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This book makes a signiﬁcant contribution to the history of placemaking, presenting
grassroots to top-down practices and socially engaged, situated artistic practices and arts-
led spatial inquiry that go beyond instrumentalising the arts for development. The book
brings together a range of scholars to critique and deconstruct the notion of creative
placemaking, presenting diverse case studies from researcher, practitioner, funder and
policymaker perspectives from across the globe. It opens with the creators of the 2010
White Paper that named and deﬁned creative placemaking, Ann Markusen and Anne
Gadwa Nicodemus, who offer a cortically reﬂexive narrative on the founding of the sector
and its development. This book looks at vernacular creativity in place, a topic continued
through the book with its focus on the practitioner and community-placed projects. It closes
with a consideration of aesthetics, metrics and, from the editors, a consideration of the next
ten years for the sector.
If creative placemaking is to contribute to places-in-the-making and encourage citizen-
led agency, new conceptual frameworks and practical methodologies are required. This
book joins theorists and practitioners in dialogue, advocating for transdisciplinary, resi-
Cara Courage is an arts and placemaking academic and practitioner and is Head of Tate
Exchange, Tate’s programme and spaces dedicated to socially engaged art and the role of
art in society. Her book, Arts in Place: The Arts, the Urban and Social Practice (2017),
presents case-study research on social practice placemaking. Cara has also completed a
project as Research Adjunct on the metrics of creative placemaking with Thriving Cities,
an initiative of University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, and
continues her own social practice arts in place projects.
Anita McKeown is an interdisciplinary artist, curator and researcher working in creative
placemaking, Open Source Culture/Technology and STEAM (science, technology, engi-
neering, arts and mathematics) education. Anita works for Art Services Unincorporated
(ASU), an itinerant strategic platform which co-creates local-scale interventions that are
context-responsive and ecologically sensitive, arising from extended relationships with
people and place. ASU’s interventions are underpinned by the permacultural resilience
framework and practical toolkit, a critical praxis for Creative Placemaking,trialledin
London, Dublin and New Mexico (2008–15). Anita’s current research includes codesres:
Co-designing for resilience in rural development through peer-to-peer networks and
Routledge Studies in Human Geography
This series provides a forum for innovative, vibrant, and critical debate within
Human Geography. Titles will reﬂect the wealth of research which is taking place
in this diverse and ever-expanding ﬁeld. Contributions will be drawn from the
main sub-disciplines and from innovative areas of work which have no particular
Place, Diversity and Solidarity
Edited by Stijn Oosterlynck, Nick Schuermans and Maarten Loopmans
Towards A Political Economy of Resource-dependent Regions
Greg Halseth and Laura Ryser
Structures, Struggles and Solidarity in Southern Europe
Branding the Nation, the Place, the Product
Edited by Ulrich Ermann and Klaus-Jürgen Hermanik
Edited by Mark Skinner, Gavin Andrews, and Malcolm Cutchin
New Geographies of the Globalized World
Edited by Marcin Wojciech Solarz
Research, Theory and Practice
Edited by Cara Courage and Anita McKeown
For more information about this series, please visit: www.routledge.com/Routle-
Research, Theory and Practice
Edited by Cara Courage
and Anita McKeown
First published 2019
2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN
and by Routledge
711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017
Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business
© 2019 selection and editorial matter, Cara Courage and Anita McKeown;
individual chapters, the contributors
The right of Cara Courage and Anita McKeown to be identiﬁed as the
authors of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual
chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced
or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means,
now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording,
or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in
writing from the publishers.
Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or
registered trademarks, and are used only for identiﬁcation and explanation
without intent to infringe.
British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
A catalog record has been requested for this book
ISBN: 978-1-138-09802-2 (hbk)
ISBN: 978-1-315-10460-7 (ebk)
Typeset in Times New Roman
by Integra Software Services Pvt. Ltd.
