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Id 197
Author Stern, M., J.
Title Measuring the Outcomes of Creative Placemaking

Stern, Mark J. (2014). “Measuring the Outcomes of Creative Placemaking.” In Wilfried Eckstein (organizer), The Role of Artists & The Arts in Creative Placemaking, May 30-31, 2014, Baltimore, MD—Symposium Report (84-97). Washington DC: Goethe-Institut and EUNIC.

Keywords Social Impact; Arts; Outcomes; Placemaking; Creativity
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Abstract This paper was delivered by Mark Stern at a transatlantic symposium on the arts and artists in urban resilience held in Baltimore in May 2014. With the topic of creative placemaking outcome measurement, Stern took a step back to talk about the "outcomes problems" of creative placemaking. The focus of the talk was on the problems of conceptualization and measurement of the ways that creative placemaking can influence a place and the people who live, work, and visit there. The presentation had five sections: 1) the controversy over outcomes of creative placemaking; 2) the potential contradictions in its conceptual foundation; 3) how economic impact and creative economy approaches have addressed the question of measurement; 4) SIAP's approach to space and place; and 5) implications for policy and grantmaking.

Metodology In chapter 4, Stern explains the methodological approach developed by the University of Pennsylvania's Social Impact of the Arts Project (SIAP). In Philadelphia and other U.S. cities, they have developed quantitative indexes of different assets and combined them into a cultural asset index (CAI), that has been estimated for small geographies (typically, a census block group of 5-7 city blocks). They use geogrraphic information systems to then link cultural data to other measures of social wellbeing in order to study the arts' social impact. They supplement quantitative and spatial analysis with interviews and observational data to both generate hypotheses for testing and validate and give depth to their findings

Findings One of the main findings of the work of the SIAP over the year has been that particular neighbourhoods with very high concentrations of cultural assets - what they call "natural" cultural districts - where those most likely to demonstrate social impacts. They discovered also that to understand the role of cultural ecology in low-income neighbourhoods, they had to "correct" the CAI for a neighbourhood's income. Using both the CAI and the corrected CAI, they created a categorization of "natural" cultural districts, including high market districts, with high scores on the two CAIs; market districts, with high scores on the CAI only; and civic clusters, lower income neighbourhoods with high corrected CAI scores. During the years, they have been able to show the links between “natural” cultural districts and a variety of social and economic outcomes. These districts were more likely to experience declines in poverty, population growth, improved housing markets and rising property values than similar neighborhoods with fewer cultural assets. Furthermore, they found strong and durable connections between public health and child welfare outcomes and lower rates of neighborhood disputes in these sections of the city. In 2014, SIAP generated a multi-dimensional framework of wellbeing with thirteen sub-indexes and has begun to examine the connections between cultural assets and social outcomes. In their most recent work, they have investigated four of these sub-indexes—morbidity, social stress, school effectiveness, and personal security—for the city of Philadelphia.They have focused on the role of economic wellbeing (income, educational attainment, labor force attachment) and their cultural asset index in explaining variations in these social outcomes at the neighborhood level. The analysis produced several significant findings: - High-income neighborhoods enjoy higher levels of social connection than poorer sections of the city. - Despite this association, social connections have a stronger influence on other dimensions of social wellbeing in low-income neighborhoods. - Within low-income neighborhoods, economic wellbeing has the strongest influence on social outcomes. However, the presence of cultural assets has a significant impact in mitigating social inequality. SIAP has been able also to document the impact of rising inequality on Philadelphia’s cultural sector. They have discovered, in particular, that cultural resources in the city are increasingly clustered in better-off neighborhoods. One reason for the increasing relationship between culture and economic inequality has been a decline in cultural assets in Philadelphia’s low-income communities. Finally, the author presents some implications for policy and grantmaking. First, the conceptualization of creative placemaking needs to focus on how the arts can make a difference in urban neighborhoods and how those differences can have a ripple effect on the city as a whole. This means that policymakers and funders need to conceptualize a neighborhood’s cultural ecology instead of focusing on one type of asset. Second, the capability approach’s use of a multi-dimensional definition of social wellbeing provides a set of concepts that can be tested empirically. What is more, this will allow the cultural sector to link its interest in social outcomes to discussions and debates about these issues in other fields, including public health, housing and community development, and education. Yet, incorporating these lessons into policy and grantmaking poses the final “outcomes problem” for creative placemaking. The concept of cultural ecology provides a solid foundation for creative placemaking, but it also poses a challenge. Ultimately, creative placemaking initiatives are about making grants to organizations. Even when these initiatives require collaborations between multiple partners, they are likely to include only a fraction of the “cultural assets” in a particular neighborhood. The gap between culture’s impacts—based on the aggregate efforts of dozens of different organizations, informal groups, and individuals—and funding mechanisms—which identify specific organizations—will continue to pose a challenge to those who wish to link creative placemaking to a specific set of social benefits.
Open Access YES
Search Database Snowball
Technique Interview; Observation; Statistical analysis; Spatial analysis; Qualitative methods
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