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Knoxville named No. 4 ‘Best Arts District’ by USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice 2023

June 23, 2023

Knoxville is the No. 4 “Best Arts District” nationwide, according to USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice 2023 poll.

The poll included 20 nominees, which were selected by an expert panel based on how they “culturally enrich their cities and those who visit.” Then, the public voted for their favorite, determining the finalists. The top 10 winners were announced by USA Today on Friday, June 23.

“USA Today readers have affirmed what we in Knoxville have known for years – our ‘Scruffy City’ defies its common nickname,” said Liza Zenni, executive director of the Arts & Culture Alliance. “The culture cultivated by residents, artists, businesses, local government and downtown organizations enhances the experience of living, working and visiting our incredible city.”

Knoxville is the No. 4 “Best Arts District” nationwide, according to USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice 2023 poll. An expert panel selected 20 nominees, and a public vote determined the finalists and their rankings.

Subject experts who evaluated the nominees consisted of USA Today and 10Best.com editors, relevant contributors and sources for both these media and other Gannett properties. 10Best.com provides original, unbiased and experiential travel content from local experts that always is evolving.

Commonalities among nominees included the use of revitalized and renewed urban spaces in formerly derelict neighborhoods, museums with significant collections and a strong presence of art and small businesses.

Downtown Knoxville’s vibrancy undoubtedly contributed to the win. The walkable 0.67-square-mile district encompasses many of the qualities USA Today sought for its Best Arts District list. Many galleries – both in expected locations and experimental pop-ups – are scattered across the city center, and investments in downtown’s development and infrastructure have improved the look, services and promotion of the district.

“Ongoing events such as First Friday ArtWalk and the many festivals held in the city’s core often are the first experiences with Knoxville’s downtown,” said Michele Hummel, executive director of Downtown Knoxville Alliance. “And our arts community is excellent at sustaining that anticipation every day with events, often in partnership with a local business. That collaboration makes achievements like the 10Best ranking possible and memories unforgettable.”

This is the first year Knoxville has made the Best Arts District list. It is joined by diverse areas in size and offerings. The top 10 include:

  1. Northeast Minneapolis Arts District
  2. University Circle (Cleveland)
  3. Dallas Arts District
  4. Knoxville’s Art District
  5. Arts District Houston
  6. The Pop District (Pittsburgh)
  7. Historic Third Ward (Milwaukee)
  8. Wabash Arts Corridor (Chicago)
  9. Station North Arts District (Baltimore)
  10. Art District on Santa Fe (Denver)

Learn more about Downtown Knoxville events and places at downtownknoxville.org, and connect with the city’s art initiatives at knoxalliance.com.

About the Downtown Knoxville Alliance

Ensuring a vibrant, flourishing downtown is the primary mission of the Downtown Knoxville Alliance (DKA). Formed in 1993 as a Central Business Improvement District (CBID), the district encompasses a 0.67-square-mile area and is supported by a special assessment to property owners that is used to make improvements, enhance services and promote downtown. The DKA continually focuses on attracting and retaining a thriving community of residents, businesses and visitors in Downtown Knoxville. For more information, visit downtownknoxville.org.

About the Arts & Culture Alliance

The Alliance was created in 2001 through a highly participatory community-driven process. Its predecessor was the Arts Council of Greater Knoxville, formed in 1974. The mission of the Arts & Culture Alliance of Greater Knoxville is to serve and support a diverse community of artists, arts organizations, and cultural institutions. The Alliance is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, charitable nonprofit organization. For more information, visit knoxalliance.com.