Arts and Culture

Arts and culture have always been part of successful community work, fostering social cohesion, engagement, and dialogue, but there’s a lot to learn about the many ways they can be employed and partnerships that are out there to be formed.

Man with a cane stands at the top of set of stairs in a park .

Poem: “Gentrification”

I have seen a neighborhood eat itself for dinner
Patrons looking at gallery wall.

If We Want the Arts in Baltimore, We Need Its Artists

Artists have left their mark on Station North and paved the way for an arts district, but the organically-developed communal live/work spaces that play such a vital role in helping make Baltimore an arts mecca are an endangered species.
Miracle on 42nd Street movie poster

Miracle on 42nd Street: A Tale of Artist Housing

The story behind a bold idea to create a subsidized housing community for artists in a New York City neighborhood.
Residents in Austin, Texas, sit in a micro-unit home.

Flipping the Script

A nonprofit forgoes the typical community meeting for a "living charrette," which leads to greater neighborhood feedback about a proposed 24-acre development in Austin, Texas.
several mural images

Generating Civic Power in North Philadelphia

An organization embarks on a community-driven design process to transform two vacant row homes into a site for residents, artists, and law enforcement to collaborate on new public safety strategies rooted in care rather than control.
wall of stones

Poem: ms. margaret on her landline phone with ruth, talking about her new neighbors...

A poem engaging equity for the author's godmother and other women who begin their sentences with the word "chile."

Conflict and Placemaking: Tactical Urbanism on Nicollet Mall

Earlier this year, the City of Minneapolis broke ground on a $50 million overhaul of Nicollet Mall, a 12-block centerpiece of its downtown. Like...
A woman tells her story about life in Little Tokyo while someone holds an old photo of her and her coworkers.

Preserving the Character of Little Tokyo

In the wake of rapid gentrification, an organization in Los Angeles leverages the arts to celebrate a community's rich heritage and keep social equity as a priority. But what is the core character of Little Tokyo?
Poet traci kato-kiriyama laughs at the microphone.

Poetry on the Panel

Attendees at the 2015 PolicyLink Equity Summit experienced something unexpected when they walked into many of the panels and workshops: a poetry performance.

Art Matters–In Rural Classrooms and Beyond

I’ve spent nearly two decades working on the intersection of housing, community development, and public policy. I’ve seen the arts bring out the best...
A booth is set up for residents to ask about a project called 303 ArtWay. In this photo, an ArtWay representative chats with three residents.

Creating Miles of Art in the Mile High City

How a Denver organization intends to create a 9-mile art-, health-, and heritage-themed bike and pedestrian trail that will feature authentic cultural expression.

A Community Planning Process–Even A Good One–Is Not Enough

Just the inherent language of community “transformation” signals that what has come before is not worth holding on to, and renders the history of these public housing sites insignificant. Knowing this, our challenge is not to envision “transformed” communities, but an evolution that carries with it visible markers of what has come before and illuminates the history of the place and the people who have lived in these places for decades.

A Tale of Two Murals in Albany

Having had the experience of public art with no public involvement, a community organization set out to show there could be another way.
Two people partake in the Healing Hands project.

Using Art to Create Community at a Clinic

Arts projects at a Minneapolis clinic created a natural connection between people who might not otherwise interact.
An abstract mural in red, blue, green, yellow, and black.

Challenges of Space and Place in Creative Placemaking

Some of us, myself included, are susceptible to the inaccurate thinking that when the arts are involved, the complications that can arise with traditional community building are lessened.

The Catalyzing Power of Art

Art can be an economic engine for neighborhoods, but sometimes locally-based artists need some support to kick their businesses into gear, and community-based organizations are stepping up.
porch party

Sitting on a Porch Can Be Good for Your Health

To help combat isolation and reweave the connecting fabric that had been lost, a neighborhood arts center launches an initiative that eventually became a movement.
Mural on wall with faces of girls looking into the distance.

Art in the Face of Gentrification

Four representatives of New York City organizations discuss their employment of art and artists to empower residents in the face of gentrification.

Placemaking for, and by, Whom?

Place-Making in Legacy Cities: Opportunities and Good Practices, prepared by New Solution Group LLC in partnership with Center for Community Progress, December 2013.

A sprawling white “hipster” is memorialized against a backdrop of romanticized visions of blight in a mural that dominates an intersection in the historically Black 7th Ward in New Orleans.

The Cultural Ramifications of Gentrification in New Orleans

Gentrification is not just physical displacement; it’s cultural appropriation across entire neighborhoods. Artists have an obligation not to participate.

Not Your Average Community Garden

A good community garden is a space that nurtures hope, natural abundance, and growth, and eventually moves beyond food and into the realm of relationship-building that can help sustain healthy communities.

Interview with Richard Baron, CEO of McCormack Baron Salazar

It still surprises many people that Richard Baron, the CEO of one of the largest for-profit affordable housing developers, got his start in the field supporting public housing tenants in a rent strike.

Exploring Foreclosure Through Art

In Minneapolis and Boston, artists help explore the losses (and gains) of foreclosure with work that supports advocacy and community building.
burlap with screenprinted words

The $9 Jar of Artisanal Pickles: Equity and Local Food

Sustainability is about thriving, not just surviving. We will not thrive if we are poorly paid martyrs to a good cause, and thus, in a healthy, diverse and vital food system, some of our efforts might need to be directed to those who can pay nine dollars for a jar of pickles.

