Get Down Memphis
Posted on 1/11/2017

The International Downtown Association and Springboard for the Arts are delighted to share new resources and projects to support creative placemaking partnerships between artists and local business initiatives.

Today, Springboard and IDA launch the Guide for Business Districts to Work with Local Artists, and announce six new projects, including one led by Downtown Memphis Commission, led by IDA member organizations, to implement creative placemaking projects in their community. This work is made possible through the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts from its Our Town program.

IDA and Springboard are seeding six projects with $5,000 grants to support creative placemaking. Creative placemaking is the act of people coming together to change over-looked and undervalued public and shared spaces into welcoming places where community gathers, supports one another and thrives.

The projects are in Chandler, AZ; Tempe, AZ; Santa Ana, CA; New Haven, CT; Oklahoma City OK; and Memphis, TN. These projects will take place in the spring of 2017 and are scaled to support local artists’ work in creating more vibrant and engaging local business districts. They will be documented on Creative Exchange. The Memphis project supports busking on Main Street in Downtown Memphis. The full list of projects is below.

busk: verb | gerund or present participle: busking to play music or otherwise perform for voluntary donations in the street or other public place.

Main Street Sounds is an 8-week busking initiative, created and managed by the Downtown Memphis Commission. The program is designed to promote multiple busking performances each week, resulting in approximately 50 public performances occurring during a two-month period in April and May of 2017. The performances will take place on Main Street between Jefferson Avenue and Peabody Place.

The Guide for Business Districts to Work with Local Artists is a free guide for place managers to work with artists on creative placemaking projects. Created by Springboard for the Arts from their experience working with artists and consulting on creative placemaking work across the country, the guide contains tools for partnership building between BIDs and artists, collaboration between community stakeholders, budgeting and project management. The toolkit is available to the public for free on Springboard’s national sharing platform, Creative Exchange:

“Memphis is a music town. It is in our DNA,” states Terence Patterson, President and CEO of Downtown Memphis Commission. “We obviously think music when we think creative placemaking in our community and feel this program really supports the kind of Downtown Memphis we all love, one that is filled with Southern sounds and soul.”

“Creative placemaking is an important intersection of the creativity of artists and the vitality of our business communities,” says Jason Schupbach, Director of Design and Creative Placemaking Programs at the NEA. “The new Guide is a useful resource for practitioners that is a valuable addition to the library of tools for artist-led creative placemaking.”

“For years we have seen the creative work of our member organizations as they build partnerships to bring arts and engagement to their districts, and we are excited to be able to offer these resources,” said David Downey, President and CEO of IDA. “The Guide and these projects will offer a model for our member organizations and build their creative placemaking capacity in urban places around the world.”

“Artists thrive when their communities thrive and vice versa,” notes Springboard for the Arts Executive Director Laura Zabel. “We know that artists are in every community and that they are looking for ways to connect with and shape their communities. Sharing the tools to build cross-sector relationships, grow audiences and create more resilient, vibrant communities is a win for everyone.”

For more information and press resources, contact Penelope Huston, Vice President of Marketing at Downtown Memphis Commission at 901-575-0561, or Carl Atiya Swanson at Springboard for the Arts at 651-292-3205 or carl [at] springboardforthearts [dot] org.

Press photos and other media resources:


Downtown Crosswalk Beautification: Chandler, AZ

The Downtown Chandler Community Partnership (DCCP), a nonprofit business improvement district operating in Chandler, AZ is seeking an artist or artist team to design artwork graphics for pedestrian crosswalks at three crossings along Arizona Avenue in downtown Chandler. The selected artist shall create a series of design variations that reflect the unique identity, diversity, culture, and/or history of downtown Chandler, in partnership with the City of Chandler.

Pop up Mobile Patio: Tempe, AZ
This collaboration between the Downtown Tempe Authority, the City of Tempe, local businesses and artists will activate a city-owned dumpster transformed into a mobile pop-up park by the Public Works Department. This project will empower an artist(s) to transform it into a comfortable, inviting sitting/gathering space. It will be parked in a parking space in front of businesses.

The Calliotree: Santa Ana, CA
Downtown Inc. is partnering with renowned a local artist and creative engineer, two local schools, and the City of Santa Ana to reintegrate a community landmark into the public realm. The artist will adapt digital infrastructure onto a 30-foot tall dying sycamore tree (a historic local landmark) to transform it into a programmable audio-visual art piece that acts as a giant musical instrument for anyone to play.

Elm City Mosaic: New Haven, CT
Elm City Mosaic is a creative placemaking partnership with the Town Green Special Services District, local artists, teachers, students, and downtown stakeholders. This project aims to transform forgotten places into cared-for spaces that all can enjoy, with colorful mosaic murals of hand-painted tiles. Local high school students will plan, design, create and install a large mural of tiles to cover chain link fences on selected locations in downtown New Haven.

Rain Stencils: Oklahoma City, OK
Downtown Oklahoma City Initiatives and the Downtown Business Improvement District, with the help of Short Order Poems, a group of local poets, will be installing original poems from local artists on the sidewalks and plazas throughout the central business district in downtown Oklahoma City that will ONLY appear when raining. As sidewalks become rain-soaked during our rainy, spring season, the waterproof painted poetry will remain dry and become legible to pedestrians.

Main Street Sounds: Memphis, TN
Main Street Sounds is a new effort to bring busking and live music performance to street corners and public sidewalks in downtown Memphis. The Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC) will hire local musicians for up to 50 performances along the Main Street Mall during the midday lunch hour and early evening. The program will run for eight weeks in April and May 2017.


International Downtown Association
The International Downtown Association (IDA) is the premier organization for urban place professionals who are shaping and activating dynamic city center districts. IDA represents an industry of more than 2,600 place management organizations, employing 100,000 people throughout North America and growing rapidly around the world. Founded in 1954, IDA is a resource center for ideas and innovative best practices in urban place management. Through its network of diverse practitioners, its rich body of knowledge, and its unique capacity to nurture community-building partnerships, IDA provides tools, intelligence and strategies for creating healthy and dynamic centers that anchor the well-being of towns, cities and regions of the world. For more information, visit

Springboard for the Arts
Springboard for the Arts is an economic and community development organization for artists and by artists, based in Saint Paul and Fergus Falls, MN. Springboard’s work is about building stronger communities, neighborhoods, and economies, and we believe that artists are an important leverage point in that work. Springboard for the Arts’ mission is to cultivate vibrant communities by connecting artists with the skills, information, and services they need to make a living and a life. Our programming focuses on supporting the work of artists through professional development, health, and legal resources, and creating systems and programs for communities to connect to the creative power of their artists. We share this work nationally via our Creative Exchange platform ( and by freely sharing our work and creating connections among artists and communities, we work to make substantial, system-wide change. For more information, visit

About Downtown Memphis Commission 
The Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC), formerly known as the Center City Commission, is an independent development agency charged with advancing Memphis and Shelby County by making Downtown Memphis a better place to work, live, learn, invest and visit. The DMC represents the official partnership between local government and the private business community in Downtown's development. The work done by the DMC benefits all of Memphis and Shelby County by developing a stronger and more vibrant city core. The DMC is not funded by any city or county taxes. 

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