Thursday, December 7, 2017

NCCP welcomes two new board members

By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

Chuck Biczak and Anne LaBate have joined the Board of the Directors of The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking.  The appointments were made effective November 21, 2017

Charles "Chuck" Biczak is a strategy and marketing professional dedicated focused on designing and implementing strategies, marketing campaigns, and business development programs that work in the real world.  Chuck has worked in Corporate Planning at Canon USA, Inc. since 1998, where he is currently the Director of Strategic Change Management.  Chuck led the marketing strategy for the successful design and launch of a brand new corporate logo and tagline: Canon See Impossible.  In addition, Chuck has helped to establish strategic partnerships, develop new business, and establish the social media strategy for Canon. 

Chuck graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and earned his MBA in Marketing from Drexel University.  While at Drexel, Chuck was a Teaching Assistant in the Marketing Department and won awards for both his teaching and research.  He is currently pursuing a Master Certificate in Music Business through the Berklee College of Music.  The diverse education means that Chuck is comfortable with both quantitative and qualitative approaches, encourages analysis and intuition, understands the big picture as well as the smallest details, and balances passion with strong project management.

Anne LaBate has been active in commercial real estate for over 25 years, with a current focus on estate, and is pleased to work every day within the Creek to Canal Creative District.
sales and leasing and prior to that, the appraisal of commercial properties. As a resident of Trenton, NJ, she has a particular interest in promoting the competitive advantages of Trenton real

She is active in her community as a Board member of the Trenton Downtown Association, the Trenton Parking Authority, the MIDJersey Chamber of Commerce, and as a member of the Grants Committee of the Princeton Area Community Foundation. She formerly served on the Boards of Passage Theatre Company and Artworks Trenton.

Anne has a BA in Community Development from Rutgers University and a Master of Science in Real Estate Development and Investment from New York University.

On another note, former NCCP Board Treasurer Marisa Benson has stepped down from the NCCP Board of Directors.  

The NCCP Board of Director oversees the work and sustainability of The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking. For more information, please contact NCCP Executive Director Leonardo Vazquez by email or by phone at 973-763-6352, x1

Thursday, November 16, 2017

NCCP building a community of creative placemakers in New York City

By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

Where do creative placemakers in New York City gather to share ideas and support one another?  We don't know either. So we have started working with colleagues from some nonprofit organizations in the city to help build a community of practice for creative placemaking. 

We have been building a professional community in New Jersey for a year, and now have more than 200 members around the state.

We are planning an event in late January or early February to bring together creative placemakers in New York City to share their insights and talk about what resources they need to be more successful (besides funding, of course.)

If you'd like to get involved with this effort, please contact NCCP Executive Director Leonardo Vazquez by email or at 973-763-6352, x1.  Learn more about The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking.

Image source:

Northeast Corridor Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit likely to be held in Madison, NJ May 3 and 4

By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

After three years in Newark, the Northeast Corridor Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit will be in Madison, New Jersey on May 3 and 4, 2018.  NCCP is in talks with Drew University to hold the two-day event at the school's campus.

Madison is a small urban village about an hour's train ride, or a 45-minute drive, from New York Penn Station.  It is about a half-hour drive, or an hour's train ride, from Newark Airport.  There are hotels near the university.

It shouldn't be surprising that a regional conference focused on arts and community improvement would happen in a small, suburban community.  "There are a lot of communities in Jersey with a strong presence of arts," said NCCP Executive Director Leonardo Vazquez.  "Anyone coming in for the Leadership Summit should check out the different types of arts in towns along the train line:  Dover, Boonton, Morristown, Millburn, Maplewood, South Orange, Orange and Newark."

At Creative Placemaking Leadership Summits, artists, policymakers, developers, urban planners, teachers and more participate in interactive workshop and share ideas through peer exchanges.  There will also be workshops in various communities in New Jersey and at least one social/networking event. 

Major themes of the Northeast Corridor Leadership Summit are gentrification, making space for creativity (physical design), and sports and arts. Subtopics including introducing creative placemaking to communities and funding  

The sessions are still being developed.  NCCP has put out a call for session proposals; the deadline is Wednesday, November 22.  Learn more or submit a proposal.

Registration will open in December.

Several organizations are supporting the Northeast Corridor Leadership Summit.  They include:  American Planning Association (New England, New Jersey and New York Metro chapters), ArtPlace America, ArtPride New Jersey, Civic Eye Collaborative, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, Metris Arts Consulting, Mortimer and Mimi Levitt Foundation, Noyes Museum of Art, New Jersey Community Capital, New Jersey Health Initiatives, New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Northern New Jersey Community Foundation, PlanSmart New Jersey, South Jersey Cultural Alliance

ArtPlace America to co-present Creative Placemaking Leadership Summits with NCCP

By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

ArtPlace America joins a host of partners to co-produce the 2018 Creative Placemaking Leadership Summits with The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking. The five regional summits are attracting hundreds of artists, planners, and community development practitioners.

