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New Report on Music-Based Placemaking and Community Outcomes

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Nov 10, 2016

In a new report sponsored by the Levitt Foundation, researchers, over a four-year period, assessed the outcomes of creative placemaking investments in outdoor, permanent music venues and the nonprofits that manage them. Creative placemaking projects, including outdoor music spaces, are often assumed to improve city livability, raise the quality of life, and increase attachment to community. But does the data suggest that those outcomes are present? The report suggests that positive outcomes are observed at the research sites, but the picture is nuanced.

An important element of the research is that they used different methodologies for assessing the impact of Levitt placemaking projects. Looking at Levitt-sponsored outdoor music venues across the country, researchers conducted an indirect outcomes assessment (which uses existing census data to measure change in surrounding communities) as well as audience and community outcomes exploration (a blend of quantitative and qualitative primary research). Much of the data pointed to positive outcomes for the venue visitors and the surrounding community, but the researchers recommend taking numerous points into account:

  • In creative placemaking, programming is as important as place in providing a compelling and communal experience for participants
  • For music providers in particular, a venue’s programming can communicate subtle but important messages regarding who might feel welcome
  • The physical and logistical attributes of a creative placemaking project will guide how people participate in, and how they benefit from, the experience
  • Communicating explicitly about a project’s community-building goals with participants and residents can help to engage them as informal ambassadors
  • The history and sociology of the community in which the creative placemaking project takes place, and the specific site that is chosen, will profoundly inform the way the project unfolds
  • Partnership, coordination, and collaboration are essential creative placemaking skills and key to ensuring that the placemaking project remains community-driven
  • There isn’t a “one size fits all” method of assessing the success of creative placemaking projects

Read the full report here.

This resource brought to you by the National Guild for Community Arts Education.