Attempts to reduce markers of artistic accomplishment to easily quantifiable statistics are notoriously misleading—did you hear the one about Van Gogh being the most famous artist of the aughts?—but they can also be interesting, or fun to make light of, so here’s one about the most artistic city in the United States. (Hint: It’s a city Georgia O’Keeffe frequented, and it’s not New York…)
The Atlantic Cities‘ Richard Florida teamed up with Kevin Stolarick of the Martin Prosperity Institute to figure out which American cities have the greatest concentration of the country’s 237,000 employed and self-employed artists relative to their total urban population. The resulting statistic, the Location Quotient (LQ) reflects how many times larger the local artist population is relative to a city’s total population than the national average. So:
An LQ of one implies that its regional share equals the national average; less than one is less than the national average and greater than one is more than the national average. An LQ of two, for example, means a region has twice the national average of artists.
Which simply means that, although New York City has the greatest number of artists in the country, according to census data, its population is so large that its LQ is significantly lower than the two most artistic cities in the U.S.: Santa Fe (LQ 7.587) and San Francisco (LQ 3.825). Coming in third, New York has an LQ of 2.573, followed by Los Angeles (LQ 2.513) and Santa Cruz-Watsonville (LQ 2.496).
The lower half of the Top 10 is full of small towns with strong local arts communities like Danbury, Connecticut (LQ 2.460) or New Bedford, Massachusetts (2.393)—and Jersey City (LQ 2.256).
As Marty Markowitz will surely point out if/when he hears about this, if not for the Great Mistake, Brooklyn would definitely top the list.