IRRIGATE: Artist-Led Community Development

Cities and neighborhoods need creative thinking. Particularly when communities are facing big challenges, artists see opportunity in challenge, beauty in chaos and have practical skills and creative thinking that can draw people and attention to an issue or a place.

Irrigate was a 3-year creative placemaking initiative designed in response to the disruption of a major construction project through the heart of Saint Paul, MN. Created in partnership with Springboard for the Arts, the City of Saint Paul and Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Corporation, and funded by ArtPlace, Irrigate trained artists as community organizers and leaders, facilitated partnerships between artists and businesses, and funded small scale arts projects that created surprise, joy and delight.

This toolkit provides step-by-step guidance in creating partnerships, connecting with local artists, training workshops and evaluation, as well as templates for budgets and timelines for projects at different scales. Resources from this toolkit are included in the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Resilient Cities Initiative. The toolkit is free, with additional consultation available.

Irrigate At-A-Glance

    • 600 local artists participated and generated over 150 projects in partnerships with small businesses and neighborhood groups across St. Paul
    • Irrigate projects generated over 50 million positive media impressions of an area that otherwise would have had a predominantly negative narrative
    • Groups in Cleveland, OH, Nashville, TN and Mesa, AZ have used the Irrigate model for programs in their own communities
    • Adaptations of the Irrigate model have been used for projects in Minneapolis & Saint Paul, MN, as well as in partnership with the International Downtown Association
    • Flickr photo gallery of all arts events presented during Irrigate:

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If you’re having issues with the form or have other questions, click here to request the free toolkit, or email Carl at with questions.