News Release: NEA Grant to Help Integrate Art into Community Development

The $100,000 grant will identify gaps in existing resources and implement a pilot program within the Boston area.

CHICAGO — The American Planning Association has been recommended for a $100,000 Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Through this grant, APA will work with its project partners to help integrate the arts into planning processes through creative placemaking in communities around the country. Creative placemaking entails shaping the physical and social character of a community.

Project partners include the Boston Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), Americans for the Arts (AFTA) and Townscape Institute. The project will be executed in two phases. Phase one will include an analysis of existing information and resources currently available for incorporating arts into community development. Phase two will focus on implementation, including identifying a demonstration area by MAPC to pilot the program.

Public Art: Mural on Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago, viewed from The 606 elevated trail. Photo by Kelly Wilson, from the APA Image Library.

“Public art is beneficial to communities beyond enhancing the aesthetics of a community,” said Jennifer Henaghan, AICP, deputy research director at APA. “Art has proven to enhance economic development, build community engagement, encourage community pride and help to create communities of lasting value.”

APA is one of 89 grantees selected from more than 270 applicants. This is the second grant APA has received from the NEA. Earlier this year, APA and its project partner Forecast Public Art received a grant to work with five Minnesota communities in a pilot program for advancing public art as a placemaking tool.

“The arts reflect the vision, energy, and talent of America’s artists and arts organizations,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support organizations such as the American Planning Association, to cultivate vitality in their communities through the arts.”

The impact and role of arts within a community has been a longtime focus for APA. The Arts and Planning Interest Group brings together individuals interested in advancing the role and prominence of arts within communities. APA also produced a series of briefing papers, Arts, Culture & Creativity, about how planners use arts and culture strategies to achieve economic, social, environmental and community goals.

Information about this NEA grant and other applied research conducted by APA can be found at: Follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #NEASpring17.

The American Planning Association (APA) is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities. APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are dedicated to advancing the art, science and profession of good planning — physical, economic, and social — so as to create communities that offer better choices for where and how people work and live. Members of APA help create communities of lasting value and encourage civic leaders, business interests and citizens to play a meaningful role in creating communities that enrich people's lives. APA has offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Visit to learn more.

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Roberta Rewers, APA, 312-786-6395;

June 15, 2017