Culturally Impoverished: US NEA Spends 1/40th of What Germany Doles Out for Arts Per Capita
10 countries that leave the US in the dust on funding the arts
By Jodie Gummow / AlterNet
In the United States, government expenditure for the arts remains minuscule when compared to the amount of money the government spends in other areas of the public sector. Federal funding to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), created by Congress to offer support and funding for art projects, remains static at $146.2 million a year, with a measly annual budget of $158 million.
To put that into context, the government has disbursed over $245 billion bailing out banks and financial institutions. The National Science Foundation’s annual budget sits around the $7 billion mark, despite the fact that research shows art studies close the gap between high- and low-income students and not only improve numerical skills but promote creativity and social development.
Such figures are symptomatic of our free-market, capitalistic society. Contrast that with the European model, where art is not viewed as a commodity but as a universal birthright to be protected and celebrated.
Germany’s cultural budget was approximately $1.63 billion USD in 2013. According to Ian Moss, research director of Fractured Atlas, Germany’s art funding in 2007 equated to roughly $20 per German citizen, which “dwarfs the 41 cents per red-blooded American provided by the NEA.
The Arts Council of Northern Ireland announced it will award over £13 million ($21 million USD) to arts projects through northern Ireland, including theater and literature for its tiny 1.8 million population.
In Australia, government expenditure for the arts and cultural activities in 2011-2012 period was estimated to be approximately $7 billion for a population of only 22 million.
Now is a perfect time to change this in the USA, as we have an election coming up. Every person can vote instead of being cynical. Vote for someone who has a proven track record of creating funding and a framework for the arts, and a vision for success. Hear Bernie Sanders speak about this in the short video below.