Metropolitan Boston, MA

Contact Name
Jennifer Erickson
Project Dates
June 2015 - September 2016
How can innovation and creativity be nurtured through city & town policy and planning? Join us for a dive into the Arts and Planning Toolkit, a new resource for planners and other government staff who are interested in innovating their civic practices through projects and partnerships that engage arts, culture, and creative community. Walk away with case examples from New England and elsewhere that showcase artists, planners, and others working together to engage arts, culture, and creativity in advancing shared civic goals around livability and vitality. Get tips on how to use the Toolkit to facilitate discussions and interdisciplinary collaborations that advance the integration of creativity into planning and community development efforts in your community.
Project Goals
What were the specific goals of this creative economy project? Describe the community development challenge or opportunity that your project was designed to address:
The Toolkit presents urban planners with a comprehensive framework for identifying opportunities to engage arts, culture, and the creative community in ways that advance smart growth and livability goals. It presents a menu of strategies grounded in over 25 case studies of real projects within and outside of Massachusetts that are exemplary of how arts and culture can be an effective component of planning, land use, transportation, economic development, housing, infrastructure, public health, and public safety projects and initiatives.
If the goals change over time, please describe how:
The project goals did not change over time (although the number of case studies we initially sought to collect did expand from 12 to over 25!)
Who was involved in this project and what did they do? (be sure to include the partners from outside of the creative sector and how local voices were included):
The Toolkit builds on a collaborative regional process involving a dozen municipalities as well as representatives from three regional and state organizations. In the spring of 2015, MAPC formed an Inner Core Arts and Planning Working Group to advise the agency on the development of the Toolkit as a comprehensive framework consisting of proven strategies for engaging arts, culture, and the creative community in the advancement of planning and community development objectives. A cohort of 12 municipalities from the Inner Core subregion of MAPC partnered to submit a project concept, which was funded in June 2015. The Working Group consists of planners and other designated municipal staff from the twelve municipalities in addition to three state and regional advisors representing the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the Regional Arts Agency (RAO) serving the New England region, the New England Foundation for the Arts.

The Working Group and advisors met with MAPC six times over the course of the year to guide the Toolkit’s development. The establishment of the Working Group has also created a unique opportunity to facilitate regional collaboration among some of the most populous municipalities in the MAPC region, which possess a wealth of the Commonwealth's creative assets and talent.

The Toolkit framework and the website’s design was developed through a series of working sessions with the Arts and Planning Working Group planners and advisors. The categories of content, the selection of individuals to interview for case studies, and the design of the website itself – with content searchable by major section headers or by specific topics, e.g., tactical urbanism and creative placemaking – was the direct result of feedback provided to MAPC by practicing city and town planners. MAPC’s budget for producing this Toolkit was lean, and we are working to secure additional resources so we can boost the website’s design and add additional case studies and sections of content. With the support of two key advisors on the Working Group – Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development – we have released the Toolkit as a resource for not just MAPC region, but for the Commonwealth. Moving forward, MAPC is seeking to partner with other regional planning agencies in the state to enable us to maximize our resources in order to continue developing the Toolkit’s content through the inclusion of additional strategies and case studies. We are committed to growing the Toolkit as a statewide resource for planners.
How does this project relate to a larger community development strategy?
Urban planners influence and shape the social, physical, and environmental conditions of places through planning and community development. By conducting research, data analysis, public engagement, visioning, and program and policy development, planners are developing and implementing policies and plans that guide the development of vibrant and healthy places and communities. Similarly, actors in the arts and culture fields of practice are influencing and enriching people and places in various ways. Artists and creative entities in the nonprofit and private sector are creating opportunities for people from different walks of life to socialize, learn, and play, to engage with elements in their community’s past, present, and future; and to uniquely understand and interact with the public realm and built environments in which they live, work, study, and play. Artists are also engaging arts and culture to generate experiences, products, and services that stimulate innovation and vibrancy in our local and regional economies.

