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Cultural Vitality in Communities: Interpretation and Indicators

December 1, 2006

This report introduces a definition of cultural vitality that includes the range of cultural activity people around the country find significant. We use this definition as a lens to clarify our understanding of data necessary, as well as the more limited data currently available, to document arts and culture in communities in a consistent, recurrent and reliable manner. Specifically, we define cultural vitality as evidence of creating, disseminating, validating, and supporting arts and culture as a dimension of everyday life in communities. We develop and recommend an initial set of arts and culture indicators derived from nationally available data, and compare selected metropolitan areas based on these measures. Policy and planning implications for use of the cultural vitality definition and related measures are discussed.