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Groundbreaking study reveals importance of access to arts and recreational areas in Biloxi

The Knight Foundation-commissioned report also reveals while most residents feel these amenities are important, a national gap in access exists along racial and economic lines.


BILOXI, Miss. – WEBWIRE
Image (top) by Jessica Pamp on Unsplash.
Image (top) by Jessica Pamp on Unsplash.

A new groundbreaking study commissioned by Knight Foundation and conducted by the Urban Institute shows that Biloxi metro area residents have easy access to recreational areas and arts and cultural amenities. Nationally, the report found that racial and economic disparities in accessing these amenities may exist in urban communities such as Greater Biloxi.

Here are other key Biloxi findings from “Community Ties: Understanding what attaches people to the place where they live,”

  • Relatively more Biloxi metro area residents report easy access to recreational areas (90%), nightlife (82%), and arts and entertainment (78%) than residents in other urban areas.
  • Nationally, this study found that while access to recreational areas and arts and cultural amenities ultimately could create more attachment between residents and their community, low-income residents and residents of color often feel that these amenities are less accessible to them than higher-income, white residents.

“While this study illustrates that Biloxi has successfully built out its arts and cultural scene, there is an opportunity to build stronger, more lasting connections between residents and their community by continuing to invest in recreational spaces and downtown areas,” said Lilly Weinberg, Knight’s senior director of community and national initiatives. “Amid COVID-19, investing in these outside spaces is critically important to provide residents with opportunities to reconnect to their community.”

Conducted prior to the COVID-19 shutdowns, Community Ties leverages a survey of over 11,000 Americans residing in metro areas across the country — including Biloxi — to create one of the richest datasets on what drives attachment to place. 

  • Those with access to quality of life amenities such as arts, recreational areas and safe places to live, work and play reported a deeper attachment to their community, compared with those who do not. 
  • The Biloxi data reveals how attached local residents are to the metro area and where gaps in access exist across urban amenities. It offers points of consideration for such leaders such as boosting time in the city, focusing on quality of life and paying attention to issues of equity, to strengthen residents’ ties to their communities.

As cities plan for a post-COVID-19 world and reckon with racial justice, the report provides knowledge for public officials and other community leaders to help make cities more resilient, urban public spaces more equitable, and think anew about how to build places where people want to live, work, play and stay. 

To see how your city compares in different areas with other Knight communities and the national averages, go to our interactive website.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit kf.org.

About Urban Institute 

The nonprofit Urban Institute is a leading research organization dedicated to developing evidence-based insights that improve people’s lives and strengthen communities. For 50 years, Urban has been the trusted source for rigorous analysis of complex social and economic issues; strategic advice to policymakers, philanthropists and practitioners; and new, promising ideas that expand opportunities for all. Our work inspires effective decisions that advance fairness and enhance the well-being of people and places.


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