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The Top 40 Most Arts-Vibrant Communities in America (2019)

By Zannie Giraud Voss, SMU DataArts Director, Glenn Voss, SMU DataArts Research Director with Daniel Fonner and Ludovica Marsili

Identifying 40 of the most arts-vibrant communities across America using the most up-to-date data on supply, demand, and support for the arts.

See our full coverage:

Executive Summary

SMU DataArts, the National Center for Arts Research, is pleased to provide the 2019 Arts Vibrancy Index Report. Like its four predecessors, this year’s edition draws upon a set of data-informed indices to identify arts-vibrant communities across the U.S.

Arts and cultural organizations exist where people live throughout the nation, serving communities both poor and affluent, rural and urban. Their ubiquity is a testament to the human need for creativity and desire to engage with artistic expression. In 2018, arts activity in every U.S. Congressional District in the country benefitted from federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Arts and cultural organizations are engines of community development and community cohesion. The arts provide culturally infused experiences that are consumed in an open, social setting,  which is ideal for engendering social integration in a diverse marketplace. The current climate of political, sociocultural, and economic polarization makes it more important than ever to recognize and celebrate the essential role that arts and culture play in making communities throughout the country not only more vibrant places to live and visit but also more unified, safe, and tolerant.

All cities can learn from each other’s strengths. In this report, we highlight and celebrate communities big and small, located in every region, that have cultivated higher levels of arts activity per person living in the community. We use the term “vibrancy” in keeping with Merriam-Webster’s definition of the word to mean  “pulsating  with life, vigor, or activity.”4

Rather than base the list on popular vote or on our own opinion about locations,  we take an empirical approach to assessing a variety of characteristics that make up a community’s arts vibrancy. Our method involves measuring community traits, such as the number of nonprofit arts and cultural organizations per capita. Although this may appear to some like a counting exercise, there is more to it. All else being equal, more arts and cultural organizations in a community translates to more availability of arts experiences for people to engage within that community. It also means more variety. A community with 50 arts organizations most likely has a greater range of options than a community of comparable size with only five organizations, so a greater diversity of interests, preferences, and cultural expressions can be met. This is just one example of the 12 measures we use.

 

We openly admit that our measures of vibrancy do not capture artistic quality, nor do they say anything about who participates in the arts, or the many cultural offerings by organizations whose core mission lies outside of the arts such as parks, military bases, hospitals, and libraries.

We do not include qualitative assessment about the value or depth of the experience with art for any individual or community. To avoid bias, we intentionally exclude data that is available only for some cities but not others. We will continue to add new rubrics and additional measures as they become available on a national scale in order to capture the most complete and unbiased assessment of arts vibrancy. For now, the metrics used in this report are based on the most reliable and geographically inclusive sources of data available.

 

To assess arts vibrancy across the United States, we analyze four measures under each of three main rubrics: supply, demand, and public support for arts and culture on a per capita basis.

We gauge supply as total arts providers, demand with measures of total nonprofit arts dollars in the community, and public support as state and federal arts funding. We use multiple measures since vibrancy reveals itself in a constellation of ways.

Each community has its own story of what makes it unique and vibrant, so we share highlights to give a better understanding of the life, vigor, and activity that are reflected in the numbers. Local arts councils, arts alliances, convention and visitor bureaus, and other agencies provided descriptions of their community’s exceptional history, attributes, and assets. These descriptions were not used in calculating vibrancy but add context to communities that are recognized in this study as Top Arts-Vibrant Communities. We thank them for their help.

 

Download the Report

2019 Key Findings:

  • The component makeup of arts vibrancy is unique to each community. Some Top Arts-Vibrant Communities consist primarily of smaller and mid-sized organizations and venues, others have a concentration of large nonprofit arts and cultural institutions and little else, some benefit from their close proximity and ties to another arts-vibrant community, and others are artist magnets or tourist destinations. Numerous arts sectors flourish in some communities while a particular art form dominates in other communities.
  • Every region of the country has vibrant arts communities that appear in this report (see Figure 1 and Tables 1, 2, and 3). Again, the rankings arise naturally from the data, not from hand selection of communities to achieve geographic representation. Large metropolitan areas are represented in all regions of the country, medium communities are predominantly located in the West, South, and Northeast regions, and the list of small communities is dominated by those located in the West, Midwest, and Northeast.
  • Very large metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) showcase vibrancy through extensive dispersion or high concentrations of arts and culture. Some large MSAs feature a strong concentration of arts vibrancy in the urban core with less going on in outlying districts whereas others feature vibrancy that is dispersed throughout the metropolitan area. Concentration versus dispersion of people and organizations is important to consider given the influence that distance has on attendance.5
  • A community’s arts vibrancy is in perpetual motion, but changes tend to be incremental, not radical. New communities made the list, and there is reshuffling among communities that made the list in previous years.

 

Ten percent of the communities are entirely new to our lists this year while another 20 percent return after not being included in the 2018 report.

  • One small community, Brookings, SD, made the list for the first time. Steamboat Springs, CO, reappears on the small community list following a two-year hiatus. Breckenridge, CO, Greenfield  Town, MA, Hudson, NY, and Vineyard Haven, MA, return from the 2017 report.
  • There are two new medium communities on the top-10 list – Charlottesville, VA, and Boulder, CO – while Ithaca, NY, and Bremerton-Silverdale, WA, return from the 2017 report.
  • One new community made our top-20 large metropolitan area list for the first time: Nassau County-Suffolk County, NY. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO, makes a reappearance from the 2017 report.

 

Annual fluctuations  in the rankings  occur for several reasons:

  1. A community’s arts and cultural scene may have experienced a change, such as the opening of a museum or closing of a performance space.
  2. Since the measures are calculated on a per capita basis, it could be that growth in arts and culture was on a different trajectory than that of the total population. For instance, a city experiencing a high influx of new residents will drop in the rankings if the supply, demand, and inflow of state and federal grants does not increase at a commensurate level.
  3. We continue to incorporate fresh data and learn about the role of distance, how concentration versus dispersion of arts organizations and people factors in, and the extent to which a community’s arts and cultural activity attracts or implicates its neighboring community members who commute as attendees or employees, for example.6 This has led us to make some adjustments to our calculations.
  4. We added in a cost-of-living adjustment to all financial metrics in order to level the playing field. The cost of doing business varies based on local conditions, so the same dollar goes further in some communities than others.

 

Figure 1: Top 40 Arts-Vibrant Communities, by Location and Size

Table 1: Top 20 Arts-Vibrant Large Communities (Metropolitan Areas or Metro Divisions with population over 1,000,000)                                                                        

RANK MSA (*= METRO DIVISION)
REGION 2018 POPULATION

1

New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ*

Northeast

14,242,759

2

San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA*

West

1,652,850

3

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA*

West

10,105,518

4

Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI

Midwest

3,629,190

5

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV*

South

4,941,735

6

Boston, MA*

Northeast

2,030,772

7

Newark, NJ-PA*

Northeast

2,504,672

8

Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN

South

1,930,961

9

Silver Spring-Frederick-Rockville, MD*

South

1,308,215

10

Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, MA*

Northeast

2,405,352

11

Philadelphia, PA*

Northeast

2,148,889

12

Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA

West

2,478,810

13

New Orleans-Metairie, LA

South

1,270,399

14

Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA*

West

3,048,064

15

Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley, CA*

West

2,816,968

16

Nassau County-Suffolk County, NY

Northeast

2,839,436

17

Austin-Round Rock, TX

South

2,168,316

18

Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, IL*

Midwest

7,288,849

19

Cleveland-Elyria, OH

Midwest

2,057,009

 20

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO

West

2,932,415

 

Table 2: Top 10 Arts-Vibrant Medium Communities (Metropolitan Areas or Metro Divisions with population 100,000 to 1,000,000)

RANK MSA (*= METRO DIVISION) REGION 2018 POPULATION

1

Santa Fe, NM

West

150,056

2

Pittsfield, MA

Northeast

126,348

3

San Rafael, CA*

West

259,666

4

Missoula, MT

West

118,791

5

Charlottesville, VA

South

235,232

6

Ithaca, NY

Northeast

102,793

7

Burlington-South Burlington, VT

Northeast

221,083

8

Boulder, CO

West

326,078

9

Asheville, NC

South

459,585

10

Bremerton-Silverdale, WA

West

269,805

 

Table 3: Top 10 Arts-Vibrant Small Communities (Micropolitan Areas)

RANK MSA REGION 2018 POPULATION

1

Jackson, WY-ID

West

34,721

2

Summit Park, UT

West

41,933

3

Steamboat Springs, CO

West

25,733

4

Bennington, VT

Northeast

35,631

5

Vineyard Haven, MA

Northeast

17,352

6

Hudson, NY

Northeast

59,916

7

Brookings, SD

Midwest

35,232

8

Oneonta, NY

Northeast

59,749

9

Greenfield Town, MA

Northeast

70,963

10

Breckenridge, CO

West

31,007

Introduction

Arts and cultural organizations are intimately tied to their communities. SMU DataArts recognizes this and combines data from nonprofit arts and cultural organizations with data for the communities in which they reside.i By geolocating organizations and linking them to their community’s characteristics in the data, we can identify factors that affect the health and sustainability of arts organizations. We know from our research that each of the factors from the ecosystem included in this report has an influence on a variety of financial, operating, and attendance outcomes for arts and cultural organizations. We share our findings regarding the operating and community characteristics that drive performance – and how they affect performance – in our quarterly reports (see, for example, The Fundraising Report).

Arts and culture also play a vital role in a city’s livability and its social cohesion. The Arts Vibrancy Index (AVI) can help arts leaders, businesses, government agencies, funders,  and engaged citizens understand the overall intensity and capacity of the community’s arts and culture sector. Past AVI reports have helped communities get the recognition they deserve from their mayors, city council members, and state legislators for their previously under-appreciated arts activity. Arts leaders have informed us that they use the AVI reports and interactive map on our website to consider where to relocate their operations and what markets are ripe for touring performances or exhibitions. Communities can benchmark themselves against an aspirational set of communities and understand what sets them apart by examining the underlying dimensions of demand, supply, and public support for arts and culture. This granular detail provides insights as to why two cities that seem very different on the surface might be close to one another in the ranking.

From 2010 to 2016, Americans for the Arts’ National Arts Index tracked the aggregate vitality of the nation’s arts and culture. There are valuable frameworks that chronicle a neighborhood’s cultural resources such as the Cultural Asset Index and the Baltimore-focused interactive tool GeoLoom. There are published rankings that assess the strength of arts and culture as part of a larger look at a city’s attractiveness and livability, and others that focus on the arts and cultural sector’s role as part of creative placemaking. We share some metrics with these other studies and tools but, in keeping with SMU DataArts’ mission, our ranking focuses solely on arts and culture with heavy emphasis on the nonprofit sector.

We drew our measures from a review of the existing literature on arts and culture indicators and from our Model of the Arts & Culture Ecosystem (see Figure 2), which features a complex and interdependent set of relationships among: 1) artists and arts organizations; 2) their communities; and 3) government funding that influences the production and consumption of arts and culture.

How to Use Arts Vibrancy

 

Figure 2: Modeling the Arts & Culture Ecosystem

Key Definitions

Our measures are aggregated across the 12 arts and cultural sectors that are included in SMU DataArts’ research and KIPI Dashboard: Arts Alliances and Service Organizations, Arts Education, Art Museums, Community, Dance, Music, Opera, Performing Arts Center, Symphony Orchestra, Theater, Other Museum, and General Performing Arts.ii Some sectors combine arts and cultural disciplines with similar characteristics.iii 

Communities are defined by the Office of Management and Budget  (OMB) as MSAs, or Micro-and Metropolitan Statistical Areas. As described on the OMB website:

Metropolitan Statistical Areahave  at least one urbanized area of 50,000 or more population, plus adjacent territory that has a high degree of social and economic integration with the core as measured by commuting ties.” 7

Micropolitan Statistical Areahave  at least one urban cluster of at least 10,000 but less than 50,000 population, plus adjacent territory that has a high degree of social and economic integration with the core as measured by commuting ties.” 8

Focusing on MSAs provides a nationally standardized, objective approach to delineating markets. MSAs capture the network of suburbs that rise up around a city or town rather than considering them separately. A key feature, as quoted above, is the “high degree of social and economic integration with the core as measured by commuting ties.”

Arts leaders sometimes balk at the notion of MSAs because they think about the character of their city in very different terms than they do that of surrounding suburbs. And yet audience members, artists, and employees of arts organizations live in the surrounding suburbs, particularly when real estate prices make living in the urban core cost-prohibitive. Off-site production facilities and storage are frequently located in less expensive parts of town that may or may not fall within the city’s official boundaries. The main airport often lies outside of the city limits and yet the arts and cultural organizations in the city are well-served by air transportation to ship materials or to bring in artists and visitors. For these reasons, the OMB’s approach has practical implications for arts and cultural ecosystems. 

Both Micro- and Metropolitan Statistical Areas are comprised of one or more counties. For this reason, readers will find descriptions of county-wide activity in the latter half of this report. The OMB is careful to point out that, since MSAs encompass entire counties, they do not represent an urban vs. rural classification since many counties hold both rural and urban characteristics.9 

Where the OMB breaks down very large MSAs with populations over 2.5 million into Metropolitan Divisions, we do the same. Metropolitan Divisions function as distinct social, economic, and cultural areas within the larger MSA, kind of like MSAs within MSAs.10 Some of these are fairly compact and may make intuitive sense to analyze together, like Boston and Cambridge. Others,  like the Metropolitan Divisions that make up the Chicago or Washington, DC, MSAs, are spread across large distances and numerous states. To keep consistent across all analyses, we go with Metropolitan Divisions where they exist and note the comparisons with MSAs and with other  Metropolitan Divisions for the same MSA. In total, there are 953 unique MSAs and Metro Divisions in the U.S.

