Placemaking and Social Equity: Expanding the Framework of Creative Placemaking


  • Debra Webb Seattle University


Artists play a seminal role in advancing humanity through place-based creative initiatives that change not only the aesthetics of place, but also the aesthetics of belonging. Creative placemaking initiatives should provide authentic opportunities for community members to express their relationship with their physical and social environment. Current models of creative placemaking are tethered to the built environment and urban revitalization. An expanded model of creative placemaking is needed to address the complexities of today's urban neighborhoods, a new model that develops places of belonging for the collective good; measures empowerment, cultural stewardship and community attachment as indicators of success; and is committed to addressing the root causes of social inequity through artist-led civic engagement activities. Artists develop arts-based initiatives that fully engage and empower a community's capacity to self-express their distinct cultural identity through place. Artists equipped with nimble entrepreneurial skills who are guided by a spirit of authentic collaboration can be significant change agents in their communities. Established and emerging creative practitioners will benefit from identifying cross-sector collaboration that expands the role of artistic life into civic life.

Author Biography

Debra Webb, Seattle University

Debra Webb is a senior cultural strategist with twenty-five years experience collaborating with leading and emerging artists, civic leaders and diverse communities to produce artwork, public engagement activities, and event-based programming that enrich and advance our communities. I am deeply committed to racial equity and I possess an unfettering belief that the arts have a profound ability to provoke, delight and transform society. 




How to Cite

Webb, D. (2014). Placemaking and Social Equity: Expanding the Framework of Creative Placemaking. Artivate: A Journal of Entrepreneurship in the Arts, 3(1), 35–48. Retrieved from