Creative Placemaking in Michigan
Hiawatha, the World’s Largest Indian in Ironwood, Michigan

Written by Lisa Assenmacher, Communications and Training Specialist

If you could bring anything to your neighborhood, what would it be? Are arts and culture a part of your vision to improve quality of life, attract business and make your community livable and memorable? If so, consider creative placemaking and the funding and resources below as a way to achieve your goals!

What Is Placemaking?
Michigan is a leader in the national placemaking movement to address years of disinvestment, declining economies and thoughtless strip malls affecting neighborhoods. People want to live in places that feel special to them, have things to do, jobs, transportation and diversity. Placemaking is a strategy to create these livable places by bringing out the unique assets of a community and filling in any asset gaps.

Creative Placemaking
Creative placemaking is a type of placemaking that focuses on the integration of arts and cultural activities through comprehensive community planning. Typically a development plan includes land-use, transportation, education, economic development, housing and

Miners Memorial Mural in Ironwood, Michigan
Miners Memorial Mural in Ironwood, Michigan

infrastructure, but alone these elements do not necessarily get at the heart of what makes your community special.

Including arts and culture in a development plan creates an opportunity to interact with identity, culture and history and thereby the distinct character of a community. Arts and culture encourages people to express themselves, try new things and participate. Excellent examples of this include Art Prize in Grand Rapids, the rotating

sculpture display in Hastings chosen by community members, inclusion of arts and culture in the Flint Master Plan and the Sugar Hills Arts District in Detroit. The National Endowment for the Arts features creative placemaking initiatives nationwide on their website.

Houghton, Michigan

Supporting Creative Placemaking in Michigan
Creative placemaking builds opportunity-rich, resilient communities that attract business development, tourism and inspire people to move there and be more successful. Think about where your family chooses to vacation, where your kids take field trips and where you spend your time, either for business or personal reasons. Do you live in or near a place that has those features?

How can some of those choices play into the overall design of the community you choose to live in, and what do you need to do to build the partnerships, education and funding surrounding these plans to increase the effectiveness and success?

REO Town branding 5
Lansing, Michigan

Collaborative efforts are imperative for any amount of success. Organizations or communities should always engage with similar organizations, neighborhood groups, municipalities and other partners based on the specific attributes of the project or plan.

Funding Opportunities
The National Endowment for the Arts program Our Town is specifically designed to advance creative placemaking efforts. They offer grants toward creative placemaking projects and a variety of other educational resources. ArtPlace America is a national collaborative made up of a variety of foundations and funders, and works to advance comprehensive community planning and the arts. They also have a variety of grants available, and while they are currently focusing on key geographic areas, there are other opportunities regularly available. The Creative Many is a 501c(4) membership organization in Michigan that works to advance the creative sector. It is a great place for resources and education.

Wait and See
Creative Placemaking efforts will continue to grow in Michigan and across the nation. With such rich history and diverse assets in Michigan, we look forward to seeing many wonderful things.