Pittsfield, Massachusetts and Meridian, Mississippi have more in common than first meets the eye. Each has a population of about 40,000 residents, both are over 80 miles from the nearest metropolitan area and both lost population beginning in 1960, although it appears that recently there has been population growth in both places.
What struck me about these cities is how each is using the arts as a catalyst for revitalization. In Meridian, the Riley Center attracts over 60,000 visitors for concerts, conferences and other events. In Pittsfield, the Barrington Stage Company is bringing in over 45,000 visitors annually.
For more on how Pittsfield is using arts to revitalize the community, click here to read an article in the online edition of the Boston Globe. Then check out the Wikipedia entry for Pittsfield and the entry for Meridian to compare the two cities.