In response to some baseless Twitter clickbait counterfactually claiming Brookings is the worst city in South Dakota (Instragram is not a source, ever), I notice South Dakota Tourism’s tweet about an August report from Southern Methodist University’s DataArts ranking Brookings as the seventh most “arts-vibrant” small city in the U.S. The Spearfish of the East joins a list of artsy micropolises led by Jackson, Wyoming; Summit Park, Utah; and Steamboat Springs Colorado:
Arts and cultural organizations are engines of community development and community cohesion. The arts provide culturally infused experiences that are consumed in an open, social setting, which is ideal for engendering social integration in a diverse marketplace. The current climate of political, sociocultural, and economic polarization makes it more important than ever to recognize and celebrate the essential role that arts and culture play in making communities throughout the country not only more vibrant places to live and visit but also more unified, safe, and tolerant [Zannie Giraud Voss, Glenn Voss, Daniel Fonner, and Ludovica Marsili, “The Top 40 Most Arts-Vibrant Communities in America (2019),” SMU DataArts, August 2019.].
Some other South Dakota counties score pretty well on SMU DataArts’s arts-vibrancy scale. The I-29 corridor, the Black Hills, and even the capital area all have counties scoring in the green 80s and above on SMU’s 100-point scale:
Perhaps worth noting: Lawrence, Custer, and Fall River counties all appear to have more vibrant arts communities than larger hub Pennington, and Fort Pierre appears to be putting more effort and money into the arts than Pierre.