Wednesday, September 13, 2017

We're doing more for creative placemakers

By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

It was a busy summer at The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking.  With the Municipal Art Society, we trained about 100 residents of the Bronx and Queens in creative placemaking. We trained New Jersey stakeholders in crowdmapping, thanks to the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority and Together North Jersey.  In our first  Certificate in Creative Placemaking program with New Hampshire Institute of Art, we welcomed 14 professionals from 10 states.  And we started planning for a host of new programs and services for creative placemakers around the United States.

Here's what we're working on for you over the next 12 months:

And we're not doing this alone. We've got the support of major grantmakers such as Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Mortimer and Mimi Levitt Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, New Jersey State Council on the Arts and Northern New Jersey Community Foundation.  We also have more than 50 partners from the nonprofit, business and government sectors around the United States.

We're looking forward to serving you, and the field of creative placemaking, better in 2017 and 2018.

If you'd like to partner with us on any of these projects, or have projects that we might be able to help you with, please contact Leonardo Vazquez by email or at 973-763-6352

How the arts can help communities recover from natural disasters and become more resilient

By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

As our friends in Texas and the Southeast work through the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, it may seem an odd time to think about the arts.  But the arts can help hard-hit communities with their local economies and prepare for the next natural disaster.

Creative industries can be among the first to bounce back, as Mt. Auburn Associates found in their study of Louisiana after Katrina.  Researchers found that the cultural economy in Louisiana grew faster than the overall economy in the state between 2005 and 2007.  Actors, musicians, painters, and other artists tend to be mobile, and can often practice their crafts in a variety of locations.  So they don’t need a factory or big office building to come back online to work.

The arts can also help us recover emotionally.  After Superstorm Sandy in New Jersey, several foundations created the New Jersey Recovery Fund, which gave millions of dollars for art projects to help people recover from the damage.  All of them were interesting and useful.  Some of the more remarkable ones included In the Eye of the Storm, a ballet co-created by choreographers and residents of Atlantic City, NJ.  It was produced by the Atlantic City Ballet.  Another was Table Talk, a community building effort in Asbury Park, NJ 

Many communities have dealt with tragedies with murals, concerts, and art-making activities.  But it’s more about the people and the process than the product.  After Sandy, the Tilt-Up Concrete Association wanted to honor the victims of Sandy with a concrete memorial. They put up the work in Highlands NJ without engaging the community.  It didn’t go well.  The monument, dubbed ‘Shorehenge’, was torn down earlier this year.  It’s not missed.

After people have had time to recover, it’s important to think about how to minimize problems from future disasters.  Our partner, South Arts, offers Arts Ready to help arts organizations protect their community and cultural assets.

The City of Perth Amboy, NJ, sitting on the shores of two rivers, was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy. But too many residents are disconnected from their waterfront. This is a problem for resiliency.  If the public doesn’t have strong feelings about its waterfront, future officials might allow development there that could cause more expensive and more life-threatening damage to city residents.  As part of the New Jersey Recovery Fund program, NCCP helped the City with a creative placemaking plan that calls for a sculpture walk and environmentally friendly arts activities along the waterfront.   By encouraging residents to connect with the waterfront, they are more likely to want to protect it from overdevelopment.  This will help keep a natural buffer between the river and the denser neighborhoods nearby.

Creative placemakers can do a lot to help communities deal with natural disasters. To be effective, they need to build trusting relationships with decisionmakers.  This has to be done well before the next disaster, when officials will be extremely busy.   We can’t predict when the next hurricane, flood, earthquake, tornado or other natural disaster will hit. But we know that if it happened once, it can happen again – and sooner than we think.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Lots of interest and support for Creative Placemaking Leadership Summits & Knowledge Exchanges

By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

In August 2017, NCCP and South Arts put out a call for proposals to host the 2018 Southeast Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit & Knowledge Exchange. With less than a month's time for responses, I was worried we'd only get 1 or 2 proposals.  Today, we have at least 11, from cities throughout the region.

It's a sign of how much interest there is in these events, which bring together hundreds of people to
explore new thinking and research and model practices for making communities better with arts and local culture, Five Summits around the United States are scheduled from March 2018 to the fall.

They will be covering a wide variety of topics, including: gentrification, local economic development, sports and arts, physical development, tactical urbanism (demonstration projects), entrepreneurship, and creative placemaking in small towns.  You're welcome to propose a 90-minute workshop or 7-minute presentation.  The deadline is September 10. (See below for the list of Leadership Summits and themes.)

More than 50 volunteers from dozens of public agencies and private organizations are supporting this effort, as well as several grantmakers.  The National Endowment for the Arts Our Town program is providing NCCP and partners with $50,000 over two years for the Summits.  Additional funders and sponsors include New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Mortimer and Mimi Levitt Foundation, New Jersey Health Initiatives, Northern New Jersey Community Foundation, and Metris Arts.

