Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Creative Placemaking at the Creativity World Forum #cwf2010

These are my notes from the “Creative Design and Art Spaces Fueling Urban Growth” breakout session at the 2010 Creativity World Forum in Oklahoma City on 16 November 2010. MY THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS. (An audio podcast/recording of this session is available on “Fuel for Educational Change Agents.”) The official session description in the PDF program (it was apparently created to NOT allow copy/paste of text) is:

Creative Design and Art Spaces Fueling Urban Growth

This session is presented by Tom Jones, President and CEO of Artscape. Artscape is:

The largest free arts festival in the country with over 350,000 attendees. Artscape features 150+ artists, fashion designers and craftspeople; visual art exhibits on and off-site, including exhibitions, outdoor sculpture, art cars, photography and the Janet & Walter Sondheim Prize; incredible live concerts on three outdoor stages; a full schedule of performing arts including dance, opera, theater, fashion, film, experimental music and performances by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; family events such as hands-on projects, demonstrations, competitions, children’s entertainers and multiple street theater locations; and a delicious, international menu of food and beverages that is available throughout the festival site. In 2009, Artscape’s total economic impact on Baltimore was $25.97 million

This video provides an overview of Artscape in Baltimore:

The name of this panel was re-named today, in the spirit of autonomy discussed by Daniel Pink this morning, to “Creative Placemaking.”

Now we’ll discuss some context about creative placemaking. Each panelist will present for about five minutes, and then we’ll have a panel discussion with a chance for Q&A.

Do you ever get a sense there is a disconnect in our cities and towns between the things the market” wants to build and provide, and what the public can afford to build? (universities, schools, hospitals, etc?)
– the sort of communities where we want to live

Movement: The New Urbanism
– about life in town centers
– more pedestrian friendly
– focus on architecture, landscaping, design
– celebrate local history, ecology, etc

Placemaking: a field of practice about implementing the New Urbanism
– building quality of place
– is an art and a science to this

Creative placemaking isn’t just wearing a fancy hat
– leveraging the power of art, culture and creativity to build quality of life

several fun international examples first

Story from Gateshead / Newcastle, UK
– was a community trying to recover from years of social deprivation, poverty
– when manufacturing collapsed, things were rather desperate
– along cam Antony Gormley: involved in creating “Angel of the North,” largest public sculpture

Boldness encourages boldness

Mayor of Albanian city that didn’t have money
– his city had a psychological problem, not just an infrastructure problem
– you need to get inspired by your local arch

Tirana. Albania
– they weren’t pretending they could solve deep seated problems with a coat of paint
– but they did contend they could help people think differently by changing their environment

Story of Paducah, Kentucky
– town planner, Mark Burnett
– hooked up with an arist friend, came up with artist relocation strategy
– try to attract creative people
– lower town was falling apart

created Paducah Artist Relocation Program
– 100 artists moved in
– they were giving houses away to artists
– what was once a sleepy town has been transformed into a place full of galleries, cafes, shops
– has a very different feel today

Artspace makes space for creativity
– manage 10 different projects in Toronto
The Distillery District: fairly large project, 12.5 acres, 44 Victorian Industrial Buildings
– developer understood the arts could play a role in the regeneration of this space
– happened in 18 months

Regent Park Project
– now in the process of imaginging an arts and culture center there, to provide new glue to build the community

Liberty Village Creative Sector
Toronto Sector for ….

3 big lessons we’ve learned
– Artscape Wynchwood Barns
– was a symbol of what was wrong with the city, sat there for 30 years
– it was a bit of a fixer upper
– now it’s a hive of different kinds of activity
– community galleries, programmable space for markets, festivals

nonprofit arts and environmentalists have space to work
– Studio Barn, Covered Street Barn, Community Barn, Green Barn

raised $22 million to make this project happen

Lesson #2: importance of bringing together a critical mass of creative people
– collectively these groups are a force to be reckoned with
– understanding this dimension has been key

Lesson #3: Diversity of people and uses
– from Jane Jacobs: I love what you’re doing but don’t just do it for artists, you’ll create ghettos
– critical to mix artists with other people and uses, the spaces have become more diverse and interesting as a result

3 new trends I see in this field
– we need to get beyond idea that there is ONLY the public and private sectors
– diverse field: public, MUSH, others…

More sophisticated community engagement
– more than coercive development, more community involved, community engaged, community led

It’s all about aligning people’s needs and interests
– among city builders
– people want healthy, vibrant communities

This is why we’re very optimistic about our work

Now hearing from Philip and his work in Belgium:


I am going to talk about something we term “urban acupuncture”
– working on a contemporary art exhibition
– we are 70 people
– we considered the city as our garden, our laboratory
– we have to accept environmental responsibility for our city
– we have a long history of

– a collaboration between Museum of Contemporary Art and a hospital (AZ Maria Middelares)
– cancer, culture and art

question: could we develop a collaboration together, specifically for the people receiving cancer treatment?
– this is not easy
– we were convinced as a museum this was our obligation, but not to do this the easiest way

Easy way would be hire an artist to fancy-up the hospital rooms
– that was not of interest to any of the constituents

We wanted to answer the needs of the hospital, and to question what a patient would need or need to relate to art at a moment of time they are not thinking about art at all
– you are thinking about your future and your family’s future (as a cancer patient)
– we didn’t want people to focus on art, we wanted to speak to this context

a catalyzing moment: it is not about quantifying success, it is about the encounter between people and art