Now entering its fourth year, the annual Creative Placemaking Leadership Summits bring together people from across the country who strengthen the social, physical, and economic fabric of their communities through arts and local cultural activities.

Thanks to a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town program, the convening is expanding to five regional Leadership Summits in 2018. The newest collaborator with The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking (NCCP) is ArtPlace America (ArtPlace), one of the nation’s leading organizations in creative placemaking.

Between March and October 2018, Leadership Summits will be held in Chattanooga (TN), Denver (CO), Newark (NJ) area, Charleston (WV), and College Park (MD). The Summits will bring together communities from rural to urban, and cover a wide range of topics, including public safety, gentrification, equity, and economic development.

For more information go to the Summit website. To talk with us, please contact NCCP Program Coordinator, Thomas Young, at or 973-763-6352, x2. 

“We’re excited to be working with ArtPlace America,” said NCCP Executive Director Leonardo Vazquez.  “The Leadership Summits are great. With ArtPlace America, they’re going to reach another level altogether.”

“NCCP is investing in the people who make our communities stronger,” said ArtPlace Communications Director Adam Erickson. “By connecting regional networks, they are anticipating the growing need for community leaders to escape siloes and build bridges to creatively solve the most pressing issues of our time, together. We are thrilled to work with NCCP on this effort.”

Additional partners include Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Mortimer and Mimi Levitt Foundation, New Jersey Health Initiatives, New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Northern New Jersey Community Foundation, South Arts, Tamarack Foundation, University of Denver, University of Maryland, and 11 state arts agencies.

About ArtPlace America
ArtPlace America (ArtPlace) is a ten-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.

About The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking
The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking (NCCP) builds connections, capacity and community for creative placemaking.  NCCP offers webinars, workshops, conferences for the public, as well as coaching and advisory services for communities.

ArtPlace America – Adam Erickson, Director of Communications,, 347-853-7818  x305

The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking – Leonardo Vazquez, Executive Director,, 973-763-6352, x1

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Certificate in Creative Placemakers helps students see the bigger picture

By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

Erica Ruben-Hadzic, a New Yorker who designs events and programs for nightclubs, joined the Certificate program because she wanted to “update my knowledge of current trends and best practices for bringing the arts into neighborhoods.”

She got a lot more.

“What I didn't expect, is how the Creative Placemaking program is turning my perspective around,” said Erica, who has been an Executive Producer for the prestigious Summer Stage in Central Park. 

“As a producer and curator, it is fascinating to learn about the process of building creative concepts through the history, voices, and success stories of a community. In some respects this course is challenging my notion of the producer/curator as the final taste maker.  Rather, I'm starting to better see that the very livelihood of a creative project in a community has so much more to do with the process of conceiving it there in the first place.

Erica is one of 14 students from nine states in the initial class of the Certificate in Creative Placemaking, a program developed by The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking and New Hampshire Institute of Art.

Students working on ideas during the residency
of the Certificate program. Image by Chris Archer
Between August 2017 and June 2018, the students will explore critical issues in creative placemaking.  They include community development, local economic development, qualitative and quantitative analysis, site planning, destination marketing, and alliance building. They also will develop their skills in collaborative leadership.  The program is mostly online.  Students met for a three -day residency in August, and are encouraged to share their work at an upcoming Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit offered by NCCP.

“The certificate has been a very fun and engaging way to explore the field,” said Ximena Bejarano, of Oakland, CA “and has really jumpstarted my own creativity in regard to how we might help shape the communities we live in. As someone without a background in planning, I feel that everyone's input is valued and I can draw on others in my cohort for their knowledge and experience.” 
Ximena, who works for Net Impact, a nonprofit that mobilizes young people to use their careers to lead social and environmental change, came to the program to “gain some tools that I could apply to my current work and that might help me bring placemaking into the work of the organization.”

Students are already using what they are learning in class.

Amy Regan, a founder of the Rochester (NH) Museum of Fine Art, used a public engagement technique she learned during the residency to explore how participants at a Pride festival felt about Rochester.

Manchester (NH) Philanthropist Liz Hitchcock is working on purchasing an old theater and club to turn into a community-oriented venue and performance space. 

