Monograph: Public Funding for the Arts at the Local Level


Research Abstract
Monograph: Public Funding for the Arts at the Local Level

ommunities demonstrate their priorities and values in part by the programs and services they support with public funds. The arts provide a variety of public goods that make sense for community investment. The arts create access to and facilitate participation in the life of the community. They promote diversity and understanding among different cultures and broaden educational opportunities for people of all ages. It is fiscally sound for communities to invest in their arts infrastructure. Creative communities are leading the growth of the knowledge-based economy, and local cultural amenities attract tourists who spend more and stay longer in the communities they visit.

But in lean times, the demand on the public dollar is intense and communities are faced with difficult decisions. Strong arguments for the value of the arts, coupled with innovative funding sources and strategies, are needed to maintain and grow public investment. Public funding strategies are as diverse as the communities that pursue them, and no single strategy is right for everyone. Decision-makers consider a number of factors when developing taxes, fees, and other funding options to support the arts. [p.1]

Americans for the Arts’ Monograph series featured in-depth issue papers on topics that were of the greatest interest to our members and arts professionals at the time. They often still serve as excellent resources for best practices and historic reference for today’s issues. Monographs were produced from 1993–2010. Monographs from 2001-2010 are available for downloadable in PDF format our online store at a nominal fee for nonmembers but free to members. All monographs from 1993-2000 are available for free download via the National Arts Administration and Policy Publications Database.

Until 2003, local public funding for the arts stayed ahead of inflation and even showed growth during the recession years of the early 1990s. In 2003, aggregate funding estimates dropped for the first time in 15 years, from $800 million to $770 million. In 2004, local arts funding will drop an estimated 4 percent to $740 million. This Monograph discusses a number of factors that decision-makers should consider when evaluating public funding for the arts; presents an overview of policy strategies; and describes the innovative efforts of arts advocates to restore, sustain, and increase public support for the arts at the local level.


L'Ecuyer, Anne
Americans for the Arts Monograph
May 2004

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