The Northwest Arkansas Municipal Arts Alliance (MAA) convenes municipal leaders across the region to shape a coordinated policy agenda. Through this year-long program, MAA equips leaders with policy tools, introduces them to a national network of peers, and contributes to a shared regional strategy. Centering arts and creativity, MAA integrates cross-disciplinary connections to pressing issues including creative workforce development, placemaking, active public realm, and diversity and belonging.
The MAA initiative addresses a need stated by regional leaders: as public spaces, cultural venues, and civic life are transforming across Northwest Arkansas, cities are seeking to foster an inclusive creative ecosystem and to invest in character of place.
MAA is overseen and facilitated by F. Philip Barash, a recognized leader in place-based learning.
A Community of Practice
The program is organized around a series of regular gatherings, or “sessions,” conducted by CACHE staff, in consultation with program participants. MAA invites national experts—in domains ranging from cultural planning to municipal finance—to provide inspiration to the cohort and to consult them on specific projects.
The first convening of the Municipal Arts Alliance served as a platform for rigorous discussions of cultural policy, strategic regional planning, and case-making for the arts.
With similarities to Northwest Arkansas, Boise is among the fastest-growing metros in the U.S., renowned for cultural amenities, outdoor recreational opportunities, and progressive policies. Like Northwest Arkansas, it is grappling with how to manage growth — both through physical development and cultural policy aimed at placekeeping. Joined by local Boise investors, cultural leaders, artists, and real estate developers, along with peers from government agencies, all were eager to learn, debate, and envision alongside one another. This trip provided for a rich program of formal and social learning, with plenty of time for discussion and reflection.
Over two days, the Alliance looked at examples of public art policies, strategic plans, and case studies across the U.S. MAA welcomed guests that brought expertise and insight to this topic through focusing on municipal art strategies, cross-sectoral partnerships, integration of artists into government agencies, curations and installations in the private sector, real estate and transit infrastructure and community engagement strategies and best practices in creative placemaking.
Arts and Economic Prosperity 6
CACHE is working with local partners, Arkansans for the Arts and the Arkansas Arts Council, to complete the sixth Arts & Economic Prosperity (AEP6) study. AEP6 will highlight the statewide economic impact of nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences.