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Arts Forum Recap: Measuring Vibrancy in Placemaking

arts forum new york city panel

More than 300 arts community members, planners, policymakers and funders packed the auditorium at the National Museum of the American Indian Tuesday evening to listen to an expert panel discuss creative placemaking and new impact measures focusing on vibrancy being developed. The Arts Forum, Measuring Vibrancy: The Impacts of Arts and Culture Investments in Placemaking,was co-hosted by ArtPlace, a national consortium of funders investing in creative placemaking across the country.  “ArtPlace is providing critical leadership and resources on issues that are at the core of the MAS Livability agenda,” said MAS President Vin Cipolla.

The talk preceded a daylong work session at MAS supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, with nearly 30 economists, planners, arts funders, preservationists, and arts professionals  to stress test  proposed vibrancy and dynamism indicators—ways to quantify those unique, often qualitative “know it when you see it,” characteristics that shape successful neighborhoods.

ArtsPlace’s Director Carol Coletta, moderated the evening kicked off with a presentation of these indicators by Joe Cortright, president and principal economist for Impresa, a Portland, Oregon consulting firm specializing in regional economic analysis, innovation and industry clusters. Joe, who spoke at the 2010 MAS Summit for New York City is a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and senior policy advisor for CEOs for Cities.

Following the presentation — which included indicators around creative placemaking investments, such as the numbers of small businesses and of creative professional living in the area, and cell phone use in that neighborhood, especially in key hours of the day and week — Carol led a lively discussion including brief presentations on creative placemaking in Detroit and Washington D.C.

Panelists included Kimberly Driggins, Associate Director for Citywide Planning for Washington, D.C. who is responsible for managing citywide planning projects across several areas including: housing, economic development, schools, transportation, and capital improvement planning; Sue Mosey, President of Midtown Detroit Inc. who led Midtown Detroit’s work on parks, predevelopment loans and financing for The Inn on Ferry Street and other real estate developments in the city for years. More recently, Sue and her organization has been working to bring 15,000 young people to live, work and play in downtown Detroit by 2015; and Kevin Stolarick, research director at the Martin Prosperity Institute in the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. Kevin, who  has provided quantitative research and analytical support for urban theorist Richard Florida, continues to actively collaborate with Richard and other researchers, and has a particular interest in measuring the impacts of arts and culture investments in neighborhoods.

MAS is pleased to continue the long tradition of the Arts Forum, a sponsored project of the New York Foundation for the Arts with funding provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.  Cipolla said, “Since 1990, the Arts Forum has brought the best and brightest in arts innovators in all disciplines to a broad audience.  We are proud to continue this legacy, now at MAS.  Look for the Arts Forum when the series resumes in the fall.”