LISC National
Our Work

Creative Placemaking

We believe creative placemaking can and must be inclusive and equitable to everyone, reflecting the hopes, dreams and desires of community members, including traditionally marginalized groups. It works best when embedded in a broader program of community development that addresses affordable housing, education, health and safety. LISC's core creative placemaking goal is to leverage the unique power of arts and culture to empower people build vibrant, resilient and socially connected communities in the places they call home.

Placemaking Strategies

Some placemaking strategies are quick and inexpensive, building visible momentum for long-term improvements in underinvested and vulnerable communities. Goals might include creating public spaces that draw people together, encouraging more walkable and healthy neighborhoods, and strengthening vibrant commercial areas. Projects like these might also help improve collaboration among the arts community, residents, businesses and local government. LISC and our colleagues at the MA Smart Growth Alliance have supported a variety of  "mini-placemaking" efforts, including:

  • The establishment of a community marketplace in Waltham
  • An international mural festival in Worcester
  • A T stop marketplace in Four Corners Station in Boston
  • The activation of Washington Square in Haverhill
  • An art installation using bodega signs and poetry on the border of Roxbury and Jamaica Plain
Reinvigorating public spaces is a critical step towards improving quality of life in neighborhoods all across the state. Each of these projects has tremendous potential for taking a disused space and making it a vibrant and inviting part of the community.
— Bob Van Meter, LISC Boston Executive Director

    Other placemaking initiatives require a more sustained investment of time, energy, and funds. We offer those things, as well as technical assistance for local community groups to integrate the arts and culture into their revitalization activities, and research and learning opportunities for community groups and funders to understand and support more enduring, equitable placemaking programs.

    The Mattapan Cultural Movement

    From 2010 to 2017, LISC invested deeply in comprehensive community development in Boston's Mattapan neighborhood. From the outset, we earmarked funding for Mattapan's artist community, and members of the Mattapan Cultural Arts Development, a coalition of local artists and organizations, were identified as community champions. Since then, we have helped MCAD develop its business model, bring resources to neighborhood artists, and launch the Mattapan Cultural Movement (MCM), which is composed of neighborhood artists and organizations working to rebrand Mattapan as a cultural arts destination. Whether it’s bringing pop-up performances to Mattapan’s open spaces, or showcasing the work of local artists in Mattapan storefronts, MCM hopes to incorporate the customs, images, and celebrations that give Mattapan its unique cultural identity.

    MCM will provide opportunities for local artists to engage with each other and the public while focusing on two other themes as well: resident engagement and gentrification without displacement. The movement will create a united civically-engaged force in Mattapan that will sit at the table with developers and planners while coordinating with other ongoing development projects. The network will bring arts-based tools to empower and strengthen relationships in the community, giving residents a voice in matters that affect their future.

    Key Funder: The Kresge Foundation

    We launched our national creative placemaking program, with major funding from The Kresge Foundation, because we believe that providing space for creativity and culture to flourish in disinvested neighborhoods is as important to comprehensive community development as is meeting basic needs.

    Visit Kresge Website


    Karen Kelleher