Creative Life: Raleigh Arts Plan lays out a bold goal: every citizen is empowered to lead the creative life they envision. This also suggests that the overarching purpose of the City of Raleigh is to help assure a fulfilled life for every citizen. The community, through the plan, calls on the City to encourage cooperation among all City departments to include arts, culture and creativity as essential strategies for assuring fulfilled lives for all. The community-wide cultural plan was developed with the direct participation of more than 4,000 citizens. Planning included a regional audience demand study and audience development strategies for a cohort of arts organizations.
This city-wide arts and cultural plan redefines and expands the role of the City of Houston in cultural development. Key issues included promoting greater equity, expanding arts programs in neighborhoods, refining the public art program and identifying additional funding sources. It was unanimously adopted by the City Council in October of 2015. A unique element in this plan was the creation of a detailed narrative about the sense of place in Houston, which became the foundation for the planning effort. Like many cities, a critical issue was the competition for limited public funding between the major cultural institutions and the small and mid-sized arts groups. We negotiated an agreement among these stakeholders to support the plan by committing to work cooperatively to advocate for increased City funding for arts and cultural development.
Creative Sonoma is the name of a new creative economy agency, formed in 2014 as the direct result of our planning project. Sonoma County’s Arts Commission had dissolved two years prior and the County Board of Commissioners charged its Economic Development Board to explore new leadership for the arts, cultural and creative economic sectors. The planning process revealed the opportunity to create an agency from a “clean sheet of paper” that would encompass Sonoma’s inclusive definition of culture and creativity. Incubated in the Economic Development Board, Creative Sonoma supports the unique collection of creative people and enterprises located in Sonoma County—individual artists, nonprofit arts and cultural organizations, creative entrepreneurs and the county’s growing creative clusters, such as digital media, artisan foodstuffs and a makers’ community. Creative Sonoma illustrates the potential for better integration of the functions and mindset of an arts commission with economic development for the creative industries. There are often “cultural differences” between these two types of agencies, but there is great potential for alignment of strategies.
Laguna Beach is a rare California community, having been an “artists’ colony” for more than a century. Arts Evolution, the city’s new cultural arts plan, sets forth a framework to strengthen and enhance the artistic life of this “arts’ city.” The plan addresses challenges that include dramatically rising real estate pressures, limitations on growth, and changes in the arts community. One important goal is to retain Laguna Beach’s artistic vitality by retaining and attracting the presence of working artists and utilizing their civic leadership in new ways. The plan made recommendations for cultural facilities and the City’s public art program. The City has made remarkable progress in implementing this plan in its first year, initiating two cultural facilities projects, revising their public art program, and adding a new arts administrator position.
A cultural/creative economy plan for the City of San Antonio, Texas (2005, 2012, 2013 and 2016). This comprehensive cultural plan is among the first of its type to focus on development of both the cultural community and the overall creative economy. The year-long planning process directly involved more than 1,500 people and included three related studies: 1) an economic impact study, 2) a creative industries study, and 3) a bilingual, random household telephone survey. Building on the ideas of economist Dr. Richard Florida, the plan encompasses economic development strategies for cultural and heritage tourism, arts-related businesses, the creative workforce, and cultural districts and facilities. It also encompasses more traditional cultural planning issues, such as access and participation, cultural equity, funding, public art and arts education.
The Cultural Collaborative is an example of cultural planning having a sustained impact and an ongoing relationship between CPG and the City. With the plan as its blueprint, San Antonio’s Department of Arts and Culture and its partners have implemented nearly all the plan. The Department addressed equity issues in its funding program, expanded public art, created neighborhood initiatives, produced signature events, assumed leadership of several downtown cultural districts, and developed a beautiful new home in the renovated historic Plaza de Armas building adjacent to City Hall. In 2014, a public/private partnership opened the extraordinary Tobin Center for the Performing Arts on the Riverwalk.
CPG was re-engaged in 2012 to help realign the City’s cultural efforts with its new community-wide vision plan, SA 2020; in 2013 to conduct a downtown arts facility study; and in 2016 to develop a Downtown Arts & Culture Plan.
Fayetteville is a historic city and home to the world’s largest military installation. The City sought to enhance its historic downtown through development of a cultural district and integrated public art master plan. The public art plan goes beyond the traditional “one percent for art” to set aside 2% for art for City capital improvement projects and a new 1% for art requirement for private commercial and industrial development. Developers have the option of making an in-lieu contribution to the City’s Public Art Fund. The Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County has already begun implementing the program, pending City Council approval, with a series of temporary public art projects in the downtown area.
