US arts receive $357.5 million in state funding

US arts receive $357.5 million in state funding


norman lebrecht

March 06, 2018

From an interview with Pam Breaux, head of the US National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.

Overall, state governments invest $357.5 million in state arts agencies; that represents about $1.08 per capita. During fiscal year 2018, legislative appropriations to state arts agencies decreased by 2.4%; yet, there are distinctions among the states.  Twenty-two state arts agencies reported increases in 2018; fifteen reported flat funding, and nineteen reported decreases (50 states and 6 jurisdictions total)….

Nothing Trump can do about it.

Read on here.



  • William Osborne says:

    This means that all 50 states together pay less yearly for the arts than each of a good number of European cities. European governments spend on average about 0.8% of their GDP on the arts. If the USA did the same, it would come to over 30 billion dollars. Instead, federal and state spending comes to $500 million which is 160th the amount. The consequences in the USA are obvious and appalling. Lots of info about European arts funding here:

    • Greg Hlatky says:

      Any time any state or city wants to increase its arts funding they are perfectly free to do so. Nothing is stopping them.

      California is virtually a one-party state. Why aren’t they serving as an example?

    • Bruce says:

      We hate the arts in this country. There are plenty of individuals who love them, but as a society we hate them.

      Well, maybe “hate” is too strong a word: that would imply that as a society we care about the arts on some level (we do not). At best our attitude is one of benign neglect — leave them alone and congratulate the ones who survive — tempered by flashes of contempt and irritation anytime artists or arts organizations try to assert the arts’ worthiness of more anything (money, attention, respect, whatever), which reveal the true attitude beneath the veneer of indifference.

      But we don’t quite have the courage of our convictions — so far — to decide to eliminate all government funding for arts organizations. Granted, we’ve reduced levels of government assistance to the point where eliminating it altogether would only make a small difference, but for some reason we’re not yet willing to take that symbolic step. But cheer up, conservatives — maybe this will be the year it finally happens!

      • Greg Hlatky says:

        One again we see that if you aren’t telling artists how wonderful they are, subsidizing their activities, showering prizes and awards on them, etc. – in short if you don’t have as high an opinion of artists as they have of themselves – you’re a knuckledragging Philistine.

  • Michael says:

    Art and state should be separate. I don’t want bureaucrats choosing what art is worthy of government doles, and picking my pocket in the process. I enjoy opera more than the average man. I’m willing to pay for it and I’m even willing to make donations to support it. I don’t know why anyone should be forced to support art he doesn’t enjoy. The answer invariably comes back: art enriches the nation. Whereas if the money was left for me to decide what to do with it, I might squander it on something pointless. Like a new washing machine. I resist the idea that people must be protected from their own ignorance and the NEA is the poster child of such thought process.

    • Bruce says:

      Yep, with that $1.08 per year, you should have enough for that new washing machine , No time.

      • Michael says:

        Your analysis is flawed in that assumes all ~320 million Americans pay an equal share of taxes.

        • Bruce says:

          True. You are probably paying enough for arts you may or may not like to buy a washing machine every year.

          • Michael says:

            There is great hubris in telling someone: “you should prefer to spend your money on something I like (and you should like and would if you were more refined) as opposed to something you actually like and want. And if you won’t willingly spend your money on what I like, I will force you to do so.” I love many things in life. I am pleased to pay for them all myself. If the market can’t support something I enjoy, that is a reality we all must accept. Last year my favorite restaurant closed. Not enough other people considered it their favorite restaurant too. I accepted its closing. I didn’t call for a tax so that it could remain open at the expense of other establishments that would then lose sales because of diverted resources. This is called being an adult.

          • Bruce says:

            (In lieu of reply, see my comment posted at GMT 1807, above Michael’s comment)

            Society needs to grow up to the point where it doesn’t need unprofitable arts. Perhaps it already has. One way to find out…

  • Saul Davis says:

    That’s very well and good, Michael, but too few people feel the same way as you, and buying a ticket, even making a donation doesn’t begin to cover the cost of production. If I put on a recital, I may spend $1,000 on renting the venue, some advertising, postage and printing, other expenses, and yet I have to get 50 people to pay $20 each to cover that, at which point I only break even, yet I have spent hours a day for months, years, to prepare the program. So, yes, we need government funding. And it doesn’t matter if they won’t support the avant-garde or trendy, though they too often do, individuals will. The NEA provides, at best, leadership and a national viewpoint. Its one-time solo artist touring program made a star of Yo-Yo Ma. So don’t condemn what you simply don’t understand. Unless you are donating over a million a year, you are not making a real difference.

  • Freddyng says:

    Who is the Asian lady though…..?

    • Max Grimm says:

      Very beginning of the thread’s intro….“From an interview with Pam Breaux, head of the US National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.”