Thursday, August 30, 2018

National Summit Draws from Wide Area

By Andrea Orlando, MSJ
Community Director
The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking

   Clara Pinsky plans to travel across the country to learn how others are wrestling with arts and displacement. She is senior program manager with a non-profit arts organization in San Fransisco that works with formerly homeless people. 
   Pinsky will be joining more than 300 people from around the country at the National Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit 
October 5-7 at the University of Maryland, School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation in College Park, MD. They'll be discussing, sharing and learning how arts and cultural programming improves places. 
    "I'm really excited that one of the themes is displacement and gentrification," Pinsky said. Her organization, ABD Productions, works with low-income residents to create performance and visual art. San Fransisco is famously a high-cost-of-living city and home to some of the world's tech giants. It is also home to desperate poverty, Pinsky said. "We have this really stark wealth disparity happening," she said. 
     ABD's signature program, Skywatchers, which is in the second year of an Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, produces art through and by residents. "We work with community organizers. We're the artists in the room as they strategize to fight back against gentrification," Pinsky said.  
     The summit is attracting a mix of people from various fields. As one might expect, representatives from at least a dozen arts organizations will bring their creative spirit. Arts funders from the NEA, ArtPlace America and the Levitt Foundation, will also be on hand. Representatives from the Alameda County Sheriff's Office in California will not only attend, but instruct a session on creative placemaking and law enforcement. The National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations will represent along with people from Grantmakers in Health. 
      An employee of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, which champions civil rights by facilitating dialogue in Alabama, will attend the summit along with representatives from the Local Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth & Reconciliation. The Edgecombe Group, Inc., an architectural, preservation and urban planning firm based in Maryland will also be present. 
       Americans for the Arts is a partner with co-producers, ArtPlace America and the National Consortium for Creative Placemaking. Patricia Walsh, Public Art and Civic Design Program Manager for Americans for the Arts, said that studies show that 72 percent of Americans understand that the arts have the power to unify across race, age and ethnicity. "Communities across the country gain, and in some cases regain, connectivity and attachment to each other and their spaces when the arts are a part of community development," she wrote.
       Employees at the following arts organizations will be at the summit: St. Louis ArtWorks, The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland, the William King Museum of Art, the Washington County Arts Council, the Zeitgeist Center for Arts and Community, the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, the Coleman Center for the Arts, Public Art Reston, the Caroline County Council of Arts, Inc., the Appalachian Artisan Center, the Cultural Planning Group, GoodSpace Murals and ArtsRevive. 
       Participants are coming from many states. People from nearby states, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina, will be joined by folks from Arizona, Nevada, New York State, New Jersey, California, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, West Virginia, Michigan, Alabama.      


Thursday, August 16, 2018

Certificate in Creative Placemaking Program is Bigger and More Diverse than Ever

By Andrea Orlando, MSJ
     Communications Manager
     The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking

     A dancer, a realtor, an architect, a planner and an theater director walk into a room. It's not a joke. People in these professions will gather in a classroom as part of this year's incoming class of the Certificate in Creative Placemaking program. They hail from 11 states and represent most regions of the country. They are recent college graduates, mid-career professionals and seasoned experts.
    "There's a palpable energy and excitement," said Chris Archer, who co-produces the program for the New Hampshire Institute of Art in collaboration with The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking. "We again are seeing a wide range of professional sectors being represented. This year's group seems to really understand that creative placemaking is not just a trendy term from Wikipedia. It's a craft and a craft that needs to be learned."
     Archer is Associate Dean of Community Education at NHIA. This is the second year of the partnership between NHIA and NCCP. The certificate program was created by NCCP Executive Director, Leonardo Vazquez, PP, and was offered before by Rutgers University and Ohio State University.
     The program is designed for busy people. Students begin with three days of hands-on workshops in New Hampshire. That portion is followed by online instruction and coaching and culminates in the production of a capstone project by each student, a real-world application of creative placemaking strategies.  
      Students will arrive at NHIA in September from Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Wisconsin, West Virginia, California, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia. Their job titles include the following: director of dance at a state university; executive and artistic director of a theater company;  a senior planner of a mid-sized city; a destination branding consultant; a project coordinator of a large metropolitan transit authority; and a studio artist. 
      The New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority is providing five scholarships for New Hampshire residents this year. "We have seen first-hand that integrating arts and culture in our communities can be transformational," wrote Executive Director, Katy Easterly Martey. "We are excited to host a new and impressive class of fellows and look forward to seeing how the program enables them to lead inspiring work that will make a difference in New Hampshire." 
      In fact, many of the students are being sponsored by their employers; municipalities and other organizations, said Archer. "It's impressive to see that these organizations see this as an investment," Archer said.
     This year's class is almost twice as large as last year's class of 14. That cohort included
John Sullivan, a Montclair, NJ resident, high school science teacher, and vice president of Bike and Walk Montclair. Sullivan's capstone project will change the character of Montclair's bustling downtown, when two parklets will temporarily replace parking spaces and serve as a spot to gather, perform, and make art until the cooler weather arrives. He wrote in his final paper that he valued what he learned about group facilitation, communication and dynamic and community-driven process. 
      "It was the skills I learned ... that are most directly responsible for me being able to take my tactical urbanism work to the next level!" wrote Sullivan.
      Five seats remain in the program as of this writing. 

