Just Planning: What Has Kept the Arts and Urban Planning Apart?

Tom Borrup


The creative and cultural sector, including artists, creative entrepreneurs, cultural practitioners, and most nonprofit arts and cultural organizations, remain on the fringes of the larger enterprise of urban planning and city building. Only recently have limited forays demonstrated potentials that theorists and cultural planners called for 40 years ago. This article examines early ideas to bridge arts and culture with urban planning and explores why these two complementary practices have kept their distance. It surveys the history, theory, and practice of cultural planning and its relationship to urban planning. Meanwhile, increasing complexity and diversity of populations of cities creates greater urgency to bring the disciplines closer.  This article argues that a deeper appreciation of culture in cultural planning, and blending of the best of both practices can bring about a hybrid of Just Planning – a culturally informed approach to urban planning that promises greater civic engagement a move towards and social and economic equity. The emergence and evolution of cultural planning practice over the past four decades in the U.S. and many parts of the world has been steady but neither ascendant nor as impactful as scholars such as Bianchini (1999), Mercer (2006), Mills (2003), and Stevenson (2005) anticipated. Meanwhile, urban planning as practiced widely by towns and cities of all sizes fails to acknowledge dimensions of human culture that impact patterns of behavior, livelihood, settlement, social practice, recreation, and other activities.

Full Text:



American Council for the Arts. (1980). The Arts and City Planning. New York: ACA Publications.

Baeker, G. (2010). Rediscovering the Wealth of Places: a municipal cultural planning handbook for Canadian communities. St. Thomas, Ontario: Municipal World, Inc.

Bianchini, F. (1999). Cultural planning and time planning: The relationship between culture and urban planning. Chapter in Social Town Planning, Clara Greed, ed., London: Routledge, p. 195-202.

Borrup, T. (2006). The Creative Community Builder’s Handbook: How to Transform Communities Using Local Assets, Arts, and Culture. St. Paul, MN: Fieldstone Alliance.

Borrup, T. (2011). The emergence of a new cultural infrastructure: Lessons from Silicon Valley. Journal of Urban Culture Research, 2, p. 16-29.

Dowling, R. (1997). Planning for culture in urban Australia. Australian Geographical Studies, 35(1), p. 23-31.

Dreeszen, C. A., "Reimagining community: Community arts and cultural planning in America" (1994). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9510463.

Dreeszen, C. (1998). Community Cultural Planning: A Guidebook for Community Leaders. Washington, D.C.: Americans for the Arts.

Evans, G. (2001). Cultural Planning: an urban renaissance? London: Routledge.

Florida, R. (2002). The Rise of the Creative Class. New York: Basic Books.

Ghilardi, L. (2001). Cultural planning and cultural diversity: Research position paper 4. Differing Diversities: Cultural Planning and Cultural Diversity, Tony Bennett, ed., p. 123-134. Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing.

Ghilardi, L. (2008). Cultural Planning and the Creative City. Paper for the CIIPKU New Year Forum, Peking University, January 5-7, 2008.

Jacobs, J. (1961). The Death and Life of Great American Cities. New York: Random House.

Jones, B. (1993). Current directions in cultural planning. Landscape and Urban Planning, 26, p. 89-97.

Kovacs, J. F. (2011). Cultural planning in Ontario, Canada: arts policy or more? International Journal of Cultural Policy, 17(3), p. 321-340.

Kunzmann, K. R. (2004). Culture, creativity and spatial planning. Town Planning Review, 75(4), p. 383-404.

Landry, C. (2008). The Creative City: A Toolkit for Urban Innovators. Oxon, U.K.: Earthscan.

Markusen, A., Gadwa, A. (2010). Creative Placemaking. A White Paper for The Mayors’ Institute on City Design, a leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the United States Conference of Mayors and American Architectural Foundation. Washington, D.C.: National Endowment for the Arts.

McNulty, R. H., Jacobson, D. R., and Penne, R. L. (1985). The Economics of Amenity: Community Futures and Quality of Life. Washington, D.C.: Partners for Livable Places.

Mercer, C. (2006). Cultural planning for urban development and creative cities. Self-published manuscript.

Mills, D. (2003). Cultural planning – policy task, not tool. Artwork Magazine, 55, May, 2003.

Montgomery, J. (1990). Cities and the art of cultural planning. Planning Practice & Research, 5(3), p. 17-24.

Partners for Livable Places. (1983). Toward Livable Communities: A Report on Partners for Livable Places, 1975-1982. Washington, D.C.: Partners for Livable Places.

Peck, J. (2005). Struggling with the creative class. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research , 29(4) p. 740–770.

Perloff, H. S. (1979). Using the Arts to Improve Life in the City. Report published by the University of California, Los Angeles.

Reaelli, E. (2013). Assessing a place in cultural planning: A framework for American local governments. Cultural Trends, 22(1), p. 30-44.

Rohe, W. M. (2009). From local to global: One hundred years of neighborhood planning. Journal of the American Planning Association, 75(2), p. 209-230.

Smith, M. K. (2007). Towards a cultural planning approach to regeneration. Tourism, Culture and Regeneration, p. 1-9. Cambridge, MA: CAB International.

Stevenson, D. (2004). “Civic Gold†rush: Cultural planning and the politics of the Third Way. International Journal of Cultural Policy, 10 (1), p. 119-131.

Stevenson, D. (2005). Cultural planning in Australia: Texts and contexts. Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society, 35(1), p. 36-48.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2017 Tom Borrup

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Artivate is published by Arizona State University Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Programs.
Photography credit: Tim Trumble Photography ©Arizona Board of Regents. All rights reserved.