Art Works Blog

NEA Arts: Getting Started...

n today's sneak peek from the latest issue of NEA Arts---Arts and Culture at the Core: A Look at Creative Placemaking---Ann Markusen and Anne Gadwa Nicodemus, co-authors of Creative Placemaking answer the question of how to get started.

Ann Markusen

"One of the mistaken beliefs among many arts advocates is that you have to look outside of your community for participation, funding, and support. Yet in most of our case studies, initiators started by imagining that they would be serving local audiences.... Most good creative placemaking grounds itself on distinctive features and capabilities of the community, and service for the community. To form Cleveland's Gordon Square Arts District, three theater organizations joined forces with an established community development corporation to restore two old theaters, build a new one, and link them with a streetscape to create a vibrant arts and cultural area on the west side of Cleveland, far from the city's flagship arts institutions."

Anne Gadwa Nicodemus

"I would encourage people to just take a step back: all creative placemaking projects start with an idea. So there's a creative initiator -- sometimes that's an artist. Sometimes that's somebody from the public sector. It could be from the private sector. You can look at different examples of past projects, but what strategies might this be employing? Where would it take place? What are the desired outcomes? And so just kind of brainstorming, and then they have to consider, does this advance your organization's mission or is it employing your particular passion or skills? And you have to answer that for yourself. I think it's great to encourage arts organizations to get out of their silos, but if it's not your core expertise or if it's mission creep, then maybe it's not the right fit for you."

To read Markusen and Gadwa Nicodemus's interview with NEA Design Director Jason Schupbach in its entirety, check out what else is in the mag, and browse exclusive on-line only features, visit arts. gov.


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