Lafayette Parish has been selected as one of seven counties from across the country to participate in the Creative Counties Placemaking Challenge, a new technical assistance and training program focused on arts-based economic development, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts (NACo) in partnership with Americans for the Arts.
In coordination with Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux, the McComb-Veazey Neighborhood Coterie, who recently received a $200K grant from the Kresge Foundation that combines healthy food and creative placemaking, assembled a team consisting of representation from the Acadiana Center for the Arts, Southwest Louisiana Black Chamber of Commerce, Oasis Community Coterie, and the Lafayette Consolidated Government (LCG) Administration. This team will work with NACo to:
◆Assess current neighborhood assets to identify gaps in goods, services and public amenities
◆Address crime and blight by developing policies that encourage development and the acquisition of adjudicated properties by the community for “placemaking reuse” (e.g. museums or pocket parks)
◆Learn new methods and strategies of creative placemaking to:
◊ Encourage more civic engagement and the creation of a cultural community identify
◊ Activate public/private spaces for the good of the community
◆Identify potential intersections between creative placemaking and policy, grassroots organizing and collective impact efforts to build economic prosperity through arts, culture, and food
Lafayette District 4 Council Member Kenneth Boudreaux stated, “being involved in this initiative could be the very boost needed to rejuvenate and bring positive attributes to a community long forgotten, yet, a community that is still home and loved by so many”.
At the end of March, the team members will travel to Polk County, Iowa, to participate in a creative placemaking training and peer exchange workshop. During the workshop, the team will receive intensive, hands-on training designed to boost their potential to integrate arts and culture into solutions to local economic development and quality of place challenges. They will develop tailored action plans that will guide their efforts to build more livable, dynamic and resilient communities with the arts at their core.
“As one of the oldest neighborhoods in Lafayette, McComb-Veazey is a culturally rich area of our community that has been working for the past decade to revitalize and redevelop our community,” said Tina Shelvin Bingham, Executive Vice President, McComb-Veazey Neighborhood Coterie.“ We are excited for the opportunity to partner with other local organizations and NACo to learn new skills and also expand our efforts to enhance the quality of life’ not only for residents in our neighborhood but throughout Lafayette Parish.”
According to the recent Arts and Economic Prosperity 5 study, arts and culture programs generate $63.8 billion annually in spending by arts and cultural organizations and their audiences. This program is intended to help smaller counties, like Lafayette, capitalize on this increasingly powerful trend
The Lafayette team will also continue to receive individual assistance following the in-person training forum which will guide their implementation of the creative place-making strategies and projects they chose to incorporate into their action plans.
For the complete list of team members and to learn more about the program, visit naco.org/CreativeCounties.