Placemaker, placemaker, make me a place

By City Pulse Staff

New round of grants harnesses art to economic development

Placemaking is a wonky buzzword for the elusive moment when you walk around a corner and discover a concert in the park, a sculpture, a splash of fireworks, a lush garden, and plonk! A brick drops onto an invisible scale inside your head. “I like it here,” you think to yourself. Or if you’re a visitor: “I could live here.” Or if you’re an artist: “I could settle in and create here.”

The 2013-‘14 Sense of Place in the Arts Grant Program is out to put some big bricks on that scale. The grant program allows Lansing-based arts groups to fund public art projects. Local arts organizations could score a grant for up to $75,000 to make the capital city a more visually (or sonically, or perhaps olfactorily, as the case may be) the place to be.

“The goal of this project is to attract talent to our region,” said Sara Graham, spokeswoman for the Lansing Economic Area Partnership, which, along with the Lansing Economic Development Corp., is administering the program. “Art has the power to attract talent through visual stimulation, which will make people want to work here and live here.”

Groups have until Sept. 13 to submit their grant proposals. The program is funded by the City of Lansing and supports arts and cultural projects that drive community revitalization and economic development in Lansing.

Cool stuff from last year’s grants is already scattered across town. Recent projects include the Lansing Art Gallery’s riverfront art exhibit and the sculptures in the Sensory Garden at Potter Park Zoo, funded by the Lansing Lions Club. Last spring, a Sense of Place grant revived a grand old tradition and helped the Lansing Symphony Orchestra to mount its first summer pops concert in years at Adado Riverfront Park.

This year’s grants will range from $10,000 to $75,000 for projects to be completed between Nov. 1 and June 30, 2014.

Ivory tower-type artists need not apply. These grants will be wedged firmly into the nexus between art and economic development. Professionals from both worlds will sit on the panel of judges. Any artist or group applying for a grant has to come up with “collaborative, physical and highly visible arts projects that directly impact Lansing residents and visitors.” There are other eligibility requirements, but help is available. The Arts Council of Greater Lansing is offering artistic consultation and expertise throughout the grant process. To request an appointment, contact program manager Barb Whitney at or call (517) 853-7582. Applicants can also contact Sara Graham, LEAP/City of Lansing Sense of Place Grant administrator at (517) 999-9038 or

Application packets are available to download at and under and at in the “Funding” section.