the future of creative placemaking. I imagine a future field anchored in racial and social justice — shared power and collective action at the local level. Debates over the practice, what it is called and who should carry it forward, will no longer matter. The challenges we face are too great, and we have too much work to do. I believe the future of creative placemaking will seek to reckon with and redress the well-meaning but harmful consequences of previous creative, development, and planning activities that may have perpetuated racist, xenophobic, and colonial practices. This has been happening in many communities across the country where it’s considered a core value, but it will continue to be a necessary exploration.
— Regina Smith, Managing Director for Arts and Culture, Kresge Foundation