List of ﬁgures viii
List of contributors ix
List of abbreviations xvii
Introduction: Curating research, theory and practice 1
CARA COURAGE AND ANITA MCKEOWN
Evolving Ecologies 9
1 Creative placemaking: Reﬂections on a 21st-century American
arts policy initiative 11
ANN MARKUSEN AND ANNE GADWA NICODEMUS
2 Spaces of vernacular creativity reconsidered 28
TIM EDENSOR AND STEVE MILLINGTON
Dialogical Ecologies 41
3 Turning local interests into local action: Community-based
art and the case of Wrecked! On the Intertidal Zone 43
4 Arrivals and departures: Navigating an emotional landscape of
belonging and displacement at Barangaroo in Sydney, Australia 56
5 A case for human-scale social space in Mumbai 69
ADITI NARGUNDKAR PATHAK
Scalable Ecologies 81
6 A rural case: Beyond creative placemaking 83
7 Creative placemaking in peri-urban Gothenburg: Mission
MICHAEL LANDZELIUS AND PETER RUNDQVIST
8 A conversation between a collaborating artist and curator:
Placemaking, socially engaged art, and deep investment in
JIM WALKER AND SHAUTA MARSH
Challenging Ecologies 125
9 Temporary spatial object/architecture as a typology for
10 Place guarding: Activist art against gentriﬁcation 140
11 Outros Espaços: Apathy and lack of engagement in
participatory processes 156
Extending Ecologies 171
12 Towards beauty and a civics of place: Notes from the Thriving
Cities Project 173
ANNA MARAZUELA KIM AND JOSHUA J. YATES
13 From indicators to face validity to theory –and back again:
Measuring outcomes of U.S. creative placemaking projects 187
Conclusion: Moving into the beyond –What’s next for creative
ANITA MCKEOWN AND CARA COURAGE
4.1 Families using the vintage typewriter in Arrivals and Departures,
Barangaroo Cutaway, 2015 58
4.2 Former residents and maritime workers projected within Barangaroo
Cutaway, with shipping containers as ‘Storyboxes’.Arrivals and
Departures, Barangaroo Sydney, 2015 59
6.1 M12 Studio (2016). The Breaking Ring. On view at the Center for
Contemporary Arts Santa Fe, New Mexico 88
6.2 M12 Studio, with Onix Architects (2015–2016). Last Chance
Module Array (Modules No. 4 and 5). Last Chance, Colorado 90
7.1 Apartment building in the Hammarkullen neighborhood with
a windowless concrete gable remade into a public work of art:
Every time I look up I feel happy, when I look down I’m sad,by
the British artist Ben Eine 99
8.1 What is our work: Big Car Collaborative takes a holistic approach
to its work, seeing placemaking as a strategy for reaching
important, broader goals with communities 114
8.2 Why is this work so important: It’s all about the ‘why’or
the motives behind placemaking in the view of Big Car
Collaborative’s team. Putting it in words helps clarify and
guide the work 119
11.1 Outros Espaços project online archive 160
11.2 Escritório de Rua interviews with local residents 163
11.3 Conversas no Sofá, interviews with and by Beja II’s residents
about the history and future of the neighbourhood 163
11.4 Renata conducting interviews with the local residents 168
13.1 National Endowment for the Arts (2015), The Arts and
Livability Indicators 191
13.2 National Endowment for the Arts (2017b), Our Town’s Theory
of Change 196
13.3 National Endowment for the Arts (2017b), Our Town’s
Logic Model 197
Luísa Alpalhão is a London- and Lisbon-based architect and artist and founding
member of the architecture, art and design platform atelier urban nomads.
Luísa has an MA in Architecture and Interiors from the Royal College of Art
and is currently a PhD candidate at The Bartlett School of Architecture,
University College of London, with a scholarship from Fundação para a
Ciência e Tecnologia. Her research consists of developing a methodology for
the making of participatory processes that can potentially become a pedago-
gical tool for the inhabitation and understanding of urban shared spaces.
Sarah Barns is a creative producer and researcher working across urbanism,
placemaking and experiential media. She co-directs the Sydney-based media
arts and design practice Esem Projects, and is a Research Fellow at the
Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University. Sarah has led
the creation of over twenty permanent and temporary installations across
Australia and New Zealand, and continues to advise public and private
agencies in ﬁelds spanning public art, urban strategy and community engage-
ment. Her research has been published across a range of journals including
Space & Culture, City Journal, Senses and Society and Architectural Review,
Tim Edensor teaches Cultural Geography at Manchester Metropolitan Univer-
sity and is currently a visiting scholar at Melbourne University. He is the
author of Tourists at the Taj (1998), National Identity, Popular Culture and
Everyday Life (2002), Industrial Ruins: Space, Aesthetics and Materiality
(2005) and From Light to Dark: Daylight, Illumination and Gloom (2017) as
well as the editor of Geographies of Rhythm (2010). Tim has written
extensively on national identity, tourism, ruins and urban materiality, mobi-
lities and landscapes of illumination and darkness. He is currently writing a
book about stone in Melbourne.
Anne Gadwa Nicodemus is a leading voice in the intersection of arts and
community development. Her company, Metris Arts Consulting, provides
planning, research and evaluation services to reveal arts’impacts and help
communities equitably improve cultural vitality. Recent Metris projects span a
case study of how a creative space in Zimbabwe fosters activism to a planning
process that integrates arts and culture into the work of a community devel-
opment organization with 250 afﬁliates. Since 2012, Nicodemus has been
recognized as one of the USA’s 50 most inﬂuential people in non-proﬁt arts in
WESTAF’s annual peer-nominated list.
Margo Handwerker is the Director of the Texas State Galleries and a researcher
member of the M12 Collective. She is the co-author of A Decade of Country
Hits: Art on the Rural Frontier (2014).
