What is this Toolkit?

The Arts and Planning Toolkit is a resource for planners and other government staff who are interested in innovating their planning and community development work through projects and partnerships that engage arts, culture, and the creative community.

The Toolkit presents a menu of strategies grounded in case studies of real projects that are exemplary of how arts and culture can be an effective component of planning, community development, land use, housing, transportation, economic development, public health, and public safety projects and initiatives.

Why an arts toolkit for planners?

Urban planners have immense influence in shaping the built environment through policy and planning. Through the development and implementation of plans and policies, planners help guide the development of vibrant and healthy places and communities.

Arts and culture is an essential element of what makes places and communities healthy, connected, and vibrant. Arts and culture enriches lives by providing opportunities for people from different walks of life to socialize, learn, and play; providing experiences that help people engage with elements in the past, present, and future; and creating unique, exciting opportunities to understand and interact with the built and natural environment and the places where they live, work, study, and play.

A project of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC)


Jennifer Erickson | Arts & Culture Manager
Annis Sengupta | Regional Arts and Culture Planner, PhD
Daniel Koff | Regional Arts and Culture Planner

Contents by Section

The Toolkit content is grouped under five categories. Each topical page provides an overview of the policy, program, or concept, a summary of best practices, links to relevant case studies, and links to recommended reading for additional information.

Fargo Project: Schematic Plan
Jackie Brookner
Fargo Project: Schematic Plan Jackie Brookner
Arts, Culture, and Planning

This section reviews creative tools employed by people working in a variety of sectors to infuse creativity into planning and community development processes at the neighborhood, city/town, and regional scales. Learn about creative placemaking, tactical urbanism, cultural planning, cultural asset mapping, and more.

Arts and Infrastructure

This section reviews public art policies and programs that facilitate the production and integration of arts, culture, and creativity in the public realm and in public infrastructure. Learn about opportunities to promote the integration of temporary and permanent public art into the planning, design, development, and preservation of places.

Arts, Zoning, and Permitting

This section reviews regulatory considerations pertaining to the production of temporary or permanent public art in its varied forms as well as arts uses and facilities, including artist housing, artist live/work space, and artist manufacturing and production space. Learn about ways to ensure that your zoning and permitting processes are friendly to arts and culture activities and uses.

Arts, Culture, and Community Development

This section reviews local, municipal, and regional approaches to promoting cultural economic development. Learn about programs and initiatives involving the government, nonprofit, and private sectors that are focused on attracting and supporting the growth and sustainability of the creative economy, including cultural enterprises, creative industries, and cultural tourism.

Arts Funding

This section reviews the landscape of state, federal, and philanthropic sources of funding for arts and culture. Learn about how current funding programs, particularly those administered by various government agencies, aim to advance livability goals that align with planning and community development priorities.


The Arts & Planning Toolkit is a project of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council's Arts & Culture Division.
This Toolkit was designed with the guidance and expertise of the following individuals

MAPC Arts and Planning Advisors

  • Shirronda Almeida, Director at Mel King Institute at MACDC
  • Julie Burros, Chief of Arts and Culture, City of Boston (Chair)
  • Kara Brewton, Economic Development Director, Town of Brookline
  • Debbie Burke, Executive Director, Malden Redevelopment Authority
  • Kara Chisholm, Planner, City of Quincy
  • Tom Daniel, Planning Director, City of Salem
  • John DePriest, Director of Planning and Development for City of Chelsea
  • Craig Dreeszen, Consultant
  • Joe Domelowicz, Assistant to Town Manager/Grants Manager, Town of Winthrop
  • Kara Elliott-Ortega, Director of Planning and Policy, City of Boston
  • Jamie Errickson, Planning Director, Town of Natick
  • Ted Fields, Senior Planner, Town of Natick
  • Helena Fruscio, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Technology
  • Elizabeth (Emmy) Hahn, DHCD Massachusetts Downtown Initiative Coordinator
  • Lillian Hsu, Director of Public Art, Cambridge Arts Council
  • Sarah Hutt, Fund for the Arts Consultant Advisor, New England Foundation for the Arts
  • Gregory Jenkins, Executive Director, Somerville Arts Council
  • Meri Jenkins, Program Director, Cultural Districts
  • Lori Lobenstine, Program Design Lead, Design Studio for Social Intervention (DS4SI)
  • Steven Magoon, Assistant Town Manager, Planning Director, Watertown
  • Bill Nemser, Planning Director, Town of Maynard
  • George Proakis, Director of Planning, Somerville
  • Jennifer Raitt, Planning Director, Town of Arlington
  • Sarah Raposa, Town Planner, Medfield
  • Pardis Saffari, Senior Economic Development Specialist, City of Cambridge
  • Barbara Schaffer-Bacon, Animating Democracy at AFTA
  • Dee Schniedman, Research Manager, New England Foundation for the Arts
  • Rob Stevens, Senior Planner, City of Quincy
  • Frank Stringi, Community Development and Planning Director, City of Revere
  • Clodagh Stoker-Long, Economic Development Planner, City of Medford
  • Erin Wortman, Town Planner, Stoneham


