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Council Bluffs metro named Top 10 'Arts-Vibrant' community
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Council Bluffs metro named Top 10 'Arts-Vibrant' community

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Pottawattamie Arts, Culture and Entertainment CEO Danna Kehm, at podium, is applauded during the groundbreaking ceremony for the PACE building in June.

A recently released study lists the Council Bluffs metro area in the top 10 for vibrant arts communities nationwide.

The fourth edition of the National Center for Arts Research Arts Vibrancy Index lists the Council Bluffs-Omaha metro area at No. 6 in its listing of medium-sized communities. The area finished just ahead of Durham-Chapel Hill in North Carolina.

Santa Fe, New Mexico was No. 1 in the category.

“In this report, we highlight and celebrate communities of every size and in every region that have cultivated higher levels of arts activity per person living in the community,” researchers Zannie Giraud Voss, Glenn Voss, Brooke Awtry and Jennifer Armstrong said in the executive summary of the study. “We use the term ‘vibrancy’ in keeping with Merriam-Webster’s definition of the word to mean ‘pulsating with life, vigor, or activity.’”

The medium communities category included metropolitan statistical areas with populations ranging from 100,000 to 1,000,000 people. The rankings are based on a variety of data, including the number of artists, art providers, artistic organizations and government support.

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“The arts inspire us to look beyond what we believe to be possible and imagine a more vibrant, exciting future for Council Bluffs,” said Pottawattamie Arts, Culture and Entertainment CEO Danna Kehm. “It also reminds us that we’re all creative beings — and that whether we’re making art or music, dancing, telling stories on stage, or sharing in the experience, we’re all connected.”

The researchers with the center, based at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said the Council Bluffs-Omaha area is “a growing arts hub.”

“The area places particular emphasis on hands-on artistic experiences, with organizations like (Council Bluffs’) Harvester Artist Lofts and Hot Shops Art Center (in Omaha), as well as many local galleries and shops featuring instructional arts and crafts,” the report states.

The report also lauds public art in the area, mentioning the South Main Street area in particular. Researchers also noted that PACE “is one of the leading institutions driving the area’s growth,” with the organization nearing the end of its $27 million capital campaign to build the new Hoff Family Arts and Culture Center.

The center will be home to the Chanticleer Theater, Kanesville Symphony Orchestra, Kitchen Council and Ballet Nebraska, which will become the American Midwest Ballet.

“Council Bluffs and Pottawattamie County deserve an arts and culture center they can be proud of, and I am glad that a national study has recognized our community’s efforts to build the new facility,” Kehm said. “The art center not only will benefit visitors and students, it also will create an economic benefit for the region. The completed project will bring new visitors, activity and vitality to Council Bluffs.”

This was the first time the Council Bluffs-Omaha metropolitan area made the list, joined in the medium communities rankings with other first-timers Durham-Chapel Hill and Rapid City, South Dakota.

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