Creative Placemaking Research and Resources

Community based arts strategies have flourished recently around creative placemaking, a concept tying in the work of multiple sectors to strategically shape the physical and social characteristics of a place around arts and cultural activities. State arts agencies have long engaged in the work of fostering arts in communities through convenings, grant making, cultural districts, and other programs and services.

A national dialogue about creative placemaking has brought to life many more initiatives, projects, research and ideas that can be useful to state arts agencies delving further into implementing place based arts strategies. This page highlights creative placemaking literature—including policy papers, case studies and research on impact measurement and validation—briefly summarizing and linking to each document. It serves as a primer on creative placemaking as well as a select bibliography to facilitate further investigation.

Featured Resource

For additional information about the arts and economic and community development, visit the Creative Economic Development Section of the NASAA website.


Creative Placemaking: Integrating Community, Cultural and Economic Development
The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking
This white paper offers a theoretical basis for creative placemaking, identifies six elements of successful projects and addresses practices that can dampen impact.

Building Community: Making Space for Art
The Urban Institute and LINC
Reflecting 16 years of urban planning research, this paper focuses on how arts spaces can be incorporated into community planning and revitalization strategies.

Community Character: How Arts and Cultural Strategies Create, Reinforce, and Enhance Sense of Place
American Planning Association
The focus of this policy brief is on the ways arts and culture can foster a community’s ever-evolving sense of place to reflect the values and aspirations of residents and businesses.

From Creative Economy to Creative Society
Mark J. Stern and Susan C. Seifert, Social Impact of the Arts Project and The Reinvestment Fund
This brief makes a case for a new model of the creative economy built on policies that recognize creative and social ecosystems and that are both place and people based.

Creativity and Neighborhood Development: Strategies for Community Investment
Social Impact of the Arts Project and The Reinvestment Fund
This publication offers a framework for investing in creative placemaking projects that have the potential to coalesce social and civic relationships, build or reinforce public assets, reduce real estate vacancies, and/or foster networks between individuals and institutions.

Cultivating “Natural” Cultural Districts
Mark J. Stern and Susan C. Seifert, Social Impact of the Arts Project and The Reinvestment Fund
“Natural cultural districts”—high-density clusters of cultural assets developed by artists and organizations and not by policymakers—are introduced in this policy brief, which explains how districts can be leveraged for grass-roots community revitalization efforts.

Measurement & Evaluation

Measuring the Outcomes of Creative Placemaking
Mark J. Stern, Social Impact of the Arts Project
This presentation addresses the challenges of impact measurement and introduces an approach based on cultural ecologies and a multidimensional definition of social well-being.

The Validating Arts & Livability Indicators (VALI) Study: Results and Recommendations
Elaine Morley and Mary K. Winkler, The Urban Institute
This report summarizes an effort to validate a set of creative placemaking indicators, proposed by the National Endowment for the Arts, to measure community attachment, quality of life, economic conditions, and arts and culture activity.

Arts and Culture in Urban or Regional Planning: A Review and Research Agenda
Ann Markusen and Anne Gadwa
In its review of evidence for establishing causal relationships between arts and community development, this article closely examines two common creative placemaking strategies: cultural district designation and cultural tourism investment.

Knight Creative Communities Initiative (KCCI) Evaluation: Final Report
Mark J. Stern and Susan C. Seifert, Social Impact of the Arts Project
This assessment of the Knight Creative Communities Initiative–which trained “creative community leaders” in three cities–proposes a framework for measuring medium- and long-term impacts.

Cultural Vitality in Communities: Interpretation and Indicators
Maria Rosario Jackson, Ph.D., Florence Kabwasa-Green, and Joaquín Herranz, Ph.D., The Urban Institute
This paper offers an inclusive definition of “cultural vitality,” identifies the data that should be collected to measure it, and recommends a set of arts and culture indicators.

Case Studies

How to Do Creative Placemaking
National Endowment for the Arts
This action oriented guide includes case studies and essays from today’s leading thinkers in creative placemaking.

“Natural” Cultural Districts: A Three-City Study
Mark J. Stern and Susan C. Seifert, Social Impact of the Arts Project
This summary of a two-year study recommends long-term strategies for arts based community development to benefit entire cultural ecologies.

Cutting Teeth on Creative Placemaking: Southeast Houston Arts Initiative Case Study
Anne Gadwa Nicodemus, Metris Arts Consulting
Lessons relevant to all practitioners and funders of creative placemaking are found in this project evaluation.

When Artists Break Ground: Lessons from a Cleveland Neighborhood Partnership
Northeast Shores Development Corporation and Community Partnership for Arts and Culture
This case study offers 15 lessons about creative placemaking planning, management, implementation, marketing and research.

Arts and Culture at the Core: A Look at Creative Placemaking
NEA Arts, Number 3, 2012
A special edition of the quarterly National Endowment for the Arts magazine features creative placemaking experts and successful projects in Baltimore, Maryland; San Jose, California; Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and Driggs, Idaho.