This paper contributes to a burgeoning body of literature which seeks to highlight the importance of studying small cities. Dissatisfaction with urban theory dominated by study of 'the city' defined in terms of a small number of 'global' cities has led theorists to consider what is lost as a consequence of this bias. Although there is long way to go to challenge the orthodoxies of urban theory dominated by study of the 'biggest and best', here we focus on an area of small cities research where progress has been made towards developing a more inclusive agenda. This study reviews research into the cultural economy of small cities and highlights a growing body of rich and detailed literature. Despite this progress, however, we argue that a coherent and clear research agenda is yet to emerge. To this end, we signpost ways in which bolder theoretical and empirical questions can be developed that can begin to make more of a significant impact on urban theory.