Local Creative Placemaking Projects Receive $600,000 Thru ArtPlace Initiative

By: Sep. 15, 2011
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In an innovative development that is affecting Philadelphia as well as some two dozen other cities and towns across the nation, two local organizations - the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe and The Reinvestment Fund - have received grants supporting creative placemaking from an unprecedented new private-public collaboration, ArtPlace (www.artplaceamerica.org).

As part of ArtPlace's initiative to put the arts at the heart of economic development and community revitalization by creating new anchors for communities, the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe has been awarded a $350,000 grant to support the development of a permanent contemporary performing arts center. The center will transform an historic pumping station located on the corner of Race Street and Columbus Boulevard, capitalizing on the new James Corner-designed Race Street Pier Park, and create a year-round presence for the city's leading presenter of contemporary performing arts. The center will feature year-round programming and will house artist workspace, a flexible 225-seat theater, a restaurant/bar, an outdoor plaza, rehearsal studios, and office and meeting space.

"The permanent headquarters of the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe will be unique in the way it will bring people together," says Nick Stuccio, Producing Director of the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe. "We're creating a multi-level social environment shaped around the arts. The center will serve as one of the early anchors in the city's vast new waterfront development plans and enrich the region's cultural community for both residents of Philadelphia and visitors to our city."

To further its mission to foster new research, ArtPlace has awarded $250,000 to The Reinvestment Fund, in partnership with the City of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania's Social Impact of the Arts Project, to design a Creative Assets Mapping Database for Philadelphia. Envisioned as a comprehensive effort to identify and promote arts, culture, and creative assets in Philadelphia, the mapping tool, representing a range of agents active in the city's creative economy, will be used to inform planning, public and private investment, marketing, and policy decisions.
"ArtPlace's support of the Creative Assets Mapping Database will make possible development of a very different kind of tool for policymakers who often may not fully understand the impact of Philadelphia's creative assets. This work will result in a highly interactive, online tool that could be replicated in cities around the country," said Donald Hinkle-Brown, President and CEO of The Reinvestment Fund.

Mayor Michael A. Nutter remarked, "ArtPlace's support for the new home of Live Arts and the partnership between TRF, The University of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia is a great gift. Chief Cultural Officer Gary Steuer and Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Planning Alan Greenberger have been instrumental in facilitating the Live Arts project and leading the database project for arts policy development, further demonstrating the link between the arts and the economy, and the importance of public/private partnerships in building vibrant communities."

Announced for the first time on September 15, ArtPlace is an initiative of 11 of America's top foundations working in conjunction with the National Endowment for the Arts and seven federal agencies. Its aim is to drive revitalization across the country by putting the arts at the center of economic development. ArtPlace has now announced its first round of grants, investing $11.5 million in 34 locally initiated projects in cities from Honolulu to Miami to Philadelphia. Each project supported by ArtPlace has been selected for developing a new model of helping towns and cities thrive by strategically integrating artists and arts organizations into key local efforts in transportation, housing, community development, job creation, and more.

Key support for ArtPlace projects in Philadelphia has come from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. "Philadelphia is driven by culture - a city demonstrating the true power and poetry of place. It's only natural, then, that ArtPlace has recognized and is investing in the city's creative sector," said Dennis Scholl, vice president/arts of Knight Foundation and chair of the ArtPlace operating committee. "These two ArtPlace-funded projects demonstrate what the arts do best - inspire us and at show us our collective potential."

ArtPlace grants throughout the country are given through The Combined support of Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Ford Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, The Robina Foundation and an anonymous donor. In addition to the NEA, federal partners are the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Education and Transportation, along with leadership from the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Domestic Policy Council. Federal partners do not provide funding to ArtPlace but participate in the ArtPlace Presidents' Council and Operating Committee meetings, ensuring alignment between high-priority federal investments and policy development and ArtPlace grants.

The approach being taken by ArtPlace, known as "creative placemaking," has emerged over the past twenty years as a promising way to increase the vitality of communities and help them grow. In 2011, the National Endowment for the Arts built on its two decades of work in creative placemaking by announcing the first grants in its new Our Town program, designed to support public-private partnerships to strengthen the arts while energizing the overall community. ArtPlace takes this movement a step further, as the first major public-private partnership to encourage creative placemaking across America.

"ArtPlace is accelerating creative placemaking, where cities and towns are using the arts and other creative assets to shape their social, physical and economic futures," said Rocco Landesman, Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts. "This approach brings new partners to the table to support the arts and recognizes the arts as vital drivers of community revitalization and development."

"Economic development historically has been about bagging the buffalo-competing for the big employer to move operations to your city," said Carol Coletta, President of ArtPlace. "But now we know the economic development game is all about how you deploy local assets to develop, attract and keep talent. So why would you not deploy every asset you have-including artists and the arts-to do that? That's what ArtPlace is all about."

Concurrent with announcing its first round of grants, ArtPlace has initiated its second funding cycle. A Letter of Inquiry has been posted on www.artplaceamerica.org as of September 15, 2011. Submissions may be made through November 15.


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