Sometimes it takes someone from the outside to help you recognize what’s all around you. This appears to be one of those times. A new ranking of the “5 Best Cities for Artists in America” has what some may see as an unexpected selection at the top of the list – Hartford.
Connecticut’s Capital City was followed by Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Washington D.C., Seattle, Philadelphia, Berkeley, Chicago and St. Louis. Hartford was one of four Connecticut cities to earn a place in the top 50 in the ranking developed by the website rent.com.
“This scenic city celebrates both contemporary and historic art through its many institutions, from museums to collectives. World-class touring performances come through at venues like the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts. And local companies like TheaterWorks showcase contemporary work. The city is also committed to promoting diverse artists and voices. For example, the unique Artists Collective highlights the work of the African Diaspora. And the Real Art Ways organization supports experimental and new work in a variety of mediums.”
The website also notes that “Good quality and cost of living go a long way toward supporting an artist's lifestyle. And if the urban scene isn't sufficiently inspiring, Connecticut's natural beauty is also sure to spark the imagination.” And there’s this: “Beyond the artistic community, Hartford is also very affordable for working artists.”
There are 4,000 performances and exhibits, and 600 free events annually in Hartford, according to data compiled by the Greater Hartford Arts Council. The arts also support 7,000 jobs. On the immediate horizon is Make Music Day, slated for June 21. A year ago, the Arts Council gathered a dozen artists from the Greater Hartford community to form the first Artist Advisory Council. The mission is to inform, support, and educate the Greater Hartford Arts Council about its role as an advocate for artists in the Greater Hartford region.
Hartford is not the only Connecticut city to earn a place among the top 50 in the rankings. New Haven finished at number 17, tied with Milwaukee; Stamford was number 38, tied with White Plains, N.Y. And Norwalk was number 47.
The rankings looked at cities with at least 50,000 people according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2019 population estimates and ranked each city in each of four categories: Performing arts businesses and establishments per density, Museums per density, Walk score, and Average rent of a studio apartment.