Special Report

Best American Small Towns for the Arts

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15. Nantucket, MA (Nantucket County)
> Arts institutions: 14.2 per 1,000 establishments
> Arts employment: 14.2 per 1,000 employees
> Total population: 7,984

An island located 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Nantucket has an art community that flourishes due to the efforts of the Nantucket Arts Council, a non‐profit organization that supports the visual, performing, and literary arts through education, grants, scholarships, and events. The group, founded in 1973, sponsors the Nantucket Arts Festival and Shakespeare in the Garden.

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14. Peekskill, NY (Westchester County)
> Arts institutions: 5.0 per 1,000 establishments
> Arts employment: 5.0 per 1,000 employees
> Total population: 24,075

Fifty miles from New York City, Peekskill began to attract artists from the city by building live/work studios and lofts. Today, Paramount Hudson Valley, a 1930s-era movie palace, hosts live performances, while art lovers can stroll through the Hudson Valley Museum of Contemporary Art

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13. Key West, FL (Monroe County)
> Arts institutions: 7.4 per 1,000 establishments
> Arts employment: 7.4 per 1,000 employees
> Total population: 24,843

Ernest Hemingway found Key West so alluring he made his home here, and you can visit his home and museum in this town at the southernmost tip of the U.S. Among the town’s artistic treasures are the conch-style architecture of its buildings. Among other one-time residents are Truman Capote, Winslow Homer, James Merrill, Tennessee Williams, and singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett.

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12. Ithaca, NY (Tompkins County)
> Arts institutions: 3.9 per 1,000 establishments
> Arts employment: 3.9 per 1,000 employees
> Total population: 30,569

From the Ithaca Ballet to the Community School of Music & Arts, Ithaca offers something for everyone. The State Theatre of Ithaca sponsors concerts and shows by famous names. Located on the Cornell University campus, the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art displays art, photography, and videos. In October, the town’s Open Studio weekends allow visitors to explore the work of local artists.

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11. Telluride, CO (San Miguel County)
> Arts institutions: 4.7 per 1,000 establishments
> Arts employment: 4.7 per 1,000 employees
> Total population: 1,965

Though known mainly for its skiing, Telluride boasts an Art District that offers visitors a chance to savor art when they get off the slopes. Telluride Arts, a local arts council, awards grants and provides resources to local artists.

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