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Over the course of the next two years, the International Downtown Association  (IDA), is prioritizing creative placemaking by providing best practice case studies, tools, and support opportunities to its members. IDA is partnering with Springboard for the Arts to: 1) distribute best practices learned from business districts that are already effectively incorporating art and artists into their work; 2) incorporate expert-led creative placemaking workshops into IDA regional and annual conferences; 3) develop a creative placemaking toolkit for business improvement districts; and 4) provide support funding to six districts that have limited resources, allowing them an opportunity to implement their own creative placemaking programs.

This work is made possible through the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts from its Our Town program.

The Guide for Business Districts to Work with Local Artists is a free guide for place managers to work with artists on creative placemaking projects. Created by Springboard for the Arts from their experience working with artists and consulting on creative placemaking work across the country, the guide contains tools for partnership building between BIDs and artists, collaboration between community stakeholders, budgeting and project management. The toolkit is available to the public for free on Springboard’s national sharing platform, Creative Exchange.

In tandem with the guide, IDA and Springboard are seeding six projects with $5,000 grants to support creative placemaking. Creative placemaking is the act of people coming together to change over-looked and undervalued public and shared spaces into welcoming places where community gathers, supports one another, and thrives.

The projects are in Chandler, AZ; Tempe, AZ; Santa Ana, CA; New Haven, CT; Oklahoma City OK; and Memphis, TN. These projects will take place in the spring of 2017 and are scaled to support local artists’ work in creating more vibrant and engaging local business districts. They will be documented on Creative Exchange. See the list of projects below.

Downtown Crosswalk Beautification: Chandler, AZ

The Downtown Chandler Community Partnership (DCCP), a nonprofit business improvement district operating in Chandler, AZ is seeking an artist or artist team to design artwork graphics for pedestrian crosswalks at three crossings along Arizona Avenue in downtown Chandler. The selected artist shall create a series of design variations that reflect the unique identity, diversity, culture, and/or history of downtown Chandler. downtownchandler.org

Pop up Mobile Patio: Tempe, AZ

This collaboration between the Downtown Tempe Authority, the City of Tempe, local businesses and artists will activate a city-owned dumpster transformed into a mobile pop-up park by the Public Works Department. This project will empower an artist(s) to transform it into a comfortable, inviting sitting/gathering space. It will be parked in a parking space in front of businesses. downtowntempe.com

The Calliotree: Santa Ana, CA

Downtown Inc. is partnering with renowned a local artist and creative engineer, two local schools, and the City of Santa Ana to reintegrate a community landmark into the public realm. The artist will adapt digital infrastructure onto a 30-foot tall dying sycamore tree (a historic local landmark) to transform it into a programmable audio-visual art piece that acts as a giant musical instrument for anyone to play. downtown-santaana.com

Elm City Mosaic: New Haven, CT

Elm City Mosaic is a creative placemaking partnership with the Town Green Special Services District, local artists, teachers, students, and downtown stakeholders. This project aims to transform forgotten places into cared-for spaces that all can enjoy, with colorful mosaic murals of hand-painted tiles. Local high school students will plan, design, create and install a large mural of tiles to cover chain link fences on selected locations in downtown New Haven. downtownnewhaven.com

Rain Stencils: Oklahoma City, OK

Downtown Oklahoma City Initiatives and the Downtown Business Improvement District, with the help of Short Order Poems, a group of local poets, will be installing original poems from local artists on the sidewalks and plazas throughout the central business district in downtown Oklahoma City that will ONLY appear when raining. As sidewalks become rain-soaked during our rainy, spring season, the waterproof painted poetry will remain dry and become legible to pedestrians. downtownokc.com

Main Street Sounds: Memphis, TN

Main Street Sounds is a new effort to bring busking and live music performance to street corners and public sidewalks in downtown Memphis. The Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC) will hire local musicians for up to 100 performances along the Main Street Mall during the midday lunch hour and early evening. The program will run for 10 weeks from mid-March through the end of May. downtownmemphis.com

Press photos and other media resources

Guide for Business Districts to Work with Local Artists

Request the free guide for place managers to work with artists on creative placemaking projects. 

Get the toolkit!
Creative Fresno

Find out about Fresno's mural projects on Creative Exchange.

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ArtVenture Cincinnati

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Urban Matters, Inc.

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Springboard Staff

Artist Community Organizer

Associate Director

Community Development Coordinator