Gateway Cities to benefit from first major public private investment in “Creative Placemaking”

BOSTON—MassINC today received a $125,000 grant to drive a revitalization strategy for Gateway Cities that uses arts and culture to jump-start local economies and transform communities. The investment comes from an unprecedented collaboration among 11 major foundations, seven federal agencies and the National Endowment for the Arts.  The consortium, called ArtPlace, awarded $11.5 million to 34 locally-initiated projects throughout the country in its first round of grants announced this week.

“ArtPlace is accelerating creative placemaking, where cities and towns are using the arts and other creative assets to shape their social, physical and economic futures,” said Rocco Landesman, Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts. “This approach brings new partners to the table to support the arts and recognizes the arts as vital drivers of community revitalization and development.”

The approach being taken by ArtPlace, known as “creative placemaking,” has emerged over the past twenty years as a promising way to increase the vitality of communities and help them grow. ArtPlace is the first major public-private partnership to encourage creative placemaking across America. Each project supported by ArtPlace has been selected for developing a new model of helping towns and cities thrive by strategically integrating artists and arts organizations into key local efforts in transportation, housing, community development, job creation and more.

“Our experience here in Pittsfield demonstrates that the creative sector truly can play a key role in revitalizing Gateway Cities, not only making them fun places to live, work, and play, but contributing to the prosperity and quality of life of the entire region,” said James M. Ruberto, Mayor of Pittsfield – a city that has experienced an economic renaissance driven largely by investments in art and culture. 

“This investment will help direct and promote a growing creative placemaking movement within the state’s Gateway Cities,” said Greg Torres, President of MassINC and Publisher of CommonWealth magazine who called the grant the latest development in the organization’s multi-year effort to initiate new state and local partnerships focused on reversing post-industrial decline in the state’s Gateway Cities.   

The grant will benefit the organization’s Gateway Cities Innovation Network.  The Innovation Network’s goal is to develop and implement new policy and practice that advances the economic revitalization of these older, industrial cities.  MassINC has worked with the 11 Gateway City mayors to create collaborative leadership networks in economic development, education, and housing policy.  Working closely with its partner the Massachusetts Cultural Council, MassINC intends to create a leadership network around the role of the arts in the economic revitalization of Gateway Cities.  The grant will build buy-in for the concept, make community leaders more aware of the tools at their disposal and how to wield them, and stimulate energy for actual, custom-tailored, creative placemaking opportunities in Gateway Cities across Massachusetts. 

“Nurturing creative places is at the heart of our mission,” said Anita Walker, Massachusetts Cultural Council Executive Director. “We’re excited to work with MassINC to further develop effective strategies to harness our creative assets to build prosperity in our Gateway Cities.”

MassINC’s Innovation Network program stems from the groundbreaking 2007 report by MassINC and the Brookings Institution, Reconnecting Massachusetts Gateway Cities, which featured 11 cities that serve as “gateways” to regional economies and economic opportunity for residents living outside of Greater Boston.  Home to 1 million Massachusetts residents, these former mill cities have struggled to rebound after decades of disinvestment. 

ArtPlace grants are given through the combined support of Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Ford Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, The Robina Foundation and an anonymous donor.  In addition to the NEA, federal partners are the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Education and Transportation, along with leadership from the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Domestic Policy Council. Federal partners do not provide funding to ArtPlace but participate in the ArtPlace Presidents’ Council and Operating Committee meetings, ensuring alignment between high-priority federal investments and policy development and ArtPlace grants.


About MassINC—MassINC is a nonprofit, independent think tank and publisher of CommonWealth magazine that uses non-partisan research, civic journalism and public forums to stimulate debate and shape public policy.  Our mission is to promote a public agenda for the middle class and to help all citizens achieve the American dream.

About the Massachusetts Cultural Council—The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) is a state agency that promotes excellence, access, education and diversity in the arts, humanities, and interpretive sciences to improve the quality of life for all Massachusetts residents and contribute to the economic vitality of our communities.

About the MassINC Polling Group—The MassINC Polling Group (MPG) is an independent, non-partisan organization providing public opinion research and analysis to public and private sector clients. MPG is a full service opinion polling operation offering strategic consultation, a wide-ranging suite of analytical products, and high-level communication and outreach planning.  For more information, visit

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