Placemaking resources

Placemaking is an economic development strategy that utilizes a local community’s assets, inspiration, and potential with the intention of creating public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well-being. Rural Wisconsin communities can utilize these resources as they explore opportunities to enhance public spaces for their residents.


Vibrant Spaces Grant
The new Vibrant Spaces Grant, a pilot program within the Community Development Investment  Grant Program, assists with creating vibrant and engaging communities that make it easier to recruit and retain residents, sustain a robust labor force and enhance local quality of life. With the help of this grant, public gathering places will foster community connections and provide accessible locations for the programming and amenities residents desire—with the added benefit of boosting foot traffic for area businesses.

Grants for Arts Projects Program
Grants for Arts Projects provides comprehensive and expansive funding opportunities for communities. Applicants may request cost-share and matching grants ranging from $10,000 to $100,000. Deadline: July 6, 2023

Our Town Grants
Our Town is a National Endowment for the Arts creative placemaking grants program. The program supports activities that integrate arts, culture, and design into local efforts that strengthen communities over the long term. Deadline: Aug. 3, 2023

Rural Placemaking Initiative Challenge
The U.S. Department of Agriculture makes available up to $4 million in cooperative agreement funding under the Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge for eligible entities to help provide planning support, technical assistance, and training for placemaking activities in rural communities. The funds are used to help rural communities create plans to enhance capacity for broadband access, preserve cultural and historic structures, and support the development of transportation, housing, and recreational spaces. Deadline: Currently closed, typically due in August

National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. It is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archeological resources. Although not a grant program, historic preservation in rural communities can help build a sense of place and tourism opportunities.

Historic Preservation Tax Credits
Wisconsin’s historic business communities remind us of the state’s rich architectural history while continuing to serve as centers of congregation and commerce. Preserving commercial buildings of yesteryear is critical to maintaining strong economic interest in their communities. The Wisconsin Historical Society and WEDC assist building owners in these preservation efforts with the Historic Preservation Tax Credit.


Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Creative Placemaking
LISC believes creative placemaking can and must be inclusive and equitable, reflecting the hopes, dreams, and desires of community members, including traditionally marginalized groups. It provides technical assistance for local community groups to integrate the arts and culture into revitalization activities. It also offers research and learning opportunities for community groups and funders to understand and support enduring placemaking programs.

USDA Rural Placemaking Toolkit
The Rural America Placemaking Toolkit is a resource guide showcasing a variety of placemaking activities, projects, and success stories across rural America. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a cooperative agreement with the University of Kentucky’s Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky to develop this website. It highlights the importance of placemaking in rural communities.

Citizens Institute on Rural Design
Committed to supporting rural America, the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design helps communities convert their own good ideas into reality. This website has stories, webinars, toolkits, and reports to help communities with their creative projects.

Wisconsin Arts Board
The Wisconsin Arts Board is the state agency which nurtures creativity, cultivates expression, promotes the arts, supports the arts in education, stimulates community and economic development, and serves as a resource for people of every culture and heritage.

Create Wisconsin
Wisconsin’s community cultural development organization brings people together through creative experiences and boosting the state’s creative economy, workforce, and communities.


A Policy Renaissance is Needed for Rural America to Thrive, NY Times, Dec. 27, 2022

Creative Districts in Rural Communities, a webinar from the Nebraska Arts Council, Washington State Arts Commission, and Idaho Commission on the Arts, December 2022.

After generations of disinvestment, rural America might be the most innovative place in the U.S., from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Problem Solving through Arts and Cultural Strategies:  Creative Placemaking Guidance for Local Governments is a comprehensive resource for those considering, launching, or continuing a creative placemaking journey with their staff and partners. Supported by ArtPlace America, and developed in partnership with Civic Arts and  team of advisors, it explores how outside-the-box processes can offer new ways for government staff and community stakeholders to communicate, build trust, and collaborate.

Rural Prosperity through the Arts and Creative Sector is an action guide offering research insights and lessons learned from states that harness the power of the arts to drive rural prosperity. Produced by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, the guide offers creative policy solutions drawing on home-grown arts and cultural assets to address the urgent problems facing rural America.


Rural Arts and Creativity Forum, June 28, Shell Lake, Wis.

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