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Now Live! Municipal/Artist Partnership Guide

Beta version is now live!

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A “relationship guide” to forging strong and sustainable creative partnerships between local governments and artists.

Municipal/Artist (M/A) partnerships are collaborations between local governments and artists that use creative processes to engage residents and improve communities. To support growing interest in these collaborations this new practical resource was created to guide municipal agency leaders, artists, and arts agency leaders to achieve positive and powerful artistic and civic results. The guide gives focus to the risks, responsibilities, and rewards that arise when artists and municipalities work together. It helps users visualize a spectrum of partnership models and projects to demonstrate the diversity of this work, and to develop a unique model for their municipality.

Explore this beta version! If you come across something that’s not working, please let us know. Send us an email to

The guide features:

  • Models for integrating artists’ work in municipal settings
  • Guiding principles, values & quality practices, and reflections on common challenges and ways to approach them
  • Value-add and impacts of engaging artists in municipal settings
  • Profiles of partnerships across the U.S. that portray a spectrum of municipal-artist partnership structures and projects
  • Model documents, tools, and frameworks to guide planning, implementation, and evaluation
  • Links to multimedia examples that provide a picture of this work and the voices of partners

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A joint project of A Blade of Grass and Animating Democracy, a program of Americans for the Arts

Funding for this guide to Municipal/Artist Partnerships has been provided by Our Town, the National Endowment for the Arts’ creative placemaking grants program, and the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation.




A Blade of Grass Field Research


2015 ABOG Fellow Sol Aramendi and immigrant day laborers, artists, organizers, developers, and lawyers created a collaborative smartphone app to fight wage theft. Image: RAVA Films

A Blade of Grass Fellow Sol Aramendi and immigrant day laborers, artists, organizers, developers, and lawyers created a collaborative smartphone app to fight wage theft. Image courtesy of RAVA Films.

A Blade of Grass evaluates and qualitatively assesses the impact and methods of socially engaged art projects using action research methodology. This approach studies an action while it’s in process by identifying initial project goals and definitions of success, and then conducting interviews with project participants and stakeholders to gather their perspectives and views on whether and how these goals are met. We apply this methodology to A Blade of Grass Fellowship projects as well as to the work of NYC Department of Cultural Affairs’ Public Artists in Residence, a program that embeds artists in municipal agencies. The research we conduct serves individual artists and the socially engaged art field by capturing the ways an art project’s goals and definitions of success inevitably evolve, and by providing narratives of individual experiences to account for the subjective, qualitative nature of these projects.

Explore select field research below, and feel free to direct research-related inquiries to

Forest Listening Rooms
Artist Brian Harnetty
Victoria Square Project
Artist Rick Lowe
Musician Brian Harnetty has created Forest Listening Rooms, bringing together Appalachian Ohioans across the political spectrum to share stories and critically listen to the sounds of their literal "common ground," the Wayne National Forest, as a means of building community in resistance to the environmental extraction that has historically harmed the region. Artist Rick Lowe worked with local, immigrant, and refugee communities in Athens, Greece in the midst of the Syrian refugee crisis to create Victoria Square Project (VSP). VSP is a shared public space that fosters belonging and models a future for Athens where diverse experiences and cultures are shared and embraced.
Artists Hello Velocity
The Reentry Think Tank
Artists Mark Strandquist and Courtney Bowles
Working collectively as Hello Velocity, artists JS Tan, Lukas Bentel, and Kevin Wiesner worked to create an e-commerce plugin that would ameliorate income inequality by allowing consumers to purchase products at a price proportionate to their income. Artists Mark Strandquist and Courtney Bowles instigated the Reentry Think Tank, an art and advocacy group that centers the experiences and leadership of the formerly incarcerated to challenge stereotypes, transform social services, and advocate for policy changes to prevent recidivism and better support those in reentry.




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