Studio for Creativity, Place and Equitable Communities

Home / Research and initiatives / What is "Creative Placemaking?"

What is "Creative Placemaking?"

ASU Herberger Institute Admissions - Creative Placemaking

Our definition of Creative Placemaking is the strategic integration of arts, culture and community engaged design into comprehensive community planning and development. We believe:

  • All communities have cultural assets--including the creativity, imagination and wisdom of residents—from which to build.
  • Art, culture and community engaged design are intrinsically important AND are crucial elements of strategies aimed at building equitable communities where all people can thrive. They contribute positively to a range of inter-related community conditions and dynamics such as:
    • strengthening community fabric and stewardship,
    • physical transformation of place,
    • changes in community narrative,
    • civic engagement,
    • health and economic development,
    • and many more…

As a higher education institution, ASU’s role in this work is to:

  • Help build and fill the pipeline of artists, planners, community developers and people from other fields who can integrate arts, culture and community engaged design into strategies to expand opportunity, particularly in low-income communities.
    • This entails developing and adapting curriculum for students and current practitioners.
      Interested in this?
  • Help build the field of creative placemaking and support current practices.
    • This entails conducting research, and developing measurement and evaluation tools.
      Interested in this?
  • Collaborate toward the sustained integration of arts, culture and community engaged design in comprehensive community development, particularly in the Phoenix region.
    • This entails working on initiatives with community organizations and government agencies along with artists, designers, tradition bearers and other creative residents committed to creating a region full of culturally vibrant, just communities where all people can thrive.
      Interested in this?

At ASU, this work is being led by the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and the College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

We are currently engaging with faculty, staff, students and community members who have interest in this work and in building opportunities for collaboration.

You can email us at

Subscribe to Our Email List

Stay in the know!
* indicates required

Creative Placemaking Policy Fellows

Six policy fellows are working with the Herberger Institute as part of its creative placemaking efforts.

The fellows spend their time exploring and researching a range of topics, from the role of festivals in community to whether creative placemaking is a human rights movement or a property rights movement.

Maribel Alvarez

Maribel Alvarez
Maribel Alvarez is an anthropologist, folklorist, and curator. Among other roles, she is the executive director of the Southwest Folklife Alliance, an affiliate nonprofit of the University of Arizona, which produces the annual Tucson Meet Yourself folklife festival. She joins ASU as a Creative Placemaking Policy Fellow to explore the role of festivals in community. What new dimensions of community health and equity could be apprehended if festivals could be seen from larger frames of social cohesion, stewardship and placemaking? What happens when we replace the extant narratives and analytical lenses of "festivals" with accounts of "neighborhood rituals?" During her fellowship, Alvarez will convene a working group of ASU art professionals as well as designers, planners, sociologists and economic development experts to explore these questions.

Carlton Turner

Carlton Turner
Carlton Turner works across the country as an artist, activist, arts advocate, policy shaper, lecturer, consultant and facilitator. Turner is also founder of the Mississippi Center for Cultural Production (MCCP). The MCCP uses arts and agriculture to support rural community, cultural and economic development in his hometown of Utica, Mississippi, where he lives with his wife, Brandi, and three children. Building on his recent essay in an NEA publication, he wants to expand on the idea of history and stories of place and their impact on design, development and function of creative placemaking projects in the South. Over the course of the fellowship, he will work in digital mediums of audio story, photos and video to develop a prototype online digest under the frame of The Living History Project.

Roberto Bedoya

Roberto Bedoya
Roberto Bedoya is the cultural affairs manager for the City of Oakland. He also holds significant experience as executive director of various arts organizations, art consultant, thought maker and critic. He has consistently supported artists-centered cultural practices and advocated for expanded definitions of inclusion and belonging throughout his career. During his fellowship, he looks to explore two separate but related topics: first, the dramaturgy of public policy in creative placemaking practices and how this might be useful for artists and neighbors. Second, a question: Is creative placemaking a human rights movement or a property rights movement? He will explore how the entanglement of these visions shape art making practices, urban planning, community cultural development and government.

Chris Walker

Chris Walker
Chris Walker is an independent research consultant specializing in community development. He has led research programs at Urban Institute as well as Local Initiatives Support Corporation and has published many studies on topics related to community development and creative placemaking. During his fellowship, Walker is exploring arts-based research for social inquiry to find the particular contribution of artists as researchers into topics important to creative placemaking. Arts-based research may be a particularly good way to uncover aspects of the deep structure of community, including the meanings they attach to their physical communities. Further, he aims to understand what kind of rules to assess validity and reliability may exist in this research.

Jules Rochielle Sievert

Jules Rochielle Sievert
Jules Rochielle Sievert is an artist, a legal educator, a community arts educator and a social justice advocate. Currently, Sievert is the Creative Director at Nulawlab at Northeastern University School of Law, transforming law and the way people interact with the law through creative and cultural approaches. Originally more centered in the arts, Sievert plans to use the fellowship as an opportunity to reflect on what has taken place at Nulawlab over the past 4.5 years. Also to be explored and shared is what new knowledge has been gained through a recent collaborative project, Stable Ground Boston, which embeds artists, legal designers and trauma experts into community/municipal settings to generate outcomes that contribute to local visual/performing arts exhibits and art-making events. 

Laura Zabel

Laura Zabel
Laura Zabel is executive director of Springboard for the Arts, which supports artists, neighbors and businesses working together toward stronger communities. They also operate Creative Exchange, a national platform for sharing stories and resources. An expert on the relationship between the arts and community development, Zabel has shared her wisdom as a speaker and writer in a wide range of settings. She is now working on a book to frame and advance a participatory, equitable, holistic and replicable model for community health by centering people and creativity. This framework draws on Springboard’s work as well as the work of other organizers, artists and groups that draw on ecosystem/holistic approaches to community development. During her fellowship, she will dive deeper into the thinking and research around local economic opportunity, small business development and the new economy movement, as well as how this connects to artists and creative placemaking.


The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts has been awarded $400,000 from ArtPlace America (ArtPlace) to support its work in building the field of creative placemaking toward furthering healthy...
Civic and cultural leaders who practice “creative placemaking,” the community approach that puts arts, culture and design at the heart of community planning and equitable development, will hold their...
Maribel Alvarez describes what she does as “the embellishment of ordinary life.” A nationally respected anthropologist, folklorist, curator and community arts expert, she is the executive director of...

National design and arts-based equitable development and practice for public good at Arizona State

We believe designers and artists are unique and often under-activated assets in communities. 

Learn more