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Celebrating Our Vibrant Commonwealth

Bethann Steiner, Senior Director of Public Affairs

SMU DataArts 2023 data ranks Massachusetts as #3 in the nation for state vibrancy

graphic of a map of the United States with different colors assigned to each state based on their arts vibrancy index (as determined by SMU Dataarts)

As your state arts agency Mass Cultural Council knows that the Commonwealth’s creative and cultural sector is vibrant, and delivers countless benefits to our communities, economy, residents, and visitors.

Today we are cheering new 2023 data released by SMU DataArts, the National Center for Arts Research, which lists Massachusetts as the #3 Top Arts-Vibrant State in the nation, based on their analysis of the level of supply, demand, and government support for the arts across the country.

SMU DataArts’ Top 10 Most Arts-Vibrant States of 2023

Ranking State Arts Dollars Ranking Arts Providers Ranking Public Support Ranking
1 New York 1 1 10
2 New Jersey 3 3 17
3 Massachusetts 2 7 2
4 Minnesota 4 10 14
5 Maryland 5 18 1
6 California 14 2 40
7 Colorado 11 5 4
8 Illinois 9 9 34
9 Oregon 13 4 13
10 Virginia 6 22 5

SMU DataArts’ Arts Vibrancy Index is an annually released index that recognizes and celebrates the most arts-vibrant communities across the country. Typically shared at the community level, 2024 is the first time the arts vibrancy methodology was applied at the state level.

Key insights from this new state ranking effort include:

  • States with higher proportions of rural population tend to have lower levels of arts vibrancy – with some notable exceptions.
  • States ranking higher on arts vibrancy generally have lower poverty rates; but having low levels of poverty doesn’t guarantee a top arts vibrancy ranking.
  • The nine highest-ranking states in arts vibrancy all feature at least one city listed in the Top 40 Arts-Vibrant Communities of 2023. However, noteworthy exceptions include several states with high rankings despite lacking representation in the top 40 cities.

The 2023 Arts Vibrancy Index recognizes and celebrates the most arts-vibrant communities across the nation. SMU DataArts finds that programming shutdowns, layoffs, shifts in audience behavior, and financial uncertainties continue to underscore systemic inequities around arts access, funding, and arts employment, yet communities have found ways to endure and find resiliency through a collective appreciation of the arts.

SMU DataArts’ 40 Most Arts-Vibrant Communities in the US 2023

Today SMU DataArts also lists the 40 most arts-vibrant communities in the United States through an analysis of the level of supply, demand, and government support for the arts in more than 900 communities across the country. Organized into three separate lists based on community population size, this year’s Arts Vibrancy Index is the first to include rankings since 2020, a reflection of arts organizations returning to in-person activities and performances following the easing of pandemic restrictions.

When assessing a community’s vibrancy, SMU Data Arts reviewed 13 unique measures, including aspects of supply, demand, and public support for arts and culture, and are adjusted for cost of living and population.

Mass Cultural Council notes with pride that three arts-vibrant communities in the Commonwealth topped these national rankings:

  • Boston
  • Cambridge-Newton-Framingham
  • Pittsfield

Our capital city, Boston, ranks as the #4 most arts-vibrant large community in the nation, followed by the Cambridge-Newton-Framingham region which ranked #13. And in western Mass, Pittsfield, the county seat of the Berkshires, is ranked as the #1 most arts-vibrant medium sized community in the nation!

SMU DataArts’ press release and 8th Arts Vibrancy Index are available online.

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