Report ranks S.F. as U.S. cultural magnet

With no shortage of drum circles, frequent poetry readings and a wide array of artists’ jobs, San Francisco is one of the most cultural cities in the country, more cultural than even New York City, according to a new report.

San Francisco bested New York City in all of the seven measures the Urban Institute used to rank 50 metro cities in a report titled “Cultural Vitality in Communities.”

“This is great news but it’s not that surprising,” said Laurie Armstrong, spokeswoman for the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau. Among the top five reasons people visit San Francisco is because of its rich arts culture, she said.

San Francisco ranked No. 1 in three measures: employment in arts establishments, arts nonprofits and artists’ jobs, according to the report.

“It shows San Francisco is indeed one of the top cities in the country and probably in the world in terms of cultural vitality. It shows people here are creative and there’s an energy here and an openness here to self-expression,” Armstrong said.

When it came to nonprofit arts expenses and nonprofit arts contributions, San Francisco dropped to second place behind Washington, D.C., but beat out New York City, which ranked third in both of these measures.

San Francisco’s only low ranking was 23rd for nonprofit community celebrations, festivals, fairs or parades. Columbus, Ohio, was ranked first.

For a city with tourism as its No. 1 industry, the report’s findings are reassuring.

“Cultural vitality is great for tourism,” Armstrong said. “People love to come and experience different forms of art and different cultures.”

The report defines cultural vitality as “evidence of creating, disseminating, validating, and supporting arts and culture as a dimension of everyday life in communities.”

Top three Cultural Vitality rankings

Artists’ Jobs

1. San Francisco

2. New York City

3. Los Angeles

4. Nashville, Tenn.

5. Miami

Employment in Arts Establishments

1. San Francisco

2. New York City

3. Nashville, Tenn.

4. Minneapolis

5. Seattle

Arts Nonprofits

1. San Francisco

2. New York City

3. Washington, D.C.

4. Boston

5. Seattle

-Source: Urban Institute 2006 report “Cultural Vitality in Communities”

jsabatini@examiner.com

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