COMMUNITY ADVOCATES & PUBLIC SERVANTS BRING REGIONAL CREATIVE PLACEMAKING SUMMIT TO ALBUQUERQUE
Interview Conducted by Two Way Street Editorial Team
Over the past few months, local neighborhood leader Cristina Rogers, alongside Sherri Brueggemann, CABQ Public Art Urban Enhancement Division Manager and Michaela Shirley, Program Specialist at UNM’s Indigenous Design + Planning Institute, has been working closely with individual community organizers, artists, organizations, agencies, and ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and Arts, to respond to a Request for Proposals (RFP) issued by the National Consortium for Creative Placemaking and ArtPlace America. The goal of this RFP was to solicit proposals from across America to host 7 regional summits and a national summit in 2019. The Consortium’s vetting committee required for submitting municipalities to have 1) a robust and enthusiastic host committee, 2) a community that exemplifies the field of creative placemaking, and 3) a venue that can accommodate logistical requirements.
Much to the City of Albuquerque’s excitement, Rogers and her host committee’s proposal was selected and Albuquerque was chosen as the location for holding CPLS | WEST! In the past, the Consortium’s summits have provided influential discussions, hands-on workshops, and networking events to people from around the country, who are interested in building their communities through arts and cultural programming. Throughout our two or three day summits, we provide the platform the cross-pollination of ideas, disciplines, and cultures to come together and learn from one another in a creative, friendly, and positive atmosphere.
Now that Albuquerque has been chosen as the location for CPLS | WEST, the National Consortium and ArtPlace are looking for proposals from local and regional organizations, artists, community leaders, and public agency departments in the following categories: 1) Seminars, 2) Workshops, 3) Presentations, 4) Peer Exchanges, and 5) Field Workshops. While Two Way Street is already planning to submit a proposal for a Field Workshop, Two Way Street also wanted to promote this opportunity in our publication by conducting a short interview with Rogers (below):
With a concept that is so widely used across a wide variety of experts from different disciplines, how would you define “creative placemaking” in a way that links all of their expertise?
Creative Placemaking is fundamentally a multi-disciplinary, cross-sectoral process that aims to break down the silos that specialization has created. The NEA currently defines it like this: “Creative placemaking projects help to transform communities into lively, beautiful, and resilient places with the arts at their core. Creative placemaking is when artists, arts organizations, and community development practitioners deliberately integrate arts and culture into community revitalization work – placing arts at the table with land-use, transportation, economic development, education, housing, infrastructure, and public safety strategies. Creative placemaking supports local efforts to enhance quality of life and opportunity for existing residents, increase creative activity, and create a distinct sense of place.” It’s also a rapidly growing, and constantly evolving practice – which is a big reason that we come together at these summits. Leveraging arts and culture as a medium for problem-solving helps us all be more creative, resourceful, efficient and agile in confronting our challenges and working together to overcome them – most especially when equity is a goal, because it enables us to more clearly understand each other’s needs, objectives, and desires and how to better collaborate toward the strongest possible present and future.
How can we use the summit to solidify our local “continuum of commerce” and/or “ladder of upward mobility”?
One of the key themes of the summit is access – which is meant to encompass connecting people with resources and removing barriers to accessing those barriers. City Alive’s Molino Project (though is it only web-based and not yet available in Spanish) is a great start to this effort, along with the work Two-Way Street is doing to improve access to business information and resources. It’s sad to see that we have a bunch of local resources that locals aren’t even aware of. It seems that when professionals work in these fields on a daily basis, it’s difficult for them to remember that not everyone knows about economic opportunities provided by entities like the South Valley Economic Development Center (SVEDC,) WESST, etc. And even when professionals do remember to share this information with their fellow community members, it’s not always clear which resources are relevant to the circumstances at hand. We need a navigator for all the navigators! For community and economic development professionals attending the summit, this a great question to take to their peers. How to meet people where they are – locating points of entry and examining ways to enlarge those, will hopefully be the focus of at least one of the sessions – it would be great if someone local proposed something along those lines! How to disseminate information about all our resources and programs is another big task – how have other places accomplished this, or what have other places learned along the way? When it comes to answering the question of how to make a “ladder of upward mobility” more visible for low-income and vulnerable individuals and how can the City of Albuquerque make the first rung on that ladder more reachable, creative placemaking is built for tackling this kind of challenge.