Intentional partnerships between arts and culture, government, and community development actors in the public, nonprofit, and private sectors hold promise for infusing innovation and creativity into the development and implementation of city, town, and regional plans in ways that accelerate smart growth and livability. Livability is the notion that people have a right to live in places that provide access to a range of opportunities that advance quality of life – including housing, transportation, job and educational opportunities, social stability, equity, and cultural, entertainment, and recreational options. The development of planner competencies in engaging with arts and culture is essential, and a powerful and exciting addition to the menu of tools and strategies planners can tap in their efforts to advance the vision of livable communities.
What projects or places, if any, inspired your approach to this creative economy project?
Government production of toolkits and resource guides that position arts and culture fields of practice – such as cultural planning, cultural asset mapping, cultural economic development, and creative placemaking – as core competencies for planners is a relatively new development. Over the last six years, a handful of U.S. government agencies and the national membership organizations that serve them have started to produce resources examining the intersections of arts, culture, and planning that are geared towards planners and other related public sector disciplines. Notable resources include: Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP)’s Arts and Culture Planning: A Toolkit for Communities -- a primer on cultural planning (2014) and Transportation for America (T4America)’s The Scenic Route: Getting Started with Creative Placemaking in Transportation -- a creative placemaking primer for transportation agencies (2016).

These resources attempt to unpack arts and culture strategies into a series of approaches that may resonate with government staff who do not work directly in the field of public art, and they present case studies of real projects that are changing the field of government-led and non-government-led planning. However, there are some shortcomings: a focus on profiling select tactics comes at the risk of oversimplifying the diversity of arts and culture interventions that may be possible; messaging may be too broad and therefore fail to convince planners as to why arts and culture should be a core partner in government-led planning; some case studies lack some essential details, such as sources of funding and information on the conditions leading to project start-up – details that of importance to practicing planners.

The Arts and Planning Toolkit builds on the aforementioned resources by presenting a new and cohesive framework for planner engagement with arts, culture, and creativity. The framework pushes the envelope by demonstrating the viability of arts and culture to advance livability in ways that go well beyond the few disciplines in which it is readily embraced, i.e., urban design and economic development. The website provides a round-up and synthesis of key areas of practice at the intersection of arts, culture, planning, and community development, links to vetted resources that already exist, a round-up of important terms and definitions, and original case studies prepared through primary research conducted over the last year through over 25 recorded interviews with planners, artists, and others across the country and in Canada.

Below is an overview of the case study interviews that have been conducted as of October 2016. A portion of the written case studies are already posted to the website, and more are forthcoming.

