|MCC's Partnership with MassINC
MCC Creative Placemaking Partnership with MassINC
The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) has joined MassINC in an expanded effort to use arts and culture as a means of jump-starting local economies and transforming communities in 11 Gateway Cities across Massachusetts. These older industrial communities have, throughout our history, been at the center of the state’s regional economies. In recent years, suburbanization, manufacturing decline, and other adverse trends have taken their toll and Gateway Cities have suffered. In response, efforts described as “creative placemaking” emerged over the past 20 years as a promising strategy for reinvigorating both public and private spaces through cultural endeavors. MCC has been at the forefront of those efforts through sustained investment in the nonprofit cultural sector in Gateway Cities and other communities across the Commonwealth.
Vibrancy: Creative Placemaking Strategies for Gateway
City Growth and Renewal
Generated by MassINC in July 2012, this report presents four high-level observations about this work:
full report is available on MassINC’s website.
- Creative placemaking is a geographically targeted
urban revitalization strategy, but it also supports
the state’s broader economic development goal of
increasing innovation and entrepreneurship
throughout the Commonwealth.
- Many Gateway Cities have deployed creative placemaking
strategies and devised an impressive array of programs
leveraging modest resources, making their
communities better places for cultural
entrepreneurs to do business in.
- The creative placemaking experience in Gateway
Cities to date reveals both challenges and models.
A review of these lessons can inform future initiatives.
But more than anything, efforts to replicate success
will require an increase in public funding
to bring the creative placemaking strategy to scale.
- To advance creative placemaking, leaders from
Gateway Cities must coalesce as a network and focus
on five strategic focal points: money, capacity,
leadership, entrepreneurship, and metrics.
Collaborative support of MCC from leaders in Gateway
Cities was highlighted as essential, along
with convincing local governments to co-invest in
creative placemaking efforts, fixing the Business
Improvement District enabling law and getting property
owners excited about forming them, and advocating
for federal partnership with the National Endowment
for the Arts (NEA).
Poll Shows High Participation/Strong Support
for Arts and Culture Among MA City Voters
A January 2012 poll by the MassINC Polling Group found
that seven in 10 voters in the 11 Massachusetts Gateway
Cities consider community arts and culture very important,
and 80% support government funding for such events.
MCC has invested significantly in Gateway Cities through
various grant programs for nonprofit cultural organizations,
schools, and local cultural councils. In particular,
MCC’s Adams Arts grants have helped cities such as New
Bedford, Worcester, and Pittsfield put the arts at the
center of their revitalization strategies. Read
more about the poll.
Creative Placemaking Summit, April 2012
In April 2012, MassINC partnered with MCC and the Executive
Office of Housing and Economic Development to present
a full-day conference at which creative placemaking
experts gathered to discuss the future of the strategy
in Gateway Cities. Teams representing each Gateway City
attended to share visions for creative placemaking in
communities, exchange ideas, and collect input. Formal
remarks were delivered by John Robert Smith, president
of Reconnecting America and former mayor of Meridian,
Mississippi; and Anne Gadwa Nicodemus, author of a National
Endowment for the Arts study on creative placemaking.
and other materials from the summit are available on
New MassINC Website Offers Resources, Tools
for Building Creative Communities
MassINC has created a placemaking
page on its website that will serve as a clearinghouse
of information on placemaking activities. It includes
a link to the webcast
of April’s summit on creative placemaking in Lowell,
including all of the Summit presentations,
to the ArtPlace blog, a link to the NEA’s webinar
on their Livability Index work, and other helpful links.
MassINC will continue to add information and updates
on placemaking activities here and around the country
to help the initiative in Massachusetts communities.