The services we provide include:
We have developed cultural plans in diverse communities, ranging from rural towns, such as Los Alamos and Santa Cruz, to major metropolitan regions, such as Houston, Boston and Washington, DC. Our practice is grounded in the real-world experience of deep community engagement— a hallmark of our work— and a deep knowledge of the local arts agency. While there are commonalities among cultural plans, each community poses its own vision, politics, aspirations, history and potential. We embrace the work of identifying what each community seeks to become and creating the best plan to achieve their goals.
Arts and cultural organizations that thrive tend to be driven by their mission and highly responsive to their stakeholders. Strategic planning provides the context for organizations to fully articulate their purpose, identify their unique and compelling value, and define competitive advantages.
Planning often includes elements intended to frame the issues that are specific to a particular organization. While not formulaic, most processes for strategic planning involve conducting an in-depth assessment of an organization’s programs and business model, as well as interviews and surveys of internal and external stakeholders. The results of such an assessment provide the basis for developing strategies.
A strategic plan elucidates a pathway for an organization to implement its strategies and tactics. Ideally, a plan will be reviewed and updated frequently based on stakeholder feedback, data gathered from monitoring the external environment, and program evaluation. In this way, organizations can document their impact or effectiveness.
We have a distinctive perspective on public art. Since the first percent-for-art program was created in Philadelphia in 1959, hundreds of cities, counties and states have followed suit. In their earliest efforts, public art programs were “museums without walls,” often intended as outdoor sculpture collections. Gallery art was significantly enlarged and placed in public spaces. In the 1970s, artists began to create site-specific art: works that were designed for particular places. Artists also began working with architects and engineers as a component of the design teams. Art became integrated in buildings and public spaces. Most recently, public art has come to be an essential element in placemaking, going beyond place-adornment. Increasingly, art is recognized as integral to the creation of vibrant and economically successful communities.
Public art now has many functions: it expresses community values, enhances the environment, transforms a landscape, heightens awareness, and questions assumptions. Frequently, public art commemorates local history and traditions. Placed in public sites, the art is for everyone, a form of collective community expression. Public art reflects how we see the world; an artist’s response to our time and place is combined with our own sense of who we are.
We believe the field of public art has evolved in recent years to possess a more sophisticated and varied toolkit of approaches to artistically enrich the community. In addition, public art has become a powerful tool in achieving other civic goals, such as economic development, branding, civic engagement, equity, revitalization and placemaking. Our practice has been at the forefront of this evolution, drawing on our experience in multiple forms of planning in diverse communities. In particular, we have been able to apply lessons from broader cultural planning and placemaking projects to the world of public art planning. We provide assistance in all aspects of public art planning, whether developing a new program, master planning for an existing program or defining the future for a mature, successful program.
Stated simply, creative placemaking is a revitalization strategy that marries arts development with economic development and community development. Creative placemaking is an opportunity for many American cities, both large and small. These cities are aware that they are in competition—for jobs, for business relocations, for creative young people, for tourists and visitors. Beyond these economic benefits, creative places make communities more livable for their citizens and reflect the diversity of our multicultural society. Successful creative places harness the energy and innovation of their citizens and build collaborative partnerships among government, business, education and the arts. We understand that cultural development is no longer limited to supporting artists and cultural institutions, and that synergistic partnerships foster vibrant, dynamic communities. Our practice identifies such collaborations to support creative placemaking for our clients.
We have all felt the special satisfaction that comes when experiencing a place with vibrant culture. Cultural districts are one means to that end. These districts vary greatly, from collections of major arts institutions in the city center to organic artist-run neighborhoods and spaces. What they share in common is focus—claiming a place, celebrating an identity and offering a unique experience. It is this placemaking that makes districts compelling and successful elements of the urban fabric. We approach cultural district planning with an eye for the fundamentals, defining a compact, walkable area with a distinct character and clear goals. By developing a shared vision, a community can clarify the image it wants to present to the world. Districts also require an appropriate infrastructure to encompass the vision and goals, provide governance and financial stability, oversee programming and market themselves effectively. Because districts develop over time, planning must take the long view as well as identify early wins that capture public attention and proclaim the character of the place. Effectively devised, cultural districts contribute to economic and cultural vitality, enhance a city’s brand, and support artists and arts organizations.
Traditionally, municipal comprehensive planning has focused on land use—creating policies that govern where residential, commercial and industrial enterprises may locate. Over the last three decades, general planning and city visioning have expanded to include elements that address transportation, economic development, education, human services, character and design, and recreation and leisure. These comprehensive plans are important because they constitute the policy framework that drives municipal decision-making. Increasingly, cities have begun to include an arts and cultural element in their general plans. To support this process, we assess the arts and cultural assets of the community, identify gaps in the local cultural ecology, and develop policies and strategies that support the community’s vision.