Funding the Arts

July 14, 2017 • Volume 27, Issue 25
Should government support artistic and cultural expression?
By Alan Greenblatt

Introduction

A supporter of artistic and cultural activities in New York City (AP Photo/Sipa/Albin Lohr-Jones)
A supporter of artistic and cultural activities in New York City protests on April 3, 2017, against a Trump administration proposal to eliminate federal funding for cultural agencies such as the National Endowment for the Arts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which helps fund NPR. (AP Photo/Sipa/Albin Lohr-Jones)

The Trump administration wants to end federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and other cultural agencies. While those agencies receive only a fraction of the federal budget, the administration says other needs are more pressing and that government arts spending represents a wealth transfer from poorer to richer citizens. The proposal has revived an argument that raged during the “culture wars” of the 1980s and '90s, when conservatives and liberals sparred over whether the government has a role in supporting the arts and whether federal money should help pay for art that some deem offensive. Funding advocates say exposure to the arts helps students perform better in school and that theaters, symphonies and museums help bolster local economies. The arts continue to have powerful supporters, including local politicians and civic leaders who serve on arts boards in nearly every congressional district. Nonetheless, some cash-strapped state and local governments are cutting school and public arts programs.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Arts
Jul. 14, 2017  Funding the Arts
Apr. 13, 2007  Stolen Antiquities
Oct. 21, 1994  Arts Funding
May 25, 1990  Tying Down Federal Funds for the Arts
Jun. 05, 1987  The Art Market
Jan. 22, 1982  Trends in Architecture
Feb. 20, 1981  Criticism and Popular Culture
Aug. 11, 1978  Support of the Arts
Sep. 27, 1974  Museum Boom
Feb. 01, 1974  Black Arts Revival
Nov. 28, 1973  New Directions in Architecture
Oct. 17, 1973  World Art Market
Dec. 25, 1970  Directions of the Dance
Jun. 04, 1969  Movies as Art
Feb. 12, 1969  Regional Theater
Mar. 27, 1968  Art and Antique Frauds
Aug. 28, 1963  Arts and the People
Aug. 02, 1961  Government and the Arts
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Arts and Humanities
Congress Actions
Conservatism and Liberalism
Powers and History of the Presidency