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. The simplest and clearest definition we’ve found for creative placemaking is “the intentional incorporation of arts and culture into community economic development approaches.”  

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”

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)