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A community vision quilt created by students at Garfield Elementary School in collaboration with professional teaching artist Kate Gorman, funded by the Ohio Arts Council. Photo by Chelsea Dipman

Strengthening the State Arts Agency Support System for Creative Placemaking

The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) is proud to announce the launch of a new collaborative initiative with Artplace America (ArtPlace), designed to help communities across the nation thrive through the arts.

The nation’s 56 state and jurisdictional arts agencies are a crucial part of the cultural ecosystem, supporting more independent artists, grass-roots cultural organizations and rural regions than any other arts funder in the United States. State arts agencies serve as grant makers, conveners and technical assistance providers for 65,000 community arts projects each year—projects that use the arts to give residents a voice in shaping vibrant, inclusive and sustainable communities. To empower these crucial community development roles, NASAA and ArtPlace have embarked on a new joint effort: Strengthening the State Arts Agency Support System for Creative Placemaking.

“State arts agencies have always been allies in the creative placemaking field, and ArtPlace is thrilled to be partnering with NASAA to support and extend this work,” says ArtPlace America Senior Program Officer Leila Tamari. “The arts agencies themselves, along with their communities of artists, arts organizations and local arts agencies, have tremendous influence and power that will fundamentally shape the future of this field.”

NASAA President and CEO Pam Breaux says, “The state arts agency field has had a 50-year commitment to community development that elevates the authentic, home-grown creative assets of people and places across America. State arts agencies exemplify how government can work in inclusive and innovative ways, across many different cultures and geographies. State arts agencies preserve cherished traditions, spark new growth opportunities, and make certain that all communities have access to the resiliency and prosperity catalyzed by the arts. NASAA’s partnership with ArtPlace is a tremendous opportunity to amplify what state arts agencies achieve in the community development arena.”

The collaboration between ArtPlace and NASAA consists of four components:

  1. Research on state arts agency roles: This research will help state arts agencies learn from each other and also will help other sectors understand the variety of community development and placemaking functions that state arts agencies fulfill.
  1. Convening: NASAA and ArtPlace will lead a special convening for state arts agency community development officers in conjunction with NASAA’s Assembly 2020 conference. The agenda—built around the learning goals of participants—will offer an opportunity to immerse in best practices, build relevant skills and explore San Juan, Puerto Rico, as a living laboratory for the role of culture in fostering community resiliency.
  1. Resource guide: NASAA will conduct an inventory of federal programs that have the potential to provide creative placemaking support. The resulting guide will offer tips on how to tap into resources from the housing, rural development and economic development sectors to support creative placemaking.
  1. Cross-pollination: NASAA and ArtPlace will facilitate cross-sector connections between state arts agencies and other placemaking networks. This will include a collaboration with the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations, an alliance of state and regional community development associations working to create opportunities for low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.

Watch this space for more information! As this initiative progresses between now and October 2020, we will be sharing our learnings and recommended resources here.

In the meantime, learn more about state arts agencies’ roles in community development by browsing these NASAA materials:

creative economy resources
grant-making data
public art policies
innovative state arts agency programs

For more information about our collaboration with ArtPlace, contact NASAA Chief Program and Planning Officer Kelly Barsdate.

About ArtPlace America

ArtPlace America is a 10-year collaboration among 16 partner foundations, along with 8 federal agencies and 6 financial institutions, that works to position arts and culture as a core sector of comprehensive community planning and development in order to help strengthen the social, physical and economic fabric of communities. ArtPlace focuses its work on creative placemaking, projects in which art plays an intentional and integrated role in place based community planning and development. This brings artists, arts organizations and artistic activity into the suite of placemaking strategies pioneered by Jane Jacobs and her colleagues, who believed that community development must be locally informed, human-centric and holistic. www.artplaceamerica.org

About the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies

The National Assembly of State Arts agencies is the membership organization representing the nation’s 56 state and jurisdictional arts agencies. We are a national, not-for-profit, nonpartisan association that champions state government support for the arts in America. NASAA provides advocacy, research, training and networking services to state arts agencies and their constituents. Together, NASAA and the state arts agencies advance the arts as an essential ingredient in the well-being and prosperity of our nation’s individuals, communities and families. Learn more about state arts agencies.

Photo Credits

Top: A community vision quilt created by students at Garfield Elementary School in collaboration with professional teaching artist Kate Gorman, funded by the Ohio Arts Council. Photo by Chelsea Dipman

Bottom: Casi York on Better Block Night in the Gateway Arts District, a certified Maryland Arts & Entertainment District. Photo courtesy of Evan Wilder and Art Lives Here, a project led by Joe’s Movement Emporium, a grantee of both ArtPlace and the Maryland State Arts Council

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