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Exploring the Power of Creative Placemaking

art in the community

Creative Placemaking- What is it?

Creative placemaking is a practice that uses the strength of the arts, cultural strategies, and creativity to build stronger and healthier communities. People from different organizations, such as governments, businesses, and charities, can work together to improve the environment and social life of an area by doing things like art, culture, and community projects. It is a way of using arts, culture, and other different creative activities to shape the physical and social character of a space. 

This practice involves engaging public, private, and non-profit partners in creating, activating, and sustaining public spaces that foster a sense of place, civic pride, and economic opportunity. It is a way to bring diverse groups together to identify and build on existing cultural assets, capitalize on local resources, and create vibrant, livable, and economically viable places.

History - Early Examples of Creative Placemaking

Creative placemaking is an approach to the planning and development of communities in which art and culture play integral roles in shaping a place’s identity. It is increasingly used in urban planning and community development, to revitalize and engage citizens in a wide range of activities. It has been used for centuries in various forms, such as the creation of beautiful public gardens and parks in the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe, or the establishment of urban squares and bustling marketplaces in ancient Rome. Placemaking is a key part of history, and its use in modern times is a testament to the power of the arts to create vibrant and dynamic public locations.

Community Goals

Creative Placemaking is a concept that utilizes the arts and culture to create vibrant and livable public areas and enhance the overall quality of life in a community. This can include anything from developing public art programs and projects, organizing cultural events, or revitalizing a space with public infrastructure that encourages physical activity and social interaction. By engaging a community's creative resources and sense of identity, it can be used as a tool to achieve specific goals outlined by the community. These can be anything from increasing public safety and health to promoting economic growth, cultural diversity, and environmental sustainability. 

Strengthening of Civic Engagement

Successful creative placemaking is an innovative approach to community development that focuses on harnessing the power of performing arts to revitalize public areas and strengthen community cultural development and engagement, as well as place-based revitalization, which is more than just having a vibrant arts scene in different communities. Through creative placemaking, local artists (artists can play an essential role in this), art organizations, designers, and makers work in partnership with community members, local businesses, and the government to imagine and create places of beauty, vibrancy, and culture. (Transit stations can also exhibit public art). This approach can help to build a sense of identity and belonging, stimulate economic activity, and make communities more attractive, livable, and resilient. It can also bring creative people together to engage in dialogue and help foster greater understanding and appreciation for diverse cultures and perspectives. Ultimately, it can be a powerful tool for strengthening civic engagement (and establishing civic design guidelines) and creating vibrant and inclusive communities.

Examples of Creative Placemaking

Temporary Art Installations

One of the most popular ways of creative placemaking is through temporary art installations. These installations often include sculptures, murals, and interactive pieces of art that provide a unique experience for those visiting the area. They can be used to encourage people to explore and appreciate the area, by creating a beautiful and dynamic space. Temporary art installations also serve to promote local artists, giving them the opportunity to showcase their work to a wide audience. These installations can be used to draw people to a specific area, inspiring people to explore the surrounding area and giving it a unique visual identity.

Murals, Installations, and Performances - Art

Examples of creative placemaking with public art can include murals, sculptures, installations, and performances often based on the local culture, history, and identity. It can also be used to create inviting public areas and promote public participation and engagement. Along with public art, it can have a lasting impact on the community by creating a sense of pride and ownership, promoting dialogue, and facilitating a deeper connection between the people and their environment.

Participatory Events

Participatory events are an important part of Creative Placemaking, as they help to bring people together to engage with the space and each other. Examples of participatory events can range from community art projects to interactive performances and workshops, to public celebrations and festivals. Through these events, people can come together to explore their creativity, create a sense of community, and have fun in their shared environment. Participatory events can also help to bring attention to and celebrate a specific area and its culture, potentially leading to greater investment in the region. As such, participatory events are a key component of Creative Placemaking and are essential for creating vibrant, sustainable public and private spaces.

mural in New York City

Photo by Ran Berkovich on Unsplash

Benefits of Creative Placemaking

There are diverse ways that arts organizations and artists can play an important role in making places better worldwide. Here are a few of them.

Community Engagement

Successful Creative placemaking projects bring people together to imagine and shape the future of their communities. Involving citizens in the process of creative placemaking and decision-making (community planning, community revitalization), it can help to strengthen community ties and build a sense of collective ownership and partnerships. Creative placemaking efforts also help to foster collaboration between different stakeholders and strengthen relationships between citizens, businesses, and public officials. Additionally, it can help to attract new investment, stimulate economic growth, and create jobs in rural communities. Ultimately, it is an effective strategy for engaging citizens and transforming communities.

Improved Quality of Life

One of the most notable benefits includes improved quality of life. By incorporating arts and cultural activities into a comprehensive plan, communities can create a sense of belonging and identity for residents, foster vibrant and inclusive public areas, and inspire creativity and collaboration. This can lead to improved physical and mental health outcomes, stronger economic growth, and greater social cohesion. It also provides increased access to education and meaningful employment opportunities, which helps to create an environment that is supportive and welcoming for all. Ultimately, it can create a higher quality of life in addition to vibrant arts that can be enjoyed by everyone.

Economic Development

Creative placemaking is a great way to increase economic growth in a community. It focuses on the use of arts, culture, and creativity to create value in a particular place and to improve the quality of life within that place. Improving the aesthetic of a community, it can attract more businesses to the area and create more jobs. Additionally, it can also increase foot traffic in the area, bringing in more customers and potential buyers. It can also add to the overall aesthetic of the community, making it more attractive to potential buyers and renters. Ultimately, it can be used to attract new businesses, create job opportunities, and increase the overall value of a community in addition to improving the social character of a neighborhood.


Limited Resources

Creative placemaking is a process of engaging artists, designers, and other creative professionals to help build vibrant and equitable communities. However, one of the main challenges of creative placemaking is limited resources. Financial resources are often limited, leaving artists and designers with fewer resources to work with. Additionally, time is often limited, preventing creative professionals from taking on bigger projects. Furthermore, access to local resources such as materials and tools can be limited, forcing creative professionals to be creative with what is available. Ultimately, these limited resources can make it difficult to fully realize a creative placemaking project.

Lack of Support

The lack of support for creative placemaking is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to successfully implementing an effective placemaking initiative. It requires a great deal of money, resources, and time to come to fruition, and without the proper support, these initiatives can be difficult to achieve. It is especially difficult in smaller communities and rural areas, where funding and resources are scarce. The lack of support also affects the sustainability of placemaking initiatives and can prevent them from being fully realized or maintained over a long period of time. Without the right support, it is difficult for placemaking initiatives to be successful and to have a lasting impact on the communities they serve.

Measuring Outcomes

Measuring outcomes is a key challenge. Due to its nature, outcomes are often difficult to quantify in traditional metrics. As a result, practitioners must rely on qualitative data to measure the impact of their work. This can be challenging because it is difficult to measure the intangible results, such as changes in the social fabric of a community or the emergence of new networks. To address this challenge, practitioners must develop innovative ways of measuring the outcomes of their work. This could include surveys, focus groups, and creative methods of collecting data. With the right strategies, practitioners can accurately measure the impact of their work and ensure that their efforts are making a meaningful difference in communities.


 Creative placemaking is an exciting and powerful tool that can be used to bring life and vibrancy to a community. It can be used to bring people together, create safer and more vibrant public areas, and foster meaningful connections between culture, the environment, and people. It can be used to build a sense of place, create economic opportunity, and foster a greater sense of community. It is a powerful tool that can be used to create meaningful, lasting social change and impact in our communities.