Cities Listed for the First Time Include Salt Lake City, UT; Ann Arbor, MI; Kalamazoo-Portage, MI; and Brevard, NC
After a brief hiatus, SMU DataArts, the National Center for Arts Research, is proud to once again release the Arts Vibrancy Index Report in its seventh iteration, celebrating arts-vibrant communities across the United States even as they grapple with the ongoing realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For this, our first AVI since 2020 we are not presenting a ranked list.
The pandemic has disrupted and reshaped our world in many ways; masks, vaccines, video conferencing, digital arts programming, and even delivery services have all developed to meet societal needs.
The arts and culture sector was hard hit by the pandemic. Reopening patterns were staggered from community to community, and some communities benefitted from government and private funding relief programs whereas others did not have commensurate access to resources.
With widescale closures beginning in March 2020, organizations across the country saw steep drops in earned revenue from ticket and admissions sales loss. Enduring COVID-related behavioral patterns have shifted ticket demand among audience members by roughly 20%, with fluctuating case rates keeping the sector in a reactive posture as organizations face uncertainty about future demand for arts programming. The initial shock of the pandemic on employment in the United States laid bare inequities in how arts and culture organizations cultivate and retain workforces. Unemployment in the arts was double that of overall national unemployment and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color as well as disabled individuals were disproportionately affected.
These workforce and audience shifts as a result of COVID-19 present to arts and cultural organizations the idea that traditional business models and methods of operation may need adjustment to endure in a world where COVID-19 becomes endemic. We feel that this moment calls for reflection on arts vibrancy from a place of gratitude for what communities have been through and solidarity in support of their resilience.
For this reason, we have decided to simply highlight the top 40 communities of different sizes this year and not provide an overall ranking. You may access a table of how each of these communities ranked on measures and sub-measures of arts vibrancy here; however, the lists are sorted alphabetically and not by overall arts vibrancy rankings. We hope you will stay tuned as we release profiles of vibrant communities around the country, and gather members of these communities for dialog about what it means to cultivate arts vibrancy locally in the coming months.
Fluctuations in a community’s inclusion in the top 40 Arts-Vibrant Communities list occur from year to year for several reasons:
We invited a panel of arts leaders from communities large and small to share first-hand accounts about their process for strengthening and sustaining arts communities during times of crisis and challenge, recovery, and reopening.