Evaluating values in creative placemaking: The arts as community development in the NEA’s Our Town program

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6 Scopus citations


Arts-based community development practices have received newfound prominence over the past decade under the auspices of “creative placemaking.” In 2010, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) published a white paper titled “Creative Placemaking” and launched a new granting program focused on this practice called Our Town. Today, creative placemaking is burgeoning yet its precise definition remains fuzzy. This article uses content analysis to systematically analyze the 569 Our Town grants awarded by the NEA since the program’s inception to inductively define creative placemaking based on the values embedded into project proposals, comparing these values with the NEA’s stated Our Town goals. I find that creative placemaking, at least as funded in the U.S. through Our Town, can be defined as public or community-based art that includes values of place-specificity, collaboration, and participation, and which results in three forms of community development outcomes: economic development, bolstering social capital and participation, and improved cultural infrastructure. As creative placemaking evolves, equity is increasingly a concern, shifting focus toward the latter two outcomes as more measurable and desirable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)708-726
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Urban Affairs
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies


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