Sunil Iyengar directs the Ofﬁce of Research & Analysis within the National
Endowment for the Arts (NEA), an agency of the US government. He is
responsible for overseeing studies, program evaluations and analyses about
the value and impact of the arts. Among his accomplishments at the NEA has
been establishing a research grants program–with a special track for experi-
mental and quasi-experimental study designs –and a ‘Research Labs’pro-
gram fostering transdisciplinary partnerships between researchers and arts
practitioners. He chairs a federal Interagency Task Force on the Arts and
Human Development, has edited dozens of NEA research publications and
data visualizations and has led the development of the National Archive of
Data on Arts & Culture, a free data repository available at www.icpsr.umich.
Torange Khonsari is an academic and practitioner specialised in citizen-led city
development. She co-founded the art and architecture practice Public Works
(2004), an inter-disciplinary practice working in the threshold of participatory
art, architecture, anthropology and politics that tests and implements the
academic research undertaken at The Cass, London Metropolitan University.
Khonsari is a Consultant on the Specialist Assistant Team (SAT) of the Mayor
of London on community development and cultural curation in regeneration.
She is Senior Lecturer at London Metropolitan University where she runs MA
Design for Cultural Commons. She has been a Consultant to UN Habitat on
Anna Marazuela Kim is a Research Fellow of the Thriving Cities Lab at the
Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia, where
she advances research on the role of art and aesthetics in civic thriving. Kim
is an art historian and cultural theorist who writes and lectures on our complex
relation to images and their continuing ethical challenge, from Plato to the
digital age. She is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards and
member of several international research groups. Currently she is a Visiting
Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies at University College
Michael Landzelius is Director of the Urban Safety and Societal Security
Research Center (URBSEC) at University of Gothenburg and Chalmers Uni-
versity of Technology. He is Associate Professor, positioned at the Department
of Sociology and Work Science, University of Gothenburg. He did his PhD in
Conservation of Built Environments, with an approach shaped under a post-
graduate year studying Geography at University of California Berkeley and
Syracuse University. Michael also spent two years as a postdoc in Geography at
the University of Cambridge. In addition to his present role as URBSEC
Director, he is Project Leader in a four-year research project entitled Reconci-
liatory Heritage: Reconstructing Heritage in a Time of Violent Fragmentations.
Ann Markusen is Principal of Markusen Economic Research (annmarkusen.com)
and Professor Emerita at the University of Minnesota. Her publications include
Creative Capital Artists Look Back (2016); City Creative Industry Strategies
(2012); Creative Placemaking (2010); Native Artists; Crossover: How Artists
Build Careers across Commercial, Non-Proﬁt and Community Work (2006);
and Artists’Centers (2006). Markusen, who has a PhD in Economics from
Michigan State University, was Professor at Minnesota, Rutgers, Northwestern,
California Berkeley and Colorado Universities; Fulbright Lecturer, Brazil;
White Professor-at-Large, Cornell University; Bousﬁeld Distinguished Profes-
sor, University of Toronto; Harvey Perloff Visiting Chair, UCLA; UK Fulbright
Distinguished Chair, Glasgow School of Art; and is currently a member of the
National Advisory Board Strategic National Arts Alumni Project.
Shauta Marsh is a co-founder of Big Car Collaborative, formed in 2004. From
2011 to 2015 she was Executive Director of the Indianapolis Museum of
Contemporary Art (iMOCA). There she curated and/or organized more than
forty exhibitions with artists including LaToya Ruby Frazier, Tony Buba,
Trenton Doyle Hancock and Richard Mosse. She returned to Big Car in
March 2015 as a Commissioning Curator and Program Director for its new
headquarters, Tube Factory artspace. Since opening the 12,000 square foot
museum/community center hybrid, she has worked with artists Carlos Rolón,
Jesse Sugarmann, LaShawnda Crowe Storm, Mari Evans, Pablo Helguera,
Scott Hocking and many others.
Steve Millington is a Director of the Institute of Place Management and a Senior
Lecturer in Human Geography at Manchester Metropolitan University. Work-
ing in partnership with key industry stakeholders and local centres, he is a co-
investigator on two major research projects analyzing town centre change and
development in the UK: ESRC-funded High Street UK2020 and Innovate-
funded Bringing Big Data to Small Users. Steve is co-editor of two edited
collections, Spaces of Vernacular Creativity (2009) and Cosmopolitan Urban-
ism (2005). He has published research on several facets of placemaking,
including lighting and place, and the relationships between football clubs and
their localities. Formed in 2006, the Institute of Place Management is the
international professional body that supports people committed to developing,
managing and making places better. The concept for the Institute was devel-
oped by the Manchester Metropolitan University and the Association of Town
Centre Management in the UK.
Aditi Nargundkar Pathak is an architect and urban designer. She leads the
placemaking initiative The Urban Vision, enabling the use of public art in
plazas and designing human-centric streets and innovative plazas in Indian
cities. She has led and completed multiple demonstration projects creating
small social spaces which have changed the safety, aesthetics and use of the
city’s public spaces. She is a visiting faculty in various colleges of architec-
ture and urban planning in Mumbai.
