Creative Placemaking in Planning

Project Overview

Through partnerships and engagement, planners and artists can make a tremendous difference in the quality of the built environment using a variety of creative placemaking skills. However, differing techniques, language, and cultures can be an obstacle for planners and artists working together.

The American Planning Association, Boston's Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), Americans for the Arts (AFTA), and the Townscape Institute partnered to expand best practices, tools, case studies, and networking opportunities to support partnerships as the two fields learn to work together to develop successful creative placemaking projects. This collaboration developed planner-friendly tools, vetted by the public art field and APA's Arts and Planning Interest Group, to increase planners' competencies in working with artists.

Natick Center Creative Placemaking Project

In 2018, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council's (MAPC) Arts & Culture Division provided technical assistance to the town of Natick, Massachusetts, to help with the development of a Natick Center Creative Placemaking Strategy. The partnership produced a demonstration project as well as recommendations for new processes and strategies that Natick and Natick Center Associates can use to facilitate continued creative placemaking in Town Center.

A Research KnowledgeBase resource collection was tested in Natick, MA, to implement a local placemaking project. A case study of the project, Natick Center Creative Placemaking Project, illustrates how the town activated public places and spaces through arts, culture, and design.

Creative Placemaking Resource Collection

The Creative Placemaking Research KnowledgeBase resource collection is ready for exploration and comment. We welcome suggestions for additional resources to include, as well as any necessary edits to the text within the collection. Please contact us with suggested modifications.

Planner-Artist Partnerships for Creative Placemaking

In this session from the 2018 National Planning Conference, project team members joined Ethan Ellestad from the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans to discuss connections between the arts and planning. We've created a Story Map that features individual attendees' arts and culture pledges, along with responses to our interactive polls.

Building Capacity for Creative Placemaking

This blog post by Patricia Walsh of Americans for the Arts serves an introduction to the project and the four partner organizations. It includes information about each of the three project phases: field survey, on the ground exploration, and field testing and training.

Related Resources

Arts and Planning Interest Group

The Arts and Planning Interest Group (APIG) is a collaborative space for planners and artists who believe that arts and culture is an essential element of what makes places and communities healthy, connected, and vibrant.

Arts & Culture Briefing Papers

As part of a collaborative project with the RMC Corporation and with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, APA's Planning and Community Health Research Center developed a series of briefing papers to illustrate how planners use arts and culture strategies to achieve economic, social, environmental, and community goals. 2011.

Creative Placemaking

This PAS Memo introduces and explores the interdisciplinary field of creative placemaking and the many ways that arts and artists add value to communities and can contribute to planning-related goals. It offers general guidelines for the types of spaces that can encourage more creative output and support local creative ecologies, and it shares methodologies for how to measure success. 2016.

Placemaking on a Budget

This PAS Report offers help for small towns, neighborhoods, and downtowns that need to enhance identity and social connections without spending a lot of money. It discusses how citizens can get involved in identifying the history, culture, and resources that make their community unique. 2006.


This project is made possible by grants by the National Endowment for the Arts and Townscape Institute to APA. APA is partnering with MAPC, AFTA, and Townscape to draft training tools and resources, develop and oversee a creative placemaking demonstration project, and evaluate and refine the tools and resources before promoting them to the planning community.