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Economy

Where Are America's Real Arts Capitals?

Big coastal cities might have iconic, profitable, and well-funded scenes. But the economic impact of the cultural sector can be larger in some surprising places.
There's a lot of culture in New York City, but it's not the American Arts Capital.
There's a lot of culture in New York City, but it's not the American Arts Capital. Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Arts and culture are key components of quality of life, and important contributors to urban economies as well. My own research finds that arts and cultural employment is one of three key drivers of urban economies—alongside science/technology and business/management occupations. Two recent studies provide a fresh look and new data on how the contribution of the arts to state and local economies.

The first by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis provides data on the contributions of arts and cultural employment to the U.S. economy and tracks the geographic distribution of arts and cultural employment across metros.