Planning and Creative Community Development

In addition to the many resources and valuable expertise available from the members of the Creative Communities Network, creative economy and cultural planning resources are available nationwide and around the world. Resources from many websites have been compiled for this toolkit, in particular, ArtistLink and the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts.

There are many ways to begin the process of integrating creative economy tools and strategies into the community and regional planning process. NHCCN’s Guide to Creating a Community Arts and Cultural Plan is a useful tool. Resources are available for planning professionals, citizen advocates, non-profit organizations and City and Town officials who wish to expand awareness and take action toward understanding and enhancing the creative economy and creative industries.

a. Excerpt from “How The Arts and Culture Sector Catalyzes Economic Vitality”
American Planning Association Briefing Paper

“People are increasingly recognizing the connection between the activity of the arts and culture sector and the economic vitality in a neighborhood or community. High concentrations of creative enterprises and workers in a geographic area may provide a competitive edge by elevating a community’s quality of life, improving its ability to attract economic activity, and creating a climate for innovation to flower. Communities in which arts and culture activities of all types flourish are important for the recruitment and retention of a skilled and educated workforce in a city or region. The presence of arts and culture in a specific neighborhood or community location can increase attention and foot traffic, bringing in visitors and attracting more development. Furthermore, formal and informal training in the arts can abet the development of skills valued in the global economy, such as strong oral and communication skills, precise and high-quality work performance, ease in working in teams and ensembles, comfort in new and innovative situations, and the ability to work well with people from diverse cultures.”

b. Creative Community Resources
Community Cultural Planning Handbook: A Guide for Community Leaders Craig Dreeszen, Ph.D. 1997. Published by Americans for the Arts, Washington, D.C. Distributed by Americans for the Arts and The Arts Extension Service

Community Cultural Planning Work Kit
Developed by Louise K. Stevens, ArtsMarket, Inc. in association with the AES staff. 1987.
Volume I: Conducting a Community Cultural Assessment
Volume II: Developing a Strategic Cultural Plan

Maine's Creative Economy Community Handbook (PDF)

A how-to guide for creative businesses and communities interested in creative economy issues.

Creative City Network of Canada has launched two free tool kits, one for cultural planning and one for cultural mapping.

Partners for Livable Communities has a “Creative City” initiative that includes excellent research on the community benefits of the creative economy.

The Bruner Foundation's Rudy Bruner Awards recognize excellence in social change through enhancing special places, and highlight many successful artist space projects and strategies.

Artists vs. Blight –
Wall Street Journal Article describes how artists are buying houses in distressed neighborhoods and improving social and environmental conditions.

Elevate The Creative Economy (PDF)– A Guide To Community Planning

The Role of the Arts and Culture in Planning Practice (PDF)

Nashua Arts and Culture Commission Planning Session with Craig Dreeszen

Key Tasks in Artist Space Development

Sample RFP for an Arts and Cultural Plan (PDF)

Checklist for What To Include In an RFP for An Art Installation

Portsmouth Call for Artists RFP (PDF)

Providence, RI RFP For Cultural Asset Inventory and Creative Placemaking Planning

NH Division of Historic Resources, Neighborhood Heritage Districts Handbook (PDF)


CASE STUDY: Portsmouth
Islington Street Arts District Plan

Objective: to define and brand an Arts District that includes the creative and cultural businesses and activities currently operating in the Islington Street corridor and improves the long term viability of the same.

Deliverable: Draft Arts District Plan

Identify existing cultural anchors, identify stakeholders and potential beneficiaries, review existing impediments such as visibility, current zoning, transportation; Identify opportunities for increasing arts related activities and creative businesses to city staff, planning and transportation consultants and the public; include strategies that engender community support for the district and protect it from gentrification.

c. How to Realize the Positive Impacts of the Creative Economy
(Excerpt from New Engines of Growth: Five Roles for Arts, Culture and Design, National Governor’s Association)

• Use a research-based data collection system to understand creative industry categories, revenue streams and employment statistics.
• Adopt local, regional and state Creative Economy Plans identifying arts, culture and design as catalysts for economic growth.
• Approve legislation and policies to encourage creative districts and identify creative clusters.

Additional examples and strategies to explore advancing the creative economy are included in the Creative Community Network’s “Guide to Creating a Community Arts and Cultural Plan”.

d. Critical Ingredients for Success in Advancing the Creative Economy
Communities who have successfully integrated creative economy initiatives into existing master plans, economic development plans, and partnership development projects have the following elements in common:

Engage in collaboration among agencies with common missions to develop the synergy needed for all New Hampshire citizens and guests to have access to arts and cultural experiences.

Share tools and resources to heighten the awareness of the creative economy for community livability and economic vitality, with policymakers, planners, partners, practitioners, and the public.

Develop cooperative agreements, pursue collaborative grant and foundation applications, and adopt a Percent for Art program.

e. Measuring The Creative Economy
Stories of the impact of an arts and cultural focus on a community’s economic vitality are an important aspect of measuring the creative economy, however, credible data is essential to understanding the impact of the arts in economic terms. The New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts provide numerous links to data and research to highlight the economic impact of the arts.

American For The Arts State and Local Index

Arts Education Index

CASE STUDY: Peterborough
Peterborough’s Our Town Grant

Peterborough, pop. 6,300, received a $25,000 National Endowment for the Arts “Our Town” grant to conduct a feasibility study to convert a local garage/armory into a cultural arts center. The Town and the Sharon Arts Center, in collaboration with seven additional local arts organizations, will conduct focus groups, research, community workshops, public outreach, and a concept design.

The property is underutilized and uniquely situated, abutting a commercial main street, residential neighborhood, and wetland. A cultural arts center will provide a new local and regional destination, with the expectation that it will facilitate cultural tourism and elevate the arts as a viable economic development strategy.

f. Guide to Creating a Community Arts and Cultural Plan
The Creative Communities Network has created a guide for municipalities, cultural arts groups, and economic development organizations undertaking the development of a community arts and cultural plan. The guide features examples from around New Hampshire demonstrating the following components of an arts and cultural plan:

i. Plan Objectives
ii. Community Visioning and Goal Setting Process
iii. Existing Plan Review
iv. Trends and Creative Industry Demographics
v. Citizen Forums and Surveys
vi. Arts and Cultural Assets Inventory