Jackrabbits at Centerpoint on Mill, Tempe

DMB and Creative Placemaking

Those who live in the Valley area have likely posed with their kids in front of the giant jackrabbits at Centerpoint on Mill or taken family photos on the mountain lions at DC Ranch Market Street. And many have climbed on the LOVE sculpture in downtown Scottsdale to snap a photo with their partner.

These iconic art installations are fun. More importantly, they help to define unique places and create special connections.

That’s what arts and culture does. It helps to define a place. In that spirit, the Phoenix metro area is elevating the conversation to educate community leaders about the importance of incorporating arts and culture into the planning of our communities.

Jamie Bennett, president of Art Place America, recently shared the stage with Mesa Mayor John Giles and other local leaders to discuss the opportunities and successes in Arizona around creative placemaking. The takeaway from Mayor Giles was “make Mesa weirder” to help give Mesa a more defined personality through the arts and development downtown.

Art Place America is working in communities around the country to share a vision for including arts and culture in community planning and development. The foundation, a 10 year collaboration of 15 national foundations, eight federal agencies and six financial institutions, is making strategic investments in communities to spur economic development around creative placemaking.

As an example, Art Place America funded Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row in 2013 to support community improvements. They also introduced a special arts event, Feast on the Street, where thousands of Phoenicians gathered around a community dining table for a unique dining experience. That seed money has help Roosevelt Row flourish as a distinctive arts and culture center in Phoenix. Today, the Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation is set to debut their ARTS village. This is an adaptive reuse project that transforms shipping containers used for temporary arts studios into permanent housing for local artists.

Art Place America and DMB share many placemaking values. We share the core belief that arts and culture plays a key role in shaping the social fabric of a healthy community.

Mountain Lions at Market Street
Mountain Lions at Market Street

Each of DMB’s communities prominently feature arts and cultural amenities as touch points for gathering. Our Community Life team members understand and support the cultural development within the community to help bring people together to create lasting bonds. These connections keep neighborhoods stronger and safer. From art installations like The Giving Tree® at Verrado to the lions at DC Ranch to the jackrabbits at Centerpoint on Mill, these places help to define the stories of these special places and people who live there.

Arts and culture will continue to play an important role in DMB’s efforts to attract businesses to our communities. We know that companies want to locate where their employees want to live, play and learn.

Arts create more stable communities. Citizens who engage in the arts report feeling more community loyalty, more attachment to their community and other citizens.

Arts connects people to people. Shared experiences like concerts, arts programming, connect people to each other and to the place.

Arts creates a more active citizenry. People who participate in the arts are more engaged in society. They are more likely to vote, to contribute and to show pride in their community.

Learn more: artplaceamerica.org

Let’s do great things together.

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