Ford Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts Launch ArtPlace Initiative
By Tom McClimon
October 3, 2011
In an unprecedented private-public collaboration, 11 of America's top foundations have joined with the National Endowment for the Arts and seven federal agencies to establish ArtPlace, a nationwide initiative to drive revitalization in cities and towns with a new investment model that puts the arts at the center of economic development.
ArtPlace today announced its first round of grants, investing $11.5 million in 34 locally initiated projects in cities from Honolulu to Miami. 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.
ArtPlace grants 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, Rasmuson Foundation, The Robina Foundation, The Rockefeller 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.
ArtPlace will also be supported by a $12 million loan fund capitalized by six major financial institutions and managed by the Nonprofit Finance Fund. Participating institutions are Bank of America, Chase, Citi, Deutsche Bank, MetLife and Morgan Stanley.
In a shift from earlier approaches to economic development and the arts, ArtPlace neither treats the arts as an add-on nor expects development to follow on its own from stand-alone investments in cultural projects. Instead, ArtPlace supports projects in which cultural groups operate in concert with other community partners, private and public. By leveraging the arts and culture with all of a community's other existing assets, ArtPlace aims to help communities achieve vibrant growth while doing more with less.
ArtPlace sees its role as providing venture capital, seeding entrepreneurial projects that already enjoy strong local buy-in, connect to a community's economic development strategy and have the potential to attract additional private and public support to the community.
- In St. Paul (MN), Springboard for the Arts is working with residents and business owners in a string of diverse neighborhoods, where a new light rail project is under construction. More than a hundred arts projects will be launched before the dust settles, with the aim of minimizing disruption in business by using art to generate a continuing flow of people during construction and build up a new urban corridor along with the rail line.
- In the heart of Detroit a contemporary art museum, a non-profit developer, local governments, local foundations and Wayne State University are all working to revive a key stretch of Woodward Avenue. Their efforts are transforming this core area with a music center, pedestrian greenways, improved museum space and a new facility for start-up companies.
- In San Francisco real estate developer Forest City is partnering with the organization Intersection for the Arts to redevelop four downtown acres that include the old San Francisco Chronicle building, empty parking lots and vacant warehouses. These partners have already begun converting the properties into a profitable hive of film and digital-media businesses, artists' workshops, social-entrepreneur offices and cultural event space.
- And in New York City, a community-driven project is transforming the abandoned P.S. 109 in East Harlem into a sustainable home for 90 artists and their families and or 13,000 square feet of space for community and cultural groups, spurring economic growth on the commercial corridor of Third Avenue.
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 of the National Endowment for the Arts. “This approach brings new artners to the table to support the arts and recognizes the arts as vital drivers of community revitalization and development.”
ArtPlace represents a new paradigm,” said Luis A. Ubiñas, President of The Ford Foundation and Chairman of the ArtPlace Presidents' Council. “It brings to the arts the kind of economic development thinking that has long been pursued for attracting and developing businesses, big and small, across the country. ArtPlace's integrated, interwoven approach has the potential to kick'start local economies and transform communities. The arts can play a central role spurring local economic activity.”
Second Round Deadline
Concurrent with announcing its first round of grants, ArtPlace has initiated its second unding cycle. A Letter of Inquiry has been posted on www.artplaceamerica.org as of September 15. Submissions may be made through November 15.
For a complete list of grants and project descriptions online, visit www.artplaceamerica.org.