How can we better understand and use creative action and making in community-led change and grassroots place development (creative placemaking)? In what ways can this approach to working be shared and communicated for creative practitioners, community members, groups, and organisations interested in creative, community-led regeneration and movements for change?
Creative placemaking is evolving in Scotland, and indeed around the globe. Whilst acknowledging the contentions of this term, my use of it is in part to help reposition it as a grassroots approach to place development.
The core principles of this approach are explored in The Embers Report (Wheeler 2020), a piece of research and consultation I led for The Stove Network. The Embers Report looked at embedded creative work within communities across Dumfries and Galloway and its influence in shaping the development strategies of those communities. The report aimed to identify this work within a deeper understanding of placemaking in Scotland.
"Creative placemaking is a community led approach that uses creative activity to support collective decision-making and positive change for people and the places they live.” (The Stove Network 2023)
Creative placemaking has its roots in the cultural democracy and community arts movements of the 60’s and 70’s (1) (2) and can be seen in the intentions of many socially-engaged and participatory arts practices of the present (3) (4). The intentional use of creativity, however, as part of a larger collaborative placemaking framework is an evolving approach to working that blurs the lines between art, culture, education, health, planning, economic development, and community learning and development (5). Creative placemaking itself is a relatively new definition (6) and one that I hope to continue to contribute to the understanding and development of in terms of the significant benefits it can have for the individuals and communities involved (7) (8) through my individual practice and my work with The Stove Network and What We Do Now.
The Embers Handbook is a publication for community groups and individuals who are active, or wanting to be active, in bringing about positive change in the places they live and introduces creative placemaking as a means by which to do this. It was developed over 12 months as part of my Masters in Art and Social Practice with University of Highlands and Islands (completed 2023), and draws heavily on my experiences and work with The Stove Network. You can read more about this journey HERE.
A few Links
(1) - JEFFERS, A and MORIARTY, G (2017) Culture, Democracy and the Right to Make Art, Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, London and New York
(2) - MATARASSO, F (2019) A Restless Art, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, London
(3) - VAN HEESWIJK, J (2012) 'The Artist Will Have to Decide Whom to Serve' Social Housing, Housing the Social: Art, Property and Spatial Justice, 77-89, Sternberg Press, Berlin and Amsterdam
(4) - KESTER, G (2011) The One and the Many: Contemporary Collaborative Art in a Global Context, Duke University Press, Durham and London
(5) - SCHRAG, A and MCKINNON, C (2022) Exploring the boundary-crossing nature of 'Creative Placemaking': The Stove as 'adaptor/converter', FLIELD, available from https://field-journal.com/editorial/exploring-the-boundary-crossing-nature-of-creative-placemaking-the-stove-as-adaptor-converter
(7) - MACMILLAN, K (2021) Evaluation of the Creative Communities Programme, Inspiring Scotland, available from https://www.inspiringscotland.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Research-Scotland-Evaluation-of-Creative-Communities-Phase-1-November-2021.pdf
(8) - COUTTS, P et al (2020) Pooling Together: How Community Hubs have responded to the COVID-19 Emergency, Carnegie UK Trust, available from https://carnegieuktrust.org.uk/publications/pooling-together-how-community-hubs-have-responded-to-the-covid-19-emergency/