Community Development Investments

ArtPlace America (ArtPlace) is a 10-year collaboration between a number of foundations, federal agencies, and financial institutions. They began their work as an organization in 2011 and wrapped up in 2020. Their mission is to position arts and culture as a core sector of community planning and development.

Launched in 2015, their Community Development Investments program supported community-based organizations to incorporate arts and culture into their core work. This one-time program provided $3 million to each of six community planning and development organizations, over four years, to develop creative placemaking projects that could help them more effectively achieve their missions, resulting in positive outcomes for their communities. ArtPlace America provided technical support through coaching, site visits, monthly webinars, connecting sites with national creative placemaking experts, ongoing advice and workshops with the national artist team of the Center for Performance and Civic Practice, and convening in-person peer exchanges where the sites learned from each other’s achievements, setbacks, strategies, and recommendations.

Experiential learning was a primary goal of the Community Development Investments program and, as the research and documentation partner, PolicyLink worked with the participants to harvest knowledge and document lessons learned since the program’s launch.

Learn more about this process in, CDI Research and Documentation: An Account of the Approach, Framework, and Methods. This essay describes the ways in which the PolicyLink team, in close consultation with ArtPlace America, the grantees of the program, and a number of advisors, created and carried out an approach that was suited to the unique features and dimensions of the initiative.