Stephen Pritchard is a Fine Art Tutor at Northumbria University. He recently
completed an AHRC-funded research-based PhD entitled Artwashing: The Art
of Regeneration, Social Capital and Anti-Gentriﬁcation Activism. He is an art
historian, critical theorist, activist, writer, curator and community artist. His
interdisciplinary approach to research is grounded in post-critical ethnography,
radical art history, Frankfurt School Critical Theory and Critical Urban
Theory. He has presented papers internationally, lectures widely and has had
several journal articles published to date. He also was commissioned by The
Guardian to write an article entitled ‘Hipsters and Artists are the gentrifying
foot soldiers of capitalism’in 2016. Stephen is also a member of the Move-
ment for Cultural Democracy and Artists’Union England, and is a founding
member of Isla99, Artists Against Social Cleansing and Socially Engaged and
Participatory Arts Network. He has worked in the arts since 2007 and founded
the community arts organisation dot to dot active arts CIC in 2013.
Peter Rundqvist has for many years been part of the City Council administra-
tion of Gothenburg, developing and leading different EU-ﬁnanced sustainable
urban development projects. He is a sociologist specialised in the ﬁeld of art
and culture related to social cohesion and migration in contemporary urban
Dominic Walker is a cultural geographer at Royal Holloway, University of
London. His research explores the interface between art, politics and science
in contemporary environmental humanities discourse. Walker presented papers
at the Royal Geographical Society (2015, 2016, 2018) and American Associa-
tion of Geographers (2016) annual international Geography conferences,
alongside guest lectures in Pittsburgh (2015) and Exeter (2014, 2015). He
has collaborated with several international artists, and was a Visiting Research
Fellow in Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Art (2015) and the Center
for PostNatural History (2015). He has published in Society and Space (2015)
and has a further two papers awaiting submission to the journals GeoHuma-
nities and Area.
Jim Walker is CEO of Big Car Collaborative, an Indianapolis, Indiana-based
nonproﬁt social practice art and placemaking non-proﬁt. Walker serves as
lead artist on Spark Placemaking, a Big Car program bringing engagement-
based public programming and people-focused design to communities. He
also leads Big Car’s work to utilize cultural strategies to support equitable
revitalization in long overlooked neighborhoods south of downtown
Indianapolis. Walker –who received his MFA from Warren Wilson College in
Asheville, N.C. –has worked as a teacher, journalist, designer, and public
artist. He also currently teaches in the University of Indianapolis Social
Practice Art and Placemaking graduate program.
Joshua J. Yates is a cultural sociologist and social entrepreneur whose work
bridges the worlds of academic theory and social practice. He is currently
Research Director of the Thriving Cities Lab, an initiative of University of
Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, where his scholarly work
focuses on the changing paradigms of civic life in 21st-century urban
contexts, and Chief Executive Ofﬁcer of the Thriving Cities Group, a non-
proﬁt organization equipping cities to cultivate their civic capacity and civic
infrastructure through community-centred data, technology and advice.
This book has arisen from a transatlantic conversation between eponymous
creative placemaking conference sessions at the Royal Geographical Society,
Exeter, 2015, and the Association of American Geographers, San Francisco,
2016. These sessions worked to unpick the notion of creative placemaking and
offered a practitioner-led critique and examples of practice in conversation with
an academic- and research-based discourse. As placemaking practitioners and
researchers, we both felt that the arts-driven placemaking sector had reached a
moment in both maturity and breadth where it demanded critique and a deeper
understanding of practice, requiring in turn a meaningful and dynamic dialogue
between theorists and practitioners. If creative placemaking is to contribute to
places-in-the-making (Silberberg, 2013) and encourage citizen-led agency, new
conceptual frameworks and practical methodologies will be required, advocating
transdisciplinary, resilient processes and new models of theory and practice. This
book aims to be part of that sector development.
Creative placemaking is often addressed as a subset of placemaking and is
commonly, and this book would argue, reductively, recognised for the instru-
mentalised potential of art to contribute to regeneration and revitalisation. Such
an approach has little engagement with the heritage of non-object arts, design or
architectural practices, those situated interventions and durational practices that
have emerged over ﬁfty years of ‘arts in place’and in much placemaking
spanning both the social and public realms. This book works then to interrogate
a populist or sector vernacular deﬁnition and understanding of creative place-
making and to extend its deﬁnitions and understandings through both academic
and practitioner voices. As a still-nascent ﬁeld, emerging from a US policy
platform, creative placemaking is still evolving, yet enacted at a global scale. A
review of key funders from 2010 to 2015 by co-editor Anita McKeown revealed
that the majority of creative placemaking projects were artists’live-work spaces,
cultural quarters, landmark arts centres or monumental public artworks. This
focus does little to advance the ﬁeld or present emergent praxis, which is
systemic in its approach. The book aims to address this deﬁcit by representing
a range of practices across themes that are pertinent to the social or public realms
and to signal progressive changes to future challenges. A range of scholars and
artist-scholars present socially practiced, co-produced and citizen-led placemakings
as an inside-out response rather than simply a bottom-up need or desire or top-
down imposition, with artists, participants and a range of creatives and other
professions forming ecologies of practice.
