Arts Vibrancy Index Identifies Notable Cities in the Arts

By Anne B. Pope, Executive Director –

In December of 2014, Southern Methodist University’s National Center for Arts Research (NCAR) created its first ever Arts Vibrancy Index, which was made available to the public in January of 2015. The index identifies which U.S. cities host thriving arts scenes, naming a Tennessee city – the Nashville Metropolitan Statistical Area – in the top five of most vibrant large cities.

Research was conducted through a variety of supply, demand and public support metrics for arts and culture on a per capita basis. The end goal was to produce an understanding of an individual community’s arts culture, as well as an overall view of which cities in the U.S. have the most vibrant arts cultures.

Key findings identified:

  • No region stands as a singular leader across the nation
  • Arts vibrancy is seen in many different ways
  • There are differences between the metropolitan cities that are considered most vibrant
  • The majority of arts vibrant cities have a population of either under 300,000 or between 1,000,000 and 3,000,000

Beyond discovering the different ways a city is vibrant in the arts, the study also emphasizes the vital role of the arts within communities – through cultures, organizations and individuals.

By analyzing U.S. cities based on size, large cities being 1 million or more and small being under 1 million, NCAR was able to give more comprehensive lists of the top arts vibrant cities. The top 20 cities were identified in both the large and small categories, naming 40 cities total to be vibrant leaders.

In the large city division, Tennessee is highlighted to have the second most arts vibrant city via the Nashville metropolitan area. This includes Davidson, Franklin and Murfreesboro.

Click here for more information from SMU.

NCAR Arts Vibrancy Index: Heat Map
NCAR Arts Vibrancy Index: Heat Map