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University Circle named best arts district in the U.S.

The neighborhood came in first in the USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice competition.

CLEVELAND — University Circle has been voted the Best Arts District in the U.S. in the 2021 USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice contest.

A panel of experts from USA TODAY and 10Best chose the Cleveland neighborhood as one of the top 20 arts districts in the country. Then, the public voted it into the number one slot.

The top 10 districts that got the most votes were, in order:

1. University Circle (Cleveland, Ohio)

2. Northeast Minneapolis Arts District (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

3. Dallas Arts District (Dallas, Texas)

4. Arts District Houston (Houston, Texas)

5. Station North Arts District (Baltimore, Maryland)

6. Historic Third Ward (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

7. Wynwood (Miami, Florida)

8. Wabash Arts Corridor (Chicago, Illinois)

9. Santa Fe Railyard Arts District (Santa Fe, New Mexico)

10. Warehouse Arts District (Tucson, Arizona)

Some of Cleveland's most well-known attractions are in the University Circle area. They include the Cleveland Natural History Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, moCa Cleveland and The Sculpture Center. The Cleveland Institute of Art is also in the area and it is known for screening independent films at the Cinematheque. There are also numerous outdoor sculptures in University Circle, including "Judy's Hand" at Uptown, "Steggie" at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and "Sprouting Seeds" at the Cleveland Botanical Garden.

University Circle is also home to Lake View Cemetery, where visitors can explore the chapels and monuments. It's also home to Severance Hall, where the Cleveland Orchestra performs.

There are also multiple schools in the University Circle area, including the Cleveland Institute of Music, The Music Settlement and the Cleveland Institute of Art. 

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“We’re thrilled that University Circle came out on top,” said Chris Ronayne, president of University Circle Inc. “We’ve known for years – and now the rest of the nation will know as well – that some of the best art in the country can be found right here in our own backyard. We’re hoping, ultimately, that this will result in increased tourism to the City and to the neighborhood. I’d like to extend my gratitude to USA TODAY and 10Best for recognizing University Circle, and to everyone who voted!”

Leaders of several of University Circle’s arts organizations were equally enthusiastic about the public recognition of the neighborhood.

“We are pleased and excited that University Circle has been voted ‘Best Arts District’ in the country in the 2021 USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice travel awards. Cleveland offers an extraordinary constellation of world-class cultural institutions. Here at the Cleveland Museum of Art, we very much look forward to welcoming visitors from our region and around the globe to enjoy our exhibitions and renowned collection,” said William M. Griswold, director and president of the Cleveland Museum of Art.

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“moCa Cleveland is thrilled although not surprised that University Circle earned this accolade,” said Megan Lykins Reich, interim executive director at moCa. “With an unparalleled density and diversity of arts and culture, University Circle drives creativity and innovation in our city and beyond. We are proud to support contemporary art and artists here who play key roles in the experimental energy and dynamism of this community that we love.”

“As a part of the vibrant cultural landscape of the University Circle district which The Cleveland Orchestra is proud to call home, we were thrilled to learn that the neighborhood has been given much deserved national recognition by USA TODAY as ‘2021’s Best Arts District’ in the country,” said André Gremillet, president & CEO of The Cleveland Orchestra. “We hope that this attention will raise awareness far and wide, drawing even more people to Severance Hall as well as to the other world-class cultural institutions that we are honored to have as our neighbors and partners.”

For more information on University Circle, visit www.universitycircle.org. More information on the USA TODAY 10Best contests can be found here.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The video in the player below is from a previous story.