Although all measures are calculated on a per capita basis, we break  cities into three  size categories rather than compare cities of vastly different size: Large Metropolitan Statistical Areas (and Metro Divisions) with populations over 1,000,000; Medium Metropolitan Statistical Areas (and Metro Divisions) with populations of 100,000 to 1 million; and Small Micropolitan Statistical Areas, which are counties whose urban cores have between 10,000  and 50,000 people. Taking a per capita approach, and capturing the activity of MSAs rather than cities (i.e., urban cores only), sometimes leads to surprising results.

Metrics and Measures

Our intention is to provide information about metrics that are meaningful and consequential, and to stimulate a conversation about how cities vary in their arts vibrancy and what forms vibrancy can take. Arts Providers are a gauge of supply and include the number of independent artists, arts and culture employees, nonprofit arts and cultural organizations, and arts, culture, and entertainment firms in the community. Arts Dollars represent a gauge of demand for nonprofit arts and cultural programming, including earned revenue from program activities, contributed revenue supporting the arts, total compensation to artists and staff, and total expenses.

Government grant activity is a gauge of public support for arts and culture, captured as the number of state and federal grants and total government grant dollars in the community. 

Table 4 shows what we measured and how we weighted each area. We weight Arts Providers and Arts Dollars more heavily than Government Support because of their critical importance to arts vibrancy, as they are indicators of supply and demand. We now adjust revenue and expense figures by a cost-of-living index. 

 

Table 4: Index Components (all per capita measures)iv  

METRIC MEASURES DESCRIPTION WEIGHT

 Arts Providers

 

County and ZIP code Business Pattern data collected and disseminated by the US Census Bureau. Arts and cultural organization data aggregated from IRS 990s.

45%

 

Independent artists

Freelance artists primarily engaged in performing in artistic productions, in creating artistic and cultural works or productions, or in providing the technical expertise necessary for these productions, aggregated at the zip code level

 
 

Arts and culture employees

Number of people employed by the museum, historical site, theater, dance, music, opera, and other performing arts sectors, as salaried employees or independent contractors, aggregated at the county level

 
 

Arts and cultural organizations

Number of nonprofit organizations in the museum, arts education, community, dance, music, opera, performing arts center, orchestra, theater, multidisciplinary performing arts, or arts alliance and service organization sectors, aggregated at the zip code level

 
 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

Number of arts, culture, and entertainment firms, weighted for size and aggregated at the zip code level. Includes museums, theaters, dance companies, opera companies, music groups and performers, music producers and presenters, fine arts schools, and recording, motion picture, and video production companies

 

 Arts Dollars

 

Data aggregated from IRS 990s, SMU DataArts’ Cultural Data Profile, and Theatre Communications Group

45%

 

Program revenue

All revenue earned due to people participating in the activities of nonprofit arts and cultural organizations*

 
 

Contributed revenue

All revenue from contributions to nonprofit arts and cultural organizations (includes public funding)*

 
 

Total expenses 

All expenses of nonprofit arts and cultural organizations*

 
 

Total compensation

All payment to staff and artists by nonprofit cultural organizations*

 

 Government Support

 

Data collected and disseminated by the National Endowment for the Arts, Institute of Museum and Library Services, and National Assembly of State Arts Agencies

10%

 

State arts dollars

All state arts dollar funding in the community*

 
 

State arts grants

Number of state arts grants awarded in the community

 
 

Federal arts dollars

All NEA and IMLS dollar funding in the community*

 
 

Federal arts grants

Number of NEA and IMLS grants awarded in the community

 

* Adjusted by a cost-of-living index

Because there  are 953  unique  MSAs and Metro Divisions, any ranking between 1 and 95 still puts that community in the top 10% of cities on that measure,  and a ranking of 96-190 means the community  is in the top

20th  percentile, etc. Being ranked in the top 10 roughly means being in the top 1%.

Rankings are ordinal measures – i.e., who came 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. – which provides uniformity but no information about the degree of difference between the raw measures. This is an important distinction to keep in mind. For example, the community ranked 1st on independent artists might feature a population that is 10% independent artists while the population in the 2nd place community has only 5% independent artists and the 3rd place community has 4.9% independent artists. The degree of difference between cities 1 and 2 is much bigger than the difference between cities 2 and 3, and yet the ranking makes them appear to be evenly spread apart. This is why the overall arts vibrancy ranking is not an average of the rankings on the three-component metrics and the three-component metrics are not an average of the rankings on their underlying measures.v    

We don’t average rankings, we average raw scores.

The Top 20 Large Communities

Here you will find details and profiles on the top 20 arts-vibrant communities with a population of 1,000,000 or more. The rankings on the metrics and measures range from a high of 1 to a low of 953 since there are 953 unique MSAs and Metro Divisions. We offer insights into each community’s arts and cultural scene and report rankings for Arts Providers, Arts Dollars, and Government Support, as well as the rankings of the underlying measures. Subtle distinctions often emerge that illuminate particular strengths. Again, we weight Arts Providers and Arts Dollars at 45% each and Government Support at 10%.

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV and Silver Spring- Frederick-Rockville, MD – the two Metro Divisions that make up the larger Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV, MSA – made the list for the fifth year in a row. By contrast, Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, IL, was the only one of four Metro Divisions of the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI, MSA, to make the list each of the past five years. Chicago appears to have high arts vibrancy in the urban core that is not prevalent in the surrounding areas.

#1 New York – Jersey City – White Plains,  NY-NJ (pop. 14,242,759) 

 Arts Providers

 

3rd

 

Independent artists

13th

 

Arts and culture employees

14th

 

Arts and culture organizations

48th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

3rd

 Arts Dollars

 

5th

 

Program revenue

5th

 

Contributed revenue

7th

 

Total expenses

5th

 

Total compensation

5th

 GovernmenSupport

 

17th

 

State arts dollars

151st

 

State arts grants

246th

 

Federal arts dollars

19th

 

Federal arts grants

9th

 

The New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ, Metro Division spans the five boroughs of New York City as well as six counties in New Jersey and three Hudson Valley counties. The diversity of options dispersed throughout New York City’s five boroughs makes the Metro Division unique.

Visitors and residents alike can experience a variety of artistic offerings in virtually all genres and from numerous cultural perspectives. Venues range from large, internationally  known icons such as the Whitney Museum, Carnegie Hall, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, MoMA, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic, American Museum of Natural History, and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum to more locally-focused organizations including the Louis Armstrong House Museum, Flushing Town Hall, Weeksville Heritage Center, Sugar Hill Children’s Museum, Alice Austen House, and Bronx River Arts Center. Not surprisingly, New York is ranked 3rd in the country on overall Arts Providers and 5th on Arts Dollars per capita. Nearly every measure of both Arts Providers and Arts Dollars is in the top 1% or better. It is worth pointing out that our Arts Dollars measures do not include commercial galleries or Broadway theaters. The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs has significant impact through its dedicated support and strengthening of the city’s vibrant cultural life.

There are numerous clusters of arts and cultural activity such as the Chelsea and Lower East Side gallery districts, the Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District, Museum Mile on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Snug Harbor on Staten Island, and Flushing Meadows/Corona Park in Queens, which collectively represent a range of performing  and visual arts activity. New York’s historical and future role in the arts is captured by the World Cities Culture Forum, “The creativity driving this success is grounded in New York’s neighbourhoods, which have played an often revolutionary role in developing artforms. These include Yiddish theatre in the Lower East Side, hip hop and graffiti in the Bronx, pop art and punk rock in the East Village, the jazz and literature of the Harlem Renaissance, and the continued evolution of the Broadway theatre district. Culture is deeply ingrained in communities across all five boroughs of New York. The Mayor has committed to building 1,500 units of affordable living and working space for artists and 500 work spaces for artists over the next decade, to be available  at below-market rates.”12

#2 San Francisco – Redwood City – South San Francisco, CA (pop. 1,652,850) 

 Arts Providers

 

7th

 

Independent artists

102nd

 

Arts and culture employees

10th

 

Arts and culture organizations

8th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

5th

 Arts Dollars

 

4th

 

Program revenue

3rd

 

Contributed revenue

4th

 

Total expenses

4th

 

Total compensation

3rd

 GovernmenSupport

 

25th

 

State arts dollars

392nd

 

State arts grants

268th

 

Federal arts dollars

25th

 

Federal arts grants

3rd

 

The San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA, Metro Division’s arts and cultural landscape enjoys strong representation by organizations of every size and sector. Many arts and cultural organizations are clustered in neighborhoods: SOMA, Civic Center, Union Square, Potrero Hill/Dogpatch, and the Mission. San Francisco’s ballet, symphony, and opera are highly regarded, tour regularly around the world, and are among the highest-budget organizations in the community. Museums range from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which is the largest contemporary art museum in the country, to Exploratorium to the Cable Car Museum to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. ART BIAS, based in Redwood City, supports individual artists through artist studios,  professional development events and resources, exhibition opportunities, and a thriving community of artists interested in each other’s success. San Francisco is home to over 1,000 murals, and thousands of public artworks, which were funded by the City’s Art Enrichment Ordinance. The Ordinance requires that 2% of gross construction costs of civic building projects be allocated for permanent public art, ultimately helping enrich and beautify public spaces throughout the city, from the airport to hospitals. San Francisco also has a 1%-for-art program requiring large downtown-area construction projects to provide public art equal to at least 1% of construction cost.

Many employees of tech companies direct their giving to the arts. San Francisco has an active and thriving “alternative/counter culture” arts community as well. The San Francisco Arts Commission is the city agency that champions the arts as essential to daily life by investing in a vibrant arts community, enlivening the urban environment and shaping innovative cultural policy. Grants for the Arts/Hotel Tax Fund is a city department that funds arts organizations and supports an arts promotion position within the city’s destination marketing organization. On a per-capita basis, San Francisco is in the top 1% on Arts Providers and Arts Dollars overall, as well as every underlying measure of Arts Dollars. It is ranked 3rd on total compensation paid to arts and culture employees and 3rd on federal arts grants.

#3 Los Angeles – Long Beach – Glendale, CA (pop. 10,105,518)

 Arts Providers

 

1st

 

Independent artists

1st

 

Arts and culture employees

25th

 

Arts and culture organizations

215th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

1st

 Arts Dollars

 

47th

 

Program revenue

77th

 

Contributed revenue

34th

 

Total expenses

56th

 

Total compensation

46th

 GovernmenSupport

 

297th

 

State arts dollars

697th

 

State arts grants

750th

 

Federal arts dollars

101st

 

Federal arts grants

95th

 

The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA, Metro Division’s signature film and recording industries, outstanding arts schools, enviable year-round climate, and a welcoming attitude toward nonconformists have been magnets for visual and performing artists looking to push creative boundaries for nearly a century. Today, Los Angeles boasts more artists and more arts, culture, and entertainment firms per capita than any community in the U.S., ranking 1st on Arts Providers and independent artists. The City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs operates 36 cultural centers and theaters spread throughout the community, provides grant funding, and produces arts education programming with an emphasis on inclusion, diversity, equity, excellence, and accessibility.  

The City of Los Angeles mandates that one percent of the total cost of all construction, improvements, or renovation projects undertaken by the city be set aside for engaging public art projects. The L.A. County Arts Commission funds, among other initiatives, free concerts at venues throughout L.A. County as part of the annual Free Concerts in Public Sites Program.

The vast wealth and subsequent generosity of early entrepreneurs resulted in Los Angeles becoming home  to some of the world’s most important  art museums and collections, such as the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Hammer Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Norton Simon Museum, The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, and most recently, The Broad museum. Independent art galleries with offerings for every art lover can be found all over the city. For the performing arts, Los Angeles is home to the world-renowned Music Center, one of the largest performing arts centers in the United States, with its five acclaimed venues and world-class resident companies: Center Theatre Group, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Master Chorale, and Los Angeles Opera. The Hollywood Bowl is the largest performing arts amphitheater in the world. These iconic institutions live in harmony with the Geffen Playhouse, Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and hundreds of smaller professional theater companies, dance companies, and music ensembles.

#4 Minneapolis – St. Paul – Bloomington, MN-WI (pop. 3,629,190)

 Arts Providers

 

26th

 

Independent artists

94th

 

Arts and culture employees

31st

 

Arts and culture organizations

66th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

15th

 Arts Dollars

 

8th

 

Program revenue

11th

 

Contributed revenue

15th

 

Total expenses

9th

 

Total compensation

10th

 GovernmenSupport

 

4th

 

State arts dollars

3rd

 

State arts grants

61st

 

Federal arts dollars

11th

 

Federal arts grants

17th

 

The Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI MSA has revered music, literary and publishing scenes, strong theaters, foundations, support for individual artists, a great orchestra, a wealth of performance and dance troupes, and many opportunities for visual artists in the region’s renowned advertising sector. Expanded support for Native American, African American, Asian, and Latinx voices is a priority. It ranks 4th in the nation in Government Support and 3rd for state arts dollars per capita. Minneapolis-St. Paul also ranks 8th in Arts Dollars and 10th nationally on total compensation to those working in arts and cultural organizations. The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Weisman Art Museum, and The Museum of Russian Art are anchors in a visual art scene that includes over 400 working studios within just the NE quadrant of Minneapolis alone. The area’s dynamic theater scene includes companies such as Illusion, Jungle, Mixed Blood, Penumbra, Mu Performing Arts, Red Eye, Theater Latté Da, In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, Lundstrum Performing Arts, and the Children’s Theatre Company. The Guthrie Theater, the area’s largest theater company, occupies a three-stage complex overlooking the Mississippi River. The Minnesota Orchestra performs in Minneapolis at the recently renovated Orchestra Hall, and Minnesota Opera performs in St. Paul’s Ordway theater.

The Science Museum of Minnesota and Minnesota Children’s Museum are also in St. Paul. The city is home to the Minnesota Fringe Festival, the largest non-juried performing arts festival in the U.S., and Art-A-Whirl, the largest open studio tour. In addition, Minneapolis has the largest literary and book center in the country, Open Book, and launched its inaugural literary festival, Wordplay, in May 2019. There are numerous community-based organizations that focus on cultural and ethnic practice and exchange, sharing knowledge of folk arts and celebratory events. ArtPlace America has helped to fund “Irrigate,” a three-year community development initiative created through the partnership between Springboard for the Arts, City of Saint Paul, and Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Corporation. Irrigate developed in response to the disruptive construction of a new rail line through the urban core, concerning many business owners in the area. Likewise, the City of Minneapolis’ Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy directs a Kresge-funded initiative offering multiple opportunities for artists and city departments to leverage and apply the skills and resources of the creative community toward city goals.

