Creative Placemaking and Community Safety

October 10, 2018

Urban Institute

E fforts to integrate arts and culture into projects focused on the physical, social, and economic well-being of neighborhoods have increasingly been referred to as creative placemaking. This work, while often incorporating traditional arts-related efforts like murals, music, sculpture, and dance, encompasses creative work more generally, such as promoting entrepreneurism, creatively engaging stakeholders and residents, and using space in novel ways.

To better understand how creative placemaking can enhance community safety, the Urban Institute studied several creative placemaking efforts, examining their design, implementation, challenges, and successes. The goal of this work is to inform others interested in understanding how creative placemaking improves community safety and how to measure these interventions’ effectiveness.

This project was funded by ArtPlace America and programmatically supported by ArtPlace and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC).

The report examines the following case studies:
  • A Pathway to Connect Communities: A Case Study of the Beerline Trail Extension in Milwaukee, Wisconsin - The Beerline Trail extension in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is an effort to use creative placemaking techniques to turn an unused rail corridor into an active, safe, and inclusive space for local residents; bridge the gap between disparate communities; improve public safety; and promote inclusive economic development.
  • Building beyond Policing: A Case Study of Eden Night Live in Alameda County, California - Eden Night Live was a community festival and pop-up marketplace organized by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, designed to creatively reimagine and rebuild community-police relations. The study examines its effects on building local commerce, fostering community cohesion, and changing perceptions of public safety.
  • Empowering Young People to Make Their Place: A Case Study of the Marcus Garvey Youth Clubhouse in Brownsville, Brooklyn - The Marcus Garvey Youth Clubhouse involves a developer, nonprofit organizations, and young people working together to design and build a programmed community space to revitalize and reimagine community safety in a high-crime, low-income neighborhood.
  • Art beyond Bars: A Case Study of the People’s Paper Co-op in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - The People’s Paper Co-op redesigns reentry services to improve the well-being of formerly incarcerated people through arts and cultural activities, examining how it invites people exiting jails and prisons to participate in and lead reform, building community around their shared experience, and employing arts and culture as vehicles for reform.

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