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NEA Chief of Staff Tapped to Lead Second Phase of ArtPlace’s Strategic Plan to Support and Enable a National Creative Placemaking Movement.



Jamie L. Bennett has been appointed Executive Director of ArtPlace America (ArtPlace), effective January 6, 2014, it was announced today by Rip Rapson, CEO of The Kresge Foundation and Chairman of the ArtPlace Presidents Council. Mr. Bennett, who is currently Chief of Staff and Director of Public Affairs for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), will be responsible for providing strategic and operational leadership for ArtPlace, a unique collaboration of philanthropic foundations, financial institutions, and federal agencies that promotes the inclusion of arts in community development strategies. 



Established in 2011, ArtPlace was originated when then-NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman and the Ford Foundation’s Darren Walker convened foundation presidents to discuss building on and importantly expanding the Endowment’s support of creative placemaking projects, i.e. programs that engage the arts to help shape the social, physical, and economic character of communities. As the first major public-private partnership to encourage creative placemaking across America, ArtPlace brings together the expertise and resources of thirteen major national and regional foundations, six of the nation’s largest banks, and a diverse group of federal agencies. To date, ArtPlace has made grants totaling over $42 million to 124 organizations in 79 communities across the nation, with projects ranging from a series of site-specific art interventions in Anchorage, Alaska, to the coordination of arts-based strategies for community planning and business development near a commuter train station in Upham’s Corner, Boston, to the creation of an art center and residencies in Prattsville, New York, to help the community reimagine the town after Hurricane Irene.


In September, the ArtPlace Presidents Council and Operating Committee approved a long-range plan that further develops the important body of work accomplished in the past three years. Mr. Bennett will oversee and refine the implementation of this plan, which includes an array of grant-making, a place-based lending initiative, a broader research agenda, and an emphasis on helping to strengthen the national creative placemaking movement. The plan will be presented at ArtPlace’s second national summit to take place in Los Angeles in March 2014.

Mr. Rapson stated, “Jamie’s extraordinary depth of experience in philanthropy, public policy, and the arts and culture—notably the vital role he played in the establishment of ArtPlace during his time at the NEA—made him the ideal candidate. Through his long-term involvement in and passionate commitment to the arts on a variety of levels, he fully grasps the role of creative placemaking, making the arts and culture central in community and economic development, civic engagement, and public investments. Jamie will be able to hit the ground running as he deploys his arsenal of wisdom, expertise, perceptiveness, creativity, resourcefulness, and good humor. The Presidents Council is thrilled to have him at the helm as we embark on the next phase of ArtPlace’s critical work.”


Mr. Bennett said, “It was a pleasure and a privilege being at the table as ArtPlace was launched and completed the first phase of its strategic plan. I am delighted to have this singular opportunity to work with Rip, the participating funders, and ArtPlace’s partners, supporters, and staff as we move forward into the next phase. With great enthusiasm, I look forward to continuing to work with and support arts, civic, and elected leaders to contribute to the creative placemaking field and, most importantly, to serve a diversity of communities.”

Mr. Bennett has been Director of Public Affairs at the NEA since 2009, and was promoted to additionally serve as Chief of Staff in June 2011. Prior to the NEA, he was Chief of Staff at the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, serving as a senior member of the Commissioner’s leadership team, and Chief of Staff in the Office of the President of Columbia University, in New York. From 1997 to 2005, Mr. Bennett provided strategic counsel to the Agnes Gund Foundation and was actively involved with Ms. Gund’s philanthropic activities. He has also held positions at The Museum of Modern Art, New York Philharmonic, and Columbia College Office of Alumni Affairs and Development. His non-profit affiliations have included the Board of Directors of Art21 and HERE Arts Center; Foot-in-the-Door Committee of the Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation; and Studio in a School’s Associates Committee. Mr. Bennett received a B.A. from Columbia College.


About ArtPlace America

ArtPlace America (ArtPlace) advances creative placemaking across the country, the practice of making arts and cultural projects central in place-based strategies to transform communities. To date, ArtPlace America has awarded 134 grants to 124 organizations in more than 79 communities across the U.S. for a total of $42.1 million.



ArtPlace is a collaboration of thirteen national and regional foundations and six of the nation’s largest banks. ArtPlace also seeks advice and counsel from close working relationships with various federal agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Education, and Transportation, along with leadership from the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Domestic Policy Council.


Participating foundations include Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Ford Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The William Penn Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, The Surdna Foundation, and two anonymous donors. 


ArtPlace is also supported by a $12 million loan fund capitalized by six major financial institutions and managed by the Nonprofit Finance Fund. Participating institutions are Bank of America, Citi, Deutsche Bank, Chase, MetLife and Morgan Stanley.


ArtPlace is currently inviting letters of inquiry regarding its 2014 Innovation Grants applications; deadline for submission is December 13, 2013. For more information, visit

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