Berkeley Springs, WV (population 663) started turning things around as a town in the late 70s when a small group of artists banded together to set up the Morgan Arts Council. Jeanne Mozier, who I met at the Create WV Conference, led those efforts in trying to bring together the handful of artists who didn’t have any direct connection with each other but knew that they could accomplish more by working together rather than each on their own.
Along the way, an old industrial building was turned into the an arts development center, an old theater was revived and artists started to pour into the small town. Today there are over 150 working artists with about 5 per year moving to the town. Those artists keep the 7 galleries in town filled with product and have helped the small downtown to become a diversified destination. Their efforts have resulted in a $35 million tourism industry.
The town has been mentioned numerous times as one of the best small art towns in the USA by various publications, was voted #2 Art Destination in America in 2005 and has more art density some weekends than Manhattan.