Aug 29, 2012 — This summer, NPR went off the beaten path to visit small to mid-sized North American cities that have cultivated lively arts scenes. We sent our reporters to lesser-known arts destinations with populations under 50,000 and asked you — our audience — to tell us about your favorites.
Aug 30, 2012 — Mark Twain found the inspiration for his classic works while growing up in the river town of Hannibal, Mo. Today, there's a new set of artistic characters in Twain's boyhood home; the town of 18,000 boasts a vibrant arts community.
Aug 20, 2012 — In a valley at the foot of the Berkshire Mountains, a struggling industrial town is making an artistic comeback. North Adams is now home to MASS MoCA, one of the largest museums of contemporary art in the world — housed in 26 former factory buildings.
Aug 7, 2012 — When it opened in 1953, nobody expected much of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. But what began 60 years ago as two plays in a tent is now a major theater festival. It attracts half a million ticket-buyers a year to the small Ontario town — which also boasts homegrown heartthrob Justin Bieber.
Jul 31, 2012 — Thanks to one trailblazing industrialist, more than 60 of Columbus' buildings — including schools, churches and even a jail — were designed by a veritable who's who of modern masters. As one local tour guide puts it, "We don't build anything that isn't attractive."
Aug 2, 2012 — In the 1970s, minimalist artist Donald Judd moved to a dusty town in West Texas, where he created giant works of art that bask beneath vast desert skies. In the years since, Marfa has emerged as a mecca for art tourism.
Aug 29, 2012 — "There is so much to see and do — things you wouldn't expect in a town of this size," says Ohio resident Cindy Adkins. "Art is everywhere — it even hangs from the trees!"
Aug 29, 2012 — "Our artists meet every week for breakfast," says resident Jill Lyon. "They often advise and mentor each other, and we have a very comfortable, small-town atmosphere here with lots of Main Street meetings and conversations each day."
Aug 29, 2012 — "The views are breathtaking," says Livingston resident Mira Trafton. "The wind is outrageous and blows away the feeble folks. It also steers the pretentious toward other places. The residents are eclectic and hardy."
Aug 29, 2012 — "For a smallish city, Glens Falls packs a cultural punch with music, visual art, drama and theater for all tastes and interests," says resident Erin Coon. "Don't even get me started on all the different styles of cuisine in the town."