Thursday, October 07, 2021

Rural arts scenes can boost economies and more; annually published index shows how your local area ranks

SMU DataArts' Arts Vibrancy Index, published in Sept. 2020; click the image to enlarge it.

The pandemic has hurt the arts in most communities, but many rural towns have vibrant arts and culture scenes. Done right, they can deliver a wealth of benefits to their communities, says the director of a New Hampshire nonprofit who led the arts and culture track at the Radically Rural summit in September.

Jessica Gelter, executive director of Arts Alive!, spoke with Caroline Tremblay of The Daily Yonder about how rural arts and culture scenes can best serve their communities. It's important to make sure artists are leading the way, and that even the poor can access the arts, she said. And she believes right now is a good time to reassess as public events get back on track.

How is your community's arts scene? One way to measure is Southern Methodist University's annual Arts Vibrancy Index, which weighs a number of factors to assign a score to counties. Below are the 10 small communities with the best arts and culture scenes; the report has detailed information about what makes each successful. All are micropolitan statistical areas whose principle city has a population of 10,000 to 50,000:

  1. Jackson, Wyoming
  2. Steamboat Springs, Colorado
  3. Heber, Utah
  4. Hailey, Idaho
  5. Glenwood Springs, Colorado
  6. Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts
  7. Oneonta, New York
  8. Hudson, New York
  9. Bennington, Vermont
  10. Hood River, Oregon

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