Mar 17, 2022 - Economy

Public funding for the arts is up

Projected per capita funding for state arts agencies
Reproduced from NASAA; Map: Axios Visuals

State legislatures more than doubled the money appropriated to arts agencies this fiscal year, setting aside $820.8 million for 2022 versus $402.8 million in 2021, according to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA).

Why it matters: Artists have the power to lift people's spirits — an important role as we recover from the pandemic — and state arts agencies help pay for artists' work and make it more accessible to the public.

  • More money for arts agencies helps "stimulate the marketplace for cultural activities [and] spur local and private investment in the arts," NASAA says in a new report on state funding.
  • The agencies that support visual artists, dance troupes, small theaters and others play a vital role in education, communities and the economy. To do so, they require steady and adequate investments.

Where it stands: Connecticut spends the most per capita of any state on the arts — $9.69 per resident — and Georgia spends the least: 14 cents.

  • High-spending states include South Carolina, Minnesota, Hawaii and Maryland.
  • Low-spending states include Arizona, Wisconsin, Iowa and Washington.
  • Washington, D.C. is an arts-funding outlier, with $52.64 per person budgeted for FY 2022.
  • Check out this table to see where your state ranks and how much it spends per capita. (It's the one shaped like a map of the U.S. and labeled "projected per capita legislative appropriations to state arts agencies.")

What they're saying: "While FY 2021 reflected the financial difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic, the reopening of economies and enhanced federal pandemic aid expanded state budgets for a rebound in FY 2022," writes Mohja Rhoads, research manager for NASAA.

  • 41 agencies reported increases in legislative appropriations, 6 reported decreases, and 9 said their funding levels were flat.
  • "When adjusting for inflation, total legislative appropriations are more than 19.4% above the FY 2001 funding levels for the first time," according to the report.

Of note: The data doesn't account for the total amount of public funding spent on the arts in each state because it doesn't include local or federal governments, philanthropies or private donors.

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