February 7, 2023

Study: Austin/Round Rock — and Fredericksburg — Make the List of Nation’s Most Vibrant Communities


A recent study by SMU’s DataArts ranks the Austin/Round Rock area — and Fredericksburg —camong the nation’s 40 most “arts vibrant” cities.

DataArt’s Arts Vibrancy Index, ranks more than 900 communities across the country, by examining the level of supply, demand, and government support for the arts in each city.

Interestingly it was combined the Austin-Round Rock metropolitan area — not Austin alone — that ranked 18 among the nation’s top 20 large cities. The historic and tourist-friendly Hill Country city of Fredericksburg landed in the 10th position in the list of top 10 small cities.

Both are the only cities or municipal areas in Texas to make DataArt’s national rankings.

San Francisco, New York and Washington D.C. were the nation’s top three large cities. The small Colorado cities of Edwards and Durango bested Fredericksburg, as did Hood River, Oregon, and Oneonta, New York.

DataArt’s analysis involves measuring characteristics such as the number of nonprofit arts and cultural organizations per capita in a community. The study also measured demand by counting the total nonprofit arts dollars in the community. Supply was measured by public support for arts and culture on a per capita basis.

Austin was cited as having an abundance of smaller organizations and venues.

The study’s authors explained their use of the term “vibrancy” as “in keeping with Merriam-Webster’s definition of the word to mean “pulsating with life, vigor, or activity.'”

They also defended their empirical approach by stating that “all else being equal, more arts and cultural organizations in a community translates to more availability of arts experiences for people to engage with.”

In addition to its Arts Vibrancy Index, SMU ArtsData issued scores for every U.S. county on its interactive map, based on measures of arts dollars, arts providers, government support, and socio-economic and other leisure characteristics.


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