Instructor Tom Borrup teaching students during the
residency.  Image: Chris Archer
Liz said, “I've gotten so much from the program already -- the ability to have the residency and meet all of the  classmates at the beginning of the program, helped me get a feel for the different problems other communities are seeing and some of the unique solutions that they have created.”

Amy, Liz, Ximena and Erica are trading ideas and learning with a diverse class of fellow students:

  • ·        Lindsey Danhauser is a Senior Program Supervisor for Art and Recreation Services for Eden Prairie (MN).
  • ·         Christa Drew, of Boxborough, MA is a Consultant for DAISA Enterprises, which provides business and initiative strategic planning, capacity building and evaluation services.
  • ·         Jodie Levandowski is a Planner for Manchester (NH).
  • ·         Emily Marks is an artist, curator and producer to youth audiences in Memphis (TN).
  • ·         Glenn Michalowski is a Program Administrator for a regional para-transit service based in Pequannock (NJ) and a liaison to the town’s Economic Development Committee.
  • ·         Kristin Stayer is the Executive Director for Park Place Community Center in Anderson (IL)
  • ·         John Sullivan, a science teacher in New York City, is on the Board of Bike and Walk Montclair (NJ)
  • ·         Lynn Thomson is the Manager of Community Education and Museum Outreach for the Currier Museum in Manchester (NH)
  • ·         Carly White is a Graphic Designer for THENDESIGN ARCHITECTURE in Cleveland (OH)
  • ·         Bob White is a landscape architect based in Portsmouth (NH)

“The course is rigorous and goes deep into how we define a community as well,” Erica said. “The teachers in this program share their heart-felt level of consciousness that is so encouraging to those of us who come at this program with a passion for our creative communities.”

Next year’s program will begin shortly after Labor Day 2018, and run until June 2019.  Registration for the 2018 program will open in January, and there will be monthly information sessions from January through July.  To learn more about the program, and sign up for updates, please visit or contact Leonardo Vazquez, Program Director, at or 973-763-6352, x1

Monday, October 16, 2017

Want more hands-on experience with creative placemaking? Join an NCCP Strategy Lab

By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

Conferences, webinars and walking tours are great for learning about creative placemaking.  But sometimes you want to roll up your sleeves and just get to it. 

That's why The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking now offers Strategy Labs.  In a Strategy Lab, you work on a real creative placemaking project for a real client.  They run from 90 minutes to two days.

The first Strategy Lab will be Thursday, October 19, from 4:30 to 7 in Hackensack.  We'll explore ways to activate Demarest Street, an underused pedestrian path that runs from the local bus station, across Main Street, and to the parking garage near the city's new performing arts center.  We'll work in partnership with the client -- the Hackensack Creative Arts Team -- and ArtsBergen's Connect the Dots program.  ArtsBergen is an initiative of the Northern New Jersey Community Foundation.

The next Strategy Lab will be November 10 and 11 at the Paterson Art Factory.  There we will help a unique maker space and filming center better connect with the surrounding community.  We will explore ways to organize open space at the facility for arts and cultural programming.  In addition, we'll explore how to make Spruce Street (which runs from the Great Falls National Park past the Art Factory and leads to Rte 19 and I-80) into a great corridor.  Finally, we'll also strategize ways to build the capacity of the Paterson Arts Council to lead and sustain these efforts.  The event is free, but a $20 donation to the Paterson Arts Council would be appreciated.

For more information, or to become a client for a Strategy Lab, please contact NCCP Executive Director Leonardo Vazquez by email or at 973-763-6352, x1

Explore a growing cultural center in South Jersey in the next Creative Placemaking Learning Tour

By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

Learn more about Hammonton, this small town that is becoming a center of arts and creative placemaking in South Jersey. 

Explore Stockton University's Kramer Hall (home to several arts and cultural organizations), Hammonton Arts Center, Noyes Art Museum, Eagle Theater, and the future Arts Alley. Brainstorm with other creative placemakers on an opportunity site in downtown Hammonton. Then join your colleagues for lunch and a drink at the town's new craft brewery.
Ticket includes lunch. Rain date is November 5.  Register

This Creative Placemaking Learning Tour is produced by New Jersey Creative Placemakers, an initiative of The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking, in partnership with the Noyes Art Museum and the South Jersey Cultural Alliance. 
Creative Placemaking Learning Tours are a different kind of walking or bus tour.  We do more than explore the what of a place; we learn about how the work happened -- often from the people who were most involved.  We also take time to brainstorm ideas for an opportunity site on the tour.  Finally, we have some kind of social activity. 
Creative Placemaking Learning Tours are made possible through the support of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and New Jersey State Council on the Arts.