Arts & Culture

We seek to build strong, healthy cities by promoting the integration of arts and culture in community revitalization.

Program Overview

Our national Arts and Culture Program focuses on the role arts and culture play in re-energizing the communities that have long been central to America’s social and economic life. We believe that arts and culture are an integral part of life and, when embedded in cross-sector revitalization activity, can contribute to positive and enduring economic, social and cultural change in communities.

Our grantmaking and investments encourage interdisciplinary approaches to the broad field of community revitalization. We seek to make arts and culture as central to discussions of rebuilding and reinvigorating metropolitan areas as land use, housing, transportation, economic development and other more traditional disciplines.

Our approach requires that all community members benefit from revitalization activity and from the integration of arts and culture into such efforts. We partner with organizations committed to creating opportunity for low-income and underrepresented people. Those partners include a wide range of entities from arts and culture organizations to community development corporations and other public-sector and nonprofit agencies.

There is compelling evidence that arts and culture encourage participation in civic life and in discourse about the future of neighborhoods and cities.

There is, too, an abundance of talent and authentic culture in America’s diverse communities that can reveal character, provide distinct identity, and ground revitalization work in the genuine fabric of each community. We embrace efforts that respect and tap those assets.

Cross-discipline, multi-sector work has taken firm root in community revitalization. But the strategic integration of arts and culture is relatively new. So is the concept of “creative placemaking.” For our purposes we use creative placemaking to refer simply to the deliberate integration of arts and culture in revitalization work. We appreciate that, for the foreseeable future, others may assign it different meaning.

Our goal is to expand creative placemaking activity and to understand its effect on economic, social and cultural change in disinvested communities. We recognize that there is a great deal being learned. We seek to test new approaches, identify lessons from current exemplary activities and promote the adoption of creative placemaking activity on a broad scale through direct grantmaking and support for research, evaluation and other endeavors that advance field-wide and cross-sector understanding.

We invest through these focus areas:

Pioneering New Approaches

We fund pilot projects that address challenges to the effectiveness of creative placemaking. These include activities that test the integration of arts and culture within other sectors.

Many elements of creative placemaking are not well understood, and that lack of clarity inhibits more widespread adoption of the practice. By supporting and documenting pioneering approaches to creative placemaking, we expect to gain a deeper understanding of key creative placemaking approaches and impacts that can be widely employed.

Harvesting Leading Practices

We support efforts that deepen, capture and share knowledge from established creative placemaking work in disinvested communities. We believe that sharing lessons about how and when creative placemaking contributes to revitalization is crucial to this emerging field.

Advancing Proven Approaches

We seek to promote the adoption of tested creative placemaking practices and will invest in work that advances that goal. Knowing that placemaking respects the uniqueness of communities, we expect the spread of successful practices will come though adaptation rather than replication.

We partner with national nonprofit and public-sector networks involved in community revitalization to bring tested creative placemaking practice into wider use. We believe that partnering with these networks has a high potential for widespread adoption of proven concepts.

How We Work

Because one of our key goals is learning and advancing the field of creative placemaking, we are shaping our portfolio to develop knowledge in specific areas. Our funding is targeted toward particular questions and issues. The lessons learned will inform the field and our future work.

Our investments are guided by a set of creative placemaking characteristics:

  • Embed arts and culture in larger community revitalization initiatives
  • Engage in cross-discipline, cross-sector activities
  • Exhibit strong leadership
  • Advance a shared community vision
  • Extend benefits to all stakeholders, especially low-income community members
  • Demonstrate commitment to sustained engagement and participation of all residents
  • Work to ensure current residents can remain in their community even where revitalization changes neighborhood economics
  • Honor community distinctiveness

We award general operating and project support grants and make program-related investments. The latter may take the form of direct loans, guarantees that provide credit support to borrowers, or linked deposits. (Learn more about our Social Investment Practice.)

We are also a founding funder of ArtPlace America, a collaboration working to accelerate creative placemaking across the United States. Grant opportunities available through Art Place are another way to seek Kresge support.

Application Process

Within our Harvesting Leading Practices focus area, we accept and review inquiries about support for activities in specific thematic areas. Please review that Web page and the application process recommends.

To learn about future grant opportunities, we encourage you to stay in touch though email subscription, RSS, or social media. Email subscribers will be notified within hours of our updates.

Funding Opportunities

Program and Focus Area Application Status Online Application

Arts & Culture

Harvesting Leading Practices


Through 2014, we expect to award up to 15 grants for activities that integrate arts and culture in public green and civic spaces; and transit-oriented development projects in traditionally disinvested communities within cities.

My Saved Application

Catalyzing Culture and Community

through CDFIs

The application period for this grant opportunity closed Friday, Oct. 17, 2014.