#5 Washington – Arlington – Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV (pop.  4,941,735)

 Arts Providers

 

35th

 

Independent artists

198th

 

Arts and culture employees

19th

 

Arts and culture organizations

74th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

36th

 Arts Dollars

 

3rd

 

Program revenue

17th

 

Contributed revenue

1st

 

Total expenses

1st

 

Total compensation

2nd

 GovernmenSupport

 

23rd

 

State arts dollars

125th

 

State arts grants

176th

 

Federal arts dollars

36th

 

Federal arts grants

23rd

 

The Washington-Arlington-Alexandria,  DC-VA- MD-WV, Metropolitan Division encompasses the District of Columbia and surrounding counties, including Prince George’s County in Maryland, and Fairfax and Arlington counties and the city of Alexandria in Virginia. Home to many world-class museums and a dynamic performing arts scene, the Washington, DC, region ranked 3rd overall in Arts Dollars and 1st or 2nd on three of the four sub-measures. Although there  are many small and mid-sized arts and cultural organizations in every arts and culture sector, DC is especially rich in large organizations: the National Gallery of Art, Corcoran Gallery of Art, The Phillips Collection, the many Smithsonian Institution museums, the Renwick Gallery, Shakespeare Theater Company, Ford’s Theater, The National Theatre, the Warner Theatre, and Arena Stage.

The John  F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts houses the Washington National Opera, National Symphony Orchestra, and its artistic constituents are many. Both Virginia’s Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts and Maryland’s Strathmore and Clarice Smith Center for the Performing Arts are large contributors to the region’s art scene. The DC Metro Division is a thriving hub of arts activity that is home to several of the nation’s arts service organizations, including the American Alliance of Museums, Association for Performing Arts Professionals, Americans for the Arts, Chorus America, and Dance/USA. Being the nation’s capital, it has an international population and a plethora of organizations that promote cultural and ethnic awareness. The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (CAH) provides grant funding, professional opportunities, education enrichment, and other programs and services to individuals and organizations in all communities within the District of Columbia. It is joined by the Arlington Commission for the Arts, the Alexandria Commission on the Arts, the Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council, and the Arts Council of Fairfax County in granting funds and supporting programs that benefit the arts in the greater DC metropolitan area. Although Washington, DC is not a state, District of Columbia funding is reported as state funding through the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies

#6 Boston, MA (pop. 2,030,772) 

 Arts Providers

 

30th

 

Independent artists

294th

 

Arts and culture employees

26th

 

Arts and culture organizations

35th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

16th

 Arts Dollars

 

6th

 

Program revenue

4th

 

Contributed revenue

25th

 

Total expenses

7th

 

Total compensation

6th

 GovernmenSupport

 

16th

 

State arts dollars

157th

 

State arts grants

86th

 

Federal arts dollars

13th

 

Federal arts grants

16th

 

The Boston, MA Metro Division’s arts community thrives on innovation and collaboration amongst organizations in the city’s arts sector and between arts organizations, neighboring communities, and other industries. From small organizations like The Record Company and Company One to mid-sized, award-winning organizations like the Huntington Theatre Company, to icons such as the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has a wide variety of arts programming and venues. ArtsBoston serves 175 arts and cultural organizations with research and audience-building programs. Now and There brings art out into the community, exhibiting public art in common gathering places. Iconic cultural institutions can be found all over the city, such as the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Children’s Museum, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Furthermore, the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture supports hundreds of organizations and serves around 1,500 artists annually through grants, technical assistance, and programs. Boston’s Percent for Art Program allocates 1% of the City’s annual capital borrowing budget to the commissioning of public art. Boston organizations rank in the top 1% for per capita program revenue, total expenses, and total compensation paid to those working in arts and culture. The city ranks in the top 3% for Arts Providers, with particular strength in the number of arts and culture employees, organizations, and entertainment firms per capita. 

#7 Newark, NJ-PA (pop. 2,504,672) 

 Arts Providers

 

17th

 

Independent artists

37th

 

Arts and culture employees

48th

 

Arts and culture organizations

116th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

9th

 Arts Dollars

 

14th

 

Program revenue

15th

 

Contributed revenue

27th

 

Total expenses

16th

 

Total compensation

11th

 GovernmenSupport

 

30th

 

State arts dollars

44th

 

State arts grants

346th

 

Federal arts dollars

43rd

 

Federal arts grants

29th

 

The Newark, NJ-PA, Metro Division spans six counties in New Jersey and Pike County, PA, and is part of the larger New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA, MSA. Newark is a desirable place for artists to live, as evidenced by the ranking on independent artists per capita in the top 4% of communities and easy access to employment, not only locally but also in nearby New York. Newark Arts is a nonprofit that “powers the arts” to transform lives of those who live in, work in, and visit Newark. The Newark Arts Education Roundtable comprises more than 88 partners in a cross-sector collaborative to ensure that all schoolchildren receive high quality, sequential arts education. Cultural anchor institutions include the world-class New Jersey Performing Arts Center, which recently announced that the Leon and Toby Cooperman Family Foundation has provided it with a gift of $20  million to expand and build a multipurpose education and community center. Already, NJPAC services more than 700,000 people per year. Other anchors include the Newark Museum, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Newark Public Library, the Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University-Newark (the world’s largest and most comprehensive library and archive of jazz and jazz-related materials), and NPR-affiliated jazz station WBGO-FM. The city is home to Audible.com, which has worked with more than 20,000 actors during the past 6 years, providing significant income to actors in the tri-state area.  

A major new anchor is the 50,000-sq.-ft. Express Newark, a Rutgers University-Newark “collaboratory” in a renovated former department store. Express Newark engages community, artists, faculty, and staff to collaborate, experiment, and innovate in printmaking, photography, painting, video, and more. Local and international artists have created the country’s 2nd longest mural, the 1.39-mile Gateways to Newark: {Portraits} project. Striking structures and artwork by architect Sir David Adjaye and myriad artists encircle PSEG’s new Fairmount Heights Electric Switching Station. Artists have blanketed all five wards of the city with culturally rich murals. The city’s art scene is fortified by numerous galleries and studios, including Artfront Galleries, Barat Foundation, Gallery Aferro, Project for Empty Space, GlassRoots, Index Art Gallery, Newark Print Shop, Newark School of the Arts, NJIT’s Hillier College of Architecture and Design, Paul Robeson Galleries, and more. The GRAMMY Museum Experience – housed at Prudential Center, one of the top sports and entertainment arenas in the nation – is the only GRAMMY installation on the East Coast and boasts personal artifacts of Whitney Houston, Bruce Springsteen, Frank Sinatra, the Fugees, and more. Festivals abound, including the Portugal Day Parade, the 50,000-person Lincoln Park Festival, the biennial Dodge Poetry Festival (the largest poetry event in North America), the James Moody Jazz Festival, the Newark International Film Festival, and the Newark Black Film Festival. The four-day Newark Arts Festival, featuring 500  artists, draws 10,000  attendees and participants to 80 venues throughout the city. The mayor’s office is planning several public art installations: a sculpture in the newly completed Mulberry Commons near Newark Penn Station, a statue honoring former Mayor Kenneth Gibson in historic Lincoln Park, and a commemorative artwork honoring legendary singer Whitney Houston in the South Ward. 

#8 Nashville – Davidson – Murfreesboro – Franklin, TN (pop. 1,930,961)

 Arts Providers

 

14th

 

Independent artists

19th

 

Arts and culture employees

13th

 

Arts and culture organizations

301st

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

10th

 Arts Dollars

 

35th

 

Program revenue

13th

 

Contributed revenue

66th

 

Total expenses

34th

 

Total compensation

67th

 GovernmenSupport

 

51st

 

State arts dollars

108th

 

State arts grants

144th

 

Federal arts dollars

70th

 

Federal arts grants

96th

 

Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN, has long been known for its expansive music scene, but the emergence of world-class visual arts and fashion has put Nashville – Music City – on the map as an artistic and culturally rich destination. Nashville claims to have the largest concentration of songwriters in the world, with a strong presence of Americana-focused artisans and artists. These claims are evidenced and supported by the ranking on independent artists per capita, where Nashville is in the top 2% of communities.

There is robust public support for the arts at the local level, and individual philanthropists have helped propel growth of some of the larger cultural institutions in the last decade. Metro Arts is the arts and cultural division of the city of Nashville. It provides over $2.7 million in grant funding annually to organizations and projects that strengthen the creative workforce, increase creative and cultural participation, and establish vibrant, creative neighborhoods. To attract and nurture emerging artists in all genres, Nashville arts and business leaders partner on Periscope, an eight-week artist entrepreneur training hosted at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center (EC) that empowers working artists to see their vision through an entrepreneurial lens. In addition, Learning Lab is a public program that trains local artists to work with community partners on civic and social practice projects. The city is home to diverse artists and creators who contribute to neighborhood economies and create an exciting, authentic, creative city. Nashville is in the top 5% of all MSAs on overall Arts Dollars and the top 1% on Arts Providers, with particular strength in arts, culture, and entertainment firms per capita and the local employment that they provide, as evidenced by the ranking on these two sub-measures in the top 1%.

#9 Silver Spring – Frederick – Rockville, MD (pop. 1,308,215)

 Arts Providers

 

45th

 

Independent artists

169th

 

Arts and culture employees

66th

 

Arts and culture organizations

82nd

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

37th

 Arts Dollars

 

11th

 

Program revenue

40th

 

Contributed revenue

9th

 

Total expenses

11th

 

Total compensation

9th

 GovernmenSupport

 

26th

 

State arts dollars

41st

 

State arts grants

167th

 

Federal arts dollars

60th

 

Federal arts grants

48th

 

The Silver Spring-Frederick-Rockville, MD, Metro Division, which encompasses Montgomery County and Frederick County, is part of the greater Washington Metropolitan Statistical Area. Being partly inside the Capital Beltway, its arts and culture vibrancy benefits from being a close suburb of DC, as evidenced by its 9th place rankings on contributed revenue and total compensation to arts and culture employees, as well as its 11th place ranking on total expenses.

In addition to close social and economic ties to DC’s arts and cultural offerings, Silver Spring is home to the American Film Institute’s AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center and the National Museum of Health and Medicine, as well as several entertainment, musical, and ethnic festivals. The most notable of these festivals are AFI DOCS and the Silver Spring Jazz Festival. Montgomery County’s Silver Spring, Bethesda and Wheaton Arts & Entertainment Districts include venues for live music, theater, independent films, visual arts, dance, and more. These designated districts spur arts vibrancy through tax credits for new construction or renovation of buildings that create live-work space for artists and/  or space for arts and entertainment enterprises, tax benefits for income derived from artistic work sold by qualifying residing artists, and a tax exemption for arts and entertainment enterprises and resident artists. Other notable area organizations include Strathmore, Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture, BlackRock Center for the Arts, Washington International Piano Festival, the Olney Theatre Center, Round House Theatre, and Imagination Stage. In Rockville, there is a civic ballet, civic chorus, and civic concert band. VisArts in Rockville provides arts education classes and camp programs, as well as gallery space for local artists. In the Frederick Arts and Entertainment District you will find the Delaplaine Arts Center, Griffin Art Center, Weinberg Center for the Arts, the annual Frederick Festival of the Arts and a vibrant independent artist scene in Downtown Frederick. This combined area has more than two dozen arts education organizations and two dozen dance companies. Frederick has a new public arts master plan and an innovative outdoor amphitheater and public arts project called Sky Stage, which has been recognized with an NEA Our Town grant. The Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County and the Frederick Arts Council foster environments where the arts may flourish through grantmaking, professional development, and capacity-building support programs.

 #10 Cambridge – Newton – Framingham, MA (pop. 2,405,352)

 Arts Providers

 

57th

 

Independent artists

324th

 

Arts and culture employees

95th

 

Arts and culture organizations

43rd

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

39th

 Arts Dollars

 

17th

 

Program revenue

16th

 

Contributed revenue

45th

 

Total expenses

17th

 

Total compensation

16th

 GovernmenSupport

 

33rd

 

State arts dollars

251st

 

State arts grants

117th

 

Federal arts dollars

28th

 

Federal arts grants

42nd

 

The Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, MA, Metro Division is located just across the Charles River from Boston, and is home to Cambridge’s state-designated Central Square Cultural District. Its arts and cultural community is inseparable from the dynamism of its world-class universities, Harvard and MIT. Organizations like American Repertory Theatre, the Harvard Art Museums, Harvard Museum of Natural History, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Semitic Museum, List Visual Arts Center, and MIT Museum are all university-based.

The City of Cambridge’s Percent-for-Art ensures that one percent of the construction costs on municipal capital investment is designated for use in developing site-responsive public artwork. This has resulted in the creation of more than 200  artworks in locations across the city. In fact, the City of Cambridge public art program represents the largest collection of contemporary public art in the New England region. In addition to exhibitions and educational programming presented in Gallery 344, Cambridge Arts stages high-profile events such as the Cambridge River Festival, featuring music, dance, theater, and visual art. The Cambridge Art Association has been committed to exhibiting and promoting the work of regional, New England artists for over 70 years. Cambridge is home to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the oldest learned societies in the United States. Merrimack Repertory Theatre and the Addison Gallery of American Art are well- respected organizations that reside in the Metro Division but outside of the density of Cambridge institutions. In addition, arts education organizations in Essex and Middlesex counties abound. This Metro Division is in the top 2% of communities in overall Arts Dollars and the top 3% in Government Support.

