St. Louis Named a Top 20 Arts-Vibrant Community in Nation

October 16, 2023

St. Louis is an arts town, and it’s being recognized nationally for it.

SMU DataArts, the National Center for Arts Research, released its 8th Arts Vibrancy Index in October. St. Louis is listed as a top 20 arts-vibrant community across the country. The ranking was based on the level of supply, demand, and government support for the arts in more than 900 communities across the country. St. Louis is returning to the Arts Vibrancy Index for the first time since 2016.

“When you support the arts, you support St. Louis,” said Vanessa Cooksey, Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis (RACSTL) president and CEO. “Our artists, arts programs and arts organization are the soul of this great region.”

Related research by SMU DataArts shows that Local Arts Agencies (LAAs) like the RACSTL are powerful catalysts of arts vibrancy which ensure that the arts remain an integral part of community life.

“The arts and culture sector was hit hard by the pandemic, and some organizations and communities are still recovering. The Index is an opportunity for communities to affirm and celebrate the individuals and organizations that are the sources of arts vibrancy in their region, whether that’s artists who have mastered a local craft tradition over generations, a cultural festival that families enjoy year after year, or a cherished historic theater, museum, or arts-education center. For organizations, funders, local citizens, and public officials, the Arts Vibrancy Index is a powerful resource that leverages data-driven evidence to illuminate how the arts contribute to an area’s economy and public life,” stated Dr. Zannie Voss, director of SMU DataArts.

The overall Arts Vibrancy Index is composed of 13 unique measures which cover aspects of supply, demand, and public support for arts and culture, and are adjusted for cost of living and population differences among communities. In this year’s index, the analysis approach was updated to weight the 13 inputs based on their relative explanatory power for the underlying concept of arts vibrancy. This approach improves measurement consistency in the face of data availability delays or other changes in individual datasets from year to year. All financial metrics have been adjusted for cost of living in order to level the playing field. The cost of doing business varies based on local conditions, so the same dollar goes further in some communities than others.