SMU DataArts - Cultural Data Profile


Cultural Haven off the Coast of Massachusetts Ranks Second in the Nation on Arts Organizations Per Capita

  • Posted Aug 24, 2023

3-minute read

The picturesque enclave of Vineyard Haven celebrates another year of ranking in the top 40 most arts-vibrant communities in the nation. In 2022, the region earned its ranking as 2nd among small-sized communities for density of arts and cultural organizations per capita.

Image courtesy of Martha's Vineyard Playhouse, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Martha's Vineyard, MA (2022). Image courtesy of Martha's Vineyard Playhouse, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Martha's Vineyard, MA (2022).

Download the Infographic


Vineyard Haven Micropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is a working waterfront which encompasses the beautiful island of Martha’s Vineyard and the surrounding islands. While this area has long been known for its stunning natural beauty, tranquil beaches, and idyllic charm, data confirms a thriving artistic ecosystem which also plays a significant role in the region’s economy. According to the 2022 Arts Vibrancy Index, Vineyard Haven scores in the top 2% among small communities on overall Arts Dollars and three of its four sub-measures, including contributed revenue, total expenses, and total compensation paid to arts and cultural employees.

Located on the Northeastern side of Martha's Vineyard, the state-designated Vineyard Haven Harbor Cultural District has emerged as the epicenter of the island's arts and culture activity. Its charming streets are lined with galleries, theaters, and cultural institutions that resonate with a unique blend of tradition and innovation. Here, visitors can find Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, Martha’s Vineyard Museum, Martha’s Vineyard Film Center, the Vineyard Haven Library, Owen Park, and the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center among many other successful organizations and projects. With a diversity of arts and cultural organizations also comes a diversity of artists – a few unique sectors include wooden ship builders, bookmakers, copper sculptors, wooden sign makers, historians, and wampum designers. This small-town community has gracefully woven the fabric of artistic history into its modern identity, creating a cultural haven that beckons artists, enthusiasts, and wanderers alike.

Image courtesy of Martha's Vineyard Playhouse, Martha's Vineyard, MA (2022). Image courtesy of Martha's Vineyard Playhouse, Martha's Vineyard, MA (2022).

Measurements of government support for the arts in Vineyard Haven shows little change from our 2020 report to now. While the data indicates that there may have been an increase in the number of available grants, the grants may have totaled to less in dollar amounts than previous years. Still, Vineyard Haven scores in the top 2% on government support for the arts overall, with particular strengths in attracting federal and state grants.

While Vineyard Haven is not immune to the affects of the global COVID-19 pandemic, reports from the community highlight the resiliency and responsiveness of the arts and cultural community at large. “We have carried on, virtually and otherwise, as a business and arts community. During the pandemic, many arts leaders and community leaders strengthened ties through frequent Zoom meetings and the like,” says MJ Bruder Munafo of Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse.

Certainly, strength isn’t accurately measured by mere size, but rather by resiliency, adaptability, and collaboration, and Vineyard Haven is a prime example. The region's notable ranking as 2nd in the nation for arts and cultural organizations per capita serves as a testament to its enduring commitment to nurturing creativity. It is exciting to envision the continued conservation of this arts and culture hotbed, where the past, present, and future converge in a harmonious celebration of human expression.


Thank you to MJ Bruder Munafo of Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse for their thoughtful contributions to the making of this article.


The Arts Vibrancy Index examines the level of supply, demand, and government support of the arts in more than 900 communities across the country. Accompanied by an interactive Arts Vibrancy Map that reveals the arts-vibrancy score of every county in the U.S., the Index lists, in alphabetical order, the 20 most arts-vibrant large cities, the 10 most arts-vibrant medium cities, and the 10 most arts-vibrant small cities. In this year’s Index, the first since 2020, four communities debut on the lists, and an additional five return after an absence of at least three years.

Read the Report


Leave yours below.