Many thanks to the following individuals who provided valuable guidance and generously agreed to be interviewed as part of the development of this Toolkit:

  • Angela Adams, Director of Public Art, Office of Cultural Affairs, Arlington County, Virginia
  • Elena Bird, Senior Policy Advisor, Economic Development and Culture, City of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Jack Becker, Founder and Director of Community Services, Forecast Public Art
  • Julie Burros, Chief of Arts and Culture, City of Boston, Massachusetts
  • Margaret Bruning, Director of Civic Art, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Los Angeles County, California
  • Cath Brunner, Director of Public Art, 4CULTURE, King County, Washington
  • Theresa Cameron, Manager of Local Arts Agency Services and National Cultural District Exchange, Americans for the Arts
  • Sarah Calderon, Managing Director, ArtPlace America
  • Kay Cheng, Planner and Urban Designer, City Design Group of the San Francisco Planning Department, City of San Francisco, California
  • Lucas Cowan, Public Art Curator, Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, City of Boston, Massachusetts
  • Craig Dreeszen, Ph.D., Dreeszen & Associates
  • Kristin Calhoun, Regional Arts & Culture Council of Portland, Oregon
  • Jennifer Cole, Executive Director, Metro Nashville Arts Commission, City of Nashville, Tennessee
  • Maya Contreras, Principal Planner, Department of Planning and Zoning Development Division, City of Alexandria, Virginia
  • Nicole B. Crutchfield, AICP, ASLA, Planning Administrator, Department of Planning & Development, City of Fargo, North Dakota
  • Andrea Daskalakis, Chief Investment Officer, Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation
  • Randy Engstrom, Director of the Office of Arts and Culture, City of Seattle, Washington
  • Jenice Gharib, Grants Manager and Manager of Arts & Cultural Districts, Local Arts Councils & Service Organizations, Arts Trails, and Economic and Entrepreneurial Development programs, New Mexico Arts Commission, State of New Mexico
  • Elizabeth Hamby, Community Urban Planner, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene?s Center for Health Equity, New York City, New York
  • Jamie Hand, Director of Research Strategies, ArtPlace America
  • Jennifer Hughes, Community Solutions Specialist, National Endowment for the Arts
  • Matthew Huston, Senior Transit Engineer, Arlington County, Virginia
  • Jennifer Hutchins, Executive Director, Creative Portland, City of Portland, Maine
  • Lynne McCormack, Director, Office of Arts and Tourism, City of Providence, Rhode Island
  • Jeremy Liu, Senior Fellow, PolicyLink, and Managing Partner, Creative Development Partners, Oakland, California
  • Marty Pottenger, Director, Art at Work
  • David Plettner-Saunders, Partner, Cultural Planning Group
  • Ilana Preuss, Founder, Recast City
  • Patrick Race, Landscape Architect and Planner, City Design Group of the San Francisco Planning Department, City of San Francisco, California
  • Gary Roberts, Chair, Medford Arts Council, City of Medford, Massachusetts
  • James Rojas, Urban Planner and Founder, Place It!
  • Diane Ruggiero, Deputy Director - Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities Department, Office of the Arts, City of Alexandria, Virginia
  • Jason Schupbach, Director of Design Programs and Team Leader, Visual Arts Division, National Endowment for the Arts
  • Ben Stone, Executive Director, Station North Arts & Entertainment, Inc., Baltimore, Maryland
  • F. Javier Torres, Director of the National Creative Placemaking Fund, ArtPlace America
  • Andrew VanHorn, Principal, The JBG Companies, Chevy Chase, Maryland
  • Patricia Walsh, Public Art Manager, Americans for the Arts
  • Ginger White-Brunetti, Deputy Director, Denver Arts and Venues, City of Denver, Colorado
  • Erin Williams, Cultural Development Officer, City of Worcester and Executive Director, Worcester Cultural Coalition, City of Worcester, Massachusetts