What makes a place different and unique? And exactly how do the arts make that happen? The concept of creative placemaking has caught fire nationwide, and examples in New Jersey continue to multiply, each as you might expect distinctly different from the next. Creative New Jersey places that demonstrate such diversity include Millville, Asbury Park, and Orange. So much interest has been expressed within the Garden State that a Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit will convene on June 19 at the Seton Hall School of Law, One Newark Center from 8:30 am – 5:00 pm. In fact, interest has been so enthusiastic as to move the conference to this larger location to accommodate over 250 professionals in planning, economic development, transportation, government and the arts.
The Summit is a collaborative production of several organizations: ArtPride New Jersey, The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking, New Jersey State Council on the Arts, North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, PlanSmart NJ, and Together North Jersey with support and guidance from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the State Council on the Arts.
The core strategic goal of creative placemaking is to bring these diverse thought leaders together to address local and regional challenges by shaping the physical and social character of a neighborhood, town, city or region AROUND arts and cultural activities. The lunchtime keynote address will be presented by Jane Golden, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, whose lifetime work has been dedicated to this goal.
The conference program will also feature a panel discussion that includes a developer, former mayor, statewide official, and a community organizer who has been successful connecting the arts with economic development goals. A funders’ panel, networking opportunities and optional peer-learning workshops complete the conference agenda.
Through ArtPride New Jersey’s community engagement efforts, the arts have found a seat at the table of Together North Jersey’s Steering Committee, spearheaded by the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority. The arts in New Jersey can now be found in local demonstration projects funded through this planning initiative in Woodbridge, Morristown and the MoCo Arts Corridor. Together North Jersey is the host of the June 19 Summit making this meeting the very first in New Jersey about creative placemaking that is not initiated by an arts organization. Together North Jersey’s planning efforts encompass a 13 New Jersey county region and strive for a more sustainable future that invests in existing communities where housing, jobs, educational, cultural, and recreational opportunities are made more easily accessible to most residents of the region without having to drive to them. Their efforts are a perfect match for leaders in creative placemaking.
So if you are interested in animating public and private spaces, rejuvenating structures and streetscapes, enhancing workforce skills and attracting creative talent, boosting tourism, improving local business viability and public safety, and bringing diverse people together to celebrate, inspire and be inspired (who wouldn’t be interested?) then you need attend the June 19 summit and learn more about community engagement through the arts (spoiler—listening to Jane Golden is inspiring all by itself!).