Arts-and-Culture Investments in Placemaking


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What do theaters, cultural centers, jazz clubs and the like contribute to local economies? To public safety? To neighborhood desirability? Many agree that culture is an essential component of urban livability, but quantifying how much and in what ways is a challenge. And that makes justifying and attracting investment an equal one.

At the forum “Measuring Vibrancy: The Impacts of Arts-and-Culture Investments in Placemaking,” the Municipal Art Society of New York expects to offer those involved in placemaking – an approach to developing public spaces that starts by gathering information about users’ and potential users’ needs and aspirations – a chance to hear how some of their counterparts have met the measurement challenge.

The panelists, who represent the disciplines of economic development, urban design, research and real estate, are:

Carol Coletta, President, ArtPlace (NYC) – Moderator

Joe Cortright, President and Principal Economist, Impresa (Portland, OR)

Kevin Stolarick, Research Director, The Martin Prosperity Institute, Rotman School of Management (Toronto, ON)

Harriet Tregoning, Director, Washington, DC, Office of Planning (Washington, DC)

Sue Mosey, President, Midtown Detroit (Detroit, MI)

ArtPlace, which moderator Carol Coletta leads, is a national collaborative of foundations, federal agencies (including the NEA) and some of the nation’s largest banks which support placemaking initiatives. The organization is in the process of developing a set of “vibrancy indicators” that will measure the impact of investments in arts and culture.

“Measuring Vibrancy: The Impacts of Arts-and-Culture Investments in Placemaking” will be held on Tuesday, April 24, 6:30 – 8:00 pm (reception to follow) at the National Museum of the American Indian (One Bowling Green, NYC). The event is free, but registration is required.

This is the latest program in the MAS Arts Forum series. Produced since 1990, the series presents visionary cultural leaders working in all disciplines, across the country and around the world, who share their knowledge and experience with New Yorkers passionate about arts advocacy, policymaking and management. This event follows an April 12 MAS Arts Forum in which the leaders of all three NYC library systems will discuss the libraries’ role as centers of neighborhood cultural activity.

The Municipal Art Society of New York, founded in 1893, is a non-profit organization committed to making New York a more livable city through education, dialogue and advocacy for intelligent urban planning, design and preservation.

One thought on “Arts-and-Culture Investments in Placemaking

  1. Vox Connecticut

    This is a good discussion based on Rocco Landesman and NEA’s widely touted vision for the arts and placemaking. There are two key problems with it however. First – “the arts” is too narrow. The broader and more inclusive term “cultural resources” admits a role for historic preservation, historical resources and related civic amenities I also believe there are aspects of economic impact that while intangible and therefore difficult or impossible to measure, that are real and that putting too much emphasis on “measurables” may get in the way of best outcomes and policy

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