Chapel Hill Receives National Ranking for Arts

Post Date:07/19/2018 4:17 PM

A hotbed of America’s arts and culture, the Chapel Hill-Durham Metro Area has ranked seventh on the list of top 10 most arts vibrant communities in the medium-size range (population 100,000 to 1 million). 

The ranking was released this week from the National Center for Arts Research at Southern Methodist University and its annual Arts Vibrancy Index, which ranks more than 900 communities across the country. The index uses a variety of measures, including the number of nonprofit arts and cultural organizations per capita in a community.  

Asheville – the only other North Carolina city on the medium community list, ranked fifth in the index. See the complete listing at

"We are proud of our local creative energy and are pleased to be recognized as a community that values artistic expression of all kinds," said Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger.

Each community has its own story of what makes it unique and vibrant. Here are the highlights from Durham and Chapel Hill, which includes the metro area of Orange County including Carrboro and Hillsborough:

“A hub of universities, Durham-Chapel Hill, NC, draws inspiration for the arts from the strong entrepreneurial culture, historic preservation, and well-known food scene. The universities in the area house museums, galleries, and performing halls and they attract artists as faculty. Nasher Art Museum, Ackland Art Museum, PlayMakers Repertory Company, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, Carolina Performing Arts, and American Dance Festival were either developed at or moved to the area because of the capabilities and support offered by Duke and UNC at Chapel Hill. North Carolina Central University has a strong African American art collection and jazz and performance programs. 

Many of the smaller independent organizations draw on the talent that is available through university faculty, adjunct faculty, and instructors. Other area programs dedicated to the arts include an Artists-in-Residence program, a Juried Exhibitions Series at the Chapel Hill Town Hall, and Sculpture Visions. The Durham Performing Arts Center, the music club and brewery scene, and the foodie scene provide a commercial layer of entertainment. Piedmont Blues is the primary indigenous art form. The area provides many options for film buffs, particularly documentaries.  It hosts the Art of Cool Jazz Festival, and abounds in modern dance and experimental theater, including Manbites Dog. The City and County own or support key arts facilities in the area: the Carolina Theatre, Durham Arts Council Building, Hayti Heritage Center, Durham Performing Arts Center and the Museum of Life & Science. The Durham Arts Council provides grant support for local artists and organizations, some of which is re-granted from the NC Arts Council, which also makes grants directly to several local arts organizations. Recently the area has shown increased willingness to include public art components in large public projects, an interest furthered by the NC Arts Council SmART Initiative. Durham-Chapel Hill ranks among the top 5% of communities in overall Arts Providers and Arts Dollars.”

Learn more about Community Arts & Culture in Chapel Hill at  and in Orange County at

Return to full list >>
View Full Site