The chapters in this book don’t all agree with each other –it is not our
purpose to form a consensus, but to give a platform to a diverse cohort of voices
across the maturing creative placemaking sector, and to prompt the reader into
their own critique, reﬂection on their own practice and position in the sector. We
embrace differing perspectives and opinions in the construction of our conference
session and this book, each chapter in dialogue with others and inviting further
research and debate, which we hope will have a life beyond the publication. We
are honoured too to have the reﬂexive voice from the founding of creative
placemaking and from its practice, offering a mix of ﬁrst- and third-person
narrative, conversation and reﬂection, a reﬂection itself on the nature of a
critiquing enquiry and of the prominence of the active placemaker, a ‘thinking
through doing’and of practice-based research. With professional practices in
social practice curation (Cara), as an artist (Anita) and as placemakers (both), we
took a curatorial approach to the conferences sessions, and have done so again
for this book. This approach is discussed in the opening chapter.
Both UK and American English feature in this publication, recognising the voice of
contributors and direct quotes from other texts, artists and project participants.
Silberberg, S. (2013) Places in the Making: How placemaking builds places and commu-
nities. MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning [Online] Available at: http://dusp.
mit.edu/cdd/project/placemaking (Accessed: 13 August 2015)
The editors would like to thank all the contributors for their dedicated work and
inspired contributions to this book, as well as the team at Routledge. Thanks are also
due to the Royal Geographic Society, UK, and the Association of American
Geographers, USA, for giving an ongoing platform to bring arts into geographical
contexts and organising the conferences that were the beginning setting of this
publication. We would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge two of our
valued session contributors, Marie Mahon, Ireland, and Eje Kim, Republic of Korea,
who were unable to contribute to this publication. Furthermore, we would like to
thank all those communities and artists referenced in this book for their invaluable
contribution to questioning and extending creative placemaking practice.
a2ru Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities
AAF American Architectural Foundation
AAG American Association of Geographers
ASU Art Services Unincorporated
AUD Australian dollars
AUN Atelier Urban Nomads
BHAAAD Boyle Heights Alliance Against Artwashing and Displacement
BSC Balfron Social Club
CAE Critical Art Ensemble
CCI[s] Cultural and Creative Industries
CEO[s] Chief Executive Ofﬁcer[s]
CLT[s] Community Land Trust[s]
DOT Department of Transportation
ERDF European Regional Development Fund
GDNE Gothenburg Development North East
HUD Housing and Urban Development Department
IHRU Instituto de Habitação e Reabilitação Urbana
iMOCA Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art
LGBTQI+ Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning and
MACLA Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana
MICD Mayors’Institute on City Design
MSB Maritime Housing Board
NEA National Endowment for the Arts
NGO[s] Non-Governmental Organisations
NSW New South Wales
ORU Operações de Reabilitação Urbana/Urban Rehabilitation
RFP Request for Proposals
RGS Royal Geographical Society
RSPB Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
RTR Roman Road Trust
SEK Swedish krona
SIAP Social Impact of the Arts
SNAG Southwark Notes Archive Group
STEAM Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics
TRF The Reinvestment Fund
URBSEC Urban Safety and Societal Security Research Center
USCM United States Conference of Mayors
V&A Victoria and Albert Museum
VALI Validating Arts and Livability Indicators
Curating research, theory and practice
Cara Courage and Anita McKeown
The curatorial approach taken to the conference sessions this book has arisen
from, and to the book itself, was a deliberative, and, as arts practitioners, intuitive
act, orientated as we are towards an expansive understanding of the role of the
curator and the curatorial praxis.
The arts sector has seen a curatorial turn that has widened its scope from art
museum or gallery exhibition to include ‘enabling, making public, educating,
analysing, criticising, theorising, editing and staging’(Jackson, 2015, p.62) –the
knowledge base of the curator has expanded and been de-centred, and multiple
disciplines have been incorporated into its purview. We take this a stage further to
include academic presentation across research dissemination platforms and the
practitioner voice in the academy. Within our practice and academic ﬁelds (sepa-
rated here only notionally), we see an ‘entanglement of actors’(Jackson, 2015,
p.15) rather than siloed or ﬁxed-boundary positions and seek to engage academia in
this praxis as an active concern. For us, the curatorial is a ‘a more viral presence
consisting of signiﬁcation processes and relationships between processes and
relationships between objects, people, places, ideas, and so forth, a presence that
strives to create friction and push new ideas’(Lind, in Jackson, 2015, p.65).
