Heimat-Ruhrgebiet / Heimat.Ruhrgebiet

Place making through arts and socially innovative projects

#heimatruhr was a 3-year territorial development programme that supported artists, creative and cultural workers to develop innovative ideas on how to increase place attachment of inhabitants in the old industrial region Ruhr. The Ministry for Regional Identity, Communities and Local Government, Building and Gender Equality of the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia (MHKBG) funded #heimatruhr with three million euros and supported 40 creative and socially innovative projects led by artists and cultural workers. IAT coordinated and developed the programme jointly with the european centre for creative economy (ecce GmbH).


The funded projects envisaged fostering place attachment and creating new innovative identity places in neighbourhoods to improve the perceived quality of life of inhabitants and work towards a sustainable future for the Ruhr area. They developed interventions in public spaces as well as public and vacant buildings, some of which were temporal, some permanent. Their common ground was openness towards all cultures and generations and a distinct orientation towards real places in the local neighbourhoods of the region.

Programme development

First survey: Programme development of #heimatruhr started with a survey among artists, cultural and creative workers in the summer of 2019 that worked or lived in the Ruhr. We asked for their diverse perspectives on their home region, emotional aspects of feeling at home, and ideas for socially innovative and co-creative projects. This bottom-up perspective laid the ground for defining the programme’s topics.

The survey results suggest that for the respondents feeling at home is strongly associated with a positive centre of life related to friends and stimulating work. Family and the place of birth got high values, too, but were of lesser importance. Furthermore, results indicate that feeling at home can relate to more than one place and that such identity places can develop over time.

Call for projects and implementation: A call for projects followed the survey, resulting in a vast amount of project proposals evaluated and selected by a jury. Accordingly, 40 projects were funded by the Ministry, enabling place-based co-creation in the fields of performing arts, visual arts, literature, music, photography, film, street art, game-design, socio-intercultural and cross-disciplinary projects. The projects developed different formats such as events, exhibitions, workshops; place making, art in public space, art on buildings, revitalisation; promotion of the art and creative scene, e.g. through a project space, co-working space or workshop; and permanent or permanently visible interventions.

Second survey: A second survey aimed to evaluate the impact of the funded projects on the places and the participating people. The questions addressed the neighbourhood, the development of a project community, the permanent establishment of such community, the number of participants and the various ways of cooperation in the projects. In addition, a dedicated set of questions addressed the project development during the COVID 19 pandemic and related contact restrictions, lockdowns and online activities.


#heimatruhr projects stimulated open and artistic interventions about the Ruhr and its neighbourhoods, co-created by artists and inhabitants. The projects attracted a vast number of participants. They created new places such as community meeting spaces, artistic production sites, artistic-creative interventions in squares and buildings, or meeting and event formats in public spaces. They supported place attachment and aimed at creating a new place identity. The projects could develop large project communities and reach out to the inhabitants of the neighbourhoods. These communities jointly developed new ideas and identity places, resulting from numerous events and actions and the high number of people involved. Many #heimatruhr projects developed further, even during the corona-induced lockdowns and despite contact restrictions, through creativity, community and (online) exchange.