Leah Horn

WESTAF’s CVSuite™ Reveals List of 30 Most Creative Smalls Cities in America

The list ranks cities with populations under 500,000 using the Creative Vitality™ Index to measure creative activity

DENVER, CO, April 29, 2020—At a time when we could all use a little good news about the health of our communities, the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), a nonprofit arts service organization and leading provider of technology solutions for the arts, is pleased to release its list of the 30 Most Creative Small Cities in America. 

The list is the first in WESTAF’s new series of data-driven lists that profile and celebrate the arts, culture, and creativity of America’s most vital and vibrant places and spaces. WESTAF’s Creative Vitality Lists offer a snapshot of various trends within neighborhoods, regions, and states and filter, compare, and contrast creative economy data to highlight creative vitality in communities across the United States.

While it’s no surprise that Santa Fe, New Mexico ranked at the top, cities like Medford, Oregon and Missoula, Montana also landed on the list, ranking higher than other famously artistic and cultural hotspots across the country such as Austin and Nashville. Using data from WESTAF’s CVSuite creative economy data tool, the Creative Vitality™ Index (CVI™) was utilized to measure and rank the creative economies of Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) with populations under 500,000. Developed by WESTAF, the CVI™ is a statistical metric of creative activity per capita within a region. The Index includes data sources from the nonprofit and for-profit arts sectors with indicators in creative occupations, nonprofit revenues, and creative industry sales. 

“Each city on the Creative Vitality List understands intrinsically that the arts boost economies and that they’re critical not only to attracting visitors and businesses but also to how communities tell their stories,” says WESTAF Executive Director Christian Gaines. “A vibrant creative sector can promote equity and inclusion while new generations of problem solvers convene at the crossroads of art, culture, business, and technology.”

View the full Creative Vitality List of the 30 Most Creative Small Cities in America.

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The Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF) is a nonprofit arts service organization dedicated to the creative advancement and preservation of the arts. WESTAF weaves technology, diverse thought leadership, and innovation to energize, network, and fund public sector arts agencies and communities. WESTAF’s Creative Vitality™ Suite provides high quality creative economy data and reporting to organizations to help them measure and demonstrate the impact of the creative economy.