Creative Counties Placemaking Challenge



As public funding becomes increasingly strained, counties must search for and employ new strategies to improve their communities and make healthier, more equitable places for residents to live, work and play. The Creative Counties Placemaking Challenge invites counties with populations of less than 150,000 to form multidisciplinary teams to compete in a challenge competition to identify and strengthen ways to integrate arts into solutions to local challenges. Teams that submit winning applications will attend an in-person, one-day training and peer exchange workshop on July 16, 2020, in or around Orlando, Orange County, Florida, in conjunction with NACo’s Annual Conference.


Important Dates and Deadlines

Team Application Deadline: Accepting applications on a rolling basis

Announcement of Selected Teams: Friday, May 1, 2020

Workshop: Thursday, July 16, 2020


Program Information

Q Who should apply?

Counties with populations of less than 150,000—or county/local arts agencies located within counties with populations of less than 150,000—who are looking to address unique local challenges and bolster their ability to grow their economies and resilience by employing the arts as core to the solution. Note: Counties or county/local arts agencies must form multidisciplinary teams to apply. If a county does not have an official arts agency, a local arts nexus organization can apply. Multi-jurisdictional teams are permitted.

Q Are there any requirements for the teams?

Yes. Teams must:

  • Consist of at least one county official, one representative from the local arts community and one representative from the sector they wish to engage (i.e. transportation, behavioral health, youth services, etc.)
  • Have no less than four and no less than three members and must have good cross-sector representation. A maximum of two representatives from a given organization may participate on the same team.  It is encouraged that each team have at least 6 participants to ensure success.
  • Teams members must commit to attend a pre-workshop webinar and the July 2020 workshop, and be proactively involved with their mentor via regular communications (phone and email) for the duration of the project, July 2020 to July 2021.
Q Are teams encouraged to do anything?

Yes. Teams are encouraged to:

  • Include working artist(s) on their team.
  • Think about using creativity in unique ways that tackle public good needs beyond the arts and culture sphere. For example, an application that has the goal to create a local arts agency, while important, does not fit the spirit of this program.  But rather, for example, consider how to use the arts and culture to intervene in the opioid epidemic, or how to use the arts and culture to help with fair housing initiatives.
  • Apply if they are from smaller counties (under 50,000).
  • Evaluate their proposal to make sure it is appropriate in scope to the available resources.
Q Does a county or county/local arts agency need to be a NACo or Americans for the Arts member to apply?

No, counties or county/local arts agencies do not need to be members of NACo or Americans for the Arts respectively to apply for the Placemaking Challenge.

Q Where can I find examples of creative placemaking projects?

The National Endowment for the Arts has a great website called Exploring Our Town that highlights case study examples of successful creative placemaking projects. You can explore those projects here:

Q Is there an application fee?


Q How will applications be evaluated?

Applications will be evaluated and weighted based on:

  • Strength of the proposed partnership.
  • History of past creative, cross-sector partnership experiences from each team member. These past partnerships do not have to have been with each other. We are interested in team members experiences with collaboration, not just your history with each other.
  • Clarity of issue to be addressed by the team.
  • A clear commitment to process and discovery and the ability as a team to develop and follow through on a plan.
  • Quality and appropriateness of the team members to tackle the specific concerns being addressed.
Q Who will review the applications?

NACo and Americans for the Arts project staff will screen each application to ensure the key eligibility criteria are met, and an external panel will review each application. The panel will assign a final score to each application and rank them in score order and recommend for selection the most highly rated applications.

Q Will selected teams receive funding?

No, selected counties/regions will not receive a direct financial award.

Q What will teams receive?

Teams will be invited – and expected – to attend the national team-based workshop on July 16, 2020, and will receive pre- and post-workshop technical support and mentoring, via virtual webinars and individual team and full cohort conference calls.

Q Will selected teams need to pay a registration fee to attend the workshop?


Q Will there be travel funds for selected teams to attend the workshops?

Yes, NACo has limited funding available to partially offset team travel costs.

Q What costs should teams anticipate to attend the workshops?

NACo has a limited budget to offset some transportation and lodging costs to attend the workshops. Teams should expect to cover a portion of their transportation/lodging costs.

Q Will meals be provided at the workshops?

NACo will provide breakfast and lunch for each of the two full days of each workshop. Teams will be on their own for dinners.



Watch our interactive webinar to learn more. Program staff provide an overview of the program and walk attendees through the application. Representatives from Iron County, Utah in the first round discuss their experiences with the pilot round of the program.

If you have any questions, please contact Alejandra Montoya-Boyer at 202-661-8803 or