Art Works Blog

Welcome to the Governors' Institute on Community Design Jody Tableporter!

Washington, DC

Jody Tableporter. Photo courtesy Harvard University Graduate School of Design

For the past six years, the National Endowment for the Arts has partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency to sponsor the Governors’ Institute on Community Design. The Governors’ Institute conducts state-level work on design, sustainability, and placemaking to foster connected, economically vital communities that tread lightly on the environment.

Jody Tableporter, the new Director of the Governors’ Institute, had this to say as she took up her new role:

NEA: It is a great job, but a challenging one. Are you up for the challenge?

JODY TABLEPORTER: I love the complexity and challenge of working across policy, projects, and place. It probably helps that I’ve been in the middle of delivering complex projects like the expansion of the Tate Modern---things don’t get much messier than that!

NEA: What do you hope to accomplish while you’re at the Governors’ Institute?

TABLEPORTER: I’d like to blend the best of design, economic development, and city building to help states help communities. This means bringing the best experts and proven practice to the toughest problems, as well as piloting new solutions.

NEA: What do you hope to learn while you’re at the Governors’ Institute?

TABLEPORTER: Despite having a job that is focused, analytical, and “big picture” by nature, I love experiencing what is unique and extraordinary in communities, whether it be a locally grown arts organization or amazing architecture. I will be soaking up as much as possible on my trips to meet with governors and state administrators.

NEA: What experience from past jobs will you put to use in your new role?

TABLEPORTER: I worked in industry strategy and real estate development before combining that experience in city and regional placemaking. I have been on architecture design teams and I have worked with engineers on infrastructure delivery, with businesses and industry clusters, and as a public funder of major projects and programs.

NEA: What are you most proud of accomplishing during your career to date?

TABLEPORTER: Creating a plan for South London that supported arts organizations as part of an economic strategy. Many questioned whether the Tate, South Bank Centre, and the Young Vic Theatre, all established London arts institutions, needed more government funding. I never did. They have had a tremendous impact on the local economy, as well as London’s place in the world.

NEA: Given the types of programs and projects you’ve overseen throughout your career, how would you define “creative placemaking?”

TABLEPORTER: Using creative design to plan and coordinate physical projects, e.g., transit corridors; capitalizing on local arts organizations and clusters to anchor the economics and heart of communities. After all, creative placemaking is about creating great places that foster entrepreneurs and cultural industries that generate jobs and attract businesses.

NEA: We’ve been talking a lot about the relationship between creative industry and the economy. What do you think is the link?

TABLEPORTER: Creative industry is a local economic driver; it is one of those vital economic “clusters” that is almost universal.

NEA: Tell us one of your guilty pleasures.

TABLEPORTER: Snuggling down with my family to watch old musicals; it is what I did with my family growing up.

NEA: Any last words?

TABLEPORTER: Can’t wait to get going!

This post originally appeared on the Governors' Institute on Community Design blog.

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