#11 Philadelphia, PA (pop. 2,148,889)

 Arts Providers

 

78th

 

Independent artists

394th

 

Arts and culture employees

110th

 

Arts and culture organizations

61st

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

53rd

 Arts Dollars

 

9th

 

Program revenue

18th

 

Contributed revenue

18th

 

Total expenses

12th

 

Total compensation

8th

 GovernmenSupport

 

29th

 

State arts dollars

69th

 

State arts grants

272nd

 

Federal arts dollars

40th

 

Federal arts grants

26th

 

The convergence of history, multiculturalism, and creativity drives the arts and cultural sector of the Philadelphia, PA, Metro Division. Organizations of every size and discipline, representing myriad cultures and cultural traditions, serve the city’s diverse communities. From longstanding institutions like the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and the African American Museum in Philadelphia, to community-oriented organizations like Taller Puertorriqueño, Fleisher Art Memorial, and the Village of Arts and Humanities, Philadelphia’s arts and culture sector thrives on its diversity and is rooted in the city’s history. Institutions such as the Philadelphia Clef Club for Jazz and Performing Arts, the Curtis Institute of Music, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts continue to nurture students into internationally renowned artistic talent. The city has three major performing arts centers: the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, the Kimmel Center, and the Mann Center for the Performing Arts. Dance and theater companies abound. Sites such as the Franklin Institute Science Museum, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, the Museum of the American Revolution, and Independence Mall reveal that Philadelphia is not just bursting with culture, but also with history.

Philadelphia is also home to more than 11,000 acres of public space, making the city ideal for festivals such as FringeArts and PIFA, and the creation of site-specific works to engage residents where they live. The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance provides solid support in advocacy and audience engagement, to ensure ongoing support for the arts. Philadelphia is the location for one of the offices of SMU DataArts, tracking data and sharing knowledge about arts and culture nationally. The City of Philadelphia promotes equity and access to cultural experiences in every Philadelphia neighborhood through two means: funding the Philadelphia Cultural Fund and its grantmaking to enhance the cultural life and vitality of the city and its residents, and supporting the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy as it works with artists and organizations to present free, high quality arts programming to Philadelphians in their neighborhoods. Philadelphia ranks 9th in Arts Dollars and scores in the top 2% of cities on all Arts Dollar measures.

#12 Portland – Vancouver – Hillsboro, OR-WA (pop.  2,478,810) 

 Arts Providers

 

37th

 

Independent artists

79th

 

Arts and culture employees

74th

 

Arts and culture organizations

83rd

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

27th

 Arts Dollars

 

51st

 

Program revenue

41st

 

Contributed revenue

100th

 

Total expenses

60th

 

Total compensation

28th

 GovernmenSupport

 

79th

 

State arts dollars

339th

 

State arts grants

208th

 

Federal arts dollars

72nd

 

Federal arts grants

67th

 

The Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA, MSA continues to attract makers, creatives, artists, and designers with a stunning natural environment, excellent transportation system, relative affordability, liberal reputation, and passion for all things creative. Ensuring equitable access to arts experiences and arts education continues to be a priority. Since 2012, Portland residents have invested more than $63 million in support of arts education in schools and expanded arts access through a voter-approved $35 annual income tax. As a result, every K-5 school in Portland has at least one art, music, or dance teacher, and millions of dollars are invested annually in a wide variety of arts and culture organizations – from The August Wilson Red Door Project, a small theater company that brings community together to address racial inequities, to anchor institutions like the Portland Art Museum, which serves more than 350,000 visitors annually.

This trend is evidenced by the position of this MSA among the top 10% of communities for almost all sub-measures of both Arts Providers and Arts Dollars. Portland has a Creative Laureate who acts as an ambassador for the city’s arts and culture community and developed a 24-point  plan to address the decline of affordable arts spaces in this rapidly growing city. Portland’5 Centers for the Arts consists of five venues that provide over 1,000 music, theater, dance, and lecture performances each year and serve as a home for resident companies like the Oregon Symphony, Portland Opera, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Oregon Children’s Theatre, and Portland  Youth Philharmonic. The Regional Arts & Culture Council, an independent nonprofit local arts agency, stewards the city’s and region’s investments in arts and culture; these are clearly integral to the region’s economy and quality of life, as evidenced also by the ranking of the MSA on Government Support in the top 8%.

#13 New Orleans – Metairie, LA (pop.  1,270,399) 

 Arts Providers

 

62nd

 

Independent artists

147th

 

Arts and culture employees

114th

 

Arts and culture organizations

195th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

22nd

 Arts Dollars

 

16th

 

Program revenue

14th

 

Contributed revenue

22nd

 

Total expenses

18th

 

Total compensation

30th

 GovernmenSupport

 

55th

 

State arts dollars

350th

 

State arts grants

166th

 

Federal arts dollars

39th

 

Federal arts grants

52nd

 

The New Orleans-Metairie, LA, arts community is rooted in its multicultural history, with French, Spanish, African, Cajun/Acadian, and Caribbean influences, among others. This diversity, rich artistic and cultural traditions, and a post-Katrina wave of energy have turned New Orleans into something truly unique. It is the birthplace of jazz and continues to earn its reputation for prominence in jazz and funk music with an abundance of musicians, an explosion of music clubs, the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Old U.S. Mint, and a plethora of jazz education available through entities such as the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation. It ranks 3rd in the country on music nonprofits per capita. New Orleans attracts artists from all over the world, but it is a city that favors its local artists. Local musicians, some of whom have multi-generational connections, often pull huge audiences from the Greater New Orleans community. The visual arts in New Orleans share the same mixture of cultural influences. There are galleries scattered throughout the city, with a small concentration in the Warehouse Arts District and French Quarter.

In the past decade, artist-run collectives have made a home along St. Claude Avenue. The city is also home to the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Contemporary Arts Center, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Ashé Cultural Arts Center, World War II Museum, New Orleans Ballet Association, Junebug Productions, New Orleans Opera Association, Southern Rep Theatre, the McKenna Museum of African American Art, and The Louisiana Philharmonic. Arts Council New Orleans developed LUNA Fête in 2014, a free week-long festival of contemporary art, light, and technology in which local and international artists are commissioned to create large-scale public installations along Lafayette Street in the heart of downtown. The Council also hosts Arts Market New Orleans, an open-air artwork marketplace for New Orleans artists, and has over 400 art sites across the city. New Orleans is home to the National Performance Network, a national organization supporting artists in the creation and touring of contemporary performing and visual arts. New Orleans ranks in the top 7% of communities on overall Arts Providers, Arts Dollars, and Government Support. It is interesting to note that New Orleans achieves its rank of #13 despite having greater socioeconomic challenges than all other Large MSAs.  

#14 Seattle – Bellevue – Everett, WA (pop.  3,048,064)

 Arts Providers

 

38th

 

Independent artists

98th

 

Arts and culture employees

56th

 

Arts and culture organizations

120th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

17th

 Arts Dollars

 

37th

 

Program revenue

27th

 

Contributed revenue

59th

 

Total expenses

40th

 

Total compensation

38th

 GovernmenSupport

 

175th

 

State arts dollars

704th

 

State arts grants

474th

 

Federal arts dollars

67th

 

Federal arts grants

47th

 

Art is viewed as essential in Seattle, WA, MSA, and it is integrated into daily life. Whether as artist-designed manhole covers and public art for new construction, or the Seattle Department of Transportation’s official “Art Plan,” bringing beauty and art to the streets of Seattle is high priority for city officials. It has large, established institutions that tend to be clustered in two neighborhoods: Downtown and the Seattle Center. Seattle has a large ecosystem of smaller arts organizations that exist in every genre, in just about every neighborhood, and in three official arts and cultural districts: Capitol Hill, Central Area, and Uptown. Seattle boasts more than 140 producing theater companies. It has been recognized nationally and internationally for leadership and innovation in theater, music, glass art, and literary arts. It is one of only a handful of U.S. cities to have a top-tier symphony, ballet, and opera, and it has been designated a City of Literature in UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network. The City’s Office of Arts & Culture is a cabinet-level department that is supported by a dedicated revenue stream and, at the county level, 4Culture provides critical funding for the arts, public art, heritage, and historic preservation. Seattle citizens use art and culture to preserve the environment as well, through festivals and art installations dedicated to appreciating and saving Seattle’s natural beauty. Innovative organizations like Shunpike provide emerging, independent artists and small arts organizations with support in the form of critical services, resources, and opportunities to create success. The Office of Arts & Culture recently intensified its commitment to racial equity and social justice; it offered intensive basic training to artists ready to translate their studio or gallery experience into the public realm through “Public Art Boot Camp;" and its CityArtist program continues to support the work of Seattle-based individual artists and curators. Seattle is ranked in the top 4% of communities on Arts Providers and Arts Dollars, and nearly all of its sub-measures in these two areas are well within the top 10% of all cities. Despite substantial city support and programs that drive the arts and Seattle being among the top 7% of markets for federal arts dollars, per capita state funding in Washington is among the lowest in the nation.

#15 Oakland – Hayward – Berkeley, CA (pop. 2,816,968)

 Arts Providers

 

50th

 

Independent artists

188th

 

Arts and culture employees

117th

 

Arts and culture organizations

59th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

23rd

 Arts Dollars

 

29th

 

Program revenue

37th

 

Contributed revenue

31st

 

Total expenses

39th

 

Total compensation

20th

 GovernmenSupport

 

105th

 

State arts dollars

502nd

 

State arts grants

462nd

 

Federal arts dollars

76th

 

Federal arts grants

27th

 

The Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley, CA, MSA is a dynamic hub of arts and culture. At the geographic center of the Bay, Oakland boasts over 30 art galleries and performing art venues; invests in public art, including innovative light-based public art installations; and has a “Public Art for Private Development” ordinance that contributes to this city’s rich visual culture. Oakland, Hayward and Berkeley have designated Art Districts located downtown, providing clusters of theater, music, dance, and visual arts, including the Hayward Arts Council and Sun Gallery in Hayward, and Tony and Grammy award-winning Berkeley Repertory Theater, Freight & Salvage, and Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) in Berkeley. In Oakland, the Black Arts Movement Cultural District is anchored by the Malonga Casquelourd Center – home to Oakland’s African Diaspora dance community and the African American Museum & Library. Other notable arts and cultural organizations abound in this MSA, including the Oakland Museum of California, Oakland East Bay Symphony, Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland, Kala Art Institute, Aurora Theatre Company, Shotgun Players, Cal Performances, and the Sawtooth Building in Berkeley. The area is also home to many arts-related festivals and events such as the Bay Area Book Festival in downtown Berkeley, Oakland Art Murmur galleries event, and Art & Soul. Berkeley, in particular, is known nationwide for its excellence in music. The California Jazz Conservatory, which offers many public performances, is the only accredited jazz school in the nation. Berkeley is also known for its diversity in cultural organizations, such as Gamelan Sekar Jaya (GSJ), an internationally acclaimed performing arts troupe specializing in Balinese gamelan. This MSA is in the top 4% of communities or better on every Arts Dollar measure and it is in the top 3% of markets that attract federal arts grants. 

#16 Nassau County – Suffolk County, NY (pop. 2,839,436)

 Arts Providers

 

40th

 

Independent artists

42nd

 

Arts and culture employees

78th

 

Arts and culture organizations

267th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

20th

 Arts Dollars

 

62nd

 

Program revenue

61st

 

Contributed revenue

83rd

 

Total expenses

68th

 

Total compensation

47th

 GovernmenSupport

 

170th

 

State arts dollars

419th

 

State arts grants

529th

 

Federal arts dollars

103rd

 

Federal arts grants

90th

 

NEW COMMUNITY  The Nassau County-Suffolk County, NY, MSA is comprised of the two counties of Long Island that fall outside of New York City’s five boroughs. From the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site to the Parrish Art Museum in Watermill, Long Island’s history is rich and filled with the tales of many famous Americans who have called the island home. It is rich in arts venues and vibrant in cultural life. Long Island’s more than 100 museums include the Nassau County Museum of Art, Heckscher Museum, Parrish Art Museum, Islip Art Museum, the Cradle of Aviation Museum, and the Long Island Museum of American Art, History and Carriages. Moreover, many townships have their own local art museum in addition to a variety of galleries. The Gold Coast region is known for its many mansions and arboretums immortalized by F. Scott Fitzgerald in his classic novel The Great Gatsby. Today Long Island continues to attract artists as evidenced by its ranking in the top 4% of communities on independent artists per capita, its esteemed artist residency programs at Watermill Center and Fire Island, and its long roster of Montauk Artists’ Association members. Gateway Playhouse, Bay Street Theater, Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, Staller Center for the Performing Arts, and many community theaters house ballet, classical music, spoken word art, and theatrical productions. Guild Hall in East Hampton is one of the United States’ first multidisciplinary cultural institutions. In 2017, a consortium of 10 Long Island arts councils came together to increase the collaboration, synergy, and exchange of ideas among the area’s communities. 

#17 Austin – Round Rock, TX (pop. 2,168,316)

 Arts Providers

 

51st

 

Independent artists

76th

 

Arts and culture employees

122nd

 

Arts and culture organizations

134th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

40th

 Arts Dollars

 

81st

 

Program revenue

69th

 

Contributed revenue

121st

 

Total expenses

93rd

 

Total compensation

84th

 GovernmenSupport

 

18th

 

State arts dollars

191st

 

State arts grants

29th

 

Federal arts dollars

41st

 

Federal arts grants

35th

 

While Austin-Round Rock, TX may be well known for its music and filmmaking scenes, it also has a robust, multifaceted arts scene marked by a collaborative ethos that includes a cutting-edge theatre community, a burgeoning visual arts scene, and emerging art/tech intersections. This is also evidenced by the fact that it ranks within the top 5% of communities on Arts Providers, with particular strength in independent artists and arts, culture, and entertainment firms. Billed as the “Live Music Capital of the World,” Austin has more than 250 live venues that fill the city with music every night of the week and is a magnet for young musicians and audiences. Austin is also a festival town with long-running annual events such as Austin City Limits, South by Southwest, Austin Film Festival, Fusebox Festival, Texas Book Festival, and cultural celebrations like Dia de los Muertos. Austin’s experimental theatre may be due in part to the widely regarded Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas (UT), with its focus on playwriting and screenwriting, as well as innovative productions by the Rude Mechs collective, The Vortex theater, and by Proyecto Teatro, which presents all programming entirely in Spanish. Museums like UT’s Blanton Museum of Art, one of the largest university art museums in the U.S., and The Contemporary Austin, Mexic-Arte Museum (the Official Mexican and Mexican American Museum in the Southwest), and the East Austin Studio Tour (E.A.S.T.), among others, have nurtured the rising visual arts scene. While Austin is home to the Long Center for the Performing Arts with its resident companies Austin Symphony Orchestra, Ballet Austin, and Austin Lyric Opera, the city is also home to cultural facilities that serve as gathering places for the African American, Latinx, and Asian communities. Despite Austin being the 11th largest city in the nation, the majority of arts organizations are small; however, the dynamism of the city’s arts organizations is reflected in the attraction of high numbers of state and federal government grants. Austin ranks in the top 2% of communities on Government Support, and within the top 4% on three out of four sub-measures. The Cultural Arts Division of the City’s Economic Development Department provides leadership and management for Austin’s cultural arts programs and for the economic development of arts and cultural industries. With Austin’s strength also in technology, it is not surprising to learn that Austin has achieved the distinction of being the first (and only) city in the U.S. to receive a City of Media Arts designation within UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network.

