At ArtsWave, we pause each year at this time and literally count our blessings on a Gratitude Tree. It’s a fun shared exercise, and reminds us of many of our organizational core values. We are grateful for the tens of thousands of people who value and support the collective and varied impact the arts have on our community. We are grateful for the arts organizations and artists that distinguish us, sustain our spirits, and open our minds to new possibilities.

It turns out, Cincinnati’s special blend of arts supporters and arts experiences are being counted in a new way: a March 2016 study by Southern Methodist University ranks Cincinnati in the top 5% of over 900 U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in the category of Arts Vibrancy.

This is the second year SMU’s National Center for Arts Research (NCAR) ranked communities across the country based on arts supply, demand and government support. Our ranking of 27th puts Greater Cincinnati in the 95th percentile nationally.

“Each community in the report has a unique story and cultural landscape – this report is designed to help us understand what makes a city vibrant in the arts and the different elements that come into play to foster that vibrancy,” said Dr. Zannie Giraud Voss, Ph.D., director of NCAR, in a recent blog post about the project. “The data helps illustrate how vibrancy varies between cities and what arts vibrancy looks like for different communities around the nation.”

The fact that Cincinnati ranks high on the Arts Vibrancy list doesn’t surprise us. What might surprise some is how the city connects charitable contributions to the level of arts activity in a community. Earlier this month, hundreds of us also celebrated National Philanthropy Day in Cincinnati, thanking donors to nonprofit organizations in all sectors for what they make possible. Special recognition went to Philanthropist of the Year Dick Rosenthal, a Life Trustee of ArtsWave. Mr. Rosenthal sets an incredible example of generosity and impact with his many decades of support of Cincinnati’s arts.

SMU’s Arts Vibrancy ranking is one that all donors, audience members and local citizens should be proud of. It gives us another new way to talk about our region and how the arts help put Cincinnati on the map. Our community’s legacy of both strong support and artistic innovation places us in good company among other cities more widely known for their arts. 

So for this we say “thank you” – to our donors, our artists, our volunteers, and our leaders for the arts across the community.