The Politics Of State Public Arts Funding
Georgiou, Danielle Marie
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Arts funding in America is comprised of public dollars, private support, and earned income that is critical to the economic vitality of state and local communities and to the nation's cultural well-being. To date, most research has focused either on the national level, on the local level, or on public opinions and attitudes regarding the arts. In contrast, patterns of state arts funding have not been thoroughly examined since the 1980s. This study attempts to identify factors that explain differences in levels of state funding for the arts by examining changes in state-level funding (1985-2007) and policymaking. This study is important because it takes into consideration the theory of cultural policy and maps out how it has created our current arts policy priorities. It also builds upon an older study Hofferbert and Urice by updating their dependent variable, independent variables, and methodology. Moreover, this study adds to the current literature by conducting case studies of the process of public arts policymaking. To conduct the analysis, two models were used: the Political Systems model (cross-state quantitative study) and the Policy Communities model (case studies). The Political Systems model states that political systems can be analyzed in terms of their structures and function. In the terms of this study, the functions analyzed were environmental conditions (commercial appeal, income, and education level), inputs (level of participation in arts activities), institutions (agency age, agency size, legislative professionalism, and party control), federal aid, and policy (state expenditures on the arts). The Policy Communities model states that multiple interest groups are involved in both the planning and decision-making phases, and that communication is vital to seeking solutions to future problems. In terms of this study, the Policy Communities model was applied to case studies of six states: New York, Utah, Washington, Pennsylvania, California, and Texas. Overall, this study found that the interparty competition and agency size play a large role in determining the level of state funding for the arts. Commercial appeal also plays a significant role. Forty states were found to have instituted cultural development programs and 32 states have visual arts programs. These programs directly related to the measurement of commercial appeal which is marked by the building, or restoration, of arts centers, and tourism. This study found that states attempting to boost their commercial appeal will use the arts as a commodity. Nearly all 50 states have used either cultural development programs or visual arts programs to boost their commercial appeal. In fact, the 32 states that have Public Arts programs have appealed for more arts funding in the last decade. And, the arts have been proven to be an economic benefit. This is supplemented by the fact that participation in the arts is high; at the end of 2002, 76 percent of U.S. adults made the arts part of their lives. These findings were supplemented by six state case studies that illustrate the creative economy movement. The case studies show that as cultural activities have become infused with business and tourism promotion, local cultural policy communities will be altered. Three such ways are: 1. Existing organizations may be transformed as they accommodate the re-framing of their policy areas. 2. Existing organizations can create partnerships with up-and-coming arts organizations and businesses to promote the arts. 3. New organizations can be created designed to specifically promote one facet of the arts world. The creation of new organizations acknowledges that "culture as development" constitutes its own policy arena. And that the arts do provide an economic benefit, and if they are used by more states as a means to develop their communities, states might receive more funding for the arts.