Why I picked it up: Place interests me. Our connections to place, our interactions with place. I think a lot about how people interact with the communities they live and work in, and how museums do (and do not) contribute to that sense of place. I also am very interested in how we can do more to increase individual capacities to engage and contribute to the betterment of individuals and communities. Based on the title, this paper seems relevant.
What you absolutely need to know: The Kresge's Foundation's Arts and Culture Program "is dedicated to Creative Placemaking with a focus on equitable outcomes." The "observations and reflections" in this paper are rooted in the assumption that creative placemaking, or that the building of a community's cultural assets leads to healthier places for all of us to live (but often focusing on "historically marginalized communities"), is a desirable thing to pursue. This paper takes stock of what has happened thus far, and what is needed for further progress, written by a Kresge senior advisor working deeply in this area.
More details: Kresge entered into Creative Placemaking with three goals: 1 - using grounded theory in their work with low-income or historically marginalized communities; 2 - using empirical approaches to assess impact; and 3 - integrating arts, culture, and design in the realms of practice and policy.
After several years of work in this area, they are reporting success in seeing the concepts of Creative Placemaking becoming more widespread in community development and urban planning, as well as public health. The paper discusses in limited detail three areas of "critical field needs" for meeting the challenges and opportunities of creative placemaking:
There are critics, however, as Creative Placemaking can lead to gentrification, cultural appropriation, etc. Those are entirely valid concerns that this paper notes, but does not satisfactorily address.
Sidebar comment. The paper also notes that when Kresge entered the Creative Placemaking space, they did so without "succumbing to the dichotomous thinking prevalent in some dimensions of the arts field about the intrinsic vs. instrumental value of art and cultural activity." I say "yay" to that, because I have never understood how one precluded the other. Arts and culture have intrinsic value. They also have instrumental value. Celebrate both. After all, we never see astronomers or mathematicians beating themselves up when their intrinsic and/or instrumental values are celebrated. Why do we?
Read or skip? It depends. If you are deep in the work of Creative Placemaking, or planning to request funding from Kresge, you should read it. (You should also note that this is one of a series of white papers released by Kresge, so you may want to review the others as well.) Otherwise, my summary is sufficient.
Full citation: "Creative Placemaking and Expansion of Opportunity: Observations and Reflections." The Kresge Foundation. July 2018