Recreation Management - Ideas and Solutions for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

June 2018


TPL Earns NEA Grant to Explore Creative Placemaking

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By Dave Ramont

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) recently awarded a $75,000 grant to the Trust for Public Land (TPL), in partnership with the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), to be used to identify ways to introduce placed-based arts practices within county, city and local public health agencies. This practice is referred to as creative placemaking, and involves public, private, non-profit and community sectors partnering up to “strategically shape the physical and social character of a neighborhood, town, tribe, city or region around arts and cultural activities,” according to NEA.

TPL believes that every person in every city or town deserves to have a park or green space within a 10-minute walk from their home. “Our vision is driven by the fact that high-quality parks and public spaces do much more than simply provide places for recreation and relaxation,” said Adrian Benepe, senior vice president and director of city park development at TPL. “They offer significant benefits to the people they serve, acting as critical components of a community’s infrastructure. This funding from NEA advances the 10-minute walk and strengthens the role parks can play in building community health.”

Matthew Clarke, TPL’s director of creative placemaking, said that they’re thrilled to be partnering with NACCHO to work on this important and timely project. “The growing body of evidence shows that our health outcomes are determined by strong, culturally resilient communities. As such, our Creative Placemaking Program is developing strategies to leverage the arts’ role as a driver of community health.” Clarke added that the support from NEA will help all of their organizations to understand these strategies and deploy them in ways that make for a healthier country.

NACCHO, founded in 1965, represents the nation’s nearly 3,000 local governmental health departments. These departments work to protect and promote health and well-being for the people in their communities, with an impact on such areas as infectious and chronic disease, injury and violence protection, environmental health, maternal and child health, emergency preparedness, tobacco control, immunization, and food safety.

Jen Li, NACCHO’s interim senior adviser for public health programs, said that as public health practitioners, they understand that where people reside has a profound effect on their physical and mental well-being. “This project seeks to provide practical and creative solutions that unite placemaking with core values of public health. These approaches to planning, design and management of public spaces that include local community assets will support the goal of creating public spaces that promote health and well-being,” Li said.

The grant will support toolkit and case study development, toolkit dissemination, the creation of a literature and policy review and a convening at the 2019 NACCHO Annual Meeting. The goal of these efforts is to increase understanding of what creative placemaking is, and how it can be applied to benefit local communities across the United States.


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