#18 Chicago – Naperville – Arlington Heights, IL (pop. 7,288,849) 

 Arts Providers

 

70th

 

Independent artists

129th

 

Arts and culture employees

88th

 

Arts and culture organizations

176th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

58th

 Arts Dollars

 

23rd

 

Program revenue

22nd

 

Contributed revenue

56th

 

Total expenses

25th

 

Total compensation

17th

 GovernmenSupport

 

136th

 

State arts dollars

489th

 

State arts grants

367th

 

Federal arts dollars

95th

 

Federal arts grants

80th

 

The Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, IL, Metro Division is home to world-class arts and cultural organizations, from the Art Institute of Chicago and the Field Museum of Natural History to Hubbard Street Dance and The Joffrey Ballet to the National Museum of Mexican Art and Black Ensemble Theater. There are over 250 theater companies in Chicago, from non-union storefronts to an unprecedented five Tony Award-winning regional theatre companies: Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Victory Gardens Theater in Lincoln Park; the Goodman Theatre in the Loop; the Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier; and Lookingglass Theatre Company on the Magnificent Mile. Broadway in Chicago, one of the largest commercial touring houses in the country, offers Broadway-style entertainment at five theaters.

Chicago’s theater community spawned modern improvisational theaters, including now-legendary The Second City. Classical offerings include the Lyric Opera of ChicagoChicago Opera Theater, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the Chicago Sinfonietta. Other live-music genres that are part of the cultural heritage include Chicago blues, soul, jazz, gospel, and Chicago house. The city is the site of an influential hip-hop scene and has launched new styles such as Chicago juke and footwork. Through the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), the city provides vital support to the arts, from individual and organizational grants to capacity-building programs, residencies, and performance opportunities. DCASE is also known for its role in producing a number of free, citywide music and cultural festivals that draw international audiences. The Chicago Cultural Alliance works to strengthen ethnic museums and cultural centers located across Chicago neighborhoods. There is strong local public and foundation arts support, and several non-arts agencies have a long tradition of advancing the arts across Chicago’s neighborhoods, including cultural centers and arts residency programs in the city’s 80 neighborhood branch libraries and 580 parks. Numerous universities contribute to Chicago’s arts scene as well. Providing top education and training in the arts and media makes Chicago a magnet for young talent. Important outdoor public art abounds, providing free access to works from both established masters and contemporary street artists. Chicago also is the headquarters for numerous government advocacy and support agencies, including Arts Alliance Illinois and the Illinois Arts Council Agency. The Chicago Metro Division ranks in the top 7% of communities on overall Arts Providers and in the top 2% on overall Arts Dollars, with particular strength in program revenue, total expenses, and total compensation per capita. 

#19 Cleveland – Elyria, OH (pop. 2,057,009)

 Arts Providers

 

109th

 

Independent artists

461st

 

Arts and culture employees

94th

 

Arts and culture organizations

119th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

92nd

 Arts Dollars

 

15th

 

Program revenue

8th

 

Contributed revenue

46th

 

Total expenses

13th

 

Total compensation

13th

 GovernmenSupport

 

52nd

 

State arts dollars

29th

 

State arts grants

186th

 

Federal arts dollars

115th

 

Federal arts grants

104th

 

For over a century, the Cleveland-Elyria, OH, MSA has been home to a historic, nationally recognized arts and cultural community. Many of these longstanding arts and cultural treasures established a legacy during the city’s economic and industrial prime. Several of these anchor institutions include the Cleveland Museum of Art, The Cleveland Orchestra, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Playhouse Square, and Karamu House, which is the country’s oldest African American theatre. These anchor institutions exist in the midst of high-quality, arts-based educational institutions, including Oberlin College, Baldwin Wallace University, Cleveland Institute of Music, and Cleveland Institute of Art.

There are multiple thriving arts districts in the Cleveland area. Residents and visitors can access University Circle and Waterloo arts districts on the east side, Playhouse Square theater district centrally, and Gordon Square arts district on the west side. Organizations and collectives throughout these districts include GroundWorks Dance Theater, Zygote Press, Twelve Literary Arts, Praxis Fiber Workshop, Maelstrom Collaborative Arts, Art House, Inc., Cleveland Public Theater, and SPACES, a resource and public forum for artists who explore and experiment. Music has been and still is a huge part of Cleveland’s cultural fabric. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is seated downtown and many music artists, live music clubs, and music educational institutions call the city home. Local support is strong, fueled by a cigarette excise tax that created Cuyahoga Arts & Culture in 2006 and by the City of Cleveland’s Percent for Art program that increases public artworks, particularly in the public transportation areas. The arts community is also starting to closely examine how racial inequities impact the sector. Funders and arts nonprofits are participating in ongoing racial equity training and beginning to implement organizational changes to ensure that their funding and artistic work benefits all local residents. There are a wide variety of arts festivals and events annually in Cleveland, including the most recent additions of FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art and the InCuya Music Festival in 2018. There have been growing investments in the writing community, as well as an effort to unite the city’s writers, including Cleveland Book Week, the development of Literary Cleveland, and the Brews + Prose monthly readings. Cleveland is also home to the nationally acclaimed Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. Given this support base, it is no surprise that Cleveland ranks in the top 2% of all communities on overall Arts Dollars, with particular strength in program revenue.

#20 Denver – Aurora – Lakewood, CO (pop. 2,932,415)

 Arts Providers

 

66th

 

Independent artists

62nd

 

Arts and culture employees

123rd

 

Arts and culture organizations

256th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

52nd

 Arts Dollars

 

49th

 

Program revenue

46th

 

Contributed revenue

62nd

 

Total expenses

46th

 

Total compensation

58th

 GovernmenSupport

 

149th

 

State arts dollars

480th

 

State arts grants

401st

 

Federal arts dollars

44th

 

Federal arts grants

175th

 

RETURNING FROM 2017  The arts and cultural landscape in the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO, MSA is rich and diverse, encompassing nonprofit organizations, creative businesses, and individual artists. There are large renowned museums and institutions, such as Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Denver Art Museum, Denver Center for Performing Arts, and Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. These institutions live alongside over 90 small and mid-sized organizations that are well known for their exemplary artistic work and active engagement with diverse communities, such as the Five Points Jazz Festival, the Su Teatro Cultural & Performing Arts Center, Access Gallery, and many others. The Scientific & Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), which distributes funds from a 1/10 of 1% sales and use tax to cultural facilities throughout the MSA, reflects the residents’ commitment to supporting arts, cultural, and scientific organizations. The arts and cultural districts supported by SCFD reflect the strength of the artistic and creative sector, as each one of them has grown organically rather than been developed by the city. The local arts agency, Denver Arts & Venues, recognizes the role the arts play in building strong communities and creating social change, and supports and encourages artistic collaborations. Its P.S. You Are Here program is a citywide creative placemaking and neighborhood revitalization program that cultivates collaborative, community-led outdoor projects in Denver’s public spaces.

The community is strong in a variety of disciplines including the spoken word, theatre, music, and visual arts, as well as dance, film, and other arts and cultural disciplines that reflect Denver’s history and entrepreneurial spirit. In particular, musicians have been attracted to living in the Mile-High City due to the vibrancy of the field, and artists in general – especially Millennials (the largest  group moving to the city) – are choosing Denver as their home where  they can build their artistic talents and professional craft as well as lead a lifestyle that complements their passions. There is robust support from individual donors and strong local government support for the arts, with special attention focused on accessibility and inclusion. Robust support is manifested in Denver’s ranking within the top 7% of communities on all Arts Dollar measures and federal arts dollars.

Top 10 Medium-sized Communities

This section provides insights into the arts and cultural vibrancy of the top 10 medium MSAs, listing each community’s ranking on Arts Providers, Arts Dollars and Government Support. Each community on this list has a population between

100,000 and 1,000,000. The Census Bureau names the MSA for the principal city rather than the county.However, it is important to keep in mind that all MSAs are made up of at least one county, so we capture the activity of the entire county, not just the principal city.

We remind readers that Arts Providers and Arts Dollars are weighted at 45% each  and Government Support  is weighted at 10%. The rankings on the metrics and measures are from a high of 1 to a low of 953 since there are 953 unique MSAs and Metro Divisions. Any ranking between 1 and 95 still puts that community in the top 10% of cities on that measure, and a ranking of 96-190 means the community is in the top 20th percentile, etc. Being ranked in the top 10 roughly means being  in the top 1%.

#1 Santa Fe, NM (pop. 150,056)

Arts Providers

 

2nd

 

Independent artists

6th

 

Arts and culture employees

21st

 

Arts and culture organizations

4th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

14th

Arts Dollars

 

1st

 

Program revenue

2nd

 

Contributed revenue

3rd

 

Total expenses

3rd

 

Total compensation

4th

Government Support

 

5th

 

State arts dollars

162nd

 

State arts grants

49th

 

Federal arts dollars

4th

 

Federal arts grants

2nd

 

Santa Fe, NM, is a cultural haven, with more artists, writers, and designers than just about any city in the country and home  to one  of the largest art markets in the country. Native arts are a cultural mainstay that predates Spanish and Anglo contact. Traditional Spanish Colonial arts made cultural contributions that were in place as Santa Fe became a modern railroad trade center. New Deal government funding enhanced the role of the arts as a valued  asset through the contracting of murals, pottery, and other traditional art forms. The visual arts are particularly strong  with seven museums and over 150 galleries in Santa Fe. Three major visual arts markets – International Folk Art Market Santa Fe, Indian Market, and Spanish  Market – take place each  year.

Innovative galleries, the presence of SITE Santa Fe, and small nonprofits devoted to new arts experiences energize the thriving contemporary arts scene. The Santa Fe Opera is a performing  arts mainstay  that attracts an international audience. Dance is heavily represented with companies such as Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Entreflamenco, and Arte Flamenco Society featuring Juan Siddi Flamenco. Here are the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum,  and numerous museums and centers dedicated to culture, nature, and science. Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return, which is an immersive art experience created by an artist collective, has become a major arts-related business in Santa Fe.

Since its opening, over 300,000 visitors have  been logged, 400 jobs created and an estimated $25 million in marketing value generated. In addition, the New Mexico Museum of Art celebrated 100 years last year with remodeled galleries, while looking to open a new contemporary museum, the Vladem Contemporary, on the Railyard. Plans continue to move forward on Siler Yard, Creative  Santa  Fe’s Arts + Creativity Center,  which will provide  affordable live-work housing for low-income  artists. The Santa  Fe MSA ranks in the top 1% of communities on overall Arts Providers, Arts Dollars and Government Support.  Its strengths in the top 1% are manifest  in all underlying measures except the two related to state support. 

#2 Pittsfield, MA (pop. 126,348)

Arts Providers

 

8th

 

Independent artists

59th

 

Arts and culture employees

18th

 

Arts and culture organizations

2nd

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

12th

Arts Dollars

 

2nd

 

Program revenue

1st

 

Contributed revenue

6th

 

Total expenses

2nd

 

Total compensation

1st

Government Support

 

3rd

 

State arts dollars

17th

 

State arts grants

11th

 

Federal arts dollars

9th

 

Federal arts grants

5th

 

The Pittsfield, MA, MSA is best known as the Berkshires. Berkshire County is home  to a variety of world-class  art, theater, dance, music, film, and historic sites. Berkshire Theatre Group, Jacob’s Pillow, the Norman Rockwell Museum, Barrington Stage, Aston Magna Festival, Berkshire Music School, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and Tanglewood are among the outstanding organizations that call the Berkshires home. MASS MoCA’s vast galleries and numerous indoor and outdoor performing  arts venues allow it to embrace all forms of art: music, sculpture, dance, film, painting, photography, theater, and new, boundary-crossing works of art that defy easy classification. In Pittsfield’s Upstreet Cultural District, The Lichtenstein Center for the Arts features a gallery/performance space, a ceramic studio, and working artist studios.

Pittsfield Artscape has recently announced expansion of the Pittsfield Paintbox Program, which encourages artists to paint electrical  boxes around the city in order  to further their mission of enhancing the downtown area. The creative economy is one of the five pillars of 1Berkshire’s countywide economic development strategy. Local resources include the Berkshire  Art Association, Berkshire  Film & Media Collaborative, DownStreet Art, IS183 Art School of the Berkshires, and Pittsfield Office of Cultural Development. The abundance  of renowned arts and cultural activity and support drives Pittsfield to rank in the top 1% of communities on overall Arts Providers,  Arts Dollars and Government Support. Its strengths are reflected with rankings  n the top 2% or better in all underlying measures except one. 

