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State Arts Agencies 1965-2003: Whose Interests to Serve?

Many commentators on public policy have noticed a marked downturn in publicly-sponsored arts organizations over the past few years; and, in some cases, certain arts agencies have become moribund as a result of decreased funding. The RAND Corporation recently released a 60-page report on this particular phenomenon (commissioned by The Wallace Foundation) and authored by one of their staff members, Dr. Julia Lowell, an economist. This intriguing report looks at the past four decades of funding for the arts at the state level, noting that state arts agencies "enjoyed increasing levels of legislative appropriations in the roughly 15 years following the creation of the National Endowment for the Arts in 1965." Since then, funding has declined (for the most part), with 2003 being a particularly difficult year, as 43 out of 56 state and territorial arts agencies suffered declines in their general fund appropriations. The report has some compelling policy suggestions, including a note that arts agencies may have to work closely with local communities in order to determine priorities.
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Date of Scout Publication 2004-07-02
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