The eight approaches in this guide offer a more detailed look at areas of opportunity for partnering arts, creativity or culture with transportation projects. Before we get there, here are three short tips to help you get started, figure out where to begin looking for opportunities and provide some preliminary steps.
Identify your opportunity
First, you need to have some sort of change that you want to see, whether it is community-wide, within a transit overlay district or a single station stop or street corner. This could be a challenge that you are trying to solve or prevent, or an opportunity that you are trying to seize. We’ve seen creative placemaking strategies contribute to areas such as:
- Public Art: Customizing beautification to local values.
- Design: Improving street corners and station areas. Connecting neighborhoods.
- Public relations: Gaining community support. Attracting positive press.
- Community identity: Improving the appeal of a community. Supporting and harmonizing diverse local demands.
- Leadership: Bringing reluctant leaders on board with the same goals. Overcoming resistance to change.
- Economic growth: Supporting local businesses. Achieving a diverse mix of uses. Branding neighborhoods and corridors. Protecting important local destinations and attracting new ones.
- Bureaucracy: Managing risk aversion. Contributing new ideas.
- Engineering: Gaining information that traditional tools might miss to improve project design and related improvements. Improving material efficiencies.
- Social issues: Supporting community needs. Overcoming distrust. Improving civic support. Building community capacity. Improving overall local image.
Identify your partners and begin communicating
From here, you can ask how artists, arts organizations or arts activities can help achieve the desired change that has been articulated. This is when the “creative” comes into play. You’ll want strong community partners who can ascertain local circumstances and go places that you can’t.
One of the more common models that we have seen is community-based organizations tapping artists and arts activities to improve their ability to engage constituents, develop community-led visions, elicit unique concerns about and solutions to transportation/development plans, and ensure stronger grassroots coalitions that can better partner with local government in determining the future of their neighborhoods. Your local arts advisory council and your local community partners are good places to start. Once you have collaborators: communicate, communicate, communicate. Figure out who can do what.
Show your work
Finally, you need to think early on about how success may be measured. ArtPlace America notes, “we simply say it is important to know when you can stop doing something, cross it off your list, and move on to the next thing.” Nonetheless, there are myriad ways to identify and measure success, with many of them depending on goals and aspirations unique to the circumstance.
Because many of our partners value project evaluation, we’ve included an overview of potential approaches to measurement in a short supplemental appendix.
So what next?
If you’ve gone all the way through this short orientation on the subject (Getting Started), then jump right into the eight basic approaches (Our Eight Approaches) that we explore in this guide. Each approach has a second page of local examples to inspire.
Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org