I worked with University of Virginia, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture and the Thriving Cities Project, on a three-phased project that looked at the scope of creative placemaking. The project aims to continue as a research hub based on the Urban Room model.
Over the past several years, the rise of creative placemaking within community development has captured the attention of artists, cities, and community activists. However, as creative placemaking has gained popularity, questions over the definition and effectiveness of creative placemaking 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 into one place. The scope of this project is provide the foundational work for collecting and examining the different approaches and designations of creative placemaking into one place.
The first phase of the project was a mapping creative placemaking field. That is, what are the main uses and major theoretical camps of creative placemaking, how is creative placemaking 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 creative placemaking?
The second phase identified gaps in the field, what creative placemaking as a whole often misses in relation to art and community development, its unchallenged assumptions, and known deficits. This phase then went 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 offered interpretations and recommendations, forming the basis of continuing research.
The research questions were 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?