Creative Counties Placemaking Challenge

The Creative Counties Placemaking Challenge application has closed. 

Annoucement of Selected Teams



As public funding becomes increasingly strained, counties must search for and employ new strategies to improve their communities and local economies. NACo, in partnership with Americans for the Arts and with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, launched the Creative Counties Placemaking Challenge to support counties as they work to identify and strengthen ways to integrate arts into solutions to local challenges. The Creative Counties Placemaking Challenge invited counties with populations of less than 250,000 to form multidisciplinary teams to apply.

Teams that submitted winning applications will attend an in-person, 2 ½-day training and peer exchange workshop on March 28 – 30, 2018 in Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa. Guided by expert facilitators and practitioners, the workshop will be designed to assist teams as they identify local place-based assets and how they might be leveraged to promote more livable, dynamic, resilient places with the arts at their core. The convening will feature panel discussions, small group exercises, mobile tours and team presentations.

Selected teams will be presented with the systems and tools necessary to develop successful creative placemaking solutions, and will be given time to meet and design solutions tailored to their communities’ unique culture, assets and needs. Teams will leave the workshop with an implementable action plan, and an improved local capacity to integrate arts and culture into community building and problem-solving. In addition, teams will be able to access pre- and post-workshop technical assistance and mentoring support.


Important Dates and Deadlines

Team Application Deadline: Friday, October 20, 2017, 11:59 p.m. EST

Announcement of Selected Teams: Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Workshop in Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa: Wednesday, March 28 – Friday, March 30, 2018

Creative Placemaking Forum in Washington, D.C.: During NACo Legislative Conference March 2019


Program Information

Q Who should apply?

Counties with populations of less than 250,000—or county/local arts agencies located within counties with populations of less than 250,000—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.

Q Are there any requirements for the teams?

Teams must consist of at least one county elected official, one local arts leader and one local business leader. Teams must have no less than four and no more than six members, and should have good cross-sector representation. A maximum of two representatives from a given organization may participate on the same team.

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 Can I submit work samples?

Yes, you do have the option to submit work samples. If you would like to do so, please submit them here:

Q How will applications be evaluated?

Applications will be evaluated and weighted based on:

  • Quality and appropriateness of the team members.
  • Strength of the proposed partnership.
  • Ability of the team to follow through with their action plan and all workshop activities.
  • Appropriateness of outlined goals to the community in which the project will take place.
Q Who will review the applications?

NACo and Americans for the Arts staff will screen each application to ensure the key eligibility criteria are met, and an external team of national experts will review team applications. 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 March 28 – 30, 2018, and will receive pre- and post-workshop technical support and mentoring starting in December 2017.

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.

Q Will NACo or Americans for the Arts staff visit selected communities to help with projects on the ground?

No, NACo does not have the budget to allow for site visits. If a team is able to finance costs for the visit, however, NACo and Americans for the Arts staff are willing to work with that team within their home communities to help with community engagement activities and meet with local stakeholders.



If you have any questions, please contact Jenna Moran at 202-942-4224 or