Thus, our curation is co-produced, is collaborative and dialogical, as is our
placemaking practice. With the abundance of content and channels of content
communication within academia and the arts alone, the curatorial is a vital and
critical approach to take for sense-making, dissemination and whether academic,
researcher or practitioner, the expansion of our intellectual and creative endea-
vours. The curatorial imbricates the folding and unfolding of academic and
practitioner knowledge and provides a critical framework to ﬁnd and assess
information. It requires traditional and information literacy, visual and critical
literacy (Dale, 2014, p.203) and the critical faculty to add value to, rather than
just share, information. This is curating of the cognitive value and the material in
this book has been chosen to support the best writing and research undertaken
in the creative placemaking sector and to make this work more available to
those within and without the academy, especially, as a practitioner-led ﬁeld, to
the placemakers themselves.
Our co-organised conference sessions at the Royal Geographical Society
(RGS) and American Association of Geographers (AAG) (see Preface) and this
book manifest a curatorial framework of critically engaged practice and a ‘mode
of becoming’(O’Neill and Wilson, 2015, p.12) of theory, research and
practice. Responding to the conferences themes (‘Geographies of the Anthro-
pocene’at RGS, and at AAG, ‘Thriving in a Time of Disruptive in Higher
Education’,‘International Geography and Urban Health Symposium’and
‘Symposium on Physical Geography and Challenges of the Anthropocene’),
we devised our thematic response of galvanising, continuing and re-invigorat-
ing the arts-led conversation, our mode of enquiry for the sessions and
learning objectives and plenary questioning. The sessions were formed from
an open call for papers as well as targeted approaches to our trusted net-
works. Submitted abstracts were put through a process of ﬁltration, evaluation
and assemblage, checked against the theme and our session-learning objec-
tives. The disparate sources of information that is a portfolio of papers were
ordered to present a coherent narrative arc across the theme; for example,
moving from a global to a local perspective or moving from the theoretical to
the practice-based enquiry.
This process, informed by our curation as artistic practice, utilises ‘form’as a
means to advance understanding and speakers were offered guidance in advance
on content in this regard. When in the conference room, the sessions were a
space for active engagement with experts and peers between speakers and
delegates, resulting in a mutual gaining of insight and embedding of new
thinking. The composition of the narrative arc curated the panellists’presenta-
tions as a series of landing points from which to navigate the ﬁeld. This served to
create an experience in which the space between the contributions informed
understanding as much as what was presented.
Through traversing geographic, intellectual and infrastructural constructs, the
sessions’curation sought to encourage a diverse landscape to create an
interdisciplinary ecology that facilitated the cross-pollination of knowledge.
This in turn encouraged and supported our understanding of creative place-
making as a collaborative, participatory process and taking an ecological
approach to theoretical and practical framing and questioning. Seating plans
of plenary sessions were chosen for best ﬁt to the learning objectives, and
ranged from conventional classroom setting to cabaret, world café, conversa-
tion circle. Interdisciplinarity has been a constant mode of enquiry –‘not only
a matter of going beside the disciplines but of breaking them’(Jackson, 2015,
p.6) –as has been the curatorial conversation of the closing plenary or
discussant. To this end, our curatorial approach through this publication
further endeavours to encourage the reader to select sections and chapters at
will, co-curating their own exploration of the contributions to develop further
understanding and questioning.
The curation of the conference sessions sought to engage with the vital
conversations that we as editors, through our own research on placemaking and
earlier critiques of cultural regeneration, had identiﬁed as problematic for the
creative placemaking sector, which, principally at the time of writing, revolved
around issues of gentriﬁcation, participation and exclusion. Our purpose behind
2Cara Courage and Anita McKeown
curating research, theory and practice is to offer an approach that can structure and
demonstrate a multiplicity of positions, models and voices at their intersection
(O’Neill and Wilson, 2015, p.12). Topics and themes create a constellation that can
generate reﬂection, debate and the extension of both research and practice processes.
This operates on two levels: the choosing and framing of the topic, and the choosing
of its components and their presentation, ‘which (together via the programming)
enable and enhance reﬂexive dialogues among audiences and participants’(Nelund,
2015, p.174). Throughout this process, our own reﬂective practice mined the RGS
sessions to extract common themes, questions and avenues for further inquiry that
informed our second set of sessions at AAG the following year.
This curation is further manifest within the book’sEcologies organisational
structure, which references a conversation deeply embedded in creative place-
making’s heritage: the need for an ecological approach as identiﬁed in the work
of Stern and Seifert (2006) within the Social Impact of the Arts (SIAP) at Penn
State. In a radical pairing, Joan Shigegawa, Head of the Rockerfella Foundation
(soon to be Deputy Chair to Rocco Landesman’s Chair of the National Endow-
ment for the Arts (NEA)), negotiated an innovative collaboration between SIAP
and The Reinvestment Fund. This culminated in an inﬂuential report –Culture
and Urban Revitalisation (2006–8), an important in-depth critique of The Rise of
the Creative Class (Florida, 2002), which recommended the need for an ‘ecolo-
gical’approach to including the arts within ‘urban revitalisation’. Shigekawa’s
relationship to this partnership and report, an important inﬂuence on the early
development of creative placemaking, is evident in the curatorial organisation of
Further, the use of ecologies as metaphor and formal construct presents not
only the need for an ecological systemic approach to actualise creative place-
making’s generative potential but references the need for dynamic practices that
transcend the bi-polarities of top-down or bottom-up, a key discontent within the
ﬁeld, and which are necessary to devolve power, encourage self-organisation and
agency and integrate citizens’existing placemaking practices. Resilient and co-
produced instances of creative placemaking are moving towards a processual
open source approach (Silberberg, 2013) and have become more common since
our exploration of the ﬁeld began in 2015. Early drivers of the sector, the NEA’s
and ArtPlace’sreﬂection on their own processes now sees support shifting from
capital projects, such as the monumental and plaza or waterfront development,
towards a broader transference of power from external local or centralised
authority and towards opportunities to develop agile resilient practices.
