Creative placemaking serves livability, diversity, and economic development goals. Instead of a single arts center or a cluster of large arts and cultural institutions, contemporary creative placemaking envisions a more decentralized portfolio of spaces acting as creative crucibles. In each, arts and culture exist cheek-by-jowl with private sector export and retail businesses and mixed-income housing, often occupying buildings and lots that had been vacant and under-used. In large cities, many such hubs reflect the ethnic or historical character of a place and invite residents and visitors alike across porous boundaries to visit, patronize, and enjoy. In smaller towns, traditional cultural practices and landscapes are transformed into distinctive cultural centers and festivals that revive emptying downtowns and attract regional visitors. Large cultural institutions, often inspired by their smaller counterparts, are increasingly engaging in active placemaking.
This manual summarizes two decades of creative American placemaking, drawing on original economic research and case studies of pathbreaking initiatives in large and small cities, metropolitan to rural, as well as published accounts.