"The City that Sings" has a new measure of distinction: Cincinnati ranks 7th in the nation in participation in the arts. This ranking places Cincinnati above all other Ohio metros — in fact, higher than most regions across the U.S. Cincinnati's rate of arts participation surpasses peer and competitive cities like Columbus, Cleveland, Nashville and Austin.

The ranking comes from a new survey by the National Endowment for the Arts, which collected data from individuals 18 and older. The Cincinnati region ranks in the top 10 metropolitan statistical areas, with 40% of Cincinnatians reporting that they regularly participate in the arts, compared to a national average of 33%. Only six regions in the country have higher levels of arts participation than Cincinnati.

This finding comes as no surprise to ArtsWave, which itself was founded as a result of civic participation in the form of a challenge grant to the community in 1927. Fifty years before that, the May Festival was established in 1873. Today, it is the longest-running community choral festival in the Western Hemisphere. Fewer than 10 years ago, the Young Professionals Choral Collective was started with a dozen early-career individuals in local businesses whose love of singing brought them together in a local bar. It has since grown to more than 1,000 who find a flexible, fulfilling and social environment in between the music notes.

We also know that adults in our region are more than a little dramatic: Greater Cincinnati has more community theaters in our MSA than our peer and competitive cities, with no fewer than 16 flourishing amateur and volunteer theatrical organizations in addition to our professional producing theaters like Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, The Carnegie and Cincinnati Landmark Productions.

The same study by the NEA shows that more than half of Cincinnatians regularly attend performing arts events, surpassing the rate of arts attendance in regions such as Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Charlotte, Austin and even New York/New Jersey. Again, this is no surprise to ArtsWave, which has tracked increases in arts engagement over the last five years.

Why do high rates of arts participation matter to our region? Research conducted by national experts reveals a strong correlation between adults who are active in arts and those who are actively engaged in their communities. People active in the arts are more likely to vote, volunteer and value their neighbors. They are more likely to have a positive view of their hometown and share that view with others. All of these correlations can result in a higher quality of life for residents and a stronger, more competitive platform for attracting talented employees and new businesses to the region.

As the engine for the arts for nearly 100 years, ArtsWave brings tens of thousands of donors together to invest in the wave of benefits provided by the arts. With new information about how Greater Cincinnati compares to the rest of the nation in terms of arts participation, we know these investments are driving a thriving future for our region.