Friday, July 6, 2018

Strategy Lab Leads to Mural Art Project in Hackensack

By Andrea Orlando, MSJ
Communications Manager
National Consortium for Creative Placemaking

     What started off as an idea in an NCCP-led Strategy Lab in Hackensack will soon become a reality. ArtsBergen seeks to transform a blank wall in the downtown into a visual delight for pedestrians as they travel to and from the Hackensack Performing Arts Center (HACPAC). 
     ArtsBergen is an initiative of the The Northern New Jersey Community Foundation (NNJCF), which works to build better communities through the arts. The mural project is a collaboration between NNJCF's ArtsBergen, the Hackensack Main Street Alliance, and its Creative Arts Team. The idea for the project was conceived as part of the Hackensack Strategy Lab, a joint initiative of NCCP and ArtsBergen. 
      "The Strategy Lab was a great way to get local residents and businesses interested in the project," wrote Albert Dib, Director of Redevelopment for the City of Hackensack. "We received tons of great feedback, which we can now incorporate into a final product. NCCP was key to organizing this effort which yielded some very positive results." 
      The HMSA's Creative Arts Team received 33 applications and will select a winner by July 23. The mural may be finished as early as late August or early September, according to Danielle De Laurentis, Associate Director of NNJCF.  The mural will be painted at the corner of Demarest Place and Main Street on the north wall at 135 Main Street. Demarest Place is a unique pedestrian walkway, crossing Main Street, between the Atlantic Street bus stop and the HACPAC. 
      The strategy lab took place on October 17 of last year at the site. Residents of Hackensack and the surrounding communities met to brainstorm ideas on art, physical elements and cultural programming. The goal of the mural project is to create an enlivened, beautified public walkway that serves as a gateway to Main Street from the bus stop and the HACPAC. 
      NCCP conducted Community Coaching for Hackensack in 2016. 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

New Workshops Part of the Certificate in Creative Placemaking

By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP
The Certificate in Creative Placemaking program helps students influence the levers of power in communities. To this end, we are adding two workshops and a webinar to train students in strategic communications. We are also providing one year of free membership to the new membership program to be offered by The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking.
The Certificate in Creative Placemaking is produced by The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking and New Hampshire Institute of Art.
Strategic communications series
Reading strategically, a webinar available in September 2018, focuses on how to scan and review scholarly articles, plans, studies and other academic documents efficiently and effectively.
Writing strategically, a four-hour workshop to be offered in December 2018, focuses on writing creative placemaking studies and plans that the average reader can find convincing and persuasive. The workshop will be held near NCCP’s office in the Newark, NJ area
Speaking strategically, a four-hour workshop to be held in June 2019, focuses on presenting complex information about creative placemaking to different audiences. The workshop will be held in or around Newark, NJ or Manchester, NH.
These training sessions are available free, only to current students and graduates of the current or previous versions of the Certificate program. The sessions are optional, but highly recommended.
Anyone in the Certificate program can benefit from the strategic communications series, whether they are working artists unfamiliar with the communication styles of government officials, or public officials who want to persuade key stakeholders in their communities.
Free NCCP membership
This summer, NCCP will be unveiling a new membership program. In the first year, members will get curated notices of job and grant opportunities, as well as new or interesting projects and reports. Members will also get special discounts to NCCP programs. First year membership fees will be around $30. 
Certificate students will have free memberships while they are enrolled in the program. 
There are some seats still available. To learn more about the Certificate program, please visit   Also, please join us for an upcoming Certificate information session on June 27 at 6 pm eastern or July 19 at 12 pm eastern. For more information or to register, please visit

Monday, June 18, 2018

Our thoughts on the tragic events at Art All Night this weekend

By the staff and board of The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking

So many of us were stunned to hear about the tragedy Sunday at Art All Night in Trenton, NJ. It is more than an annual arts festival; it is a wonderful and inspiring event that for more than a decade has shown that the arts can bring – even for a day – joy, freedom and safety in a challenged area of Trenton.

