» Creative CityMaking
Creative CityMaking 2013 Demonstration Year

READ: Creative CityMaking: In Search of the New Village
By William Cleveland

In 2013 the City of Minneapolis and Intermedia Arts collaborated on Creative CityMaking, a program aimed at integrating creative thinking, strategies, and processes into the ongoing operations of City Departments. Functioning within the Department of Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED), five core projects enabled artists and planners to explore new ways to involve citizens who typically haven’t participated in planning processes.  Over the course of a year, the artist-planner teams created 22 different arts-based tools and strategies to stimulate learning and dialogue about possible community futures and assets. The resulting citizen input, shared in the form of chalkboard questions, street side theater, zine questionnaires, community journals, drawings, community discussion groups, impromptu interviews, happy hour conversations, video diaries, and the like, appreciably expanded the range and variety of community voices available to city planners. Creative CityMaking was supported by ArtPlace America.  

In this case study, William Cleveland, from the Center for the Study of Art & Community, offers an engaging in-depth excavation of the genesis, planning, and implementation of Creative CityMaking.  Detailed stories of the five collaborative projects at the heart of Creative CityMaking along with analysis of outcomes and learning provide an illuminating and instructive look at how collaboration between artists and municipal government can achieve more diverse participation and greater equity in public process.



Artists team up with city planners in unique
Creative CityMaking partnership

Jan. 14, 2013 (MINNEAPOLIS) -  Artists will have a hand in five city planning projects in 2013, thanks to a new program that is helping Minneapolis develop into a city that is a living work of art.  Creative CityMaking is a partnership between Intermedia Arts and the City of Minneapolis that fosters collaborations between local artists and City planners to develop fresh and innovative approaches for addressing the long-term transportation, land use, economic, environmental, and social issues facing Minneapolis.

In 2013, Creative CityMaking will embed four artists/artist teams in the Long Range Planning Division of the City’s Community Planning and Economic Development Department (CPED).  Four teams of artists have been selected and paired up with five planning projects, which they will work on through 2013.  The partnership of artists and planners is intended to forge, enhance, or develop new strategies for working through the creative processes inherent in visionary planing and city making. It is intended to engage artists in critical thinking and art making around City and urban issues and to increase artists’ and planners’ ability to facilitate community interaction and work collaborativley with the public to foster positive change in the quality and trajectory of social discourse about the city’s urban future.  Their collaborative work will be showcased throughout the year at citywide community events, culminating in a public exhibition and forum at Intermedia Arts.

“In Minneapolis, great art is not only for our great museums and galleries, it’s part of making great places in every corner of our city,” said Mayor R.T. Rybak.

“This is a unique opportunity to take Minneapolis’ thriving arts culture and weave it even more deeply into the fabric of our city,” said City Council Vice President Robert Lilligren, who chairs the home committee for the City’s arts and culture program. “With a project like this, we’re showing that we want to think big when we plan for the future of Minneapolis, and we know our neighborhoods are only going to be made better by this new level of collaboration.”

“Smart city planning strengthens neighborhoods,” said City Council Member Gary Schiff, who chairs the City’s Zoning and Planning Committee. “Adding arts into our planning process is an exciting way to enhance our creative economy.”

“Minneapolis is exceptional in our wealth of talented artists who are also deeply committed to their role as active and engaged citizens,” said Theresa Sweetland, Intermedia Arts Executive/Artistic Director. “This made the selection for Creative CityMaking artists an exciting challenge. Intermedia Arts is deeply proud to support this extraordinary group of artists. They bring experience, depth, leadership and authentic community relationships to this project and will no doubt challenge all of our perceptions of the roles art and artists play in planning the future of our city.”

The projects selected and the artists and planners who will work on them include:

Penn Avenue North Small Area Plan – City Planner Jim Voll and Artists Ashley Hanson & Wing Young Huie:

In 2013, the City of Minneapolis and Hennepin County Community Works are embarking on a cooperative effort to rethink land uses and transportation along Penn Avenue North – from Interstate 394 on the south to Osseo Boulevard on the north.  One component of this effort will be for the City to work with neighborhoods and businesses along the corridor to develop a small area plan.  The goals for this project are to stimulate economic development, job creation, housing strategies, beautification, and livability, in and between the string of commercial nodes along this important spine in North Minneapolis. The project will consider the connections to and through north Minneapolis and improved access to transit, including, but not limited to rapid bus service that would connect the Penn Avenue Corridor to Bottineau LRT and Southwest LRT.    

Southwest LRT Station Area Planning - City Planners Beth Elliott and Paul Mogush and Artist Diane Willow:

Artist Diane Willow will be working with CPED planners on the City’s part of planning the long-range land use and transportation interface between neighborhoods and businesses at five station stops on the Southwest LRT line: Royalston Station, Van White Boulevard Station, Penn Avenue Station, West 21st Street Station, and the West Lake Street Station.  Planning efforts in Minneapolis are one part of a larger project known as the Southwest LRT Transitional Station Area Action Plan (TSAAP).  The TSAAP is intended to promote opening day readiness for 2018 by bridging the gap between current conditions and future station area needs for infrastructure and development. Willow will assist planners to develop creative and impactful community engagement strategies as well as providing a fresh perspective on evaluating station area needs.

