Community Coaching

Why do some communities become more vibrant and enjoyable through arts while others do projects and events that have little impact? The key is shared leadership and collaboration.

Community coaching can help strengthen your efforts to enhance your community and help your cultural projects and events have bigger impacts.  Your community can have a clear plan for action and a set of leaders to guide and oversee the plan.  This plan and process can position your community for more investment and funding.

Community coaching is offered by the New Jersey Consortium for Creative Placemaking, a joint initiative of Plansmart NJ and The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking.

This is how the program works:

  • A community – which can be a neighborhood, municipality, set of towns, county or a region – selects between 10 and 30 people to be part of a ‘Creative Team.’  The team has at least one elected official and at least one working artist, and should have representatives from community and business groups.
  • For six to nine months, a community coach helps the team develop a creative placemaking plan (a set of strategies to enhance community and economic development through arts and culture).
  • The coach also helps team members develop their leadership skills so that they can guide and oversee the implementation of the plan for the long haul.

Community Coaching in NJ is offered in partnership with PlanSmart NJ.

Current and recent community coaching projects include:

  • Perth Amboy Creative Placemaking, Perth Amboy, NJ
  • Louisiana Creative Communities Initiative, statewide in Louisiana
  • MoCo Arts Corridor Partnership, Monmouth County, NJ
  • Hackensack Community Coaching, Hackensack, NJ

 

How the Program Works

Community coaching is a unique planning approach that helps communities build good plans – and the shared leadership to turn ideas into sustained action.   For six to 12 months, a trained community coach works with a team of 12 to 24 community stakeholders to help them address critical community issues through creative placemaking. 

  • A community – which can be a neighborhood, municipality, set of towns, county or a region – selects between 10 and 30 people to be part of a ‘Creative Team.’  The team has at least one elected official and at least one working artist, and should have representatives from community and business groups.
  • For six to nine months, a community coach helps the team develop a creative placemaking plan (a set of strategies to enhance community and economic development through arts and culture)
  • The coach also helps team members develop their leadership skills so that they can guide and oversee the implementation of the plan for the long haul.

Benefits

Communities can get a number of benefits from community coaching.  These include:

  • A clear and concise plan for integrating arts and culture into their community’s economic and community development strategies.  Plans can be adopted as a special study in the town’s master plan; or elements of the plan can go into chapters of a town’s Master Plan.
  • A team of community stakeholders who are able to work together to get things done faster and more cost-effectively
  • Up to 30 points towards Sustainable Jersey certification. Please see Sustainable Jersey guidelines for more information.

Success Stories

The program works. NCCP has conducted and overseen community coaching in 14 communities in New Jersey and Louisiana.  A recent survey of creative team members from 10 communities in Louisiana found that community coaching helped build new partnerships, confidence among residents for positive change, and new understandings about the benefits of arts and culture to community quality of life.

In New Jersey, community coaching helped to create the MoCo Arts Corridor Partnership.  The team is now working to make coastal Monmouth County a year-round cultural destination.

Getting Started

Community coaching is available to any community in New Jersey.  Organizers of community teams should start by bringing together a group of interested stakeholders who want to be part of the community team.  Organizers should then reach out to elected officials or high-level public officials to get their verbal support for this effort.  Your community can register for any of three coaching periods in 2014 and 2015

  • October 2014 to March 2015 (up to June for extended program)
  • January 2015 to June 2015 (up to September for extended program)
  • September 2015 to February 2016 (up to May for extended program)

To learn more about the program, pricing, and how to get started, check out the Getting Started guide or contact Leonardo Vazquez, New Jersey Consortium for Creative Placemaking Executive Director, at leo@artsbuildcommunities.com or at 973-763-6352.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is creative placemaking?

Creative placemaking is a new way to make communities better for the arts, and through the arts.  Creative placemaking works to address social, economic and cultural issues in a community through arts and culture.  The first step in any creative placemaking effort is to build strong partnerships.  This is where community coaching comes in.

What is community coaching?

Community coaching connects a team of 12-30 people from a community with a community coach, who helps the team develop effective creative placemaking strategies.  The coach meets with the team once every three to four weeks for about six months.

Why do community coaching?

Community coaching helps build a team of leaders in the community who can develop good creative placemaking strategies and help them become a reality.  Team members become leaders who can build support for ideas, guide their implementation, and build other leaders in the community.

What does the coach do?

The coach helps the team identify the key goals and issues its members want to address, and helps the team create solutions and choose the best ones.  The coach does not tell the team what to do or push ideas on members.  But the coach helps the team understand the possible tradeoffs of ideas and gives members ways to choose among them.

Who is on the team?

Community coaching teams reflect the diversity of their communities.  Each team has at least one working artist and an elected or appointed public official.  Usually, teams also include representatives from the area’s business community, community-based organizations, schools, and other people who reflect the diversity in the community.

What are team members expected to do?

Team members are expected to attend at least six sessions, actively share their ideas in sessions, and do follow-up tasks between sessions.  Team members are also expected to reach out to their community and their networks, so that the team as a whole knows what kind of strategies will get support, or won’t.

Team members create and agree to a set of guidelines and expectations for all team members.  This is the Team Constitution.