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Kresge, NEA fund assistance program for creative placemaking

Arts & Culture

The Kresge Foundation and The National Endowment for the Arts are partnering to expand support of creative placemaking through the launch of a pilot technical assistance program. In collaboration with Local Initiatives Support Corporation’s national creative placemaking program and PolicyLink, the pilot program will provide the creative placemaking field a deeper understanding of how to do arts-based community development well, ultimately benefiting funders and practitioners.

Specialized technical assistance will be given to 14 organizations and their partners with the goal of advancing each organization’s ability to lead successful projects that result in positive short- and long-term outcomes for their community. In addition, the program will clarify standard practices in creative placemaking by sharing lessons learned. The program will also inform future funding practices for NEA’s Our Town program and Kresge investments.

“We are excited to work closely with and learn from projects on the ground,” said Jason Schupbach, director of Design Programs at the NEA. “This unique collaboration amongst government, foundation, and community development organizations will be beneficial to everyone in the U.S. who is interested in creative placemaking.”

“Stronger, more collaborative partnerships that foster equitable and inclusive community development will help advance creative placemaking projects that improve the life circumstances of vulnerable populations and strengthen neighborhoods,” said Regina Smith, managing director of Kresge’s Arts & Culture Program. “We are thrilled to partner with NEA, LISC and PolicyLink to pilot this initiative.”

Through a competitive process, the NEA selected seven previous Our Town grantee organizations to receive the technical assistance:

  • Cheyenne River Youth Project in Eagle Butte, S.D.
  • City of Kansas City, Mo.
  • City of Anderson, S.C.
  • Forklift Danceworks in Austin, Texas
  • Martin County Community Redevelopment Agency in Palm City, Fla.
  • Metro Nashville Arts Commission in Nashville, Tenn.
  • Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio

The NEA is designating $500,000 to the program. Kresge is investing $860,000 directly to LISC and PolicyLink in order to extend technical assistance to seven grantees from its Arts & Culture Program. Those grantees will be announced at a later date. Also, Kresge will fund additional convenings for the 14 organizations to foster peer learning. 

The technical assistance that LISC and PolicyLink will provide includes leadership training for artists to become community leaders, resident-led community engagement techniques, and lessons in how to impact local policy and planning. They will also arrange mentorships, convene webinars, create a learning network with the participating organizations and draw out lessons learned. Both LISC and PolicyLink are experienced in managing learning networks and enhancing the capacity of organizations involved in community development projects.

Local Initiatives Support Corporation supports projects that revitalize communities by providing capital, strategy and know-how to community-based organizations across the country. Its creative placemaking program helps local partners integrate arts and culture into community development work.

PolicyLink is a national research and action institute advancing economic and social equity by connecting the work of people in the field to the creation of sustainable opportunities that offer access to quality jobs, affordable housing, education, transportation, healthy food and physical activity, and engage artists and cultural leaders in these efforts to achieve equity.