5 Artist-Friendly Cities That Aren’t NYC

Although it’s inarguably a hotspot for artists across the globe, NYC isn’t the only U.S. city housing talented artists. You don’t have to live in New York City to find support, opportunities, and inspiration for artists.

In fact, there are many places outside The Big Apple where communities nurture artistic expression. Check out this list of five cities that are the best places to live for artists who don’t want the headaches that come with living in NYC.

5. Austin, Texas

As the host city of the South By Southwest Musical Festival and a magnet for creative, intellectual, and tech types, Austin has strong credibility among artists. The Art Alliance Austin and Austin Art Garage are two examples of the city’s artistic infrastructure that supports established artists as well as emerging people who show talent. With its robust nightlife, the city offers a plethora of venues where musicians cut their teeth in front of appreciative audiences. Celebrated filmmaker Wes Anderson is from Austin, as is artist Michael Ray Charles, and singer Shawn Colvin.

4. Asheville, N.C.

Hip and laid back, this city is nestled in western North Carolina. The mountain views are inspiring, and downtown art galleries provide ample opportunities for artists to display their works. The Asheville Area Arts Council gives artists gallery access, it assists with fundraising, and it sponsors local arts events. The River Arts District in Asheville is a concentrated area where you’ll find working artists, a place to hear live music, and performing arts venues. Roberta Flack was born in Asheville, and well-known painter Kenneth Noland spent his formative years in the city.

3. Oklahoma City, Okla.

While this city may be a bit of a dark horse in the conversation regarding best cities for artists, it offers artists an affordable cost of living as well as opportunities to grow. The city’s Arts Commission and Arts Council OKC promote the arts, supporting both professionals and amateurs who call the city home. Residents find inspiration in the rotating exhibits at the Oklahoma City Art Museum and Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center. Located in the city’s historical film district, Individual Artists of Oklahoma is a gallery that hosts the work of up-and-coming artists, as well as established professionals.

The city has spawned a number of well-known artists who represent the spectrum of the creative arts. Filmmaker Ron Howard, country singer Garth Brooks, and humorist Will Rogers are all natives of OKC.

2. Portland, Ore.

Lovingly satirized in the television series Portlandia, this city lives and breathes artistic expression. Listen to emerging musicians at places like Roseland Theater and Crystal Ballroom. Successful bands such as The Decemberists credit Portland with giving the band its start. Portland offers galleries where artists can put their work on display for a discerning audience.

1. Atlanta, Ga.

From its symphony to the annual arts festival, Atlanta presents local artists and musicians a range of opportunities to show off their talents. The city has an office of cultural affairs to promote and nurture festivals, venues, and artists themselves. Artist Lucy May Stanton and writer Flannery O’Connor are both from this premier city of the South.

Across the United States, a number of cities nurture artists so they can mingle, support each other, and improve their skills without having the high cost of living in New York City.