#3 San Rafael, CA (pop. 259,666) 

Arts Providers

 

5th

 

Independent artists

28th

 

Arts and culture employees

20th

 

Arts and culture organizations

14th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

7th

Arts Dollars

 

7th

 

Program revenue

10th

 

Contributed revenue

5th

 

Total expenses

10th

 

Total compensation

7th

Government Support

 

53rd

 

State arts dollars

444th

 

State arts grants

363rd

 

Federal arts dollars

46th

 

Federal arts grants

7th

 

San Rafael-Marin County, CA, located across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco,  is one of the Metro Divisions of the larger Bay Area including San Francisco and the East Bay. While Novato, San Rafael, and Mill Valley are Marin’s largest  cities, each  has its own set of arts organizations, including galleries, museums, and performing  arts venues. Marin County is home to many world-class  musicians, internationally recognized artists, authors, and performers. The Marin Center offers year-round music, theater, and dance performances on its two stages and is located adjacent to the Marin Civic Center in San Rafael, the complex designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Downtown San Rafael was recently designated a California Cultural Arts District, one of California’s premier state-designated arts and culture districts. The District includes Art Works Downtown with galleries and artist studios, Youth in Arts (which is Marin’s premier provider of arts education), the Smith Rafael movie theater, and Falkirk Cultural Center, among other cultural venues. World-renowned tourist destination Sausalito  hosts  the annual Sausalito Art Festival. Marin Headlands for the Arts provides artist residencies within the National Park Conservancy. Performing  arts organizations include Marin Theatre Company, Throckmorton Theatre, Marin Shakespeare Company, The Mountain Play, Ross Valley Players, Marin Ballet, Marin Symphony, Mill Valley Philharmonic, Marin Dance  Theatre, Porchlight Theatre Company, Golden Gate Opera, and others.

Museums include MarinMOCA, Marin History Museum, and the Marin Museum of the American Indian. Artist studios are found in Sausalito  at the ICB Building, in San Rafael at Art Works Downtown and Mark Drive Studios, and in Novato at MarinMOCA. Numerous galleries offer exhibits throughout the county; examples include Gallery Route One in Pt. Reyes Station and Seager Gray Gallery in Mill Valley. Marin Open  Studios  produces a county- wide tour of artists’ studios each May. The California Film Institute produces the international Mill Valley Film and Doclands Documentary Film Festivals. Marin also hosts  the Sausalito  Film, Jewish Film, and Italian Film Festivals. The Lark Theater is a repertory movie theater that sometimes stages live performances. Filmmaker George Lucas has been influential in bringing the entertainment industry to Marin, which is home  to Skywalker Ranch, a sound design post- production facility. Book Passage, Copperfield Books, Pt. Reyes Books, and Dominican University offer speakers’ series and book readings for all ages. The community scores in the top 1% of communities on Arts Providers  and Arts Dollars and in the top 6% on Government Support.  While California state arts funding is relatively low, Marin County is seventh in the country in securing federal  arts grants  on a per capita basis.

#4 Missoula, MT (pop.  118,791)

Arts Providers

 

4th

 

Independent artists

35th

 

Arts and culture employees

4th

 

Arts and culture organizations

34th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

6th

Arts Dollars

 

66th

 

Program revenue

25th

 

Contributed revenue

171st

 

Total expenses

75th

 

Total compensation

60th

Government Support

 

6th

 

State arts dollars

49th

 

State arts grants

2nd

 

Federal arts dollars

29th

 

Federal arts grants

14th

 

The Missoula, MT, MSA has an engaged and active population, who are just as likely to participate in outdoor recreation as they are to go to the symphony or attend a theater production. This is supported by its ranking as 4th on Arts Providers  and in the top 4% or better on every sub-measure, as well as in the top 7% overall on Arts Dollars. Throughout the year, festivals are plentiful – e.g., Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, International Wildlife Film Festival, Montana Festival of the Book, Buddy DeFranco Jazz Festival, International Choral Festival, River City Roots Festival, Missoula Symphony in the Park – and there are monthly gallery walks that include 12 private galleries in the downtown area. Missoula is home to the University of Montana, and there  is a strong  town-gown partnership. Although there is no designated arts district, more than 60 nonprofit arts and cultural organizations operate in Missoula; while most are small, a handful are nationally known, most notably the Missoula Children’s Theatre.

Missoula’s museums are diverse, ranging  from the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula and the Rocky Mountain Museum of Military History to the Montana Museum of Art & Culture and the Missoula Art Museum. Performing  arts organizations include Missoula Symphony Orchestra and Chorale, String Orchestra of the Rockies, Montana  Repertory Theatre, and Missoula Community Theatre. Regular arts classes are offered at the Zootown  Arts Community Center, the Downtown Dance Collective, and the Clay Studio of Missoula. The entertainment industry has grown dramatically  in recent years. There are two distinct 4000+ outdoor amphitheaters with full summer  schedules of national acts. The historic Wilma Theatre, renovated in 2015, presents national touring acts through the year. The region  has a full and diverse event  schedule, great  engagement through volunteerism, and overall tremendous community support. Missoula attracts many writers, visual artists, and musicians. Missoula ranks 6th on Government Support  overall and 2nd in the country on the number of state arts grants per capita. Arts Missoula is the local arts agency, serving as a resource for the coordination, development, and support of art and culture for the benefit  of the Missoula community.

#5 Charlottesville, VA (pop.  235,232) 

Arts Providers

 

23rd

 

Independent artists

70th

 

Arts and culture employees

11th

 

Arts and culture organizations

75th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

60th

Arts Dollars

 

22nd

 

Program revenue

43rd

 

Contributed revenue

14th

 

Total expenses

27th

 

Total compensation

34th

Government Support

 

35th

 

State arts dollars

206th

 

State arts grants

74th

 

Federal arts dollars

77th

 

Federal arts grants

45th

 

NEW COMMUNITY The Charlottesville,  VA, MSA is steeped in American history and is home  to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and James Monroe’s Highland. The community’s vibrancy is intertwined with that of the University of Virginia (UVA), which attracts a wealth of talent to the area. There’s the campus-based Fralin Museum of Art and UVA’s Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, which is the only museum outside Australia dedicated to Indigenous Australian art. The 30-year-old Virginia Film Festival is a program of UVA. Beyond the university’s walls is the Virginia Discovery Museum, which offers children a hands-on experience with the arts, sciences, humanities, history, and nature. Charlottesville’s music scene has mushroomed and diversified since  the rise of the Dave Matthews Band.

Music-centric organizations such as Music Resource Center, Charlottesville Chamber Music Festival, Charlottesville Jazz Society, and The Front Porch are scattered about the area. McGuffey Art Center is a focal point in the city and the Crozet Artisan Depot is a focal point of the county. Charlottesville ranks in the top 2% of communities on Arts Providers and Arts Dollars, with particular strength in per capita contributed revenue among arts and cultural organizations as well as the per capita number of arts and culture employees.

#6 Ithaca,  NY (pop. 102,793) 

Arts Providers

 

22nd

 

Independent artists

96th

 

Arts and culture employees

52nd

 

Arts and culture organizations

12th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

43rd

Arts Dollars

 

43rd

 

Program revenue

51st

 

Contributed revenue

54th

 

Total expenses

38th

 

Total compensation

51st

Government Support

 

14th

 

State arts dollars

53rd

 

State arts grants

202nd

 

Federal arts dollars

2nd

 

Federal arts grants

39th

 

RETURNING FROM 2017  The Ithaca, NY, MSA is home  to both Cornell University, with its world- class H.F. Johnson Museum  of Art and the Schwartz  Center for the Performing  Arts, and Ithaca College, which has a well-known theater department and School of Music. Ithaca hosts both the Fringe Festival for theater and The Spring Writes Literary Festival, which features up to 125 local writers through workshops, panels, readings, and performances. Ithaca is home  to the Hangar Theatre, Kitchen Theatre Company, and the Community School of Music and Arts, which makes arts education accessible to students of all ages, skill levels, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

The Sciencenter boasts over 250 interactive exhibits and the Museum of the Earth offers residents earth-science exhibits and science-related art exhibits. Tompkins County distributes nearly half a million dollars each year in grants for arts and culture that are funded by a room occupancy tax, while grants to individual artists in the area  are made through the Community Arts Partnership. Community choruses abound. Opera Ithaca and The Ithaca Shakespeare Company are both experiencing growth. The town hosts many festivals including Porchfest and the Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance. Ithaca ranks 12th in arts and cultural organizations per capita and 2nd in federal  arts dollars. 

#7 Burlington – South Burlington, VT (pop.  221,083) 

Arts Providers

 

18th

 

Independent artists

72nd

 

Arts and culture employees

7th

 

Arts and culture organizations

137th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

26th

Arts Dollars

 

119th

 

Program revenue

92nd

 

Contributed revenue

167th

 

Total expenses

121st

 

Total compensation

114th

Government Support

 

31st

 

State arts dollars

331st

 

State arts grants

131st

 

Federal arts dollars

24th

 

Federal arts grants

18th

 

The Burlington-South Burlington, VT, MSA arts scene has a variety of arts and cultural organizations in addition  to two anchors:

Burlington City Arts and the South End Arts District (SEABA). Burlington City Arts supports and promotes Vermont artists and advances the creation of new work, offers a spectrum of arts education and engagement opportunities, presents exhibitions and events, promotes critical dialogue and encourages local participation, and makes the arts integral to the City of Burlington’s economic and civic development, urban design, and livability. Its BCA Center is an art gallery, arts education/studio center, and cultural events space. SEABA includes  the SEABA Center Gallery, South End artist studios, an annual Art Hop, and Art Under the Influence, which joins members of the community with local artists. It also curates art exhibits at 10 galleries and other venues. The University of Vermont Medical Center has an extensive collection of works by Vermont artists designed to ease the stress of being in a hospital and to help visitors experience the healing  power  of art. With the aid of Burlington City Arts, the collection is now available  online in a virtual gallery for patients and the public. In addition, the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts and Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center serve multiple performing and performance arts groups. Thanks to these organizations and others (e.g., Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival, Vermont Symphony  Orchestra, Vermont Mozart Festival, and University of Vermont’s Robert Hull Fleming Museum of Art), Burlington scores in the top 2% on overall Arts Providers, and in the top 1% on the per capita measure of arts and culture employees. This MSA is successful in attracting both federal  arts grants  and dollars.

#8 Boulder, CO (pop. 326,078)

Arts Providers

 

24th

 

Independent artists

17th

 

Arts and culture employees

191st

 

Arts and culture organizations

45th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

25th

Arts Dollars

 

85th

 

Program revenue

59th

 

Contributed revenue

131st

 

Total expenses

86th

 

Total compensation

107th

Government Support

 

77th

 

State arts dollars

375th

 

State arts grants

172nd

 

Federal arts dollars

64th

 

Federal arts grants

63rd

 

NEW COMMUNITY Boulder, CO, has a strong concentration of artists, venues, creative businesses, and cultural destinations. There are a tempting variety of nationally and regionally respected arts venues in the community including eTown Hall, the Colorado Chautauqua, the NoBo Art District, the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Dairy Arts Center. In addition  to incredible resources at the University of Colorado and several mid-sized organizations with a significant following, Boulder County is home to many, mostly small cultural nonprofits. Ranking among the top 3% of communities on Arts Providers and 17th on independent artists, the community is home  to a high concentration of photographers, authors, musicians  and singers, visual artists, craft artists, music directors,  and composers. Boulder has a vibrant musical scene. The town has a concentration of classical music organizations: three orchestras, two chamber music societies, six chorale groups, two youth orchestras, and three  significant classical music festivals. There is also a healthy popular  music scene, especially concentrated around the Boulder and Fox Theaters. In addition, Boulder has a strong contemporary dance and theatre scene. The community is recognized for contemporary visual art mostly because of the practicing  artists that live here,  supported also by contemporary art nonprofits like BMoCA, EcoArts, madelife, etc. Boulder is an emerging place  for mural artists with the city’s public art program as well as the commissioning company &Arts. Moreover, there is a commitment to make Boulder a laboratory for public artists to interact  with the community through the Experiments in Public Art series. The support from Boulder’s municipal government is significant, providing government spending of about  $13 per resident that mostly returns to the community through grants  and other  spending on public art. There is also much support from the regional  Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD) tax.

#9 Asheville, NC (pop. 459,585)

Arts Providers

 

15th

 

Independent artists

38th

 

Arts and culture employees

8th

 

Arts and culture organizations

140th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

35th

Arts Dollars

 

130th

 

Program revenue

126th

 

Contributed revenue

141st

 

Total expenses

140th

 

Total compensation

138th

Government Support

 

127th

 

State arts dollars

68th

 

State arts grants

177th

 

Federal arts dollars

245th

 

Federal arts grants

219th

 

The Asheville, NC, MSA is a recognizable setting for several Hollywood films, including The Last of the Mohicans, The Hunger Games series and Serena. Asheville is an arts and cultural boomtown, ranking 8th on arts and culture employees and 15th on Arts Providers  overall. Live music and crafts play a big role in Asheville and its surrounding area. The town is home to the Asheville Symphony Orchestra and Asheville Lyric Opera, as well as many bluegrass, country, and traditional mountain musicians. Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center calls Asheville home, along with a variety of museums, such as the Asheville Museum of Art, Asheville Pinball Museum, Folk Art Center featuring artists of Appalachia, and the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. The Flood Gallery Fine Art Center focuses on bringing excellent, provocative art to Asheville from artists working around the world. North Carolina Stage Company is a resident professional theatre located in downtown Asheville. It is joined by many small and experimental theatre companies including Anam Cara Theatre Company, Dark Horse Theatre, and Black Swan Theater. The Biltmore Estate and University of North Carolina at Asheville are part of the fabric of the local cultural scene. You can also find the Southern Appalachian Radio Museum and Wheels Through Time vintage  motorcycle museum. The River Arts District houses artists and an eclectic array of working studios in 22 industrial historical buildings along the French Broad River. In addition  to providing grants,  programs, and services, the Asheville Area Arts Council established The Refinery Creator Space, designed to provide  space for artists to work, collaborate, and grow their creative businesses. The Refinery Creator  Space also houses five resident organizations: Asheville Darkroom, Asheville Makers, Bright Angle, Local Cloth, and Majik Studios. 

