Creative placemaking one weekend at a time

The Lowell Folk Festival kicks off tonight drawing more than 100,000 visitors into the city. By bringing together diverse groups of residents and showing off Lowell at its best, one weekend at a time, over a number of years, the Folk Festival has slowly added to the city’s vibrancy.

A poll MassINC conducted last fall picked up on the real and lasting impact of events like the Lowell Folk Festival for Gateway Cities that embrace this type of “creative placemaking” strategy. The poll found that residents who engage more with local arts and culture report more positive views of their city.

The poll also showed that Gateway City residents from communities with aggressive creative placemaking policies (Lowell, New Bedford, and Pittsfield) believe their cities have a more positive brand in their regions than residents from communities where creative placemaking is less well established.

Across all Gateway Cities, residents see the connection between arts and culture in their communities and economic development. Seven in ten called quality arts and culture either “extremely” or “very important”, and 85 percent say government funding for local arts should either be increased or held steady.

Next week MassINC is releasing a new report on policies to support creative placemaking as an economic development strategy in Gateway Cities across the state. For a preview of the report’s findings, join us for an online webinar Monday, July 30th.

     – Ben Forman and Caroline Koch

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