Creative Placemaking

Creative Placemaking

Art works to improve the lives of America’s citizens in many ways. Communities across our nation are leveraging the arts and engaging design to make their communities more livable with enhanced quality of life, increased creative activity, a distinct sense of place, and vibrant local economies that together capitalize on their existing assets. The NEA defines these efforts as the process of creative placemaking.

Man with an Art Lives Here arrow sign pointing to a pop-up gallery in an urban neighborhood

Outside a pop-up gallery in Mount Ranier, MD, an event in the Art Lives Here series. Photo courtesy of Art Lives Here 

Designing Equity Convening
On May 9, 2016, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Surdna Foundation co-hosted Designing Equity, a convening to address the role that design can play in building more equitable and just communities.


Beyond the Building: Performing Arts and Transforming Place
Performances have multifaceted ways that they transform places, people's relationships with their communities, and community development processes. On November 3, 2014, the Arts Endowment hosted the "Beyond the Building: Performing Arts and Transforming Place" convening to develop a better understanding of how performance-based organizations, and the artists they engage, transform places through their artistic practices. The public presentations were broadcast live; the video archives of the four public sessions are now available.


Our Town

Our Town is the NEA's primary creative placemaking grants program, and invests in projects that contribute to the livability of communities and place the arts at their core. Through partnerships on the local, state, and federal levels, the Arts Endowment brings the best in creative placemaking to communities of every scale. 


Exploring Our Town
By presenting case studies of more than 70 Our Town grants, Exploring Our Town examines how communities use the arts to improve quality of life, and offers insights on how to plan creative placemaking projects.


Mayors' Institute on City Design
The Mayors' Institute on City Design is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the United States Conference of Mayors. Since 1986, the Mayors' Institute has helped transform communities through design by preparing mayors to be the chief urban designers of their cities.


Citizens' Institute on Rural Design
The Citizen's Institute on Rural Design was established as Your Town: Citizen's Institute on Rural Design in 1991 and is a partnership of the NEA, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Project for Public Spaces, along with the Orton Family Foundation and CommunityMatters Partnership. This program gives local leaders in rural areas the tools they need to wisely direct the physical growth of their communities.