• Percentage of the population in college or graduate school
• Percentage of the population aged 18-34
• Art dealers per 100,000 people
• Performing arts companies in the metropolitan area per 100,000 people (2012)
• Museums per 100,000 people
• Fine arts schools in the metropolitan area per 100,000 (2012)
• Business classified in the "creative industries" sector per 100,000 people
Every U.S. city with a population of more than 300,000 was scored based on these seven points, and the top 15 aggregate scores were chosen. In the case of a tie (and there were a few), each city's raw scores for fine arts schools and creative businesses were used to determine the final order.