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Kresge’s Rapson takes deep dive into arts, culture and community development in wide-ranging magazine interview

From the President

Integrating grantmaking strategies with the way real people live their lives in America’s urban communities is no easy task, but one that The Kresge Foundation is striving to fully realize said Kresge President and CEO Rip Rapson in a wide-ranging interview published this week in Shelterforce, the nation’s oldest continuously published community development magazine.

Cover of the winter 2017 issue of Shelterfoce magazine
The cover of the winter 2016-17 issue of Shelterforce magazine.

The interview focuses heavily on changes in the community development field, particularly the increasing integration of arts and culture as a vital component in planning processes, and as a way to ensure authentic community engagement. Kresge’s Creative Placemaking work is geared toward helping integrate arts, culture and community-engaged design into these processes.

The interview also touches on topics ranging from Rapson’s formative years in Minneapolis, his early work in community development, the risks of displacement and gentrification, and how to weave social investment tools with traditional grantmaking and other resources to lift up underserved communities in U.S. cities.

Rapson said the arts and many other disciplines are increasingly securing seats at the table when critical decisions about community development are made at the neighborhood and city levels.

“It used to be that we thought we could do an engineering transportation intervention and not worry too much about community engagement,” Rapson said. “I think that is less the case (now). People in the community development space, and in city halls, understand that you simply have to interbraid these systems to have them endure.”

In addition to the Rapson interview, Shelterforce’s winter issue hosted numerous arts- and culture-related stories, including a related piece on “Bringing Together Arts and Community Development.”