Creative Placemaking

SF Fed Community Development's Laura Choi talks with President John Williams about creative placemaking, a neighborhood revitalization strategy that engages local artists and performers (video, 2:51).

In the 2015 annual report, What We've Learned...and why it matters, we discuss creative placemaking, a new concept that refers to the enhanced role art plays in our communities. We've learned that creating culturally relevant spaces, ones that are vibrant and attractive, increases a community’s economic potential. Creative placemaking taps into local artists and communities, ensuring culturally significant voices are represented and reflected.


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John Williams:

There's a lot of talk about creative placemaking. This is an idea I think a lot of people haven't heard of before. Can you help me understand what that is and where do you see that going?

Laura Choi:

Creative placemaking is a new idea. It's really about enhancing the role of the artists within the community development process. So if we think about a developer, they might want to enlist an artist early on in the design process to create a space that is more culturally relevant, can increase economic potential, and really create a sense of pride and ownership among community members.

John Williams:

You mentioned economic potential. I wonder, how does creative placemaking, bringing artists into this process, how does that change the economic outlook for a community? What is that really doing tangibly to its economic prospects?

Laura Choi:

Through the creative placemaking process, if we can make a space more vibrant, more exciting, more attractive for people to come through, it can increase foot traffic along commercial corridors, which can help reduce crime, get people out walking, which can improve their health, and most importantly, it can really draw people together in public spaces and just be a central point for the community to gather and really strengthen each other.

John Williams:

Creative placemaking—it sounds like a great idea. It makes sense to me. Why aren't we seeing more of this around the country?

Laura Choi:

I think people intuitively understand the value of bringing art and culture into space, but it's harder to know how to implement it. The answer isn't necessarily just more art installations, but it's really about tapping into the creative potential of local artists in the local community itself, and making sure that their voices are represented in the actual built environment of their community.

John Williams:

One of the things I see in the Bay Area is very active art and culture. This doesn't seem to be happening on purpose. How does creative placemaking fit into how you see the changes in our cities going on around us?

Laura Choi:

I think it's one of those things that can happen organically as people move into a space. There's a desire to beautify and enjoy the place you live. I think in some of these neighborhoods where there is this dire need for revitalization, maybe artists are seeing that there is an opportunity. More importantly, there's an opportunity to engage the entire community. There's a tendency to think automatically about high art or fancy art.

John Williams:

Like opera or something.

Laura Choi:

Right. Creative placemaking is really about celebrating local values. To the extent that there is local talent, and every community has local talent, whether that's children, youth, older adults. It doesn't have to be this masterpiece painting. It can just be celebrating your local culture and the values that you bring in your community.


Community Development Investment Review: Creative Placemaking

An Overview of Our 2015 Annual Report

Health and Prosperity

The Fragility of Finances

Redefining the Labor Market

The Future of Cash

Technology for Today’s Fed

Transforming Financial Services

Becoming a Destination Employer

Regional Influences on Monetary Policy

The Fed's Balance Sheet

China in the Global Economy

2015 Annual Report: President's Letter