#10 Bremerton – Silverdale, WA (pop.  269,805)

Arts Providers

 

44th

 

Independent artists

82nd

 

Arts and culture employees

104th

 

Arts and culture organizations

128th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

29th

Arts Dollars

 

30th

 

Program revenue

24th

 

Contributed revenue

42nd

 

Total expenses

31st

 

Total compensation

33rd

Government Support

 

168th

 

State arts dollars

659th

 

State arts grants

487th

 

Federal arts dollars

57th

 

Federal arts grants

53rd

 

RETURNING FROM 2017   Bremerton-Silverdale, WA, takes a unique  approach to creating cohesion between city spending and arts and cultural spending. Kitsap County, where Bremerton and Silverdale are located, enacted the One Percent for Art Program  Ordinance in 2001, stating  that all Kitsap County capital improvement projects must set aside  one percent of construction funds to “enhance common  public areas or structures either associated with the funding or as a general community improvement from pooled funds.” The City of Bremerton has a robust  Arts District with a number of fine art galleries,  three  museums, and two performing  arts venues. It is home  to several organizations, including the Admiral Theatre, Bremerton Community Theatre, Bremerton Symphony, Kitsap Opera, Peninsula Dance Theatre, and West Sound Arts Council. Bainbridge Island has its namesake’s Museum of Art and Historical Society, as well as Bainbridge Performing Arts, home  to the EDGE Improv, Bainbridge Dance Center, and Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra. Located in Port Gamble is the Museum  of Shells and Marine Life, which contains one of the largest  shell collections in the U.S. KitsapArt provides art education for children on the Kitsap Peninsula. Bremerton-Silverdale, WA, ranks in the top 3% of cities in overall Arts Dollars and scores high in two sub-measures of Government Support, federal arts dollars and federal  arts grants.

Top 10 Small Communities

In this section, we provide insights into the arts and cultural scene for the top 10 small MSAs, listng each community’s ranking on Arts Providers,  Arts Dollars and Government Support.  All 10 communities listed here  are considered Micropolitan Statistical Areas by the Census Bureau, meaning they are counties with a principal city that has a population between 10,000  and 50,000, plus adjacent territory that has a high degree of integration with that core city. The Census Bureau  names the MSA for the principal city rather  than the county. However, it is important to keep in mind that all MSAs are made up of at least one county, so we capture the activity of the entire  county, not just the principal city.

The rankings on each metric and measure are from a high of 1 to a low of 953, because there  are 953 unique  MSAs and Metro Divisions. Many of these communities might be described as small artist colonies or tourist destinations supported by part-time residents. We remind readers that Arts Providers  and Arts Dollars are weighted at 45% each and Government Support  is weighted at 10%. With 953 unique  MSAs and Metro Divisions, any ranking between 1 and 95 on a measure puts that community in the top 10% of cities on that measure, and a ranking of 96-187 means the community is in the top 20th  percentile, etc. Ranking in the top 10 roughly means being  in the top 1% on that measure. 

#1 Jackson, WY-ID (pop.  34,721)

Arts Providers

 

6th

 

Independent artists

9th

 

Arts and culture employees

45th

 

Arts and culture organizations

9th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

11th

Arts Dollars

 

27th

 

Program revenue

67th

 

Contributed revenue

13th

 

Total expenses

19th

 

Total compensation

344th

Government Support

 

7th

 

State arts dollars

43rd

 

State arts grants

6th

 

Federal arts dollars

22nd

 

Federal arts grants

15th

 

The Jackson, WY-ID, MSA is a mountain community of great  beauty and innovation  that includes  both Teton County, ID, and Teton County, WY. All art forms are represented here,  and at times have been recognized nationally or internationally  for excellence. The area  is home  to the National Museum of Wildlife Art, which offers a Sculpture Trail in addition to its indoor, permanent collection. With a 78,000-sq.-ft. campus, Center for the Arts is a community-wide cultural and educational facility that serves to shelter and nurture the artistic core of Jackson. The Center provides a space for 19 independent cultural and educational Resident organizations to flourish. The theater, studios, and classrooms are abuzz  with activity nearly every day of the year, thanks  to programs offered by Residents, community organizations, and the Center’s own creative initiatives. Some of the Resident organizations include Off Square Theatre Company, the Jackson Hole Community Band, Jackson Community Theater, the Jazz Foundation of Jackson Hole, the Jackson Hole Chorale, and pARTners, an organization that integrates arts into school curriculum. The Grand Teton Music Festival is  summer classical music festival that brings prestigious soloists and musicians  from renowned orchestras to Jackson Hole to share their passion with the local community.

Strong mid-sized and smaller organizations include the Dancers’ Workshop, Jackson Hole Public Art, and the Art Association.  The Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival is an internationally  known organization that provides film awards for the wildlife film industry and is a powerhouse in arts education programming. Jackson ranks 9th on independent artists per capita and 6th on overall Arts Providers. Local individuals, foundations and government are very supportive with funding. This community is in the top 1% on Arts Providers  and Government Support. Particular strengths lie in independent artists, arts and cultural organizations, and state arts grants. 

#2 Summit  Park, UT (pop. 41,933) 

Arts Providers

 

9th

 

Independent artists

7th

 

Arts and culture employees

45th

 

Arts and culture organizations

79th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

4th

Arts Dollars

 

26th

 

Program revenue

26th

 

Contributed revenue

39th

 

Total expenses

21st

 

Total compensation

26th

Government Support

 

12th

 

State arts dollars

57th

 

State arts grants

20th

 

Federal arts dollars

12th

 

Federal arts grants

21st

 

The Summit Park, UT, MSA includes  all of Summit County, home  to Park City and its three  ski resorts. At certain times of the year, the tourist population of Park City greatly exceeds the number of permanent residents, making the availability of the arts high on a per capita basis. Additionally, the city is home  to the Sundance Film Festival, which is the United States’ largest independent film festival, the Sundance Institute, Park City Institute, Park City Chamber Music Society, Park City Arts & Music Conservatory, Egyptian Theatre, Park City Film, and the Deer Valley Music Festival, which is the Utah Symphony/Utah Opera’s summer  home. Park City Summit County Arts Council has incubated numerous arts and culture organizations, built audiences for established and emerging artists, and helped promote the area  as a world-class  cultural tourist destination. It produces annual  programs such as the Art Elevated  holiday gift market, Summit Arts Showcase, and County Fair Fine Arts exhibit and works in partnership with other nonprofits  to connect creative content to the community. The area is ranked 9th on overall Arts Providers  and in the top 1% on independent artists (7th) and on arts, culture and entertainment firms per capita (4th). Furthermore, Summit Park ranks 26th and 12th in the U.S. on Arts Dollars and Government Support, respectively.

#3 Steamboat Springs, CO (pop. 25,733)

Arts Providers

 

16th

 

Independent artists

4th

 

Arts and culture employees

826th

 

Arts and culture organizations

1st

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

34th

Arts Dollars

 

12th

 

Program revenue

12th

 

Contributed revenue

11th

 

Total expenses

6th

 

Total compensation

56th

Government Support

 

11th

 

State arts dollars

22nd

 

State arts grants

5th

 

Federal arts dollars

100th

 

Federal arts grants

6th

 

RETURNING FROM 2016  Steamboat Springs, CO, was founded on a love of the arts, from the Ute and Fremont  indigenous peoples who created artwork on rocks and in caves throughout the area to the first white homesteaders – the Crawford family, who brought paints and an organ  when they first arrived. In 1915, Perry-Mansfield  Performing Arts School and Camp opened permanently in Strawberry  Park and has brought national renown to the area.  Today, Steamboat Springs is thriving with arts and culture from art galleries,  opera, music, dance, theater, distilleries, breweries, and unique  architecture and design. Through its evolution  from a rural community to a nationally recognized outdoor recreation destination, Steamboat Springs has stayed true to its heritage through infusing cultural design elements in its city planning, recognition and celebration of its roots, and continual  expansion of arts and culture. Steamboat was the first Certified Colorado  Creative  District to have  multiple satellite  locations,  which extend beyond downtown Steamboat. Strings Music Festival and Perry-Mansfield  Performing  Arts School & Camp are the two largest  arts organizations in the community, bringing visitors from across the country. There are also numerous smaller nonprofit arts organizations that deliver big impact to the community and its visitors, including Opera Steamboat, Yampa Valley Choral Society, Piknik Theater, Chief Theater, Elevation Dance,  Steamboat Art Museum, Tread of Pioneers Museum, and over 15 art galleries. Steamboat Springs is strong  in dance, visual arts, heritage, music, and opera. The majority of professional artists tend to be over the age  of 40, but there  are also younger, emerging artists. Steamboat Springs ranks 4th in the U.S. on independent artists per capita and 16th on overall Arts Providers.  There is strong  financial support from the community through memberships, donors,  and sponsors. This support is evident  in Steamboat Springs’ ranking of 12th on overall Arts Dollars, 12th on program revenue, and 11th on contributed revenue. Over the past five years, the city and chamber have  become increasingly  supportive of arts and culture, thanks  in part to a better understanding of the economic impact that the arts have  on the community. The city ranks 11th on overall Government Support  and in the top 1% on both state and federal  grants.

#4 Bennington, VT (pop. 35,631)

Arts Providers

 

12th

 

Independent artists

77th

 

Arts and culture employees

27th

 

Arts and culture organizations

7th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

41st

Arts Dollars

 

13th

 

Program revenue

23rd

 

Contributed revenue

17th

 

Total expenses

8th

 

Total compensation

14th

Government Support

 

20th

 

State arts dollars

156th

 

State arts grants

205th

 

Federal arts dollars

20th

 

Federal arts grants

13th

 

The Bennington County, VT, MSA is home  to a diverse population of visual and performing  artists who are community oriented and take part in public art projects, individual showings, and nonprofit events. From the earliest  days of the American Craft Movement when artisans of Bennington Potters established the area  as one whose economy was defined by the arts, to today, where  avant-garde expression is being  fervently cultivated  at Bennington College,  Bennington and cultural vibrancy have  been synonymous. Positioned along the cultural corridor, stretching from the Berkshires all the way to Manchester and the edge of the Green  Mountains, are literally hundreds of artistic activities and opportunities, including myriad galleries and studios,  classroom and skill instruction  for all ages, multiple theaters presenting both community and equity productions, and an endless array of platforms offering visual and musical entertainment choices. The breadth of opportunity for engagement and participation truly defines the cultural vibrancy of both the North and South Shires of Bennington County. The South Shire is home  to Bennington College,  which has long been a bastion for visual and performing  artists at the forefront of their fields across all genres. Nearby, the Vermont Arts Exchange provides studio-based programs and camps for children and also hosts  an annual  Basement Music Series  that features nationally touring groups.

In downtown Bennington, one finds Sonatina, an educational piano retreat for children and adults of all ages;  Oldcastle Theater, an equity house in its 48th season; and Bennington Museum, which holds the world’s largest  collection  of Grandma Moses  original paintings  and has an impressive representation of modernist regional  artists. Bennington Museum is part of ArtCountry, a triumvirate of critically acclaimed visual arts organizations in the immediate region. Bennington is also home to the Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival, which draws thousands of artists and tourists to the area  each  summer. Meanwhile, the North Shire boasts the Manchester Music Festival, a month-long concert program for chamber and operatic music. Southern Vermont Arts Center  boasts a large pavilion for those performances; it also offers workshops and summer  camps for children and adults, along with extensive gallery space for its permanent collection  and other  exhibitions. Finally, the Dorset Playhouse is a staple,  presenting a community theater troupe during the winter months  and hosting  the acclaimed Dorset Theater Festival during the summer.  The town of Bennington, in conjunction with the Bennington Area Arts Council, commissioned a Cultural Plan that was completed in May 2019. This plan encompasses all shires within Bennington County and will provide  a road map for how towns can help to facilitate and promote a healthy economy. Being identified as one of the top 10 most vibrant small arts communities in the U.S. for the fourth year in a row, Bennington ranks 12th on overall Arts Providers,  13th on Arts Dollars, and 20th  on Government Support.

#5 Vineyard Haven, MA (pop. 17,352)

Arts Providers

 

19th

 

Independent artists

86th

 

Arts and culture employees

89th

 

Arts and culture organizations

3rd

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

62nd

Arts Dollars

 

24th

 

Program revenue

65th

 

Contributed revenue

8th

 

Total expenses

33rd

 

Total compensation

25th

Government Support

 

9th

 

State arts dollars

230th

 

State arts grants

41st

 

Federal arts dollars

5th

 

Federal arts grants

4th

 

RETURNING FROM 2017   The Vineyard Haven, MA, MSA encompasses the beautiful island of Martha’s Vineyard and surrounding islands. The density  and diversity of businesses in the creative economy make Vineyard Haven a very distinctive arts and culture-rich community. Most notably, Vineyard Haven ranks 3rd in arts and cultural organizations, 8th on contributed revenue, and 5th and 4th on federal  arts dollars and federal  grants  per capita, respectively. The Vineyard Haven Harbor Cultural District boasts myriad successful projects including Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, Martha’s Vineyard Museum, the Vineyard Haven Library, Owen Park, and the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew  Center. Vineyard Haven’s arts and culture landscape includes  wooden ship builders, a vibrant film center, architects, interior designers, writers, clothing designers, bookmakers, photographers, copper sculptures, wooden sign makers,  musicians,  a professional performing  arts theater and amphitheater, jewelry designers, historic tall ships, ceramic  and glass designers, wampum designers, and visual artists. Vineyard Arts Project is an incubator for new works in dance and theater. Featherstone Center  for the Arts, Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society, Martha’s Vineyard Jazz and Blues Summerfest, and the International Film Festival are just a few of the other  arts and culture attractions one can find. 

#6 Hudson,  NY (pop. 59,916) 

Arts Providers

 

10th

 

Independent artists

16th

 

Arts and culture employees

30th

 

Arts and culture organizations

18th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

64th

Arts Dollars

 

59th

 

Program revenue

66th

 

Contributed revenue

52nd

 

Total expenses

73rd

 

Total compensation

63rd

Government Support

 

22nd

 

State arts dollars

42nd

 

State arts grants

63rd

 

Federal arts dollars

90th

 

Federal arts grants

55th

 

RETURNING FROM 2017  The Hudson, NY, MSA encompasses the charming  riverfront city of Hudson and all of Columbia County, which is surrounded by the Catskills and Berkshires. Over the centuries, Hudson has been able to reinvent itself from a whaling town to a vibrant cultural community. Many artists, as well as many weekend visitors, have  relocated to Hudson full-time. Today the city is known for its arts, architecture, antique shops, galleries,  and restaurants. There are numerous cultural venues including Basilica Hudson, a multi-disciplinary arts center housed in a solar-powered 1880s factory; Club Helsinki, an acoustically  designed, multi-tiered live music venue;  and Hudson Hall at the historic Hudson Opera House,  a multi-disciplinary arts center housing the state’s oldest  surviving theater. More broadly in the county, one finds Ancram Opera House,  Mac-Haydn Theatre, PS21, and Art Omi, a 200-acre sculpture park. This vibrant community is in the top 2% on independent artists and arts and culture organizations. 

