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Transportation Artists in Residence: A Landscape of an Emerging Field
In 2018 Smart Growth America launched the concept of artists-in-residence in state transportation agencies with leaders of the Minnesota and Washington State Departments of Transportation (MnDOT and WSDOT). The goal of this program was to use a creative approach to advance the agencies’ goals to reduce congestion, promote economic vitality, support multimodal transportation systems, and create healthier communities.
In our report—Transportation Artists in Residence: A Landscape of an Emerging Field—SGA and our program partners examined this program to identify its successes, potential barriers and challenges, and the expected impacts from this network. The TAIR report offers key recommendations for DOT staff and artists to implement future TAIR programs, including strategies such as in-person convenings, program readiness assessments, initial implementation strategies, peer-to-peer mentorship, professional development, and clear expectations to support artists to address any unexpected challenges that may arise.
Key next steps identified in the report include:
- Gather all practitioners in the TAIR field for an in-person convening (artists, transportation planners, arts administrators, other collaborating DOT staff, community leaders).
- To make TAIR program development more accessible, develop a program readiness assessment and initial implementation strategies.
- Institutionalize a clear, specific, and measurable commitment to equity in each TAIR program.
- Create a peer-to-peer mentorship network that enables dialogue and strategy to collectively navigate the opportunities and challenges that arise in TAIR programs.
- Organize professional development programs to a.) support artists working in civic contexts and b.) train new DOT field leaders.
- Set clear expectations between DOT staff and artists in a contract that breaks down each partner’s role, program structures, program outcome(s), timeline, and budget.
- Solidify support for artists from staff across DOTs, outside funders, and field experts.