The Public Art Network and the Emerging Leaders Preconferences converged for their combined closing plenary session: “Multiple Meanings: The Expanding Role of Leadership in Creating Place” with Jason Schupbach (National Endowment for the Arts [NEA] Director of Design) and artist John Bela of Rebar in San Antonio on June 8.
The session sought first to explore the somewhat unsuspecting backgrounds of Jason, with a B.A. in Public Health and M.A. in Urban Planning, and John, whose education skipped from biochemistry to sculpture, performance, and landscape architecture, illustrating the benefits of their eclectic and complimentary experience to the arts field.
What does this reveal about the work of creative placemaking?
Because, in my unauthorized definition, creative placemaking is about cross-sector collaboration in which artists are a catalyst for public participation and community transformation. In order to infiltrate community, master planning processes, and policy, artists and arts professionals alike must speak the language of the architect, the planner, the social worker, the community activist, the health care provider, and the politician OR find internal allies so that we have support in the calculated risks that are intrinsic to making a social impact and to making art.
John’s formula for creative change: the Advocate, the Artist and the Guerilla Bureaucrat. For me, the latter offered the biggest conference take-away (the tantalizingly oxymoronic term also mentioned in a previous Public Art Network session). Read the rest of this entry »