Arts Council Reinvents Annual Creative Placemaking Summit

The Arts Council Greater Lansing is getting ready to launch its annual Creative Placemaking Summit, and this year it has a whole new look and feel. Creative Placemaking Summit 8: A Retrospective, begins on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, at Rotary Park. Special guest Mayor Andy Schor will kick off the event with the unveiling of the City of Lansing Arts Impact Project, along with artist Alexandra Leonard who created the mosaic mural with tiles made by more than 1,800 community members.

The project is a true example of Creative Placemaking that connects community members through a sense of place and is a perfect kick-off for the Summit. “The arts play a vital role in promoting the vibrancy of our community and in making Lansing an incredible place to live,” says Mayor Andy Schor. “I am a strong supporter of the arts and have provided significant funding for public art pieces and displays, because I have seen the impact these projects have on our residents. The mural on the bridge facing Rotary Park was an incredible collaborative effort and received a Lansing Arts Impact Grant because of the way it would bring together people from all over Lansing to shape the final look of the mural. I am excited to officially unveil it and to help kick off this year’s Creative Placemaking Summit,” Schor says.

This year’s Summit will include, five days of panels, creative experiences, workshops, community interactives and input sessions, pop-ups, entertainment and much more. It will feature area artists, poets, musicians, dancers, creative placemaking and economic experts and will culminate in a celebration on Oct. 7, 2022 at UrbanBeat in Old Town. The Arts Council recognizes that creative placemaking needs to be for the people and by the people in order to be truly effective; therefore, this year’s event will be comprised of a carefully curated selection of gatherings taking place in multiple creative spaces all over the downtown Lansing area.

The Summit will offer everyone the opportunity to connect with the creative community and explore Greater Lansing’s relationship with creative placemaking over the years. “The world is very different from what it was a few years ago. Everything is changing daily,” says Arts Council executive director, Meghan Martin. “People want to engage with each other in different ways and are seeking new experiences. We knew it was time for the Creative Placemaking Summit to change—to reflect more authentic ways of interacting with people and with creativity,” Martin says. “It’s time for us to start planning for the next generation of creative placemakers and this year’s summit is the first step in that direction,” Martin added.

The vision for the event started as the seed of an idea by Arts Council program assistant and Creative Placemaking Summit lead, Tabor Vits, who joined the Arts Council staff in the fall of 2021. As a new team member of the Council, Vits had attended only one Summit, and it was a primarily virtual event. He began researching late last year in preparation for the 2022 Summit with plans for it to be an in-person event working with community partners. “We wanted it to have a more intimate feel, one that really connected attendees to our local creative spaces and that took a retrospective view of how we have used creative placemaking over the years,” says Vits. “This year’s event will re-envision what creative placemaking is and how we can grow it to be even more inclusive and accessible to residents so that going forward their voices and ideas are part of the process,” Vits says. The new format was inspired by feedback from previous Summits along with conversations with local creative leaders, organizers and artists.

The Arts Council has also invited a couple of their favorite voices in creative placemaking to join as visiting presenters during the week. “The event is truly collaborative and reflects community views and input,” says Martin. “It has a grassroots, community-based feel that is accessible to anyone who is curious about the concept of creating space through the arts.” The importance of creative placemaking and making community connections is a concept that Summit Impact Sponsor, Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA), can get behind, and it is one of the core reasons that CATA supports the work of creative placemaking. “Public transit and creative placemaking go hand in hand, says Lolo Robison, CATA’s director of marketing, customer experience and public information. “CATA’s core competency is to connect our community to desired destinations. If creative placemaking can be described as the heart of our region, CATA is its heartbeat.” The Summit works to grow those heart connections through creativity and invites everyone with a desire to learn more about the role of creative placemaking and its capabilities for healing and centering our neighborhoods and boosting our tourism through the lens of arts and culture.