Just Planning: What Has Kept the Arts and Urban Planning Apart?


  • Tom Borrup Americans for the Arts


The creative and cultural sector, including artists, creative entrepreneurs, cultural practitioners, and most nonprofit arts and cultural organizations, remain on the fringes of the larger enterprise of urban planning and city building. Only recently have limited forays demonstrated potentials that theorists and cultural planners called for 40 years ago. This article examines early ideas to bridge arts and culture with urban planning and explores why these two complementary practices have kept their distance. It surveys the history, theory, and practice of cultural planning and its relationship to urban planning. Meanwhile, increasing complexity and diversity of populations of cities creates greater urgency to bring the disciplines closer.  This article argues that a deeper appreciation of culture in cultural planning, and blending of the best of both practices can bring about a hybrid of Just Planning – a culturally informed approach to urban planning that promises greater civic engagement a move towards and social and economic equity. The emergence and evolution of cultural planning practice over the past four decades in the U.S. and many parts of the world has been steady but neither ascendant nor as impactful as scholars such as Bianchini (1999), Mercer (2006), Mills (2003), and Stevenson (2005) anticipated. Meanwhile, urban planning as practiced widely by towns and cities of all sizes fails to acknowledge dimensions of human culture that impact patterns of behavior, livelihood, settlement, social practice, recreation, and other activities.

Author Biography

Tom Borrup, Americans for the Arts

Tom Borrup, Ph.D. is a leader and innovator in creative community building–leveraging cultural and other community assets to advance economic, social, civic, and physical development of place-based communities. Consulting with cities, foundations, and nonprofits across the U.S, his approach integrates the arts, economic development, urban planning and design, civic engagement, and animation of public space. His book The Creative Community Builders’ Handbook, released in July 2006, profiles communities that have transformed their economic, social, and physical infrastructures through the arts and provides a step-by-step planning guide. As Executive Director of Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis from 1980 until 2002, Borrup developed a nationally-recognized multidisciplinary, cross-cultural organization in a diverse urban community. He has served on a variety of panels over the 20 years for the National Endowment for the Arts in the media arts, visual arts, presenting, design, and advancement program categories. He serves as the faculty director for the Masters in Arts and Cultural Leadership at the University of Minnesota, and teaches for Drexel University’s Arts Administration Graduate Program. He earned his Ph.D. in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

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How to Cite

Borrup, T. (2017). Just Planning: What Has Kept the Arts and Urban Planning Apart?. Artivate: A Journal of Entrepreneurship in the Arts, 6(2), 46–57. Retrieved from https://www.artivate.org/index.php/artivate/article/view/73