New Creative Placemaking Toolkit for Business Districts

The International Downtown Association and Springboard for the Arts are delighted to share new resources and projects to support creative placemaking partnerships between artists and local business initiatives. Today, Springboard and IDA launch the Guide for Business Districts to Work with Local Artists, and announce six new projects, led by IDA member organizations, to implement creative placemaking projects in their community. This work is made possible through the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts from its Our Town program.

IDA and Springboard are seeding six projects with $5,000 grants to support creative placemaking. Creative placemaking is the act of people coming together to change over-looked and undervalued public and shared spaces into welcoming places where community gathers, supports one another, and thrives.



The projects are in Chandler, AZ; Tempe, AZ; Santa Ana, CA; New Haven, CT; Oklahoma City OK; and Memphis, TN. These projects will take place in the spring of 2017 and are scaled to support local artists’ work in creating more vibrant and engaging local business districts. They will be documented on Creative Exchange. See the list of projects below.

The Guide for Business Districts to Work with Local Artists is a free guide for place managers to work with artists on creative placemaking projects. Created by Springboard for the Arts from their experience working with artists and consulting on creative placemaking work across the country, the guide contains tools for partnership building between BIDs and artists, collaboration between community stakeholders, budgeting and project management. The toolkit is available to the public for free on Springboard’s national sharing platform, Creative Exchange:

“Creative placemaking is an important intersection of the creativity of artists and the vitality of our business communities,” says Jason Schupbach, Director of Design and Creative Placemaking Programs at the NEA. “The new Guide is a useful resource for practitioners that is a valuable addition to the library of tools for artist-led creative placemaking.”

“For years we have seen the creative work of our member organizations as they build partnerships to bring arts and engagement to their districts, and we are excited to be able to offer these resources,” said David Downey, President and CEO of IDA. “The Guide and these projects will offer a model for our member organizations and build their creative placemaking capacity in urban places around the world.”

“Artists thrive when their communities thrive and vice versa,” notes Springboard for the Arts Executive Director Laura Zabel. “We know that artists are in every community, and that they are looking for ways to connect with and shape their communities. Sharing the tools to build cross-sector relationships, grow audiences and create more resilient, vibrant communities is a win for everyone.”




Downtown Crosswalk Beautification: Chandler, AZ
The Downtown Chandler Community Partnership (DCCP), a nonprofit business improvement district operating in Chandler, AZ is seeking an artist or artist team to design artwork graphics for pedestrian crosswalks at three crossings along Arizona Avenue in downtown Chandler. The selected artist shall create a series of design variations that reflect the unique identity, diversity, culture, and/or history of downtown Chandler, in partnership with the City of Chandler.

Pop up Mobile Patio: Tempe, AZ
This collaboration between the Downtown Tempe Authority, the City of Tempe, local businesses and artists will activate a city-owned dumpster transformed into a mobile pop-up park by the Public Works Department. This project will empower an artist(s) to transform it into a comfortable, inviting sitting/gathering space. It will be parked in a parking space in front of businesses.

The Calliotree: Santa Ana, CA
Downtown Inc. is partnering with renowned a local artist and creative engineer, two local schools, and the City of Santa Ana to reintegrate a community landmark into the public realm. The artist will adapt digital infrastructure onto a 30-foot tall dying sycamore tree (a historic local landmark) to transform it into a programmable audio-visual art piece that acts as a giant musical instrument for anyone to play.

Elm City Mosaic: New Haven, CT
Elm City Mosaic is a creative placemaking partnership with the Town Green Special Services District, local artists, teachers, students, and downtown stakeholders. This project aims to transform forgotten places into cared-for spaces that all can enjoy, with colorful mosaic murals of hand-painted tiles. Local high school students will plan, design, create and install a large mural of tiles to cover chain link fences on selected locations in downtown New Haven.

Rain Stencils: Oklahoma City, OK
Downtown Oklahoma City Initiatives and the Downtown Business Improvement District, with the help of Short Order Poems, a group of local poets, will be installing original poems from local artists on the sidewalks and plazas throughout the central business district in downtown Oklahoma City that will ONLY appear when raining. As sidewalks become rain-soaked during our rainy, spring season, the waterproof painted poetry will remain dry and become legible to pedestrians.

Main Street Sounds: Memphis, TN
Main Street Sounds is a new effort to bring busking and live music performance to street corners and public sidewalks in downtown Memphis. The Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC) will hire local musicians for up to 50 performances along the Main Street Mall during the midday lunch hour and early evening. The program will run for 8 weeks from April through the end of May.

This story is supported by a National Endowment for the Arts Our Town Knowledge Building grant supporting a partnership between Springboard for the Arts and the International Downtown Association. See more stories from the partnership here.

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