Creative Placemaking metrics research with UVA

This month I start a new research role, with University of Virginia, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture and the Thriving Cities Project, a three-phased project that is looking at the scope of creative placemaking.

Over the past several years, the rise of creative placemaking (CPM) within community development has captured the attention of artists, cities, and community activists. However, as CPM has gained popularity, questions over the definition and effectiveness of CPM have grown. At this point in time, there is a need within the fields of the arts and community development to draw the various scholarly and popular definitions and assessments of Creative Placemaking (CPM) into one place. The scope of this project is provide the foundational work for collecting and examining the different approaches and designations of CPM into one place.

The first phase of the project is a mapping CPM field. That is, what are the main uses and major theoretical camps of CPM and how is CPM often deployed in practice and by whom? What too are the determinants of success (i.e. what metrics are used in evaluation) that accompany the different variations of CPM?

The second phase will identify gaps in the field, what CPM as a whole often misses in relation to art and community development, its unchallenged assumptions, and known deficits. This phase will then go on to signpost emerging frontiers of research, practice, and assessment that are either aiming to fill the gaps articulated or that are happening in response to other developments.

The third and final phase will offer interpretations and recommendations. The interpretation will be of the conceptualization and corresponding quantitative and qualitative assessment of CPM. The recommendations will offer a slate of 10-15 best metrics (along with rationales) for evaluating CPM projects in particular and cultural vitality in general.

The research questions are as follows:

1.       How is creative placemaking defined? What, if any, are the main theoretical camps in these definitions?

2.       What claims are made of creative placemaking outcomes and outputs?

3.       How is creative placemaking measured? What are the metrics applied? What are the gaps or anomalies in this activity?

4.       What creative placemaking projects represent best practice in outcomes/outputs and evaluations/metrics?

If you would like to contribute to this research, by way of sources, definitions, project examples, metric examples (either in placemaking or from another sector that would be a source of learning) or opinion for example, please get in touch. Please also share this post with colleagues far and wide.

The research project will be completed by January 2017.

If you would like to be part of this project, please contact Cara via this website or email me via