• Case Study: Arlington County Public Art Program
• Case Study: Alexandria County Public Art Program
• Case Study: Artisan’s Asylum Makerspace
• Case Study: Station North Arts & Entertainment District
• Case Study: Toronto Office of Economic Development and Culture
• Case Study: 4Culture Public Art’s Brightwater Project
• Case Study: Seattle Office of Arts and Culture
• Case Study: Los Angeles County Civic Art Program
• Case Study: NYC’s Center for Health Equity
• Case Study: JBG Companies’ Public Art on Private Development
• Case Study: Creative Placemaking in Portland, Maine
• Case Study: The Fargo Project
• Case Study: Kansas City Cultural Plan
• Case Study: Chicago Cultural Plan
• Case Study: GreenPoint Manufacturing and Design Makerspace
• Case Study: Denver Cultural Plan
• Case Study: San Francisco City Design Group’s Market Street Prototyping Festival
• Case Study: Creative Providence Cultural Plan
• Case Study: Medford Arts Council
• Case Study: New Mexico Arts Commission
• Case Study: Nashville Artisan Manufacturing Zoning
• Case Study: PlaceIt! Creative Community Engagement Through Model-Building
• Case Study: Worcester Creative City Initiatives
• Case Study: St. Paul City Artist Program
• Case Study: Creative Portland
• Case Study: Creative Funding for Cultural Facilities in Massachusetts
Project Specifics
Please list the steps taken to implement the project:
The Toolkit development process consisted of the following steps:
• Resource scan. Identification of relevant reports, case studies, and toolkits on the topics of creative placemaking; tactical urbanism; temporary and permanent public art; cultural planning; cultural asset mapping; public art planning; policies and regulations pertaining to arts and culture; arts and culture-based community engagement; and the cultural economic development.
• Interviews with experts leading successful projects, policies, or programs. Consultation with staff at the National Endowment for the Arts, Americans for the Arts, and ArtPlace America to identify Development of interview questions, with one set geared towards municipal staff, one set geared towards artists and arts organizations. Hour-long interviews were conducted with over 25 individuals and were recorded for transcription. A consistent set of questions was asked of each interviewee that examined six arenas: the political and policy context for the work; the programmatic context for the work; sources of funding; the quality of interdisciplinary collaboration; project cost, duration, and management; successes, challenges, and lessons learned/advice to other municipalities seeking to undertake similar programs or projects.
• Writing and website development. Purchase of a Wordpress theme to enable build-out of the toolkit with functionality to browse by category and search by topic. Each topical page is augmented by compact, case study profiles; pro-tips/best practices are dispersed throughout the website platform.
• Toolkit roadshow. MAPC has partnered with members of the Arts and Planning Working Group to unpack sections of content in the Toolkit at local and regional planning conferences. As of October 2016, the Toolkit has been presented to the Massachusetts Creative Economy Network in June 2016, at the Massachusetts Smart Growth Conference in June 2016, and at the Northern New England American Planning Association Conference in September 2016.
If the project steps changed over time, please describe how:
We have refined the design of the Toolkit over time (i.e., the categories of content on the website) based on feedback from the Working Group and through the project manager's own assessment of content collected from primary and secondary research. Overview of Toolkit Content by Category: • Arts, Culture, and Planning: This section reviews creative tools employed by people working in a variety of sectors to infuse creativity into planning and community development processes at the neighborhood, city/town, and regional scales. Learn about creative placemaking, tactical urbanism, cultural
Obstacles
What were your major obstacles for the completion of the project?
Money and time
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
We're not done yet! We did, however, successfully raise money to fund the implementation of the Toolkit, and a version 2.0 of the website.
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
Talk to other regions that have done similar projects; consult with practitioners to make sure the final deliverable is practical and digestible.
Project Impact
How has this project strategically connected arts and cultural activities to social, economic, and cultural issues in your community? What is different in your community as a result of this project?
The Toolkit has made a difference to the practicing planners in our region; we successfully collected 12 letters of support for our application to recognize the Toolkit with an American Planning Association MA Chapter 2016 Outstanding Planning Project Award. In spring of 2016, MAPC was approached by several municipalities with an interest in undertaking cultural planning and cultural economic development projects. We have commenced work with several communities thus far (Arlington, Boston, and Wakefield), and we currently have a pipeline of six more municipalities that have proactively come forward with technical assistance interests and needs in the arena of arts and culture planning.
Why do you consider the project successful, as related to your project goals above?
The Toolkit framework and the website’s design was developed through a series of working sessions with the Arts and Planning Working Group planners and advisors. The categories of content, the selection of individuals to interview for case studies, and the design of the website itself – with content searchable by major section headers or by specific topics, e.g., tactical urbanism and creative placemaking – was the direct result of feedback provided to MAPC by practicing city and town planners. MAPC’s budget for producing this Toolkit was lean, and we are working to secure additional resources so we can boost the website’s design and add additional case studies and sections of content. With the support of two key advisors on the Working Group – Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development – we have released the Toolkit as a resource for not just MAPC region, but for the Commonwealth. Moving forward, MAPC is seeking to partner with other regional planning agencies in the state to enable us to maximize our resources in order to continue developing the Toolkit’s content through the inclusion of additional strategies and case studies. We are committed to growing the Toolkit as a statewide resource for planners.
How did you measure this success or progress?
The project was awarded the 2016 American Planning Association MA Chapter Outstanding Planning Project Award, signaling that planners in MA endorse arts and culture as a core competency/practice area of planning.

We also had other benchmarks (can discuss this more if proposal is accepted)
Please describe any unexpected impacts:
Can discuss this further if this proposal is accepted.
CCX Workshop Handout