Creative Placemaking & Cultural Entrepreneurship

One of the perks of working at NAS is the number of incredible leaders we get to talk with on a regular basis. The last several weeks have been no exception. In fact, we’ve been talking and listening quite a bit. Part of the recruitment for our Creative Community Fellows program has been a series of conversations with young cultural entrepreneurs about their work and their communities. It’s been an eye-opening experience. Next week we will begin to share some of the stories of these amazing leaders. Today we want to share what we learned from those conversations.

In the video below NAS Directors, Fielding Grasty, Dallas Shelby and Sunny Widmann, share what they’ve seen in the development and recruitment of our Creative Community Fellows program and what it might mean for the arts and culture field.



    • Dallas Shelby says

      Thanks, Richard. You are absolutely right to point out the importance of the artist in this discussion. Next week we will be featuring conversations with the Creative Community Fellows, many of whom are artists working in communities… but this is an open forum. We don’t mean this to be a broadcast of what we think. We want to hear from you. What is your take as an artist? How do you define “community?” What’s your role in the community? What’s the catalyst for your work? Who is it for? Do you feel a part of the “cultural sector” or “arts and culture field?” Why or why not? Why do you think people are talking about creative placemaking so much now? I look forward to hearing your thoughts.


      • says

        Thanks for asking. People are or have been talking about creative placemaking because it’s a neo-liberal idea that is being pushed and sold. It was Richard Florida who tied creativity to local and regional economies. Arts organization and advocates desperate for some future, some way out of their economic problems embraced his flawed theories hook, line and sinker.

        If you trace the history of public support for the arts since the culture wars began in the 1980’s you see a progression of defunding and attacks against the artistic community. Neo-liberalism was the perfect conservative excuse for killing off any public support for the arts. It made the value of art dependent on it’s economic value to communities and locales. Art was good only if it aided economies.
        Gone was the intrinsic value of art (it’s true value) and in it’s place is how much art could invigorate economies, engage communities (what ever the heck that means).
        Just look at your website as an example. You can hardly find any references to artists. And what artists exist in your fellows have been award their fellowship based on how well they have adopted, this new neo-liberal language.
        The NEA and private foundations use to award supportive grants for the unknown, the unique, the anarchistic and now all the money and attention goes to the projects that have as their requirements the hope of solving social ills or the entertainment of those segments of community that are sick. A strange warping of ideas has begun to emerge. The injustice of black men imprison is placated by giving someone a grant to teach them how to play the violin. Things like this seem crazy.
        And show me one arts organization or granting institution today that doesn’t use the word artist and entrepreneur interchangeably. This is not because those institutions are following artistic trends. It’s because they are directing the creative focus. They have an agenda. Art needs to pay it’s way because we (conservative neo-liberals) don’t want to pay for it.

        Where is my community you ask? My community is my fellow artists who still believe that arts lead society rather than cater to popular desires and whims masked as “engagement”. My community is the artists and thinkers that know that the true value of art is giving community what they have no idea even existed before. Art is not something that you can propose and measure and prove will engage before you do it and today you don’t get the chance to do it unless you can prove it will do so. Another crazy reality. My community are those who realize that what art has to offer is not the cleaning up of capitalistic ills and problems. That’s not the function of art.
        I am part of the artist’s cultural sector, which as far as I can tell, has nothing to do with the language that your organization refers to when they talk about arts and culture. I am part of the cultural sector that is disenfranchised from many arts advocates and those who are creating arts policy that effect me without every inviting me to the table.


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