Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke is all smiles as he talks with reporters alongside Katelyn Kirnie, director of public art for the city of Chattanooga, following a check presentation of $22,000 to the Community Fund of Greater Chattanooga and the Fallen Five Memorial Tuesday in the hangar at Life Force on the Erlanger campus.

Chattanooga has been selected to host the very first Southeast Creative Placemaking Conference, according to a news release from Public Art Chattanooga.

The conference, titled "Beyond Big Cities: Creative Placemaking in Southern Small Towns and Rural Communities" is presented by The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking in partnership with South Arts and ArtPlace America, and supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Public Art Chattanooga, Thrive Regional Partnership, and the Chattanooga Convention and Visitor's Bureau teamed up to submit a proposal to host the conference, which will be held March 15-16, 2018 in Chattanooga.

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said "increasing citizen involvement in the arts" will empower "more Chattanoogans to pursue creative opportunities in our community." 

"This is an exciting honor for Chattanooga as we continue to enhance quality of life and attract people to our community," Berke said in the release. "Arts and culture transform lives by improving our surroundings and creating a sense of place."

Placemaking can be described as a way to make the most of public spaces through planning, design and management for the well being of residents. The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking describes creative placemaking as "a new way to make communities more livable, equitable, and resilient through arts and culture." 

Chattanooga's Main Terrain Park is recognized by the NEA as a model of how to do creative placemaking, and has been praised for its collaborative partnerships and interactive design as well as its practical use for stormwater and exercise.

Katelyn Kirnie, Director of Public Art Chattanooga, said the Glass House Collective's renewal of Glass Street and River City Company's transformation of urban alleyways with the Passageways project are more examples of the successful placemaking the city has to showcase.

She said Chattanooga's hosting of the conference will allow visitors "exclusive access to the unique places that have turned into our region's hidden and not so hidden cultural jewels."

"This is an amazing opportunity to showcase our city and the region's wealth of experience and knowledge in creative placemaking as well as highlight Chattanooga as an arts and cultural destination," Kirnie said in the release.

Public Art Chattanooga is asking individuals and organizations to submit proposals for conference presentations and session topics. The deadline for submissions is Friday, Nov. 17, 2017.

Interested participants should submit proposals here.

For more information, visit the South Arts website at