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.




Thursday, May 31, 2018

Economic Development a Theme of Appalachian Summit

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

     The Appalachian region is rich in culture and art. How the region can transform that richness into economic wealth is a central theme of our upcoming Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit in Charleston, WV on June 21 and 22.
     It's no secret the region struggles to keep economic pace with the rest of the country. Average household income in the area is 80 percent of average household income in the rest of the nation, according to a study published by the Appalachian Regional Commission. Poverty rates are higher than the national average as well, and the disparity is more stark when one looks at the rates for children. 
      Creative placemaking recognizes the unique contribution artists and arts and cultural organizations make to local economies, and it provides tools and techniques for supporting artists, arts activity and community identity in places.  More than 20 sessions in our summit are related to local economic development and community wellness. People looking for practical advice will find it in a few of our workshops. Beth Flowers, Director of the AIR Institute of Berea College, will provide hands-on training for growing your local Appalachian creative economy and expanding partners and a network of support. Three presenters from east Kentucky will also workshop ways to discover cultural assets and turn them into community wealth. 
      The summit will also feature panel discussions that will shed light on leveraging philanthropic investments to strengthen mountain communities. The panel discussion is entitled, "Appalachia Funders Network: Leveraging New Investments and Creative Economies." Folks who enjoy looking at case studies and concrete examples will enjoy "Using the Arts to Strengthen and Sustain Small Communities" led by John Davis of Lanesboro Arts. He will present two case studies of small towns in Minnesota. One of the towns, New York Mills, MN, was twice named one of the 100 Best Small Art Towns in America and is cited as a national model for rural arts and economic development work. 
      Want to learn about workforce development through arts and cultural strategies? We have a knowledge exchange for that, entitled, "ArtPlace Deep Dive: Creative Workforce Development." Knowledge exchanges are conversations with small groups of people from diverse organizations who share their experiences and ideas to generate rich discussion.   
      Our summit program is designed to enable attendees to quickly identify themes so they can attend the sessions most relevant to them. In addition to economic development, themes include the following: building local arts communities; building effective partnerships with elected officials; creative placemaking in post-industrial communities; mapping creative assets; placekeeping and protecting the ethos of a community; building arts ecologies in isolated areas; and invigorating arts in smaller communities.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Creative Placemaking that Old House

Corner of a building in Downtown Bellefonte.
Photo by Keith Koch

By Andrea Orlando, MSJ
Communications Manager 
National Consortium for Creative Placemaking
Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP, Executive Director of the National Consortium for Creative Placemaking, will address a gathering on old houses in Central Pennsylvania next week. Anne Gadwa Nicodemus, Principal and CEO of Metris Arts Consulting is also scheduled to speak. Both Vazquez and Gadwa Nicodemus have written foundational white papers on the emerging field. Metris Arts Consulting sponsored the Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit for the Northeast Corridor earlier in the month. 

"What we're talking about is not just old houses. It's about communities," said Joseph Griffin, Vice President of the Bellefonte Historical and Cultural Association. The BHCA in partnership with the American Philatelic Society and the Centre County Historical Society is hosting its third annual Old House Fair on Friday and Saturday, June 8 and 9, in Bellefonte, PA.      

Also attending are local creative placemakers, including Micah Gursky, Executive Director of the Tamaqua Area Community PartnershipIn addition, Mary Vollero, the proprietor of Mary's Pink Church and Elaine Meder-Wilgus, the owner of Webster's Books and Cafe. Also joining the conversation will be Pat House, Director of the Bellefonte Art Museum and Jim Dunne, Secretary of the Bellefonte Historic Society. The historic organizations in central Pennsylvania created the event for people who love old houses or professionals who need specialized knowledge of historic buildings. This year, the coalition made creative placemaking the focus of its professional agenda. 
     Griffin said he looks forward to learning more about how the community can leverage arts and cultural programing to develop Bellefonte, the seat of Centre County. He describes the town as a "sleepy" place, a shadow of its former self during its heyday in the 1870's, when the municipality supported three newspapers. He said he believes that creative placemaking can, "change the quality and texture of people's lives." 
Centre County Bank Building
Photo by Keith Koch

Griffin said he has witnessed some impressive transformations brought about by creative placemakers. The town of Millheim, for example, was a sleepy place until a local proprietor opened up a cafe and began featuring musical performances and an art gallery, Griffin said. "The town has a little bit of life now because it’s kind of a cool place to be," Griffin said. Millheim had an estimated population of fewer than 1,000 residents, according to U.S. Census estimates for 2016. It is part of the State College, Pennsylvania Metropolitan Statistical Area and also has a historic district listed with the Centre County Historical Society. 

Mary Vollero, one of the presenters at the Friday program, purchased an old church in Fleming, PA, painted it pink and began hosting yoga classes and art and music events. Elaine Meder-Wilgus did something similar with Webster's Books and Cafe in State College. 

      The coalition of historic associations revived the tradition of the Old House Fair three years ago after a decades-long hiatus, Griffin said. The professional program grew out of a need and desire to provide information to professionals who deal with old structures in the course of their work; lawyers, commissioners and architects. In prior years, the professional portion focused on financing historic renovation projects or the intricacies of tax and historic preservation codes. The Saturday itinerary is intended more for homeowners looking to troubleshoot issues with their old homes. 
      Griffin said he hopes to learn more about creative placeamaking and how it can invigorate his community. "We all hope for some wonderful transformation to occur."