Are you looking to make a creative placemaking, or art activation, project a reality? It all starts with a well-written proposal. Writing a creative placemaking or activation proposal can be a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be! With these recommended best practices, you can craft a proposal that effectively showcases your project's potential and is more likely to get the attention of potential partners and sponsors. In this article, we'll discuss the recommended practices for writing a successful creative placemaking proposal.
First, what is a Creative Placemaking or Activation Proposal?
A Creative Placemaking or Activation Proposal is an outline of a project idea that intends to revitalize public spaces through the integration of art, culture, and creativity. It should provide a description of the proposed project, photos of the created or intended work, as well as all relevant materials and programming needed for its implementation. The proposal should also set forth specific goals for the project, and describe the timeline for completion. Additionally, it should provide a plan for evaluation to ensure the project’s success. Creative Placemaking Proposals are the ticket to get your idea out there, and is an essential practice for artists and art community members. With this, artists have the potential to turn any public space into a place of vibrant activity and community engagement.
Identify your audience and goals
When writing a Creative Placemaking or Activation Proposal, it is important to have a clear understanding of who you are targeting and what your goals are. The proposal should include a detailed description of the people, organizations, and communities involved, as well as the specific measurable goals that you want to achieve. When moving forward with the following steps, keep all of these ideas and goal points in mind. Consider the question "What needs to happen here to consider this project a success?" and work from there.
Share a clear description and photos of the work you intend to share
A successful Creative Placemaking Proposal should include a thorough description of the work you intend to share.
When writing your description, it’s important to be as specific and detailed as possible. Make sure to include information about the size and scope of the project, and how you plan to use the space. Share measurements, safety needs if you can, and also if or how the public will engage with the work. Paint a picture, if you will, so the people reviewing your proposal can better understand.
In addition to providing a detailed description, be sure to also include photos or sketches of your work. This will help your audience visualize the project and ensure everyone is on the same page. You can also include images of other projects of your past work for reference.
Using both words and visuals will help you communicate your vision clearly and accurately in your Creative Placemaking Proposal.
What is your timeline and "deliverables"?
It’s important to establish a timeline and deliverables for the creative placemaking proposal. Sharing exactly what you will be doing, when you will be doing it, and how you will deem it a success is absolutely critical. Outline when you plan to start and complete your project. Do you need more than one stage of completion? If so, define the intermediate steps and their corresponding deadlines. Establishing clear objectives is key to creating an effective proposal.
When it comes to delivering results, it’s important to specify what will be provided. This could include materials, programming, physical improvements or other measures. These deliverables should match your goals and objectives outlined in the proposal.
To make this timeline, we recommend starting at the end, or the finished product, and working backwards. For example, if you are proposing a series of community art workshops in a public park, or a mural, outline that detail and then consider what all you would need to do to accomplish that on time. Consider every single step, and keep in mind that some things take much longer than you might think. Specifying these components makes it easier for funders and partners to understand the scope of work and what will be provided when the project is completed.
What is your evaluation plan?
When writing your Creative Placemaking or Activation Proposal, it is important to consider how you will measure success. To do this, you need an evaluation plan that includes both quantitative and qualitative measures.
Quantitative measures involve collecting data such as audience size, engagement levels, and feedback from surveys. These are important to include in your evaluation plan because they provide hard evidence of success and help determine whether or not the project achieved its goals.
Qualitative measures involve evaluating how successful the project was from a subjective standpoint. This can include things like identifying the most successful elements of the project, noting the most popular activities, or gathering feedback from focus groups. Qualitative measures provide invaluable insight into how successful the project was from a subjective point of view.
When creating your evaluation plan, make sure to think about both quantitative and qualitative measures. Doing so will help you accurately measure the success of your project and enable you to make any necessary improvements for future projects.
Put it all together and "make it pop"
(Our graphic design friends will laugh at this, because "make it pop" is said all the time, but you do want to visually convey your idea! Once you have all the necessary information, it's time to bring it all together in a creative, exciting proposal that will make an impact on your audience.
As you create your proposal, we recommend this order for proposals -
Page 1. Start with a title page with a photo of intended work.
Page 2. Share a clear description and goals for your project. Make this one full page, and to the point. Share the community impact in this page - WHO are you serving and supporting, WHY is this project important, WHAT are you doing, WHEN will you be doing it all. Keep this one succinct, you will be elaborating later.
Page 3. Share a photo of the intended work, and your timeline and deliverables. Bonus points if you can do a rendering of the work in the space that you imagine it being in. For example, if you want a mural on a certain wall, photoshop your design image on to a photo of that wall. If you are proposing to do a site-specific installation, photoshop the art and also people into a photo of your intended space. Note: if you are sharing a longer project, this section will be much longer than one page.
Page 4. Provide your full budget. It is so important to include everything - every supply, every item yo buy, but also every single hour you will be working on this - admin time in advance, time to clean and prime a wall for a mural, anticipated time to install the artwork, maintenance of the work, deinstall time, etc. Oftentimes artists will not include this admin or prep time, but your time is valuable. If other fields like lawyers, accountants, plumbers, etc can count their time, you should too!
Page 5. Close with impact. Yes, you've already shared the WHY of this project, but really dig in here - Show how your proposal will solve a problem or meet a need in the community. Explain how your project fits into the bigger picture.
Additional Tips - Extra Credit!
1.. Get creative with formatting: Include bold headlines, infographics, or other elements to make your proposal more interesting and easier to read.
2.. Tell a story: Showcase the project in a way that creates an emotional connection to your audience by telling a story about the project and why it matters.
Next, use visuals: Include diagrams, illustrations, and other visuals to help explain your concept and make it stand out.
3. Show your passion: Explain why you’re passionate about the project and why you think it will be successful.
Writing a creative placemaking proposal is an important step in bringing your project to life. By creating a compelling proposal that effectively communicates your idea, you’ll have a greater chance of success.