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April 05, 2005

Art Towns

Arttowns_coverStudies are finding that artists are an increasingly important part of a town's economic infrastructure, and people are increasingly moving to these small communities for their creative energy.

What is the #1 art town?  Santa Fe, NM but there are a number of other appealing towns in John Villani's book, The 100 Best Art Towns in America.  New England has three towns on the list of best small art towns, with populations under 30,000:

Provincetown, MA (ranked 3rd overall, ahead of Toas, Northampton, & Aspen)
5 college town area in central Massachusetts
Brattleboro, NH

Villani says New London, NH and North Adams, MA look like rising stars in New England.  Another trend to watch are members of the creative class  who are living in two art towns, six months a year.  An audio clip of WBUR's interview today is online at Here-Now.org, and watch Villani's web site, ArtTowns.com, now under construction following the April release of the 4th edition of his book.

Wonder why Cambridge, MA did not make the short list?  Our support for the visual and performing arts are arguably world class, but it's hard to think of our fair city as a small town, even if our population is under 100,000.

What's your nomination for the best art towns -- or more specifically, BEST NEIGHBORHOODS -- in Greater Boston or New England?  If you are passionate enough about that location, would you be willing to lead of tour of potential home buyers to that town, neighborhood, or building; or alternatively, act as an informal "virtual" guide?

If you are one of our clients, you can earn commission credits by posting to our blog.  Call 617-661-4046 or email recafe@mac.com for more info on The Real Estate Cafe's "Tipping Policy."

Bill Wendel | 12:38 PM in Creative class | Permalink

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Thanks for the intelligent review of my book. I hope it works to point readers in unexpected directions nationwide. And as for Cambridge...uhhh....thanks for the nudge. Look for Art Towns 5th edition in Oct. '08. Who knows, it just may include a few new England surprises.

Posted by: john villani | Apr 25, 2005 1:06:53 AM

John,

What an honor to have you post a comment on our blog. "Pointing readers in unexpected new directions" is exactly what we'd like to inspire. Do you know of other any other real estate agencies or web sites that are encouraging home buyers to consider relocating to art towns?

At the height of the dot.com era some high tech companies in Austin, TX started a relocation campaign called "Boston to Austin." Do you know if any art towns, particularly those in New England, are actively recruiting new residents as part of their own economic development campaigns?

Knowing that some in the creative class are now living in two places, the art community's equivalent of snow birds, wonder if there would be a market for selling timeshares for artist lofts for part-time or wanna be artists who cannot relocate? At a minimum, it would be nice to rent an artist loft in an art community before buying property.

Finally, with respect to nominating art towns for your next edition, if you do look at including Cambridge, be sure to check the arts departments at both MIT and Harvard. Harvard's Arts First Festival starts soon,
http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~arts/

You may know that the Utne Reader reportedly called Davis Square in Somerville, Cambridge's immediate neighbor to the north, "the Paris of the '90's." That raised a lot of eyebrows around here, but indicates the strength of their art community, too.

Posted by: RealEstateCafe | Apr 25, 2005 9:02:20 AM

There most certainly is a trend among artists and Creative Economy workers to divide their time between two living sites. Believe it or not, you can spot these individuals during the summer months in unlikely places such as St. John's, N.S., Auburn, ME., Marquette, MI., Fargo, N.D., and Buffalo, N.Y.

Come winter, they skedaddle to places such as Oaxaca & Monterrey, MX., Marfa, TX., Yuma, AZ. and Mobile, AL. It's a trend that I'm encountering more frequently, and I think its a reaction to the real estate valuation run-up on the primary coastal destinations.

The timeshare idea is intriguing, but keep in mind that renting a Fargo loft in January would be as tough as finding someone willing to spend June in Yuma.

The New England community profiled in my book that's most actively recruiting Creative Economy professionals is North Adams, MA... I really wish New London, CT. would get off its butt and get active in this arena, as it has so much to offer.

Hasta Luego

Posted by: john villani | Apr 25, 2005 12:14:56 PM

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