Integrating Arts, Culture Into Community Development a 'Win-Win'

Creative placemaking — the integration of arts, culture, and community-engaged design — can invigorate post-industrial neighborhoods and be a catalyst for equitable, community-driven development, two reports from the Kresge Foundation and Point Forward find.

The reports, Creative Placemaking Case Study: North Collinwood (17 pages, PDF) and Creative Placemaking Case Study: Brookland-Edgewood (15 pages, PDF), found that when key stakeholders — residents, nonprofits, developers, and local government — in Cleveland and Washington, D.C., worked together to invigorate low-income neighborhoods using local creative assets as drivers of change, the process ended up addressing many of the systemic barriers faced by low-income residents and served as a bulwark against the displacement that sometimes occurs when rising property values price out longtime residents. In Cleveland, for example, the Northeast Shores Development Corporation and the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture worked to identify indigenous cultural assets, integrate local artists into the community through property ownership, and initiate artist-led community projects. In Washington, the District of Columbia Office of Planning, local nonprofit Dance Place, Bozzuto Development, Inc., and local residents worked together to welcome new businesses to the neighborhood while preserving the culture and authenticity valued by longtime residents.

"These case studies illustrate how diverse stakeholders in two cities have included creative placemaking in a suite of solutions to foster equitable community development that reflects the authentic characters and histories of urban neighborhoods," said Regina R. Smith, managing director of the Kresge Foundation's Arts & Culture Program.

"Arts, culture, and design aren't the salvation of these neighborhoods, but they are critical catalysts in creating development solutions that incorporate all the social, economic, and racial constituents of the communities," said Griff Coleman, a principal at Point Forward. "Neighborhoods thrive when developers work with local needs, customs, and histories, instead of squeezing them out as has happened in many other places across the country."