Tennessee Creative Placemaking’s National Reach

From Shannon Ford, Director of Community Arts Development—

Last month, I had the honor of participating in a roundtable discussion about creative placemaking at the Capital Ideas conference hosted by Smart Growth America’s Transportation for America program, an alliance of community leaders and policy makers dedicated to public investment in smart, homegrown, locally-driven transportation solutions. At this conference, California Arts Council Program Officer Shelly Gilbride, Smart Growth America Director of Arts and Culture Ben Stone, and I discussed how the arts and artists can be incorporated into transportation planning. Much of the discussion focused not only on how effectively the arts drive authentic community revitalization efforts, but also how instrumental artists can be in uniting and catalyzing community actors. (Visit Transportation for America’s The Scenic Route for an excellent guide to incorporating creative placemaking into transportation projects.)

In preparing for the discussion, I was fortunate to have all final evaluations from the Commission’s funded fiscal year 2016 Creative Placemaking projects as source material. While transportation planning was not the main purpose of these projects, many did employ aspects of asset mapping, destination development and wayfinding, in addition to promoting walkable and bikeable environments. Overwhelmingly, the projects were the products of grass-roots civic engagement, empowering a wide variety of stakeholders to participate in their communities’ revitalization efforts. Overall, the Commission’s investment of $75,000 in 12 projects across the state benefitted over 38,000 individuals, including 9,344 youth and 173 artists. Also impressive was the dollars and hours contributed to these projects, with awardees matching their grants with $79,490 in cash and volunteer time valued at $82,069.

Applications for fiscal 2018 are now open. Click here to read the guidelines and apply. The deadline to apply is January 23, 2017.