The accompanying Arts and Entertainment District is also underway, including a newly formed nonprofit and recruitment of its first CEO. The A&E District is the expression of broadly-based civic leadership in the arts, design, business, economic development, tourism, recreation and community development fields. This placemaking initiative leverages the cultural assets in and near the district, while addressing challenges in image, connectivity and vitality. The plan complements several downtown and area development projects, including the construction of a minor-league baseball stadium. The ethos of this proud initiative is encapsulated on the Arts Council website: “You may have heard some buzz about the creation of an Arts & Entertainment District in downtown Fayetteville. Great news! It’s not just a rumor. It is happening!”
As a sub-consultant to AECOM, CPG developed a citywide Public Art Master Plan. The plan was integrated into a comprehensive Parks Master Plan project, so its development was guided by the community-wide visioning and priorities identified for the parks plan. Community engagement activities included key person interviews, community meetings and workshops, and discussion groups. The resulting plan included a recommended ordinance, program guidelines and policies, and recommended program management and operational systems.
This plan asked the question, “What’s next?” for one of the nation’s most acclaimed public art programs. It included a review of all aspects of Scottsdale’s award-winning, 30-year-old program. Because of the high-level challenges in this plan, we organized a two-day symposium, “The Future of Public Art,” attended by a dozen national and regional experts to identify trends and new ideas for Scottsdale. The plan included new recommendations for strategies, funding sources and organizational structure. The revamped program includes permanent and temporary art projects and events.
The Salt Lake Cultural Core is a downtown cultural district intended to proclaim and advance Salt Lake as one of the cultural centers in the West. While the district is new, the city’s downtown cultural life in and near its boundaries represents a long-term investment in facilities, residential living and placemaking. Often under-recognized, downtown Salt Lake has an extraordinary collection of cultural institutions and facilities, a proliferation of arts programming, and a concentration of artists and creatives. Creative placemaking is a focus of the plan, building on this confluence. It views downtown as a canvas for activation, such as artist-initiated projects, programming for families and children, and “programmed spontaneity.” The physical landscape of downtown is distinguished by long blocks, wide streets and large “blank areas.” Creative placemaking in this context includes activation of underutilized spaces (such as alleyways and parking lots), development of a coordinated aesthetic and wayfinding, and expanded forms of public art. Audience development is based on a comprehensive market analysis whose goal is to serve and reflect Salt Lake’s diverse populations, ranging from the homeless to immigrants to suburban families.
Laguna Beach is a rare California community, having been an “artists’ colony” for more than a century. Arts Evolution, the city’s new cultural arts plan, sets forth a framework to strengthen and enhance the artistic life of this “arts’ city.” The plan addresses challenges that include dramatically rising real estate pressures, limitations on growth, and changes in the arts community. One important goal is to retain Laguna Beach’s artistic vitality by retaining and attracting the presence of working artists and utilizing their civic leadership in new ways. The plan also made recommendations for cultural facilities and the City’s public art program. These are viewed as key to maintaining Laguna Beach’s position as a vital arts-centric community. The City has made remarkable progress in implementing this plan in its first year, initiating two cultural facilities projects, revising their public art program, and adding a new arts administrator position.
The Los Alamos Creative District plan presents a bold vision for, and envisions a dramatic transformation of, downtown. It represents creative placemaking strongly influenced by Los Alamos’ history and connected to its environs. Los Alamos was the coordinating site of the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb during World War II and remains the home of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which is a now a major international center for scientific and technical innovation. The present-day community of 18,000 is rural, yet has high levels of education, affluence and sophistication. The Creative District is part of the walkable, downtown revitalization area. It reflects the community’s identity, combining science and technology, arts, history and the natural environment. The District produces creative programming, supports downtown revitalization, fosters increased tourism, and serves as a focal point of community activity and events. The plan included a community assessment and review of previous studies, leading to recommendations for facilities, funding and governance.
