Arts & Culture

Harvesting leading practices

We aim to advance the body of knowledge around creative placemaking by supporting established practitioners, capturing and sharing lessons from their efforts.

Focus Area Overview

We seek to develop knowledge about how and under what conditions creative placemaking contributes to strengthening neighborhoods and to revitalization. We are interested in the economic, physical, social and cultural changes associated with creative placemaking and in gathering data about its impact.

Our goals are to raise awareness of creative placemaking, provide examples of excellence, advance knowledge of processes and results, identify obstacles and tools that can help others pursuing this work and better understand the role for philanthropy.

We are curating a limited portfolio of established creative placemaking practitioners working in disinvested communities. We place an emphasis on learning and assessment and therefore include support for the creation of tools useful in the dissemination and adoption of creative placemaking practices. 

We are interested in investing in seasoned practitioners who employ strategic, integrated approaches to infuse arts and culture in urban revitalization, advance opportunity and improve the conditions of underserved and marginalized populations and strengthen the fabric within neighborhoods.

We look for initiatives that embed arts and culture in cross-sector and cross-disciplinary efforts designed to foster the well-being of low-income residents, enhance the built environment and address social, cultural and economic barriers to opportunity. Examples include, but are not limited to, projects related to transit-oriented development, affordable housing projects and open, green public spaces.

Some of the Activities We Support

Chinatown Community Development Center seeks to leverage several public infrastructure projects to acknowledge and honor the residents of San Francisco’s Chinatown and enhance its cultural identity and vibrancy. To achieve this, the organization created a resident-led Creative Placemaking Council that guides and infuses arts and culture into all community-revitalization strategies and partnerships on public infrastructure projects.

The Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District Inc. drives culturally sensitive, comprehensive revitalization work in a four-block low-income neighborhood in Newark, N.J. Its work includes the construction of much-needed affordable, mixed-use housing units; robust arts and cultural programming; historic preservation and restoration projects and small-scale urban agriculture.

Greater Milwaukee Committee knits together unprecedented public/private, arts-centric partnerships to benefit low-income residents in the Harambee and Riverwest neighborhoods in Milwaukee. These efforts include significant workforce development, deep engagement efforts designed to build social fabric and the development of a trail extension that repurposes a former railroad corridor into an 8-acre linear art park.

The Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, integrates arts and culture into an equitable transit-oriented development strategy along the Fairmount Transit Corridor. These embedded creative placemaking efforts engage creative and community partner organizations, artists, residents and merchants in community organizing, visioning and participation in creative interventions. These interventions support creative entrepreneurs and a menu of arts programming.

Springboard for the Arts practices strategic, creative and integrated approaches to urban revitalization in the St. Paul, Minn., region. Its work engages artists, residents, businesses and the public sector in partnerships to advance opportunity and improve the quality of life for marginalized populations and strengthen neighborhood fabric.



Who may apply?

U.S. 501(c)(3) organizations with audited financial statements that are not classified as private foundations. Audits must be independently prepared following Generally Accepted Accounting Principles or Government Auditing Standards. Financial statements prepared on a cash, modified cash, compilation or review basis do not qualify.

Examples of applicants include:

  • Anchor institutions in any sector that have a stake in and are located in a low-income disinvested community. Such organizations often have a longstanding presence, are large or small employers and operate or are located in a facility through either a long-term lease or direct ownership. These might include arts and cultural institutions of all disciplines and sizes, colleges and universities (four-year, community and minority-serving institutions), libraries, health clinics and human services agencies.
  • Nonprofit artist collaboratives.
  • Nonprofit community partners that serve as catalysts, intermediaries and/or funders of community-based revitalization, including community development corporations, community foundations, neighborhood associations and financing agents such as credit unions and community development financial institutions.
  • Government entities.

Who may not apply?

  • Individuals.
  • Organizations that discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, citizenship status, age, disability, sexual orientation or veteran status.
  • Organizations that require membership in certain religions or advance a particular religious faith. (Faith-based organizations may be eligible if they welcome and serve all members of the community regardless of religious belief.)
  • Programs operated to benefit for-profit organizations.

Who will be competitive?

Projects and organizations that:

  • Embed arts and culture in larger community revitalization initiatives.
  • Engage in cross-disciplinary, cross-sector activities.
  • Exhibit strong leadership.
  • Include artists and arts organizations.
  • Extend benefits to all stakeholders, especially low-income community members.
  • Demonstrate commitment to sustained engagement and empowerment of low-income residents.
  • Work to ensure current residents can remain in their community even where revitalization changes neighborhood economics.
  • Honor community distinctiveness.

In addition to those characteristics, we look for projects and organizations in communities that:

  • Lack traditional investors, but have secured some public or philanthropic investments to support other elements of community revitalization.
  • Demonstrate success in pursuing creative placemaking strategies.
  • Show support for the creative placemaking effort from multiple sectors.

We do not fund

Planning projects or stand-alone arts and cultural projects that benefit one organization, are on the periphery of a broader community revitalization project or have limited regard for place. Examples include:

  • Arts education and outreach activities.
  • One-time community arts, public art or beautification projects not connected to a comprehensive community revitalization project.
  • Capital campaigns for cultural facilities or outdoor venues not connected to a comprehensive community revitalization project.
  • Economic and community development projects without consideration to history, character of the place and integration of the arts.
  • Neighborhood branding projects.
  • Projects where resident input is consultative, or participation is limited to attendance.
  • Arts and social justice and engagement projects not connected to a larger revitalization strategy.
  • Farmers markets.
  • Community gardens.

Application Process

We will accept and review inquiries on an ongoing basis through 2015. There are no deadlines.

To apply or review an existing application, visit The Kresge Foundation Fluxx portal.

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