What measures will you have in place to ensure that the summit is accessible to Albuquerque’s most marginalized populations? (both in terms of cost of attendance and transportation to/from the event)
Because the City was so generous in sponsoring the Convention Center, ABQ participants will be given a discount. Pricing will also be broken out into individual days as well. Saturday (2/9) is “Community Day” which will have special (even lower) pricing. We’re also seeking sponsors for scholarships. Transportation details haven’t been worked out yet. I want to point out that ACCESS is one of the conference’s themes, so it’s top of mind!
Can you tell us a little more about your Community Day?
The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking suggested designing the Community Day in the following way:
“Community Day” is meant to be accessible to anyone in the local neighborhoods (i.e., Albuquerque), who want to learn more about and benefit from the knowledge, people, and techniques. Ticket prices could be a little lower for attendees that day ($50 retail). Everything could kick off with a workshop plenary to build teams, creative juices, and energy. Groups can then break up and go out into local neighborhoods and learn about creative placemaking already happening in the area, in addition to workshopping new ideas and strategies to help overcome challenges, as outlined by themes and topics provided by coordinators. In-house workshops should also be offered to participants who may not want to travel. These workshops can focus on community engagement and implementation of projects. Summit participants should be encouraged to stick around for that last day to get their hands dirty and apply what they learned. Ttickets should be cheaper that day to encourage local officials, grassroots advocates, artists, and community leaders (who may not have had the time or means to come to the full summit) to come out to the summit, learn, connect, and make some real impact.
How do you plan to capture/elevate the summit’s cultural competencies in order to accommodate participants coming from all across the region?
The NCCP invites people from across the region to work together in regional planning teams for each regional summit. Here’s the summary of the org’s beliefs: https://www.cpcommunities.org/beliefs and please see the “About the Summits” section here: https://www.cpcommunities.org/summits
Where do you plan to hold the summit? What kinds of public and private spaces do you intend to use? How do you plan to use the summit to build a stronger sense of place among various locations in Albuquerque?
The City of Albuquerque is graciously sponsoring the use of the Convention Center for the summit. If the weather holds, we may use Civic Plaza as well. Cities where the regional summits are held have the opportunity to host evening events, and for those, the local planning team has reserved FUSION for Thursday evening and the National Hispanic Cultural Center for Friday evening. One exciting component of these summits are Field Workshops – these are dependent on what interested instructors propose. I encourage locals to show off the amazing work they do in our fantastic city and/or reach out to their counterparts in the region to team up and demonstrate something interesting in partnership with them. I also asked the NCCP to let regional participants know that our local planning team would be happy to help facilitate a field workshop if folks coming from out of town were interested in leading one. We’re also going to put together some fun and interesting things for people who are interested in staying longer – all ideas are welcome for those “extra” things (just have peeps email me at abqcreativeplacemaking@gmail please).
What are some of the different ways you plan to promote the summit? How can TWS help promote the summit?
The NCCP and ArtPlace are promoting these nationally across their vast networks, and our local planning team is doing the same. We’re reaching out personally to individuals, to groups, and across social media platforms. All the participants from the summit held this year in Denver have been contacted. The announcements are broadcast across the wide variety of disciplines that together make up Creative Placemaking, and national agencies and organizations like the National Endowment for the Arts, Transportation for America, the American Planning Association will be/or have announced the dates and location. Two Way Street could help promote the summit by spreading the word, but also by reaching out to your counterparts – though the summit is regional, anyone is welcome to participate outside of their region, especially if something topical is on the agenda. You could host a roundtable, and invite the others!
How do you plan to use this event to bring together subject matter experts from all sectors, especially policy makers?
This is the essence of what Creative Placemaking IS – as an example of breadth, here’s a link to list of participants of the recent National Summit: https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/4d9ebf_a80b3fd5e492495ab23e722909fe2d89.pdf . This list of participants includes subject matter experts from the public, for-profit, and non-profit sectors.
How do you plan to get high school and university students involved in the summit?