Our partners are diverse as well. They include a dozen state arts agencies, as well as universities and nonprofit and cultural organizations.  Partners help plan and promote the events.

Sponsorships range from $250 for an exhibit table to $10,000 for an exclusive title sponsorship.  All the money goes to help support creative placemaking and to keep the programs accessible for a wide array of attendees.  Leadership Summits attract elected and appointed public officials, artists, urban planners, leaders of cultural organizations, grantmakers and more.

If your organization is interested in becoming a sponsor or partner of any of the upcoming Leadership Summits, please contact NCCP Executive Director Leonardo Vazquez by email or at 973-763-6352

Begun in 2014 in Newark, NJ, Creative Placemaking Leadership Summits serve between 150 and 250 people per year. Our regional summits are designed to serve that many as well.  We want them to have enough people to generate a lot of thinking and new connections -- but not so many that the event becomes overwhelming.

2018 Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit & Knowledge Exchanges

·         Southeast: Location to be determined[1], early to mid March. Major theme: Creative placemaking in small towns and rural areas. Subtopics: Designing for wellness, diversity and inclusion, tactical urbanism|lighter, quicker, cheaper| demonstration projects, maintaining affordable spaces

Sponsors to date: Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation

·         Southwest & Rocky Mountains: April 6-7, Denver. Major themes: Entrepreneurship and equity. Subtopics: creative placemaking in frontier towns; creative placemaking in mountain towns; Latino creative placemaking

Sponsors to date: Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation

·         Northeast Corridor: May 4-5, 10-11 or 17-18, Newark (NJ). Major themes: Gentrification, Making space for creativity (physical design), sports and arts. Subtopics: Introducing creative placemaking to communities, funding

Sponsors to date: Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Metris Arts, Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation, New Jersey Health Initiatives, New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Northern New Jersey Community Foundation
·         Appalachian: June 15-16 or June 22-23, Charleston (WV): Major themes: Local economic development and community wellness. Subtopics: Building arts ecologies in isolated areas, invigorating arts in smaller communities, creative placemaking in industrial and post-industrial communities, placekeeping/ protecting the ethos of a community, building effective partnerships with elected officials, leaders of local non-arts-related businesses, and nonprofit organizations, building local arts communities, connecting to regional and larger arts markets, and mapping creative assets

Sponsors to date: Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation
·         Capital Region (Washington DC area):  Fall, Maryland (location to be determined). Themes to be determined

Sponsors to date: Metris Arts, Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation

[1] Site will be in a mid-sized city in one of these states: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky or Tennessee

Monday, July 10, 2017

Call for session proposals: Creative Placemaking Leadership Summits and Knowledge Exchanges

By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

NCCP and its partners are planning five Creative Placemaking Leadership Summits and Knowledge Exchanges in 2018.  The convenings will be held in the southeastern US, Denver (CO), Newark (NJ), Charleston (WV) and Maryland.  Each convening has or will have a distinct theme.  These include creative placemaking in small towns and rural areas, gentrification, entrepreneurship and equity.

On behalf of our team of partners, we invite you to submit a proposal to conduct a workshop or presentation for any of the convenings.  The deadline is August 20, 2017. To learn more or submit a proposal, please go to:

Workshops at 2017 Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit
in Newark, NJ

Since 2014, Creative Placemaking Leadership Summits and Knowledge Exchanges have engaged more than 700 people.  Many of them are decision makers or key influencers from a wide variety of disciplines, including philanthropy, public policy, urban planning, community and local economic development, arts, and academia.  In evaluations, the vast majority of participants have said that they enjoyed the events, learned useful information, and made valuable connections.

The convenings were held in New Jersey. Thanks to the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town program, we are able to offer these events around the United States.
To learn more about a previous Leadership Summit, please visit:

To learn more about a previous Knowledge Exchange, please visit:

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Learning Tour brings New Jersey Creative Placemakers to Morristown

By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

Creative placemakers from as far as the Jersey Shore and Brooklyn went to Morristown last week to see how arts and local culture are helping to enhance the North Jersey town.  They learned about social and economic issues in the community, toured a downtown arts festival, met local artists and community organizers, and explored a new public art project in a community that is often bypassed by visitors and residents.

It was the first Learning Tour produced by New Jersey Creative Placemakers, an initiative of The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking. 16 people attended the event, which was co-produced and led by Kadie Dempsey, the Director of  Creative Placemaking for Morris Arts.

The participants saw a film about the Gateway Totem, a National Endowment for the Arts-funded sculpture that honors the heritages of the diverse people who live or lived in the Speedwell Avenue neighborhood.

