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Carrboro named fifth-best American small town for the arts in recent report

Duncan and Meg Morgan pose with their art on the front porch of their home in Carrboro on March 2, 2022. The two have been orchestrating The Bazaar Craft and Art Market for 7 years. The next market will be held on March 20 at Carrboro Commons.

Last month, Carrboro was named one of the top-five small towns for the arts in the U.S. by 24/7 Tempo, a member of the financial news and opinion company 24/7 Wall St.

Carrboro ranked fifth in 24/7 Tempo's lineup of 25 towns. The list mentioned the town's ArtsCenter and its Attic 506 spaces, which are funded in part by the Orange County Arts Commission.

Carrboro Mayor Damon Seils said the town is appealing for the arts community.

"Carrboro is a home to people who are in the arts, whether that’s artists themselves or people who are operating the venues for these artists and doing all the technical work behind artistic performances," he said.

In determining its ranking, 24/7 Tempo analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 County Business Patterns. The towns were ranked specifically on employment and arts establishments, and in particular, how many arts establishments the county or county equivalents had per 1,000 establishments.

In Carrboro, there were 3.4 arts institutions per 1,000 establishments and 3.4 arts employees for every 1,000 employees. Only places with fewer than 100,000 residents according to census data were considered as small towns for the report.

Graphic designers Duncan and Meg Morgan, who live in Carrboro, said the town was the perfect place for establishing their business, The Bazaar.

The business is a craft and art market held on certain weekends in the Carrboro Town Commons. For years, the Bazaar has offered a place for artists to showcase their work to the community.

“It’s a craft market, but it’s also just a celebration of people being together, which I think has been sorely missing for the past couple of years,” Meg Morgan said.

The Morgans do in-house advertising for The Bazaar with their design house, High Street Design. Meg Morgan said Carrboro’s ranking will be a great to addition to the advertisements.

“I need to put it in there,” she said. “I feel like it’s something to be proud of.”

When selecting artists and food vendors for the events, the Morgans try to focus on the diversity of the vendors as well as the goods they offer. The vendors rotate at each event of The Bazaar, but many come back to participate.

“What has grown organically out of this is a really amazing, kind, talented group,” Meg Morgan said.

In addition to physical products, the town and county are working to bring more music to the area.

Tim Duffy is the founder and president of the Hillsborough-based nonprofit Music Maker Foundation. He said the organization supports musicians financially and provides a larger platform for performing artists through a sustenance program.

“We help people with daily needs,” Duffy said. “Prescription medicines, food, rent. We help people get gigs and perform.”

Each spring, the foundation and the Town of Carrboro host the Freight Train Blues series. The festival honors the legacy of Elizabeth "Libba" Cotten, a blues musician from Carrboro, and features different roots musicians every year.

The Glorifying Vines Sisters, a gospel group from Eastern North Carolina, will sing in this year’s festival. The group has been together for 48 years and is made up of four sisters.

Manager and singer Alice Vines said she is excited to perform this year.

“I love going to Carrboro,” she said. “The people down there are so nice and friendly, and they applaud everybody.”

Seils said he hopes the 24/7 Tempo ranking will be one more way to draw attention to Carrboro's artists and spaces.

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“This is one more opportunity for us to promote our community,” he said.

To view the full list of top arts towns, click here


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