Article Features

Arts and Cultural Tourism – Additional Resources

Grant Opportunities

Creating Places of Vitality from the California Arts Council

Grant program targeting rural and underserved communities. Supports partnerships and cultural activities that create a distinct sense of place.        

Our Town from the National Endowment for the Arts

Organizations may apply for creative placemaking projects that contribute to the livability of communities and place the arts at their core.


ArtPlace works to accelerate creative placemaking through grants and loans, important partnerships, solid and imaginative research, and communication and advocacy. It is a collaboration of 13 national and regional foundations and six of the nation’s largest banks.

Website that provides a comprehensive listing of the most current federal and foundation grants for nonprofits, for-profits, preschools, education, community, faith based organizations, universities, small businesses and government.

The Foundation Center

Foundation Center is the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. The Center maintains the most comprehensive database on grantmakers and their grants.

California Arts Council 

Listing of more grants that may be sorted by deadlinedisciplineapplicant type, or region

Research & Reports

Creative Communities: Art Works in Economic Development

Brookings Institution

Urban and regional planners, elected officials, and other decision-makers are increasingly focused on what makes places livable. Access to the arts inevitably appears high on that list. Employing original data produced through both quantitative and qualitative research, Creative Communities provides a greater understanding of how art works as an engine for transforming communities.

Arts Info Research Library

California Arts Council

Hundreds of reports about the arts that can be searched by category.

The Creative Community Builder’s Handbook: How to Transform Communities Using Local Assets, Arts, and Culture

Successful strategies, best practices, and “how-to” guidance to turn cultural gems into effective community change.

The Arts: a Competitive Advantage for California II from the California Arts Council

This 2004 study demonstrates that arts and culture generate billions of dollars annually, support a workforce of more than 160,000 and produce nearly $300 million in state and local taxes. Substantiates the significant role of the nonprofit arts to California’s economic well-being.

2012 Creative Industries Reports from Americans for the Arts

National study on the scope and importance of the arts to the nation’s economy; encompasses both the nonprofit and for-profit arts industries.

Creative Placemaking

A resource for mayors, arts organizations, the philanthropic sector, and others interested in understanding strategies for leveraging the arts to help shape and revitalize the physical, social, and economic character of neighborhoods, cities, and towns.

Main Street from the National Trust for Historic Preservation

Main Street is a proven strategy for revitalization, a powerful network of linked communities, and a national support program that leads the field.

New Engines of Growth: Five Roles for Arts, Culture and Design from the National Governors Association

Study focuses on the role that arts, culture and design can play in governors’ policies to create jobs and boost their economies in the short run and transition to an innovation-based economy in the long run.

Otis Report on the Creative Economy of the Los Angeles Region

Sixth edition of an annual report that analyzes the financial impact of creative industries and practitioners in the Los Angeles region. Arts, design, and entertainment ranked 4th out of 66 industry clusters in L.A. County, supporting one in eight jobs in the region in 2011, and had a total regional output of $230 billion in revenues.

State Cultural Districts

National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA)

State cultural districts are special areas, designated or certified by state governments, which utilize cultural resources to encourage economic development and foster synergies between the arts and other businesses.

Transforming City Schools Through Art

How art and art education can make a significant difference in urban environments. Ways artists and art educators can work in urban environments and in urban schools in order to benefit students, schools and cities.

Volunteering and Civic Life in America

Website provides inclusive information regarding demographic trends and rankings for volunteering and civic engagement activities in regions, states, and metro areas.

Why Should Government Support the Arts? From the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies

Designed for public arts leaders and advocates, describes why the arts are an essential public investment. Invites conversation and reflection about the value of the arts to American communities; provides resource material and research citations that any state can use to support its case for the arts.

Festivals Attract Visitors and Dollars

California communities have plenty of creative assets, both large and small, that can be utilized even in this tough economy. The California Arts Council website ( lists hundreds of festivals throughout the state that demonstrate our will and desire to have arts in our communities.

How Arts Investment Can Improve Engagement for Disadvantaged Neighborhoods and Immigrant Communities

Cities make significant efforts to encourage people to participate in the community around them, which improve neighborhoods and the community at large. The arts can be a strong impetus to civic engagement. Research shows that people who are involved in arts and culture typically participate in other types of community activities as well.

“Residents who participate in the arts and culture also tend to engage in other types of community activities,” notes Mark J. Stern and Susan C. Seifert in the article “From Creative Economy to Creative Society” in Grantmakers in the Arts Reader in 2008. The authors were citing research from the Social Impact of the Arts Project (SIAP) at the University of Pennsylvania.

