Creative Placemaking Toolkit for Counties


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, has launched the Creative Counties Placemaking Initiative to support counties as they work to identify and strengthen ways to integrate arts into solutions to local challenges. 

Webinars and Conference Sessions

NACo's web-based learning opportunities provide elected and appointed county officials the opportunity to learn from their peers and industry thought leaders on best practices in county government.


NACo's webinars are free to everyone and recorded for viewing after the live event. Recent webinars have included:

Check out all of NACo's upcoming and past Creative Counties webinars here.

Conference Sessions

The NACo Conference Learning Center hosts a myriad of recorded workshop presentations from the Annual and Legislative Conferences. Recent conference sessions have included:

Check out all of NACo's Creative Counties workshops here.

Additional Resources

Funding and Technical Assistance Opportunities Tools Case Studies Reports and Publications

The Challenge 

In Fall 2017, the Creative Counties Placemaking Challenge invited counties with populations of less than 250,000 to form multidisciplinary teams to apply to attend a workshop and receive technical assistance on their creative placemaking efforts.

The Application

Instructions to apply were hosted at, and in a downloadable PDF. Teams were required to consist of at least one county elected official, one local arts leader and one local business leader. Applications were evaluated and weighted based on the:

  • 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; and
  • Appropriateness of outlined goals to the community in which the project will take place.


The Teams

Seven teams were selected for the first cohort of the challenge; see the announcement here. They represent the following communities:

Click on the county name to read more about each team.

The Workshop

The teams that submitted winning applications attended 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 was 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 featured panel discussions, small group exercises, mobile tours and team presentations.

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

Agenda Action Plan Worksheet Session Recordings Photos

Creative Counties Newsletter

Stay up-to-date on the Creative Counties Placemaking Initiative by signing up to receive our monthly newsletter.

Past Newsletters





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  • Senior Director of State and Local Government Affairs, Americans for the Arts  

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