Speaking as a proud local resident, musician, and arts journalist, Yglesias–while he’s not totally off base–sold our fair city short.
First, there are bizarre references to the murder rate, which is both irrelevant and inconsistent; are cities with a lower murder rate “cooler?” If so, how does he square that with his argument that D.C. was most culturally important in the ’80s, when the murder rate was significantly higher than today? And besides, does anyone think places he mentioned like Cincinnati or Kansas City are significantly cooler than D.C.?
But what really hit home for me was this line: “…if you’re a semi-employed artist or guitar player it’s much more expensive than Philadelphia or Baltimore and still smaller and less interesting than New York City, which has less than one-third our murder rate.” Again, I’m not sure how the murder rate is germane, but the cost-benefit ratio to the creative class is a pretty big deal. Speaking as a “semi-employed guitarist,” I have to admit he’s partially correct. If you’re in a rock band and simply need a hub from which to tour, both Baltimore and Philadelphia are generally more affordable than the District. They have cheaper rent, more artist studios, and more practice spaces.
But if you’re looking for a city with a decent grant system, a slew of great venues, a consistent dedication to making the arts accessible, and a strong sense of community, I would argue D.C. easily tops those two.
There’s more. Read the rest at Arts Desk.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery