Diving Deep into Geographic Market Clusters

Today's post is focused on delving into the geographic market clusters we used to provide index averages for arts and cultural organizations.

Rather than show the data for every city for which we have CDP, TCG data, we do so for 9 clusters of markets. Cluster analysis allows the data to tell us what markets are similar to one another given a set of traits.

The characteristics we chose for determining similar markets were:

  • population,
  • region,
  • density of arts and cultural organizations in each sector,
  • cultural policy (reflected by state grant dollars in the market), and
  • median income in the community.

This doesn’t mean that within each sector there won’t be some city-to-city variance on different traits, or that an individual organization’s experience won’t be different from that of the rest of the organizations in its market.

Five very large markets stand alone. These five are sufficiently dissimilar that they don’t cluster with any other markets:

  • New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale
  • Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights
  • San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco
  • Washington-Arlington-Alexandria; Bethesda-Rockville-Fredricksburgh

Four additional clusters of markets emerged:

  • Very small markets (e.g., Akron, OH; Ann Arbor, MI; Auburn, AL; Santa Barbara, CA)
  • Small markets (e.g., Albany, NY; Allentown, PA; Bakersfield, CA; Tucson, AZ)
  • Medium-sized markets (e.g., Boston, MA; Columbus, OH; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA)
  • Larger markets (e.g., Dallas, TX; Santa Ana-Anaheim, CA; Minneapolis, MN; Phoenix, AZ; Riverside, CA; San Diego, CA)

The composition of the market clusters will likely change over time and new clusters will emerge as we incorporate new data from organizations already in our dataset as well as data from organizations in additional states as the CDP expands its reach. To find your city and its corresponding market cluster, go to the bottom of this link for a complete listing. 

The population of some markets is more densely concentrated (think dense, high-rise living) than others. The fact that the population is more spread out does not necessarily mean that the city’s arts and cultural organizations are spread out. In some cases they are, but not always. For example, the numbers tell us that in Los Angeles, the population and arts organizations are more or less equally dispersed geographically and that the arts organizations in New York are more concentrated in Manhattan than the population, which spills out into the surrounding boroughs. What we care most about is what’s going on in the organization’s trade area.

When smaller, lower-density markets are located next to larger, higher-density markets, the spatially-adjusted population and competition numbers can be larger than the local numbers. In other words, the size of the trade area for the smaller market can exceed the size of its local market. This is true for customers but even more so for competition. Arts patrons and managers in smaller markets recognize the competition from arts organizations in nearby, larger markets. This is evident in the numbers for the very small markets like Akron, OH (40 miles from Cleveland), Ann Arbor, MI (40 miles from Detroit), and Santa Cruz, CA (30 miles from San Jose and 70 miles from San Francisco). The trade area for the typical organization in these markets features a population of 271,000 people (115% of the average population) and 57 nonprofit arts and cultural organizations (147% of the average number in the immediate market) because their trade area picks up the neighboring big city.

The Traits of the Market Clusters reveal distinct differences in:

  • arts and culture dollar activity per capita,
  • the average number of arts and cultural organizations,
  • the density of arts organizations by sector,
  • average budget size,
  • average government support at all levels, and
  • earned and contributed support by sector relative to the other clusters.

The Market Clusters demonstrate key differences and similarities in their performance on the various indices. Click here for a complete table of index averages for arts and cultural organizations by market cluster. Please click below for Market specific finding highlights:


As always, we want to hear from you!  Are these findings what you would expect? Is there a finding that stands out to you?

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See you in data-land!