Arts and Culture in Planning and Development

In this week’s class a guest lecture was given regarding the effects of arts and cultures on urban planning and development. Several points were made, including the positives and negatives of development driven by the need to meet or restore artistic qualities to a city, as well as an example of the work done by the Roanoke Arts Commission. However, there are some key overarching topics related to cultural-driven development that could have been expanded upon from a more generic standpoint. From the social, economic, environmental and communal objectives to the many types of professionals and planning goals needed, it is safe to say that this type of development can provide sustainable, long lasting and enriching spaces if executed well with all aspects considered.

There are several connections to make between planning to arts and culture. According to the American Planning Association these connections can be broken down into four major categories: social, economic, environmental and communal (found here). The social aspects of this type of planning seek to develop, preserve of facilitate certain aspects of a public space. This would include efforts to retain the cultural significance of a place in order for the community to gain a greater understanding of this place. There is also the possibility that this place could connect diverse groups of people and break down barriers that once existed because of the under-developed space. Practical examples of this could be community festivals, arts and cultural education programs. Of course though, development of a place involves some economic and business considerations behind it. With the objective of development for the arts and culture in mind, certain goals need to be met from an economic standpoint of which include expanding opportunities for community members, quality, affordable housing, incentives for new businesses and residents and an infrastructure for public transportation. The use of public art within certain streetscapes to divert pedestrian traffic to typically low-traffic areas in order to increase the exposure certain businesses receive is one strategy that can be used. Another aspect of this connection between development, culture and arts lies in the environmental considerations for development. Arts and culture are often a result of an environment or are developed because of one, so it is important to be able to identify and preserve current areas that facilitate creativity, but also develop areas that lack this quality. Preservation of parks through zero-waste practices at festivals could be one strategy for environmental development in a community. Additionally construction of gathering spaces along public transportation routes could provide areas for artists to gather and be inspired. Finally, the communal aspect of this development is actually rather simple in that instilling a sense of pride and stewardship because of the areas recently developed artistic qualities would connect the development to the arts and cultures

The question still remains: At what point does a city earn the label of an “artistic city”. According to a survey conducted by ArtBistro, a sub-website of, the top 25 cities for designers and artists were evaluated based on a set of criteria that includes, either directly or indirectly, the four connections made by the American Planning Association (survey found here). Growth rates, average salaries, cost of living, commute time, unemployment and the rate which unemployment is increasing were considered. There are primarily aspects of economic and social aspects immediately seen here, but environmental connections could be inferred by commute time. This would mean that the public transportation infrastructure  is well developed and possible environmental considerations like efficiency, interaction and use of public space in conjunction with structure needed for public transportation

Planning and Development for the arts requires careful consideration for many aspects of a public space, requiring a balance between  the economic and social implication of space to create an optimal balance for development in the business aspect of art as well as the purely aesthetic side of art and culture.

Links to articles used:

Top 25 Cities for Designers and Artists

The Role of Arts and Culture in Planning Practice


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