Engagement in the community is important for immigrant populations that can become isolated, and the arts may be one of the best ways to bridge cultural divisions. “The informal arts sector, in particular – characterized by participatory, hands-on cultural and creative activities in non-chartered groups and informal settings – is associated with people of color, immigrants, and other out-of-the-mainstream communities,” note Stern and Seifert.

The study also discusses how the arts can improve the quality of life in ways other than economic output. “[SIAP] has documented a connection between community culture and child welfare: low-income neighborhoods with high cultural participation rates were more than twice as likely as those comparable low-participation neighborhoods to have very low truancy and delinquency.”

Further evidence of the link between community health and support for traditional art forms can be found in a new report Weaving Traditional Arts into the Fabric of Community Health commissioned by the Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA), a California nonprofit with headquarters in the Central Valley, and investigated by researchers at the University of California, Davis. Participants in ACTA programs not only showed improved well-being on an individual and family level, but arts participation increased community awareness, enhanced community resources, strengthened community relations and involvement, and promoted community belonging and collaboration.

So while immediate job creation in a highly-skilled and technology-based workforce for the “creative economy” may not be easily attainable for all communities, the arts can be employed to improve education efforts, heighten civic engagement and reduce dropout rates. These are factors that can not only bring down costs at city hall, but improve lives and local neighborhoods.

Utilizing the Arts During a Crisis

Businesses in local neighborhoods in St. Paul, MN, were faced with a dilemma: The city was investing in a light-rail system that would enhance the city in the long run, but the four years of construction needed for the projecy could crush local businesses along the planned corridors in the meantime. The long-term improvement created a short-term crisis for neighborhood small businesses — and an opportunity for a unique arts project to turn a negative into a positive.

“We wanted to mobilize local artists who cared about the neighborhood,” said Laura Zabel of Springboard for the Arts. The project was titled Irrigate, and small grants ($1,000 each) were distributed to 100 local artists to collaborate with businesses negatively impacted by the construction. Rather than news stories about noise, blocked entrances and limited parking, the media reported about the art projects going on.

“We tracked 100 news stories that were positive,” said Zabel. The project was so successful in driving foot traffic that 90 percent of small business owners said they’d work with local artists again, even after construction was complete.

How Governors Are Using the Arts in Economic Development

Governors are increasingly incorporating arts and cultural exchanges into their economic development approaches. Many states have invested in the arts as a strategy to attract the “creative class” and reverse “brain drain.”

Arts programs have been high-impact components of economic development programs by:

  • Leveraging human capital and cultural resources through tourism, crafts, and cultural attractions;
  • Serving as a centerpiece for downtown redevelopment and cultural renewal;
  • Creating vibrant public spaces, enhancing urban quality of life, expanding the tax base, and improving regional and community image; and
  • Contributing to a region’s “innovation habitat” by making communities more attractive to highly desirable, knowledge-based employees.

Governors can position their states to use the arts effectively by promoting new partnerships among state agencies, communities, and the business sector and by harnessing the power of the arts and culture as tools that unite communities, create economic opportunity and improve the quality of life.–the-economy.html

Apple Hill – A Community Works Together to Avert Economic Disaster

An economic fiasco half a century ago started the foothills autumn phenomenon known as Apple Hill, a community of small businesses about 45 minutes east of Sacramento. Fifty years later, the vacation spot known for pie, cider and winding roads continues to be a favorite weekend jaunt for folks from the Sacramento region. The details of how the group of orchard owners turned a disaster into a major success is a lesson for California communities of all kinds, including creative communities.

Apple Hill® was launched after a disastrous pear harvest in 1960. Many of the local farmers on the ridge in the Sierra Mountain foothills were about to go under. Rather than succumb to financial ruin, a group of growers got together and essentially had a bake sale to keep their orchards going. They hoped that word would reach Sacramento and folks would drive up the hill for enough pie, cookies and local entertainment — from music to pony rides — to keep them going to the next year. The effort was wildly successful, the one-time event turned into an annual tradition, and the smart growers banded together as the official Apple Hill Growers Association.

The first thing that the community did was come together in an effort to avoid competing with each other. By banding together, they were able to analyze their assets and strategize how to support the entire region. They worked together to establish tours and events, in the same way that that the artists in the Palm Springs area are providing hand-on arts tourism for visitors. Apple Hill provided community events in places that were on their way to becoming decrepit and underused and changed the media story from one of pear blight to apple pie. But most of all the local growers looked at their assets — the people and their creative energy — and worked together to find their greatest strength in community to create essentially an ongoing food festival.

There are plenty of creative assets in all California communities – large and small – that can be utilized even in this tough economy. The California Arts Council website lists hundreds of festivals throughout the state that demonstrate our will and desire to have arts in our communities. Local governments may be strapped, but a small investment in the arts and creative communities can have a huge impact in the long run.

This article appears in the May 2013 issue of Western City
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