We learned yesterday that no matter how hard you try to make completely safe enclaves, the tensions and pressures of the outside world can sometimes barrel in. And we may fall back on our fears and question our confidence.

But if we give in to our fears or negative thoughts, we lose something of ourselves. And the people who want us to be afraid feel more empowered. What we learn after events like this is that if we can be both confident and careful, we can keep building better and safer communities.
While we are upset about violence for any reason, we offer our condolences to the family of the person killed and to the all the victims.

We hope that the organizers of Art All Night will continue their path, which not only helps Trenton but all challenged communities. And of course we hope that everyone will go support the event next time. And we also hope that everyone will help address the social and economic issues that lead to violence and tragedy.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Learn Grant Writing Skills from an NEA Director

By Andrea Orlando, MSJ
Communications Manager
Jen Hughes
Director of Design and Creative Placemaking
National Endowment for the Arts
National Consortium for Creative Placemaking

Learn to craft an outstanding grant proposal from the source. Jen Hughes of the National Endowment for the Arts will offer a workshop on writing an excellent proposal at our upcoming Appalachian Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit.
Hughes will provide an overview of the NEA Our Town program and analyze the components of an outstanding proposal during a session at the two-day summit, scheduled for June 21 and 22 in Charleston, WV. The deadline for Our Town grant applications is August 9.

The NEA recently appointed Hughes to the role of Director of Design and Creative Placemaking, which administers the Our Town grant program. Since 2011 the National Endowment for the Arts has made 538 Our Town grants, investing more than $41 million in creative placemaking projects in communities of all sizes across the United States and its territories.

Creative placemakers will have the opportunity to attend Hughs' workshop after purchasing a ticket to the summit. Space in the workshop is limited, and seats will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking in partnership with ArtPlace America is organizing the events to build capacity and connections in the nascent field of creative placemaking.
The Appalachian summit is the fourth in a series of five for 2018. The first three summits were held in Denver, Chattanooga, TN, and Madison, NJ. The final national summit for the year will take place in the Washington D.C. area in early October.
Katherine Bray-Simons, also of the NEA, offered tips in a similar grant-writing workshop at the event in Madison, N.J. Read about her advice here.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Wild and Wonderful Workshop at Summit in West Virginia

By Andrea Orlando, MSJ
Communications Manager
National Consortium for Creative Placemaking
Historic photo of Luna Park in Charleston, WV

Take a walk on the wild and wonderful side of Charleston, WV, at our upcoming Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit for Appalachia. Two knowledgeable West Virginians will lead a mobile workshop through the city's west side on Thursday, June 21.

The workshop will help attendees flex their creative placemaking muscles and brainstorm ideas to improve the area through arts and cultural programming. "The West Side, A Wild and Wonderful Tour by Design," will take participants through the onetime site of a turn-of-the-20th-Century amusement park, a soon-to-be-built bourbon distillary, and a niche T-shirt retail store that hosts live indie music. The title of the workshop is a play on the state's slogan, "Wild and Wonderful." Todd Dorcas, Community Economic Development Program Officer for The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, and Mitchell Riggleman, who has a master's degree in architecture with a focus on history and theory, will lead workshop participants through a residential neighborhood that was once home of Luna Park, an amusement park that opened in 1912 and burned to the ground in 1923. The park was part of the first-ever chain of amusement parks collectively called, "Luna Parks." 

The park featured a roller coaster, dance pavilion, swimming pool, roller rink and live entertainment. Admission to the park was 15 cents, and a ride on the roller coaster, called the Royal Giant Dips Coaster, cost a dime, according to

Dorcas expects the tour will highlight issues of infill development, abandoned structures, vacant lots, affordable housing, historic preservation and gentrification.

Over the course of the two-day summit, attendees will chose from more than 20 sessions organized along the following themes: local economic development and community wellness; building local arts communities, building arts ecologies in isolated areas; invigorating arts in smaller communities; placekeeping and protecting the ethos of a community; building effective partnerships with elected officials; creative placemaking in post-industrial communities; and mapping creative assets.

The summit will serve the 11 states that share the Appalachian Mountain Chain from Alabama to western New York. More than 200 people from 19 states are expected to attend. Only 60 seats are still available for the summit, and space in the mobile workshop is limited 20.

The summit is the fourth in a series of five summits this year. The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking in partnership with ArtPlace America.  The last of the series for 2018 will take place in the Washington, D.C. area in early October.