Southeast and Southwest planning – City planners Haila Maze and Brian Schaffer, Artists Caroline Kent, Roger Cummings, and Samuel Ero-Phillips:

This team of three artists will work with two planners on two different two small area plans.  In the first half of the year, Kent, Cummings, and Ero-Phillips will work with a planner on developing a small area plan for Linden Hills in southwest Minneapolis. In the second half of the year, the three artists will work with a city planner on developing a small area plan for Dinkytown in southeast Minneapolis.  In both cases, planners and artists will be working with neighborhood residents and businesses to prepare a long-range vision for land use, transportation, and property development in the defined areas. Each plan will examine the current conditions of the area and develop a future vision of what residents and business representatives want the neighborhood or area to become, then formulate specific goals, objectives, and policies or projects to implement that vision.  

Capstone evaluation of the City’s 10-Year Historic Survey efforts – City planner Joe Bernard and Artist Witt Siasoco:

The City of Minneapolis is embarking on an effort to analyze and assess the combined findings of historic survey work conducted over the past 10 years. The City’s project is funded by a grant from the National Park Service and the Minnesota Historical Society. Project partners expect to identify the salient strengths and fill in any remaining gaps in the geographic and thematic base of the City’s repository of historic assessments. The project will highlight the main takeaways from ten years of survey work, and it will include an assessment of historic public sculpture located throughout the city. Outcomes from this process will help to shape preservation policy and development opportunities in Minneapolis for the coming generation. The city planner and artist will work together to design and conduct a public engagement campaign to educate residents, the business community, educational institutions, and the general public about this rich source of data and findings about the city’s history.  

Click here to read biographies of the artists and planners

About Creative CityMaking

Creative CityMaking is one of three initiatives funded by $1 million in grant dollars awarded by ArtPlace America.  The projects are designed to increase livability, vibrancy and economic development in communities throughout the city. Intermedia Arts was awarded a grant in the amount of $325,000 for Creative CityMaking, and those grant funds augment and enhance the City’s funding for these projects.  It does not replace City funding, and the use of the ArtPlace funds does not take away from the City’s tax base or funding sources.

The goals of Creative CityMaking are:
  • To develop new creative strategies for community planning;
  • to create a collaborative laboratory and learning environment that engages artists and City staff
  • working with a city department;
  • to engage artists in critical thinking and art making around city and urban issues, and to increase artists’ and planners’ ability to facilitate community change;
  • to provide artists and planners with new tools for community engagement and working with traditionally underrepresented communities;
  • to document and communicate lessons learned throughout.

Creative CityMaking features a number of activities, including the following:
  • four artist/planner collaborations tailored to five different City of Minneapolis Planning projects;
  • the engagement of one anchor organization as a partner in each of these Planning projects;
  • four institutes convening the artists, planners and anchor organizations;
  • a culminating community event for each of the four Planning projects;
  • a culminating community forum at Intermedia Arts sharing the collective results of all four projects;
  • results sharing and documentation
  • project evaluation
  • a project Advisory Committee

Creative CityMaking will examine the ways in which artist/planner collaborations can contribute to placemaking, vibrancy, and community change.

Creative CityMaking partners

Intermedia Arts has been pioneering creative placemaking and community development for two decades. We are a nationally recognized, non-profit arts and cultural center in South Minneapolis. Our mission is to be a catalyst for building understanding among people through art. Annually, our work engages over 25,000 people, 1200 local artists, 2500 young people and 60 arts and non-profit partners.

Founded in 1973 as University Community Video, community and student activists employed video and technology to elicit community discussions, inspire social change and empower personal storytelling. Over time, we evolved to embrace a range of artistic media, and in the 1980s, grew into one of the nation's premier community-based arts centers, changing our name to Intermedia Arts. Our aim is to inspire people to make changes in their lives and communities and serve as a cultural hub and resource center to surrounding neighborhoods. By stimulating broader civic dialogue and giving voice to artists and the issues and experiences of underrepresented communities, we contribute to a stronger, healthier society. Since 2001, Intermedia’s Creative Community Leadership Institute (CCLI), an intensive five-month program, has developed cross-sector leadership skills of 110 influential and diverse artists and organizers. Our new ArtsHub provides co-working space for daily connection and collaboration to creative people and organizations focused on community change.

The City's Plan for Arts and Culture, established by the Minneapolis Arts Commission and the Minneapolis City Council, outlines a vision for bringing together artists and City Departments to explore creative ideas for addressing city problems. The mission of the City’s new Arts, Culture and Creative Economy program is to leverage the creative sector towards strengthening social and economic growth in the City of Minneapolis. The program aims to achieve this goal in part by stimulating cross-sector collaboration that strengthens the arts economy and community in Minneapolis.

The Long Range Planning Division of the Minneapolis Department of Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) is responsible for long term strategic planning for the City. This division of CPED coordinates City planning processes for Minneapolis and advises other public entities and neighborhoods on their own planning processes.
Creative CityMaking is made possible thanks to the generous support of ArtPlace. ArtPlace is a collaboration of twelve of the nation's leading foundations, eight federal agencies including the National Endowment for the Arts, and six financial institutions to accelerate creative placemaking across the U.S. Participating foundations include Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Ford Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, The William Penn Foundation, The Robina Foundation and an anonymous donor. Funds committed to ArtPlace are overseen by Nonprofit Finance Fund who serves as investment and grant manager for the collaboration.