#7 Brookings, SD (pop. 35,232) 

Arts Providers

 

13th

 

Independent artists

39th

 

Arts and culture employees

5th

 

Arts and culture organizations

55th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

66th

Arts Dollars

 

103rd

 

Program revenue

220th

 

Contributed revenue

40th

 

Total expenses

32nd

 

Total compensation

249th

Government Support

 

8th

 

State arts dollars

70th

 

State arts grants

32nd

 

Federal arts dollars

3rd

 

Federal arts grants

33rd

 

NEW COMMUNITY Brookings, SD, is home  to South Dakota State  University (SDSU) and an array of cultural venues and events. Among the visual art entities  based in Brookings  are the South Dakota Art Museum, the Children’s Museum  of South Dakota, the Ritz Art Gallery, and numerous murals created by local artists in downtown Brookings  as part of the city’s Urban Canvas  arts engagement initiative. The county is also home  to the South Dakota Agricultural Museum  and to the McCrory Gardens.

The performing arts scene is enriched by the presence of diverse organizations and venues. The Brookings  Chamber Music Society organizes concerts at the Performing  Arts Center  on the campus of SDSU (Lincoln Music Hall); the Brookings  Area Community Band performs  either at the Lincoln Music Hall or in Pioneer Park; Woodbine Productions organizes a concert series every year to benefit  the SDSU Music Scholarship program; and the Swiftel Center  hosts  big name  music concerts. Brookings  is home  to the Prairie Repertory Theatre, the Brookings Community Theatre, and the SDSU Theater, as well as the SDSU Performing  Arts Center. Many festivals contribute to the cultural vibrancy of Brookings, including the free Downtown at Sundown concert series, the SDSU Hobo Day, and the Brookings Summer Arts Festival, the largest  two-day art festival in South Dakota. The Brookings Arts Council encourages community connections through the arts by supporting awareness, appreciation, and participation. Brookings ranks 3rd on federal arts dollars per capita, and 5th on arts and culture employees. 

#8 Oneonta, NY (pop. 59,749)

Arts Providers

 

27th

 

Independent artists

269th

 

Arts and culture employees

12th

 

Arts and culture organizations

36th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

28th

Arts Dollars

 

32nd

 

Program revenue

44th

 

Contributed revenue

28th

 

Total expenses

30th

 

Total compensation

35th

Government Support

 

47th

 

State arts dollars

76th

 

State arts grants

264th

 

Federal arts dollars

30th

 

Federal arts grants

112th

 

Otsego County, represented as the Oneonta, NY, MSA, takes community development and living green to heart.  Culture is abundant with world- class opera;  national art exhibitions, theater and concerts; and a rich historical past. The National Baseball  Hall of Fame and Museum  can be found in Cooperstown, which draws nearly 300,000 visitors per year. Cooperstown is also home  to the Fenimore Art Museum, The Farmers’ Museum, and the famous Glimmerglass  Opera.  The Foothills Performing  Arts and Civic Center  serves a three- county area  with performing  arts events and educational outreach. The center was also deemed the “greenest” building to ever go through the NYSERDA program, which earned the venue a financial award. Arts in Oneonta is supported through the Community Arts Network of Oneonta. The community is ranked 12th on arts and culture employees.

#9 Greenfield Town, MA (pop. 70,963)

Arts Providers

 

32nd

 

Independent artists

173rd

 

Arts and culture employees

23rd

 

Arts and culture organizations

29th

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

56th

Arts Dollars

 

52nd

 

Program revenue

57th

 

Contributed revenue

75th

 

Total expenses

54th

 

Total compensation

29th

Government Support

 

19th

 

State arts dollars

100th

 

State arts grants

42nd

 

Federal arts dollars

26th

 

Federal arts grants

68th

 

RETURNING FROM 2017   As a gritty former industrial urban county, Greenfield, MA, has a spectacular arts community filled with artists of all kinds, some trained  in the arts at the five colleges nearby, but many others drawn to the area’s natural beauty and small town vibes. In Greenfield,  great importance is given to human capital and to the collective imagination, making everything creative possible there. Community members are directly involved in many current projects, such as the HIVE (a new makerspace); the RADFEST (the Radical Interconnectedness Fest, where  art of all kinds has been created by artists addressing the concerns of marginalized communities, allowing the artists to connect with the public and understand one another); a new downtown pOp-up  Gallery; a collaborative project  with Punchdrunk Theater from the UK (in their first US engagement to work with local artists and teachers to educate them in their award-winning process of theater creation); Artspace (a small arts education organization that creates concerts, workshops, and pop-ups in empty storefronts in downtown Greenfield); and the creation of a new film festival featuring the work of local filmmakers. The music scene is also vibrant due  to great  downtown music venues, including Hawks and Reed, where  hip-hop and a great  variety of other  music happens every week, as well as the Root Cellar, where experimental music and cutting-edge events take place  regularly. There is also a troupe of immersive  theater artists made up of dancers, singers, musicians,  installation artists, and designers, and a theatre company, Eggtooth Productions, who all collaborate together on new works. In Greenfield,  under-used spaces are easily made available for spontaneous work. For example, Playhouse is a grand  old factory building in downtown that welcomes artists of all kinds to create, hang out, have fun, and exchange ideas. There are strong creative communities in writing, children’s literature, theater, music, crafts like weaving, pottery, glass, painting, sculpture, printmaking, digital arts, web design, and lots of makers and fine craftspeople. Many artists who share their work in Greenfield  are attracted by the authenticity of the city, its environmental sustainability, and the beauty of its natural landscape. Audience participation in the arts is important  to the community, as much of the engagement emerges by way of arts volunteering. Greenfield ranks in the top 6% or better on overall Arts Dollars, Arts Providers  and Government Support.

#10 Breckenridge, CO (pop. 31,007) 

Arts Providers

 

31st

 

Independent artists

25th

 

Arts and culture employees

37th

 

Arts and culture organizations

81st

 

Arts, culture & entertainment firms

83rd

Arts Dollars

 

78th

 

Program revenue

83rd

 

Contributed revenue

48th

 

Total expenses

61st

 

Total compensation

210th

Government Support

 

124th

 

State arts dollars

275th

 

State arts grants

189th

 

Federal arts dollars

221st

 

Federal arts grants

79th

 

RETURNING FROM 2017   Breckenridge,  CO, is a community of cultural arts lovers and practitioners. Several  major local nonprofit arts organizations offer a rich tapestry of music, film, and visual and performing  arts. Breckenridge Creative  Arts (BCA) is a nonprofit organization subsidized by the town. Its mission is to manage and operate five cultural arts facilities with re-envisioned community arts programming at the forefront. BCA launched a series of innovative  festivals – including the Breckenridge International Festival of Arts, and WAVE: Light + Water + Sound  – featuring  massive spectacle art, environmental installations, and cutting-edge new media. Many of the works featured are interactive and placed in public spaces in an effort to encourage shared play and community-building, while growing a strong sense of place  in Breckenridge. BCA’s inventive programming illustrates how the arts can impact a wide range of community goals. The Breckenridge Arts District is a creative hub located in the center of town at a campus of renovated historic structures where participants can partake in a year-long  series of fine art and mountain craft workshops, gather for public events such as gallery openings and musical performances, observe resident artists at work, or tour the latest in contemporary art at the public Gallery@OMH. The Arts District also includes  town-owned venues that host programming by both BCA and a group  of longstanding, large cultural arts organizations, including the Breckenridge Backstage Theatre (BBT), which offers a year-round schedule of professional and community-based theatrical productions; the National Repertory Orchestra (NRO), which offers an annual summer  symphony played  by a group of 88 young musicians, hand-selected annually as part of an educational fellowship program;  Breckenridge Music (BM), which offers an annual summer  symphony by professional musicians, as well as a program of popular  music by national touring acts; the Breckenridge Film Festival (BFF), which hosts  an annual film festival featuring work by independent filmmakers; and the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance (BHA), which promotes and protects Breckenridge history through historic site preservation, tours, and educational programs.

These major organizations continually partner with one another and BCA on a series of collaborations. Moreover, several smaller nonprofit organizations collaborate with Breckenridge-based organizations or offer programming in the town. There are also many privately owned businesses and individuals working in the creative arts. Photographers, writers, classical musicians,  painters, and filmmakers are attracted to Breckenridge. Such a rich cultural scene is evidenced by its ranking at 31st in the U.S. on overall Arts Providers  and in the top 9% on every sub-measure. Strong support for the arts in Breckenridge is reflected in its ranking in the top 13% of communities in the U.S. on Government Support and 48th on contributed revenue. BCA is mainly supported by the town, with additional funds coming from patron-generated revenue and a slate of grants  from local, regional, and national nonprofits. The town of Breckenridge also contributes funding to other large nonprofit arts organizations in Breckenridge, which are further supported by contributed revenue from individual donations, corporate contributions and sponsorship, state funding, and grants  from federal,  regional,  and private foundations, such as the Summit Foundation.

Conclusion

Arts vibrancy is multifaceted and its constellations manifest  in different ways, depending on strengths that develop out of the character of a place  and the people who live there.  Communities that value arts and culture invest in it, and those investments are reflected in the number of Arts Providers,  the Arts Dollars, and the level of Government Support  secured from state and federal  sources. These 40 communities each  have their own unique  character, as do all counties across the country. To see the strengths of your county and potential areas of growth, visit smu.edu/artsvibrancymap

About SMU DataArts

SMU DataArts, the National Center  for Arts Research at Southern Methodist  University, compiles  and analyzes data  on arts organizations and their communities nationwide and develops reports on important  issues in arts management and patronage. Its findings are available  free of charge to arts leaders, funders,  policymakers, researchers,  and the general public. The vision of SMU DataArts is to build a national culture of data-driven decision-making for those who want to see the arts and culture sector thrive. Its mission is to empower arts and cultural leaders with high-quality data  and evidence-based resources and insights that help them to overcome challenges and increase impact. Publications include white papers on culturally specific  arts organizations, the egalitarian nature of the arts in America, gender equity in art museum directorships, and more. For more information, visit smu.edu/artsresearch.

i    The data that SMU DataArts  has  integrated for this report comes from numerous sources. Organizational data that forms the basis of the  Arts Dollar measures is from the  Internal  Revenue Service, DataArts’ Cultural Data Profile, and  Theatre Communications Group.  Community data that forms the  basis of the  Arts Provider measures is from the  Internal  Revenue Service and  the  Census Bureau, which is reported by county,  zip code, and  census tract. State funding  data is from the  National Assembly of State Arts Agencies and  Federal funding  data is from the  National  Endowment for the  Arts and  the  Institute  of Museum and  Library Services.

ii   The 12 categories of arts and  cultural  sectors and  their associated NTEE codes are  as follows:

Arts Alliance  and  Service Organizations: Alliances  & Advocacy (A01), Management & Technical Assistance (A02), Professional

Societies & Associations (A03), Fund Raising & Fund Distribution  (A12)

Arts Education: Arts Education/Schools (A25) and  Performing Arts Schools (A6E)

Art Museums: Art Museums (A51)

Community: Arts and  Cultural Organizations – Multipurpose (A20), Cultural & Ethnic Awareness (A23), Folk Arts (A24), Arts & Humanities Councils/Agencies (A26), Community Celebrations (A27), Visual Arts (A40)

Dance: Dance (A62) and  Ballet (A63)

Music: Music (A68), Singing  & Choral  Groups (A6B), and  Bands & Ensembles (A6C)

Opera: Opera (A6A)

Performing Arts Centers: Performing Arts Centers (A61) Symphony Orchestra: Symphony Orchestras (A69) Theater: Theater (A65)

Other Museums: Museums & Museum Activities (A50), Children’s Museums (A52), History Museums (A54), Natural  History & Natural  Science Museums (A56), and  Science & Technology Museums (A57)

Multidisciplinary Performing Arts: Performing Arts (A60)

 

iii  Organizations are assigned to arts sectors using  the National  Taxonomy of Exempt  Entities (NTEE), which is a classification system for nonprofit organizations. The NCCS website gives  an excellent summary description of what NTEEs are and  how they came about: http://nccs.urban.org/classification/NTEE.cfm. Organizations report their NTEE when filing their IRS 990 and  they report it as part of DataArts’ Cultural Data Profile survey.  If an organization has a parent organization, we opted for its arts discipline NTEE

(e.g., art museum) rather than  its parent organization’s NTEE (e.g., university) if available. “Arts and  Culture” is one  of the NTEE’s 10 major groups of tax-exempt organizations (the “A” category), and  within Arts and  Culture  there are 10 subcategories that contain

30 additional subdivisions. iv See i above.

v  All measures are  calculated on a per capita basis, and  all financial measures are  adjusted for cost  of living. To combine measures for score calculations, we standardize each metric using  factor  analysis. The factor  analysis process applies weights to the  measures based on the  calculated “quality” of each measure. The weighted measures are  then  combined to create a standardized factor  score for each of the  metrics. The standardized scores have means of zero  and  standard deviations of one. Once the  three metrics are  standardized, we weight  them  45% for Arts Providers, 45% for Arts Dollars, and  10% for Government Support. These weighted metrics are  then  added to generate the  Arts Vibrancy score for a particular community. Arts Vibrancy scores for all communities are  then  compared to determine Top Arts-Vibrant Communities and  allow for the  generation of percentile-like scores as shown on the  Arts Vibrancy Map.

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The Arts Vibrancy Map