Section 1 –Evolving Ecologies
The book’s curation seeks to present advancement, and as such the ﬁrst section,
Evolving Ecologies, opens with two reﬂective chapters that reﬂect on the ﬁeld
through revisiting earlier scholarship. The four scholars’willingness and enthu-
siasm to rethink earlier research and present the long view initiates a grounded
exploration of creative placemaking, our ﬁrst aim for the book. The theoretical
and practical concerns that the book presents move away from a traditional
placemaking foci often manifest within urban development as the waterfront,
plaza or the market place towards arts-led socially engaged processes that
encourage a deeper level of public participation and agency. The opening section
sets the scene for this objective by presenting key concerns that have been
present within the ﬁeld since its inception, yet acknowledges that despite
progress, creative placemaking is a process that is still evolving. Ann Markusen
and Anne Gadwa Nicodemus, the authors of the original White Paper (2010)
commissioned by Rocco Landesman, Chair of the NEA, review close to a decade
of work, designed by the Obama-appointed NEA administration. This foundation
is strengthened by Edensor and Millington’sreﬂections on their edited volume
Spaces of Vernacular Creativity: Rethinking the Cultural Economy (2009).
Emerging as Landesman was coining the phrase ‘creative placemaking’, Edensor
and Millington presented a critical response to predominant discussions on
creative geographies. As a companion piece to Markusen and Gadwa’s text,
Edensor and Millington’s chapter serves to contribute to an understanding of the
landscape that informed our initial concerns: the potential of creative placemak-
ing and the limitations posed by a focus on economic impact and how this in turn
shapes regeneration policy.
The second objective of the book was to extend deﬁnitions and the under-
standing of creative placemaking, and the chapters that follow Section 1 offer a
rich breadth and depth of projects that traverse urban design and art heritage,
theory and practice, planning and policy and cultural and place heritage and
politics. Many of the scholars and practitioners contributing to this collection are
engaged in a critical process of creative placemaking as well as moving beyond
the conﬁnes of their discipline and its training to interrogate the issues that have
led to many of the criticisms of the practice and sector.
Section 2 –Dialogical Ecologies
The three chapters presented in Section 2, Dialogical Ecologies, illustrate the
book’s aims by initiating a conversation between theory and practice from three
perspectives: a geographer, an artist-scholar and an architect. Collectively, these
chapters simultaneously highlight the potential of creative placemaking and its
discontents from within three distinct geo-political contexts, reafﬁrming the need
for an overarching ethos that allows for non-formulaic context-responsive and
adaptive approaches. Within these chapters the authors present key criticisms of
creative placemaking that pertain to issues of place attachment and belonging,
present in discussions of creative placemaking from early in its inception.
Creative practice in the broadest sense offers avenues for understanding and
expressing place identity through articulation of psychosocial processes including
comprehension of self and other, inclusion and exclusion in processes and
systems that affect feelings of belonging and, as Bedoya (2013) has discussed,
4Cara Courage and Anita McKeown
Walker’sreﬂection on a collaborative interdisciplinary citizen-led social prac-
tice project, Wrecked! On the Intertidal Zone (2014–6), shines a light on the
value of the arts to contribute beyond economic development. Through situated
practice, Wrecked! brought together multiple actors –local arts groups, citizens,
Arts Catalyst and Critical Art Ensemble –to produce social and cultural capital
as a response to water pollution and high shipping volume in the Thames
Estuary, UK. Barns raises awareness of the instrumental logic behind the support
of culture-led projects in Australia through government ﬁnance and urban
regeneration projects, and cites this as leverage for temporary programming.
This segues into an exploration of the renowned ‘Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper’
(Reynolds in MacIver, 2010) process (advocated for by the placemaking agency
Project for Public Spaces) within the ﬁnal chapter in this section through projects
in Mumbai by Patak, the Director of Urban Vision, along with a team of urban
innovators, architects, artists and urban designers. Urban Vision’s consideration
of a Western concept highlights issues prevalent in all three sections: the need for
awareness and sensitivity to local contexts when transferring models and work-
ing in contested arenas.