2 elements came forward
1- patient is commuting between their private space for their family and the hospital
2- the disease does not only affect the patient themselves, but also their peer group, family and friends (has wider consequences than just the medical reports)

We involved 20-30 people in the hospital involved in the oncological processes of the hospital: doctors, nurses, cleaning people, everyone
– also some patients

We thought we should answer something which addresses this back and forth between the hospital and the private homes

We came to this object: a plexy box

The Art Box

– 28 objects in this
– artist pieces, sound pieces, sculptures, from artists in many places
– these pieces are in there like a monopoly game, like a nomatic
– we made 70 of these nomatic, moving exhibitions
– the hospital gave us a space
– these boxes are being distributed now all over the city of Ghent and its surroundings

This creates the potential for an art encounter

As a museum we took responsibility to not just position art in a square, but instead give people a chance to think about how art can contribute to our society in a very active sense, like medicine, science, and more.

Now hearing from Ari Hynynen, “Urban Fallows: Developing Spaces for Creative Economy”
EDGE Laboratory for Architectural and Urban Research
– Tampere University of Technology

EDGE is a research laboratory connected with TUT Institute of Urban Planning and Design. Its researchers have specialized in changes of urban structures and governance, as well as information technologies in urban research and planning. At the moment, urban structures are strongly shaped by different networked structures and processes, which can not be grasped without including the standpoint of transportation planning and the impact of commercial services. Information technology is needed to analyze, predict and manage the factors affecting these structural changes.

concept of fallows:
– refers to agriculture, when the land is resting it gives more strength to the microbes which in turn fertilize the land again

Fallow potentials:
– urban change
– temporary users
– creative branches
– future economy

Question is: how can we use all this potential embedded in these fallows

Method: strategic development and new urban qualities
1- developing fallow criteria based on GIS-data
2- mapping and networking potential fallows
3- picking up strategic fallows
4- turning the story o the place poistive by stimulating and promoting provisional users and events: opening the place for the public
5- studying spatial possibilities by creating architectonic visions regarding emergent scenes
6- matching space consumers and producers

Project organization

network provider
– The Creative Tampere: business development policy programme

space consumers
– individual users
– small and middle size firms
– starting firms
– cultural sector firms
– organizations, associations
– landlords, tenants

public infrastructure

fallow developers

space producers
– land owners
– property developers
– financiers
– construction firms
– architects, engineers

Now hearing from Washington Fajardo from Brazil
– Creative Design and Art Spaces Fueling Urban Growth
– I’m a government guy, but relax: I’m not here to create more taxes

I’m here to share a vision of an emerging city and culture, with very strong cultural

Great book: 2 visions / opposite gods
– talk about quickness
– things are changing very quickly in Brazil
– facing new middle class supporting new economic growth

Working toward the rebirth of Rio de Janeiro

Now hearing from Ian Wal
– SPACES for CREATIVITY, Arts and Sciences

WASPS = Workshop and Artists Studio Provision Scotland

Read more about Ian on

We provide very inexpensive accommodations for artists
– we own buildings owned in trust
– use some spaces for visiting artists in different parts of Scotland

Providing Studios and Workspace for Artists in Scotland
Wasps Artists’ Studios is an award-winning charity which provides affordable studio space to support the careers of up to 750 visual artists working in Scotland today.
Now with a 30 year track record, we have grown to become one of the largest studio providers in the UK with a network of 17 buildings from the Scottish Borders to the Shetland Islands.

(now showing examples of buildings around the country converted to Live-Work spaces and Studios

our buildings are usually redundant (re-purposed_

Edinburgh International Science Festival
– location is not in a university or conference center, it’s in the city itself


discussing God vs. Science – A debate between Richard Dawkins and Francis Collins

Edinburg Medalist 2009

It’s about science and society
– awarded to someone who uses science to make wider contributions to society


People are NOT at this event just to consume, they are there to contribute

We also have a schools program throughout Scotland

Our science festival model has been copied around the world
– have created spaces for creativity

Big lessons:
1- Ideas not things
– ideas are much more important
2- People not place
– if you get the people part right, everything else works
– place comes when you get the right people

Now hearing from Rand Elliott
Rand Elliott and Associates Licensed Architects
– Festival of the Arts

Our assignment: get to the level of these other creative places in the world

our city is going through a renaissance
– our community is booming
– we are really beginning to rise to a level that might be comparable to

We don’t have creative placemaking being done in OKC yet
– where artists live, work, commune, and share
– we are 640 square miles
– Norman is 17 miles away (that is another country away in some places)
– or distance and our size has historically been divisive


Panelists comments:

From Phillip:
Success in promoting creativity is allowing yourself to fail
– we need to embrace failure, the practice of failure
– use it as a motor and catalyst for development

From Ian Wall:
Interactions between people critical
– women who are socially isolated experience much more severe breast cancer
– it’s about meeting people in the public square
– as you design public spaces, it’s all about creating them in a way that encourage social interactions

From Rand:
– we need to stop wanting to be Dallas in Oklahoma City
– we need to be “us”
– we need to understand the American Indian culture
– understand what it is to stand in a wheat field
– how do you appreciate and enjoy your own place: by understanding it, doing things inspired by the place you are, not trying to copycat another place (that doesn’t work)

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