Wednesday, September 27, 2017

NCCP welcomes new Program Coordinator

By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking is growing.  This month, Thomas Young joined us as Program Coordinator.

Thomas combines his background in theatre, landscape architecture, music, and ecology to explore a more positive and fulfilling communities in New Jersey and around the country. He is currently the Co-founder and Artistic Director of reThink Theatrical, a theatre company that provides free, accessible, and quality theatre to the public. He recently graduated from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey with a Master in Landscape Architecture.
Thomas Young, NCCP Program Coordinator
the field of creative placemaking. Combining the equity and access of the outdoors—ranging from urban to natural settings—with the storytelling and enriching experiences of art—ranging from performance to visual media—Thomas hopes to create

He is the new point of contact for many of our programs, including the Creative Placemaking Leadership Summits and New Jersey Creative Placemakers.  You can reach him by email.  (We are currently changing our phone system and will share his phone number when it is available.)

To get updates on programs produced by NCCP, sign up for our newsletterLike us on Facebook,  or follow us on Twitter.

Updates on Creative Placemaking Leadership Summits: Save the dates, themes for DC area conference, new partners

By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

We're working hard on the Creative Placemaking Leadership Summits for 2018, and there is a lot of news to report:
  • Please hold March 14 and 15 for the Southeast Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit.  We'll soon announce where it will be.
  • The DC-area Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit will be held either October 5 and 6 or October 19 and 20, most likely in College Park, Maryland.  The DC-area Summit region includes Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia.  It will focus on these themes:
    • Protecting and enhancing historic, cultural and environmental assets
    • Leading community change
    • Building stronger ecosystems for creativity
    • Empowering communities
  • The Northeast Corridor, which explores issues affecting communities in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusets, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont, will be May 3 and 4 in New Jersey.  (Location TBD)  
  • We will be sending out a new RFP in October, after we have reviewed the first round of proposals with the planning teams.
  • It's always good to make more friends.  New partners and supporters for the Leadership Summits include ArtPlace America, Metris Arts Consulting, Mortimer and Mimi Levitt Foundation, and the New England and New York Metro chapters of the American Planning Association.
To get updates on Leadership Summits or other programs produced by NCCP, sign up for our newsletter, Like us on Facebook,  or follow us on Twitter.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Help communities and expand your creative placemaking skills through Strategy Labs

By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

Want hands-on experience in creative placemaking?  Would you like to explore some ideas before you bring them to your own community?  Want to help places in and around New Jersey become better through creative placemaking?  Join in on a Strategy Lab.

A Strategy Lab is a hands-on experience that lets participants work for as little as 90 minutes or as much as two days on a creative placemaking challenge faced by a real community.  It was designed by New Jersey Creative Placemakers, an initiative of The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking, to help provide useful experience and help communities.

The first Strategy Lab will be in Hackensack, NJ, on Thursday, October 19.  There, we will be exploring ways to activate an underutilized pedestrian street.  This event is produced in partnership with ArtsBergen, an initiative of the Northern New Jersey Community Foundation, and the City o Hackensack.  The event is free.  Learn more or register.

On November 10 and 11, we'll be at the Art Factory in Paterson, NJ.  There, we'll be exploring how to transform the open areas of an old industrial complex into a vibrant and inspiring creative and cultural space that will be open to the public.  More information on the program will be available soon.

To learn more about Strategy Labs, contact NCCP Executive Director Leonardo Vazquez by email or at 973-763-6352

To get updates on Strategy Labs or other programs produced by NCCP, sign up for our newsletterLike us on Facebook,  or follow us on Twitter.

Visit Valley Arts and Seven Oaks in next Creative Placemaking Learning Tour

By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

The Valley Arts District in Orange and West Orange is a national model for creative placemaking. Seven Oaks is a nearby historic community of grant late 19th and early 20th century homes. Learn more about these communities, and brainstorm ideas for connecting them, at the next Learning Tour. The event is produced by New Jersey Creative Placemakers (an initiative of The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking), Valley Arts, and the Orange Historic Commission.  Register for the tour.
In this tour, you can visit the converted Berg Hat Factory, a hydroponic garden, a historic house in Seven Oaks, and other great locations.
The event is free, but please consider giving a $20 donation to the Valley Arts District Fund to support creative placemaking in the area.
Questions? Contact NCCP Executive Director Leonardo Vazquez at or 973-763-6352
This Creative Placemaking Learning Tour is produced by a partnership of New Jersey Creative Placemakers (an initiative of The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking), Valley Arts, and the Orange Historic Commission.

The next Creative Placemaking Learning Tour after Orange will be in Hammonton, NJ on November 4.

To get updates on Learning Tours or other programs produced by NCCP, sign up for our newsletterLike us on Facebook,  or follow us on Twitter.

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