Placemaking to last

What exactly is placemaking and how can it work in the UK? Torn between cynicism and hope

TC Peppercorn - ArtsProfessional

‘An audience with no jobs and no money is unlikely to be convinced by the link between arts, health, happiness and wellbeing and even less likely to pay for it’

If you, like me, usually use your common sense to figure out the meaning of the latest buzzwords, art guff and funding-speak, then you may have come to some vague conclusion that placemaking is the act of simply creating an identity for a town or city.

This might involve branding or a teased-out USP, which will probably include an element of arts or culture (like a festival) or a notable ex-resident who once wrote a slim volume of verse. You may, like me, have cynically ascribed the role of placemaking to local councils desperate to fulfil their remit of providing for their residents on a dwindling budget, trying to trick them into thinking their high street full of empty shopfronts is in fact a vibrant and creative cultural hub.

But how mistaken one can be. It turns out that placemaking as a concept was born in the 1960s and is, in fact “... a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces”.

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Greystones Educate Together National School appointed a voluntary committee with relevant expertise to oversee the per cent for art commissioning process. An external curator, Máire Davey, was appointed specifically for her expertise in working in a highly collaborative way as meaningful involvement from the students and school was viewed as central to the process. The procurement route chosen was limited invited competition.

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