October 29, 2023—SMU DataArts has released its 2023 Arts Vibrancy Index, which ranks and highlights the large, medium, and small arts-vibrant communities throughout the United States. This is important, data-based information that reaffirms the tremendous value of the arts to community growth and development.
At the same time, the report acknowledges the impact of arts and culture programming cutbacks, layoffs, shifts in audience behavior due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and financial uncertainties that continue to underscore systemic inequities around arts access, funding, and arts employment. However, the report also notes that “communities have found ways to endure and find resiliency through a collective appreciation of the arts.”
The 2023 Arts Vibrancy Index draws on 13 measures as the basis of its findings. These measures include the number of independent artists working in a community; the percentage of arts, culture, and entertainment employees and firms; program revenue, and state and federal government funding. The SMU DataArts team analyzed every county throughout the United States, and its findings show that every region of the country has vibrant arts communities.
There were some surprises in this year’s list: The San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City areas of California surged to the top of the list, ahead of New York City, for the first time since 2018. Philadelphia moved to the top five for the first time. Milwaukee-Waukesha, Wisconsin, joined the list of top arts-vibrant large cities, and Canton-Massillon, Ohio, joined the list of medium-sized communities on the list.
I firmly believe having access to research and data is critical to making smart and relevant plans for community engagement and audience development. It manages expectations based on how many people actually exist in that community and gauges their interest in attending the production (performance or exhibition).
I urge the readers of Arts & Culture Connections to check out the report at this link. There will be a virtual public discussion about the impact of the 2023 Arts Vibrancy Index on small and medium-sized communities, which will be held on Thursday, November 30, 2023. You can register for the free event at this link.
The arts administration field is quite fortunate to have the work of Zannie Giraud Voss, Ph.D. and her team at SMU DataArts, which offers insightful and analytic research focused on helping arts organizations identify the programmatic and financial areas where they can grow their results and impact. You can check out the extensive research resources available from SMU DataArts at this link.