Special Report

Best American Small Towns for the Arts


To determine the best small arts towns in America, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on arts establishments and employment from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 County Business Patterns dataset. Places were ranked based on the number of arts establishments – businesses classified in the North American Industry Classification System as Fine Arts Schools, Musical Groups and Artists, Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers, Museums, Theater Companies and Dinner Theaters, Dance Companies, and Other Performing Arts Companies – per 1,000 establishments in the county or county equivalent in which they are primarily situated. Cities, towns, villages, and Census-designated places were matched to counties using 2019 boundary definitions from the U.S. Census Bureau. Only cities, towns, villages, and Census-designated places with fewer than 100,000 residents that are situated entirely within their county or county equivalent were included for consideration. Data on arts establishments and employment are at the county level and come from the Census Bureau CBP. Data on population are at the place-level and are five-year estimates from the Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey. Editorial discretion was used to exclude any cities without significant arts communities.

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