UNM is a partner and was integral to the application process through the College of Fine Arts and the School of Architecture, particularly the Indigenous Design + Planning Institute. iD+Pi’s Michaela Paulette Shirley is one of the local co-coordinators and sits on the regional planning committee as well. We’ve also reached out to other departments and colleges at UNM to encourage them to participate. I’ve spoken to people at a few of our high schools, and am hopeful that we’ll have our youth well-represented, engaged, and participating as much as possible. I still need to meet with CNM. Let’s not discount all ages though – we’re an “old” state, but really, our retired population is a huge and largely untapped group of active people with a ton of knowledge and lived experience who care deeply about where we live. The U.S. engages, to its detriment, in ageism. For multiple reasons, we can work on reversing that ageism through creative placemaking efforts that include the mental health and well-being of that age group.
How can we take the projects/ideas that are presented at the conference and try to find funding sources to help implement them further? Ex. Although it is already too late to apply for funding from the Urban Enhancement Trust Fund for this most recent funding cycle, how could we frame the conference to collect project ideas that could be funded during the next cycle?
Fortunately, the Director of Albuquerque’s Public Art Urban Enhancement program, Sherri Brueggemann, has been spearheading efforts to bring the summit to Albuquerque, and will serve a pivotal role in implementing any projects and ideas that are presented at the conference. Brueggemann is also co-coordinating local planning and also sits on the regional planning committee.
Two Way Street is particularly interested in the Field Workshop category – what are some tools that participants can use to help capture their journey, progress, etc.? Ex. At a conference in Phoenix, we used Twitter and hashtags as a tool for capturing our journey through the Downtown area
Here is a link to a video outlining the way Anne Koller of League of Creative Interventionists coordinated her Field Workshop: https://www.facebook.com/ArtPlaceAmerica/videos/1754877101225289/. When we had the City of Albuquerque’s Director of Marketing and Innovation, Carlos Contreras, close out the CPL Summit in a plenary, he brought her out as a surprise! Remember that CPLS is a 3-day event: is there something easy Two Way Street could create (like a one-page zine) to send people home with? Creating a zine on a topic and facilitating a group putting that together? Is that an interesting way to tackle an issue and disseminate information with a group from different practices? I think that would be cool!
How do you plan to capture all of the other aspects of the summit? Ex. Could you potentially do a call for artists, photographers, cinematographers, bloggers, etc.?
This year, NCCP and ArtPlace brought a video production company – you can see the results of those at cpcommunities.org/summits/recap – we’re percolating some ideas about participatory art at the summit. This is ideally going to be something ongoing that gathers some kind of data and that we can then share with everyone afterwards to keep the conversations going! We may put out a call, but first need to make sure we can pay the artists and creatives for any work they produce. Taking all ideas and perspectives though – please write to us at [email protected].
What are some of the outcome metrics that you are hoping to have come out of the summit? What are some of your goals?
One goal is modeling an equity-centered and inclusive process, and reaping the benefits of doing that successfully. Ciqlovia is a fantastic example of that locally – but let’s harness that ability and demonstrate it on a wider scale to ourselves and the rest of the world.
Let’s keep making Albuquerque a destination for conferences that do more than provide space. We have an environment that really lends itself to the kinds of real conversations that can lead to innovation and change. We’re a place that reminds people of the value of culture and history – that’s important where most investment forces direct development toward the generic and “safe” – and we’re also putting together some experiences that will entice people to stay after the summit.
Another would be formulating policies, creating partnerships, finding new ways to collaborate, and developing projects that take on a life of their own after the summit concludes. In general, this would involve supporting the City’s Administration in its goal of bettering public engagement and enlisting the community to work on the challenges facing us. The areas of focus in the administration’s economic development plan are actually all components of creative placemaking – how can we address working on them in concert?
Cultivating the creative economy alongside our growing tech industry is another important goal of the summit, so that we’re creating the economic base and automation-proof jobs of the future that are likely to get our young people excited about getting an education. I see Creative-Tech as a sector where our unique culture, history, universities, and existing labs and industries come together to give us a competitive edge.
Connecting and collaborating throughout the state and region is another key goal. This involves working with ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and Arts to explore how to do something like this again, and they’ve already been an effective partner in the application and planning process. The West is so vast that many communities are really isolated, yet are the most in need of finding ways to pool our resources. I’m thrilled to report that there’s a plan in the works to gather our New Mexico Arts + Cultural District representatives while they are here for the summit.
We should also take another good look at the application we submitted – all kinds of people contributed to that and I think it’s in the “how would the summit benefit Albuquerque” section. I haven’t felt like there’s been a place to celebrate the amazing group that participated in the application process – or the group that’s coming together for local planning.