If you’re an artist in search of a new place to call home there are some things you have to consider. There are plenty of interesting and diverse communities to choose from. Some different aspects you may be contemplating include cost of living, artistic community, and public art funding. We’ve done some of the leg work for you and found a few different communities that have the best balance of these different factors.

When researching art funding in cities, we obtained our information mainly from the 2018 Arts Vibrancy Report compiled by the National Center for Arts Research at Southern Methodist University. We’re using their definitions of size and pulling cities from their list of the Top 40 Most Vibrant Arts Communities in America. If you want to see how your current area is stacking up, check out their interactive map.

Community Size

One of the first things you’ll consider when moving to a new city is the number of people you’ll be dealing with. We’ll give you three options to choose from: small, medium, and large.

Small

Also known as Small Micropolitan Statistical Areas, these areas have a population of 10,000 to 50,000 people. These are attractive if you’re a small town girl livin’ in a lonely world… and you like it that way, or you’re just looking to downsize your community.

Medium

These Medium Metropolitan Statistical Areas are going to be a nice balance of big city living and small-town charm. The populations in this category will vary from 100,000 to 1 million people. This will appeal to those of you looking for that option right in the middle.

Large

Moving to the big city can be an exhilarating and, also, a terrifying experience. These bad boys are coming in at over 1 million in population. If you want to experience all that a behemoth like these have to offer, but may not be interested in the usual suspects (L.A., NYC, San Fran, etc.), stay tuned.

This week, we’re going to cover the small towns, or Mini Micropoles as we like to call them.

Photo by Pavlo Luchovski on Pexels

Bennington, Vermont

Population: 36,191

Assets

This statistical area also includes Manchester, VT. The artistic community in this area is diverse and involved. This area is home to Bennington College, Southern Vermont Arts Center, and Bennington Art Guild. The Laumeister Art Center at Southern Vermont College features a myriad of galleries, studios, a museum, and a 315-seat theatre. Bennington also plays host to the Chamber Music Conference and Composers’ Forum of the East, a summer institute for amateur musicians. Other interesting assets to this arts community include the Oldcastle Theatre Company, Manchester Music Festival, and the American Museum of Fly Fishing.

The Vermont Arts Exchange is a non-profit community arts organization based in the old mill town of North Bennington. Their mission focuses on strengthening communities and neighborhoods through the arts. The Cultural Bennington Arts Council also advocates on behalf of the community to keep art funding at the forefront of the economic development strategy.

Cost of Living

According to the metrics at bestplaces.net, the overall cost of living index score of Bennington is a 90. This is relative to the national average score of 100. Median housing cost comes in at $145,000. By visiting bestplaces.net, you are able to compare this to the city that you currently reside in and see how it stacks up against a place like Bennington.

Oneonta, New York

Oneonta Musicians

Photo courtesy of oneontamusicians.org

Population: 60,097

Assets

This statistical area is the Otsego County, represented by the City of Oneonta in New York State. It’s located an hour and 15 minutes west of Albany, NY. Some of the focuses of this are include living green and community development. It is known as the “City of Hills” and the origin of Oneonta is believed to mean “place of open rocks” in the Mohawk language. The city has a rich history in the arts and includes world-class opera, national art exhibitions, theater, and concerts. Nearby Cooperstown is home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum most prominently. It also plays host to the Fenimore Art Museum, The Farmers’ Museum, and the Glimmerglass Opera.

The Community Arts Network of Oneonta is a non-profit organization that has the goal of, “creating a cultural, educational, social, and economic environment in which the arts can flourish.” Their website is a great resource for finding local arts events and fundraisers to support art funding in the area. Destination Oneonta is another organization that has a great landing page for arts assets.

Cost of Living

When compared on bestplaces, Oneonta is slightly cheaper than Bennington in most categories for cost of living. Its overall index score is 86 and the median housing price is $137,300. This proves that you can still live in New York (state) without the crazy cost of living and make a living off of the arts.

Juneau, Alaska

Population: 32,468

Assets

Juneau is a small capital city that is alive with a vibrant arts and culture scene. Assets include Perseverance Theatre, the Juneau Symphony, the Juneau Lyric Opera, Alaska Folk Festival, Juneau Jazz & Classics music festival, and Celebration, a biennial Alaska Native cultural festival. Juneau is also home to many art galleries, studios, and performing groups. The city has The Juneau Arts & Humanities Council as its official arts agency which manages the Juneau Arts & Culture Center. The council provides scholarships, grants, art funding and support for arts organizations.

Organizations such as the Sealaska Heritage Institute, Goldbelt Heritage Foundation, and The Canvas help to keep Indigenous arts, language, and culture alive in Juneau. Traditional art forms of First Nations people are taught to the younger generations with the help of these organizations. These art forms include native dance, carving, and weaving. Juneau ranks extremely high, the top 1%, in Government Support and in the top 10% in terms of Arts Dollars.

Cost of Living

Juneau is significantly more expensive than either of the other Micropolitan Areas. Its median home cost is $389,900 and this is where the biggest discrepancy lies. However, its high ranking in federal funding for the arts and overall arts dollars helps to bolster the artistic community a bit. Most categories beyond housing are comparable with both Bennington and Oneonta.

how does it fit?

If small towns sound like a good fit for you, then be sure to consider one of these options for your next move. Not convinced or looking for more? Stay tuned for next week as we feature perfect moderately sized towns with art funding that even Goldilocks couldn’t resist!

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