The Salt Lake Cultural Core is a downtown cultural district intended to proclaim and advance Salt Lake as one of the cultural centers in the West. The city’s cultural life is remarkable, yet often under-recognized, with outstanding cultural institutions and facilities, diverse and high quality arts programming, and a concentration of artists and creatives. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, residents of the Salt Lake region also have the nation’s highest level of arts participation. The Cultural Core is a collaboration of the City and County of Salt Lake to promote and leverage this cultural abundance. It was created partially in response to the opening of a major new performing arts center; the desire to advance the city’s entire arts ecosystem was also an influential factor. It is funded through a taxing district to provide a reliable revenue source and will receive additional support from grant funds and resource partnerships with other agencies. The Cultural Core Action Plan: We Are Arts and Culture focuses on three strategies: creative placemaking, marketing, and audience development. The Core is for everyone—audience development is based on an extensive market analysis and is designed to reflect and serve all the increasingly diverse populations in the region.
The Lindy Institute launched in 2014 as a key platform for Drexel University’s civic engagement mission, which includes one of the largest real estate development projects in the U.S, the Innovation Neighborhood. The Institute serves as a university-wide think tank established to engage in multidisciplinary problem solving for urban challenges locally in Philadelphia, nationally and globally. It provides a hub for Drexel faculty to incubate and launch innovative urban initiatives while promoting experiential learning, public service and scholarly work by students, faculty and professional staff. CPG was engaged to develop the Lindy Institute’s first strategic plan, which is serving as the roadmap for building the programs, operations and financial models for the Institute. The plan was completed in the spring of 2017.
In 2013, CPG facilitated a planning process as the theater emerged from a challenging financial situation and a transition to new artistic leadership. That plan focused on building the confidence and capacity of board and staff. Artistic and executive leadership did what was necessary to recover from a difficult circumstance and was ready to chart a course that was stable and sustainable. Over the three-period of the plan, Act II exceeded their financial goals, established dedicated reserve funds, strengthened their fundraising capacities, and successfully completed a campaign for major HVAC replacements. In 2017, CPG again worked with Act II to prepare for the next three years, building on their success: virtually all productions are 100% sold-out. The new plan seeks to maintain that success while leveraging it to upgrade technology, enhance the patron experience, and expand revenues when all the seats are sold!
In 2011, the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation commissioned the development of an “ongoing improvement” process for the Marketplace Empowerment for Artists (MEA) program. The purpose of the process is to be able to better answer the question, “How can we strengthen the effectiveness of professional practices training for visual artists?” Then in its eleventh year, the MEA program had had remarkable success in expanding and enhancing professional practices training. To further leverage its investment in MEA, the Foundation sought to learn more from its collective experiences, including those of its grantees, artists and staff, and commissioned CPG to conduct an assessment. The assessment was conducted through two national surveys (one of artists who are alumni of the MEA program and a second of MEA grantees). After survey results were analyzed, specific issues were identified for further study, and artists participated in five focus groups to learn more about their experiences and suggestions. The assessment is designed to be repeated every three years. The full triennial methodology includes tools to assess outcomes for artists who are MEA alumni, assess content of MEA curricula, identify key changes in the field and the environment that might have implications for MEA improvement; identify issues and suggestions for improvement in MEA; and engage grantees and Foundation staff in discussions to promote learning.
1. pARTicipate San Diego: A Strategic Plan for Arts and Culture: Increasing Cultural Patronage (2005-06)
2. pARTners in Education: A Strategic Plan for Arts Education (2007)
3. Ready Assets: a first-ever study of individual, working artists in San Diego County (2011)
We have done three projects for the San Diego Foundation. The first project is in essence a countywide cultural plan for a community foundation, as opposed to the arts agency of a local government. The Foundation sought to understand and document community needs in the area of arts and culture, and to formulate a strategic plan for itself and community partners. Project research included extensive stakeholder engagement, a countywide telephone survey conducted in English and Spanish, a countywide survey of arts and culture organizations, comparisons of San Diego County with other communities, and investigation of effective strategies and programs in other communities. The resulting plan, entitled “pARTicipate San Diego,” encompasses five strategies for increasing and enhancing cultural participation throughout the countywide community. The Foundation adopted the entire strategic plan.
As part of its implementation effort, the Foundation re-engaged CPG, in partnership with the California Alliance for Arts Education, to conduct a countywide research project in arts education. The purpose was to better understand the state of arts education in all 42 local school districts in the county and refine strategic approaches to reintroducing arts education to every classroom. In 2011, the Foundation commissioned CPG to prepare a first-ever study of individual, working artists in San Diego County. This study was the basis for the Foundation’s new individual artists fellowship program.