Wednesday, August 5, 2015

What is "Creative Placemaking?"

There's a new hot word going around: PLACEMAKING. Before you ignore it or pass it off as a fleeting trend, you might want to jump on this band wagon; it's a fun one.
Photo from NatGeo

Placemaking is making places. Take a second to think about that obvious statement. What does it mean to make a place? What is a place? When you use that word, to what are you usually referring? An area or building or establishment that has some specific purpose, right? "That place we went to for dinner..." Or "that place with the great hiking trails..." Some places just exist - Niagra Falls for example. Other places have been made - the visitors center at Niagra Falls, for example. 

"Placemaking" or "Creative Placemaking" is a movement striving to put some more thought into the places we make, to include more people in the process of making community oriented spaces, and to infuse these places we make with a creativity that is life-giving/inspiring.

Will our artists and creatives be reintegrated into communities as vital resources? Will we become a more flexible, creative, and human society? I sure hope so.
"A good public space ... is not only inviting, but builds a place for the community around an artwork, or culture venue, by growing and attracting activities that make it a multi-use destination. Alone, no designer, architect, or artist can create a great public space that generates and sustains stronger communities. Instead, such spaces arise from collaboration with the users of the place who articulate what they value about it and assist the artist in understanding its complexity. Public art projects that engage the community in aspects of the art-making process can provide communities with the means to improve their environment and the opportunity to develop a sense of pride and ownership over their parks, streets, and public institutions. Ultimately, however, public art projects will be most effective when they are part of a larger, holistic, multidisciplinary approach to enlivening a city or neighborhood. In this way, public art can contribute both to community life and to the service and vitality of public spaces. This is the promise of the emerging “Creative Placemaking” movement."*

I love the idea of a community of workers from various fields combining their tools and ideas to create a place. I love this call to unsilo our professions when it comes to creating public spaces. Main Streets, walkable town centers, multiuse parks... Find out what your community is doing on this front and see how you might contribute. We must learn to be active participants in what we enjoy rather than passive recipients.

Read more on the NEA website.


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