What is Creative Placemaking?

Creative Placemaking has a long history in Central Appalachia, though it goes by many different names. Examples of creative placemaking include everything from arts education to heritage tourism to traditional artisanship. Creative Placemaking is “when residents use arts and culture to tell the story of what’s unique about a place, drive economic development, improve quality of life, and inspire hope for their community or region.”

Creative placemaking also looks different in every community, and that’s the beauty of it – it is an approach to community and economic development that values and builds on the existing natural, cultural, and creative assets of a place to shape a brighter future.

Scan of Creative Placemaking in Appalachia

With support from the Educational Foundation of America, CAN in 2018 undertook a multi-faceted research project to understand the state of creative placemaking in Central Appalachia. It included a review of the relevant existing literature, a survey of 50+ regional creative placemaking stakeholders, interviews, and an in-person focus group. Findings include an Appalachian-informed definition of creative placemaking, major categories of creative placemaking work and types of actors, core support needs in this field, and shared opportunities worth exploring further.

Click here to download a PDF of “Creative Placemaking in Central Appalachia: Understanding the role of arts and culture in Appalachia’s economic transition”

The following Creative Placemaking framework was created out of the report. The report says, “we find that being grounded in the four principles and applying them to activities within relevant sectors of the economy begins to generate, over the long-term, the impacts listed in the diagram and described in the next section. In practice, the creative placemaking process shown in the framework is adapted to the character of each community and thus best understood through on-the-ground examples.”

Creative Placemaking Practitioner Network

CAN has helped to convene a regional peer learning network of creative placemaking practitioners. These actors, many of whom have been doing this work for years, approach creative placemaking from a variety of angles. However, they all share a hunger for learning, strategy-sharing, and a broader regional creative placemaking movement.

The members of this practitioner network so far include:

  • Appalshop (KY)
  • AIR Institute of Berea (KY
  • Grayson Gallery (KY)
  • Letcher County Culture Hub (KY)
  • MACED (KY)
  • Community Farm Alliance (KY)
  • National Coal Heritage Area Authority (WV)
  • Coalfield Development Corporation (WV)
  • Tamarack Foundation (WV)
  • WV Community Development Hub (WV)
  • Step by Step (WV)
  • Natural Capital Investment Fund (WV)
  • ACEnet (OH)
  • Rural Action (OH)
  • The Winding Road (OH)
  • Appalachian Sustainable Development (VA)
  • Friends of SW Virginia (VA)