City of Oil

ARTS Oil City


Video Series by Christina Abt: ARTS Oil City - 2016

Visit the ARTS Oil City website - 2015

Aerial Film of Oil City - 2015

Oil City Our Town film - 2015

NPR's Crossroads reports on ARTS Oil City - 2014

PCN TV Visits Oil City Spotlight on Oil City Artists - 2013

PA Chamber Features Oil City's Arts Revitalization - 2012


  • Affordable Housing
  • Low Cost of Living
  • Beautiful Natural Setting
  • Community of Working Artists
  • Proximity to Major Art Markets
  • Safe, Low Crime community

Oil City is in the process of re-inventing itself and the core of a committed arts community is growing in its distinctive turn-of-the-century buildings. With urban markets in Erie, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Buffalo in easy reach, over 30 artists have become small-town transplants. Artists have taken over much of the historic National Transit headquarters and established downtown studios and galleries. Independent musicians and filmmakers have started annual festivals, and the Oil City Arts Council sponsors concerts, classes, and events throughout the year, including a citywide First Night celebration, a lively winter Bluegrass Festival, and the midsummer Oil Region Indie Music Festival.

"I moved to Oil City in 1996 because I could buy a house here for less than a year's rent in Boston -- and because I found a great combination of leisurely small town living and city amenities here," says Joann Wheeler, the artist who is heading up the Oil City arts revitalization effort. "The area boasts an airport, a new regional medical center, safe schools, Venango College of Clarion University, fine community theaters, a thriving music scene, excellent libraries, beautiful, affordable Victorian homes, and a well-equipped arts center and galleries, all in a breathtaking wooded rural setting. And now that so many artists have moved here from all over the country, the arts are taking off in an exciting way!"

ARTS Oil City is in the process of transitioning to become a program under the Oil City Main Street program. Oil City Main Street's focus is on downtown development and arts-based businesses will find a good partner there! Contact Main Street manager Kathy Bailey for more information.

For a day-to-day look at what's going on in the arts, please follow us at ARTS Oil City on facebook.



All Residential-2 Zone properties in Oil City are now zoned by ordinance for live-work-gallery space, as long as 50% of items sold are created by the artist on the premises. In-home businesses must be approved by the Oil City Zoning Board. The following incentives apply to property purchases in Oil City.


  1. 100% fixed-rate financing on the purchase of residential live-work space is available through First National Bank for first-time home buyers relocating to Oil City, contingent on mortgage pre-qualification by First National Bank. 100% financing through USDA mortgages may be available to artists who are not first-time home buyers through PNC Bank.

  2. LERTA tax abatement is available for rehab of some residential properties.


  1. $250 grant and $5,000 loan @ 1% for fa├žade improvements are available for commercial properties. Oil City Main Street also has a facade grant program up to $5,000 (50% of total cost of improvement).

  2. Commercial properties along the Route 8 and 62 corridors are eligible for state-funded rehab loans through a revolving loan fund administered by the Oil Region Alliance. Funding level is contingent on availability of funds.

  3. LERTA tax abatement is available for rehab of commercial properties.


  1. Downtown studio workspace in a centrally located, beautiful historic building is available at $0.59/square foot/month. Includes utilities and liability insurance.

  2. Non-profit downtown art galleries offer a 65/35 commission agreement. $15 hanging fee may apply.

For more information about ARTS Oil City, please call 814-677-3152 or email using the words "artist relocation" in your subject line to receive an information packet mailed to you. If you are planning a visit, please give us a few days' notice, so that we can make your time here as productive and pleasant as possible!


Important Notices

Joann Wheeler will retire after eleven years of managing ARTS Oil City on October 6. ARTS Oil City is in the process of transitioning to become a program under Oil City Main Street.

Welcome guitarist Todd Harry to Studio 2K and cartoonist Dee Fish if Big Pons Comics to Studio 2Q. Heidi Krug, mixed media artist of WhistleFish Creations, will share 2Q with Dee.

Welcome, Sufana Chowdhury, to Studio 2D.

Susan McGuire's studio is now located in Studio 27B.

Debra Lee's Phoenix Studio is now located in Studio 23.