Section 3 –Scalable Ecologies
Scalable Ecologies positions perspectives of scale in dialogue, bringing together
three contributors who address issues of location through rural, the peri-suburban
to the urban; issues of practice from the individual to municipal level; organisa-
tional issues within small and larger scale actions and approaches to creative
placemaking. Handwerker, a researcher and member off M12 arts collective,
assesses creative placemaking from a rural perspective informed by critical and
historical reﬂections augmented by a practice that is place-based and by the
realities and complexities of rural life in the United States. Handwerker raises
awareness of challenges to creative practices in a rural context and how creative
placemaking can dilute limited funds from the arts to social services and private
development, rather than being a means to increase resources and embed the arts
more concretely in all aspects of placemaking.
Landzelius and Rundqvist chart the evolution of a project in a peri-urban
context, the north-east of Gothenburg, which explored an assumption that
Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs) could serve as an instrument for the
city’s integration and economic development policies. The chapter presents the
shift from cultural policy driven by a socially orientated state-level system
towards an entrepreneurial neoliberal approach, while illustrating the difﬁcul-
ties and conﬂicting ideologies and social requirements at play within public
sector-initiated projects within ‘vulnerable, economically weak and socially
The section concludes with a conversation undertaken on a research road trip
between Big Car Collaborative founders Walker and Marsh as they visited North
American rust-belt cities. Now in its ﬁfteenth year as a socially engaged art and
placemaking organisation, Big Car is an integral part of a community in the
urban core of Indianapolis, Indiana. Literally travelling through ideas, experi-
ences and a physical landscape that is adopting creative placemaking solutions
as they drove, Big Car present pertinent aspects for creative placemaking
Section 4 –Challenging Ecologies
Challenging Ecologies presents the perspective of three scholar-practitioners
testing their ﬁelds’conventional practices. These perspectives offer important
insights into a critical reﬂection of standard practices that informs both the ﬁeld
of creative placemaking and the education and training of those working
professionally in disciplines that are engaged in the practice. Concerns around
ownership and authorship are dealt with in different ways by each author yet
underpinning their contributions is the recognition that creative placemaking is
not the preserve of the ‘professional placemaker’; instead they acknowledge the
necessary and long-standing role multiple individuals contribute to the practice
of placemaking that is creative and occurs every day and in many ways.
Khonsari’s introduction to the role of temporary spatial objects/architectures
considers how such territorial interventions can facilitate civic use and social
empowerment as a tactical approach to resist privatised enclosures in urban
areas. Using a comparative study, Khonsari presents the historical context of
temporary spatial objects/architectures: the Soviet Agitational Propaganda Vehicles
(Agitprop trains, 1920) and The Fun Palace by Joan Littlewood and Cedric Price
(1960) in conjunction with two contemporary London case studies. Khonsari’s
counterpoint highlights the ‘problematics of control and power’and the need for a
spatial practitioner to have critical understanding of power relationships and
dynamics within neoliberalism.
Following on from Khonsari’s polemic, Pritchard suggests that creative place-
making perpetuates the gentriﬁcation associated with Creative City and Creative
Class models, arguing that creative placemaking enacted via state and local
authority policy and corporate partnerships, integrates art, community and
economic development, and as such is a neo-liberal tool. As a rebuttal to this
argument Pritchard advocates the process of ‘place guarding’(collective acts of
protecting existing people and places) as a way of artists resisting artwashing
(the use of art as a veneer or mask for corporate or state agendas) (O’Sullivan,
2014), which, he argues, is embedded within creative placemaking. Alpalhão’s
pertinent reﬂection on participation and apathy within Outros Espaços (Other
Spaces) (2014–15) highlights the complexity and pitfalls of participatory civic
engagement within multi-agency regeneration.
Section 5 –Extending Ecologies
The closing section, Extending Ecologies, offers signposting to the type of
thinking that is taking the creative placemaking sector into its next era. Kim
and Yates’chapter builds on current understandings of the complexity of cities
6Cara Courage and Anita McKeown
and their signiﬁcance for the future. Increasingly, there is recognition of the need
for an ecological model of cities that acknowledges an ecosystem with living and
non-living organisms co-existing in dynamic interactions. This poses challenges
to conventional approaches to planning and management as such environments
are complex, with their dynamism requiring conditions that allow for constant
change and evolution if they are to thrive.
The ﬁnal chapter returns the reader to creative placemaking’s inception, as
Iyengar, the NEA’s Director of the Ofﬁce of Research & Analysis, documents
its journey and move to a Theory of Change model. Iyengar’sreﬂection is an
optimistic perspective on creative placemaking’s evolution at practitioner,
funder and administrative levels. It is an appropriate milestone on which to
end the book, as creative placemaking nears completion of its ﬁrst decade.
Through a longitudinal consideration and evaluation of intended and unin-
tended outcomes from practitioners, the NEA has listened, acknowledged and
integrated the knowledge from those enacting creative placemaking in the
In this spirit, we now invite you to follow our own journey through this book,
following our curated path or by devising your own, and hope that it both
illuminates creative placemaking practices and processes and informs your own
research, theory and practice in the same.
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