Affordable Housing and . . . a Museum in Harlem

For over 30 years, Broadway Housing Communities has developed its own formula for meeting the housing needs of West Harlem's lowest-income residents. One of its unorthodox ingredients has been art galleries, and now, there's a children's museum in its newest building.

Looking at Places Through Artists’ Eyes

How an Alaskan housing authority plans to focus on creative placemaking as a development strategy to better reflect the communities it serves.

Poem: “What Must Be Done”

Do not hate them. Do not be angry with them: The real estate agents, appraising the value of other peoples lives, calculating the profit that someone’s home of twenty...
A window sign that reads "poems."

Poem: “This Yes”

When the federal government required the mills of Cohoes to hire “colored” workers or lose war contracts, the mills relented but Cohoes maintained its segregation. Workers of color settled across the river in North Troy.
The New Breed Bass Band plays their trumpets.

Keeping Your Artists Close to Home

New Orleans relies on its artists as a core part of its economy. What can be done when those artists can no longer afford to call the city home?
A smiling African-American man in a baseball cap sits at a table in a social lounge type room with other people in the background.

Keeping Seniors Healthy by Fostering Connections and Community

For high needs seniors with chronic illnesses, health is not merely—or even mostly—a matter for medical professionals.

Bringing Together Arts and Community Development

Who has been behind the large increase in financial support for and attention to what has been termed "creative placemaking" over the past couple years, and why?

Who Is It For?

A Washington, D.C. nonprofit undertakes a redevelopment project and tackles the issue of cultural displacement.

Not All Artists Are Young. Or Childless.

On Dec. 3, the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland became the deadliest in the city’s history, claiming the lives of 36 individuals. The warehouse...

An Artist’s Way of Seeing: Community Engagement in Creative Placemaking

How are artists converting the power and creativity of art into community-led change?
video in window

Regrets of an Accidental Placemaker

Had I unintentionally contributed to the gentrification of my neighborhood and other neighborhoods around Washington, D.C.?
Front porch with three chairs.

Taking Back the Front Porch: Using Art to Reclaim Community Identity

The front porch is a space in-between our private family space and our more public spaces where we create our own definition of “community.” In many parts of Chicago, this space is often a battleground.
speech conversation balloons

Starting Conversations with Public Art

An arts collaboration comes up with a creative spark to facilitate discussions about neighborhood change.
community of people gathered

Reimagining a Neighborhood, The Way It Ought To Be

The arts have a long history of highlighting social issues and creating public conversation that results in measurable change. As an arts administrator with...
“La Crucifixion de Don Pedro,” the oldest Puerto Rican mural in Humboldt Park.

Conflict and Placemaking in Humboldt Park: Paseo Boricua

The area surrounding Paseo Boricua is not exclusive space, but in a gentrifying part of the city, it is undeniably—and perhaps unavoidably—contested space. 
Child showing a story book to another child.

How This Museum Supports Community Integration and Trauma Recovery

Using artistic expression to de-stigmatize and treat trauma.

Art Just Became Even More Essential

Coming mere days after the election, the reference to the famous Audre Lorde declaration, “Art gives us tools other than the master’s tools,” felt apropos. The people in the room were ready to hear any message of hope. I was no exception.
Three Minneapolis residents chat while sitting at a table outdoors.

Artists as Organizers

Creative placemaking means more than merely adding public art into the mix. To be sustainable it needs to build relationships—and power.

Creative Placemaking: Honoring the Past While Welcoming our Futures

A discussion about honoring the history of a place while actively working to encourage its growth and foster positive change.
A woman pants a mural of Neil deGrasse Tyson on the side of a New York building.

Working with Local Artists

In response to an influx of high-profile street art, one Brooklyn community development organization decided to invest in homegrown art and artists, and learn how to support them.
Public art in Pittsfield, Massachusetts: A utility box on a sidewalk is covered with interlocking hands in all the colors of the rainbow.

Could Public Art on Utility Boxes Displace Communication?

What's not to like about colorful art on utility boxes? Well, in some places that drab infrastructure might be performing informal community functions...
People gathered outdoors around a table.

We Need the Data—But Can’t Forget the People—in Creative Placemaking

However difficult, altering one’s viewpoint of a community is a crucial step, because creative placemaking’s overarching goal is to reach everyone where they are, and you can’t do that if you begin with a well thought-out plan in hand.

Poem: “Tires Stacked in the Hallways of Civilization”

Yes, Your Honor, there are rodents, said the landlord to the judge, but I let the tenant have a cat. Besides, he stacks his tires in the hallway.

The Gentrification Will Be Televised

The North Pole opens discussion between residents of gentrifying neighborhoods and elevates the personal stories and memories of those being displaced.
Kresge president Rip Rapson

Interview with Rip Rapson, president and CEO of the Kresge Foundation

If you look at what Rip Rapson has accomplished and the insight he brings to his current work, you'll get a much better picture of who he is and the challenging work he spearheads at the Kresge Foundation.

An Appetite for Art in Small Town Minnesota

In rapidly diversifying rural Minnesota, an ArtPlace grant is seen as a resource for celebrating cultures and creating bridges between them.

False Narratives About Artists Harm Artists, and Communities

In 2002, Richard Florida published a book that kicked off a wave of urban development efforts based on the belief that architects, artists, musicians,...