2012 Top 25 Arts Destinations

June 2012 | BY | Issue 80, Summer 2012

Coming in at number one again, New York’s Manhattan skyline gleams against a blue sky. CREDIT: Marley White

When readers cast ballots for their favorite arts destinations this year, the Large City winners came as no surprise, but in Mid-Size and Small Cities categories, the 15th annual Top 25 Arts Destinations poll brought some real shakeups.

New York City came in first (again) with 43.2 percent of the vote, with Washington, D.C. (No. 2, with 23.6 percent) and Chicago (No. 3, with 22.3 percent) trading places from last year’s standing to fill the remaining top two positions for the fifth year in a row. Out-of-the-blue write-in candidate Dayton, Ohio, vaulted to the No. 2 spot in the Mid-Size Cities list, and eight cities across all three categories were located in Florida.

Why the sudden popularity of Florida cities? Perhaps it mirrors the U.S. population shift south. Perhaps it’s a combination of demographic factors, including consistently beautiful weather and an arts-friendly culture.

Among Mid-Size Cities, Florida favorite St. Petersburg ranked first, as it did last year, with 39.2 percent of the vote. Write-in candidate Dayton muscled its way into second place with 26.7 percent of the vote, while Tampa moved into the No. 3 slot (from No. 7 last year) with 15.4 percent.

There was a major shift in the Small Cities category: Sarasota, Fla., rose from fifth place a year ago to No. 1, with 27.7 percent of the vote. Coming in second was Bradenton, Fla., up from No. 10 last year, with 17 percent. Asheville, N.C., last year’s No. 1 Small Arts City, dropped to No. 3, with 14.1 percent.

What does it take to win big in the Top 25? Read on for some of the reasons why readers made this year’s arts cities their favorite places for all things visual.

Click the links below for a complete list of the Top 25 Arts Destinations in each category.


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