Last month, from April 19-21, the Bolz Center convened the 2018 edition of the Arts Business Research Symposium (ABRS) – a collaboration with the Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts at Arizona State University and the Alliance for Arts in Research Universities (a2ru). Held every other year in alternation with ASU’s Biennial Symposium on Entrepreneurship and the Arts, ABRS is a gathering of Bolz alumni, guest presenters, practitioners, and colleagues at other university programs focused on continued learning on current topics and trends in the arts and business research arena. This year, in continuation from the 2016 ABRS, the topic centered on the role of Higher Education in Creative Placemaking.
Over its three days, the symposium included an array of speakers and presenters with diverse connections to both Creative Placemaking and Higher Education fields, which made for a nuanced examination of the topic at hand. We heard from practitioners like Artspace Projects, who are in the midst of sharing their expertise on creative real estate with nonprofits facing space challenges in three cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul, Memphis, and Detroit) through an Immersion Program with an innovative curriculum, funded by The Kresge Foundation. We heard from leaders in the field like Jamie Hand, Director of Research Strategies at ArtPlace America, who shared ArtPlace’s progress towards its field scans into art-based strategies in 10 key Community Development dimensions, as well as the organization’s focus for its final three years as it prepares for its premeditated sunset in 2020 (spoiler alert: the focus includes working with institutions of higher learning to further scholarship on Creative Placemaking beyond ArtPlace’s existence). And we also heard from Todd Johnson and Steve Grabow of University of Wisconsin-Extension’s Community Vitality and Placemaking Team, who walked us through their design charrette process working with small communities across Wisconsin to tackle community challenges, and alluded to the role that Extension Services can play in universities’ promotion of creative placemaking scholarship and practice. These were but a few of the many practitioners within and without the realm of higher education who spoke at ABRS.
As a current Bolz student and soon-to-be graduate, and especially one who specifically came back to school to explore Creative Placemaking, ABRS was a fantastic opportunity to hear directly from those currently practicing in the field about its status and where it’s going next. I was also extremely fortunate to have the opportunity, along with my classmate Sarah Bluvas, to present about our work this year with the nearby Village of Waunakee, WI on their Creative Economy Initiative as part of our second-year capstone consulting project (this video presentation is a more in-depth version of our talk at ABRS). Listening and learning from, and then presenting to, so many leaders in my chosen field was an experience that in many ways perfectly encapsulates my time in here in the Bolz Center. As I prepare to make the transition back from student to practitioner in just a few short weeks, ABRS was the perfect reminder of how privileged I have been to study here, and how grateful I am to soon be connected to the wonderful network of alumni and friends of the Bolz Center as I take the next steps in my career.