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Arts Vibrancy Has Increased in Northwest Arkansas


Northwest Arkansas’ arts scene is bustling, and in the past five years, has become increasingly more vibrant.

According to a study commissioned by the Walton Family Foundation, Northwest Arkansas’ arts environment has increased its vibrancy and impact since 2013. Looking at Benton and Washington counties, the study shows how the progress made in the two counties in terms of the number of art institutions, art funding and other factors.

The Walton Family Foundation enlisted SMU DataArts to evaluate the two counties’ arts vibrancy. Over four years, the data company looked at a number of factors and concluded that the arts vibrancy has increased in that time period.

The arts vibrancy of Northwest Arkansas was determined based on an index of three factors: the Arts Providers score (45%), Arts Dollar score (45%), and the Government Support score (10%).

For example, Benton County, while ranking below both peer and aspirational counties in number of Art Providers, has increased its rankings with the opening of Crystal Bridges Museum. While the county is competitive with other counties on certain Art Provider metrics, it lags behind on most. Washington County is also behind other counties in regards to Arts Providers.

Since 2013, both counties have significantly improved their Arts Dollars rankings. In fact, both counties performed better than both peer and aspiration counties, with Benton County ranked in the 98thpercentile for Arts Dollars in 2017 and Washington County at the 96thpercentile.

Benton County has also increased its level of government support between 2014 and 2017. While the state arts funding was spread to many recipients, federal funding was concentrated to a limited number of recipients.

“A highly engaged community where different voices have an opportunity to be heard is at the core of a thriving arts and culture scene,” said Walton Family Foundation Home Region Program Director Karen Minkel. “These findings highlight success stories from the region’s arts ecosystem but also spotlight areas to further elevate vibrancy in Northwest Arkansas through the work of cultural organizations and artists.”

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