Courtesy of Corvallis

These Western towns are great places for art lovers, whether your passion is music or visual arts.

Kate Wertheimer  – April 7, 2020 | Updated June 3, 2020

Ketchum, ID 

Ketchum, surrounded on three sides by the Sawtooth National Forest in Central Idaho, is an outdoors-obsessed community that’s also home to the country’s first destination ski area, Sun Valley Resort. In addition to outdoor recreation, the town has also long supported its local artists and business owners. For a town with fewer than 3,000 residents, its commitment to the arts is staggering: It boasts more than a dozen galleries, several live theater companies, a writer’s conference, the Sun Valley Film Festival, and a spate of free summer concerts and gallery walks. In addition to the lauded nonprofit Sun Valley Center for the Arts, the town created the Ketchum Arts Commission to integrate art and culture into community life through initiatives like a juried annual outdoor sculpture exhibition. And the town’s Percent for Art Ordinance—stating that five percent of the cost of certain public works projects must be dedicated to art—is among the highest in the nation. The Ketchum Innovation Center offers programs funded by the city—as well as events, mentorships, and workspaces—for local startup entrepreneurs and businesses. Case in point, in 2020 the town will open the doors to a brand new Culinary Institute. The institute will offer classes for industry professionals and local food enthusiasts and provide opportunities to develop the Wood River Valley’s culinary hub as well as strengthen Ketchum’s community food system and healthy living programs. 

Carson City, NV

Carson City, NV

Courtesy of Visit Carson City

In the last five years, Carson City has invested $11.4 million in the revitalization of its downtown corridor, and took the title of most local businesses opened per capita in the country in 2019. 

Independence, OR 

Independence, OR

Courtesy of City of Independence

In 2018 and 2019, Independence used state grants to fund a series of classes, meetups, and events for people interested in starting or growing businesses, including a TechStars Startup Weekend, a Pop-Up Craft Fair on Small Business Saturday, and FailFest, an event celebrating and learning from past failures. 

Carbondale, CO 

Carbondale, CO

Renee Ramge Photography

Carbondale is home to a designated Colorado Creative District due to its strong community of more than 200 creative organizations, businesses, and artists. The town’s Coventure co-working space also serves as an incubator program pairing entrepreneurs with venture capitalists. 

Corvallis, OR 

Corvallis, OR

Courtesy of Corvallis

ARTscend Marys Peak is an annual program in Corvallis designed to inspire appreciation for the ecological, physical, cultural, and aesthetic values of Marys Peak (the highest point in Oregon’s coastal range) through art. The town also has more than 30 murals thanks in large part to the Corvallis Mural Project, started in 2016.