Learning Tour participants meet with local artists at the Gateway Totem
Participants also heard from Jennifer Wehring, the Executive Director of the Morristown Partnership, a downtown business organization, and Morris Arts Executive Director Tom Werder.  Morris Arts is the county arts agency for Morris County.  The participants also met with Carlos Sartelo, a local artist and community organizer who works with Morris Arts on community engagement in the diverse Speedwell Avenue neighborhood.  At the beginning and end of the tour, attendees went through Meet Me in Morristown, a monthly arts festival produced by Morris Arts in the spring and summer.

The participants also did some creative placemaking planning.  They stopped at a vacant building and lot and brainstormed possible strategies for the site.  After the tour ended, several of the participants enjoyed drinks at Tashmoo, a local pub.

The event was covered by Morristown Green, a local news organization. See the article.

Future tours are being planned for September through November 2017.  They will be in the Valley Arts District (Orange and West Orange), Hackensack, Rahway, and Hammonton. To learn more or get updates, sign up for the NCCP newsletter, like NCCP on Facebook or follow NCCP on Twitter.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

New Jersey Creative Placemakers to conduct free crowdmapping workshop

By Leonardo Vazquez

Before you decide what you want to do in a community and where, it's important to know what and who you have available to work with.  Crowdmapping can help.

New Jersey Creative Placemakers, a new network for those working to make communities better through arts and local culture, will offer a free crowdmapping workshop in July 2017 as part of Together North Jersey's training series on creative placemaking.  The series is sponsored by North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority.

Crowdmapping in Queens, NY
The workshop is tentatively scheduled for July 14, 9 am to 2 pm, at North Jersey Transportation

Planning Authority's large conference room at One Newark Center in Newark, NJ.  It will be taught by NCCP Executive Director Leonardo Vazquez, who has taught similar workshops for the Municipal Art Society of New York and uses crowdmapping regularly in NCCP's consulting practice.

Anyone is welcome to participate, but seating is limited.  Registration is expected to open after June 20. To get updates on registration, please follow NCCP on Facebook or Twitter.

NCCP and partners to hold Creative Placemaking Leadership Summits and Knowledge Exchanges around United States

By Leonardo Vazquez

Couldn't make it to one of NCCP's Creative Placemaking Leadership Summits or Creative Placemaking Knowledge Exchanges?  No worries.  There might be one close to you in 2018.

Thanks for a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town program, NCCP and more than a dozen partners will hold gatherings on creative placemaking in Denver, CO; a major Southeastern city; Newark, NJ; and Charleston, WV.  We are also considering a convening in the Washington, DC area.

Since 2014, Leadership Summits and Knowledge Exchanges have brought together more than 700 people working to make communities better through arts and cultural activities.  The events, which were in Newark, brought in creative placemakers from around the United States, as well as from Canada, Ghana and Egypt.

In surveys after the events, the vast majority of participants said they enjoyed the events, learned a lot, got useful knowledge and made new connections.
A workshop at Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit
 in May in Newark, NJ

To bring the Leadership Summits and Knowledge Exchanges to the rest of the country, NCCP is working with a wide variety of partners.  These include representatives of SouthArts, Tamarack Foundation, Creative Startups, University of Denver, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, South Jersey Cultural Alliance, Noyes Museum of Art, and more than 10 state arts agencies.  These partners and more help develop the content of the events in their region.

Each Summit and Knowledge Exchange will be designed to serve residents, organizational leaders, civic leaders and public officials in their respective region.  The events bring in 150 to 250 participants -- large enough to grow a network, but not so large that they're overwhelming.

The Southeastern Leadership Summit and Knowledge Exchange, covering the region from North Carolina to Florida and west to Louisiana and Arkansas, will be held in March in a southeastern city to be determined.  The theme is also to be determined.

The Southwest/Rocky Mountain Summit and Exchange, serving an area from Texas to Arizona and up to Montana, will be April 6 and 7 at the University of Denver.  The theme will be Entrepreneurship, Arts and Equity. 

The Northeast Corridor Summit and Exchange, covering all the states along Amtrak's Northeast Corridor line, will be May 17 and 18 in Newark. The theme is to be determined.  The Northeast Corridor events have been supported by the American Planning Association New Jersey Chapter, Atlantic Health Systems Healing Arts Program, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Montclair State University, New Jersey Community Capital, New Jersey Institute of Technology,  New Jersey State Council on the Arts and Northern New Jersey Community Foundation.

The Appalachian Summit and Exchange, which will serve the Appalachian region from western New York south and southwest to northern Mississippi, will be held in June in Charleston, WV. The theme is TBA.

To get more updates on these events, sign up for NCCP's emails, or follow us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

To get involved with planning these events, or to be a sponsor or exhibitor, please contact Leonardo Vazquez by email or at 973-763-6352