When Arts Funding and Financial Constraints Meet

Amid dwindling budgets, can cities and states afford to support the arts?

That’s the question posed today by our partner ideastream’s “Sound of Ideas” program. It looked at public subsides for art in age of fiscal constraints.

The five theatres at the Cleveland Playhouse draw more than a million visitors annually. Photo by Sanford Kearns via Flickr.

Northeast Ohio may be better positioned than many areas in our region because of a voter-approved cigarette tax that generates as much as $15 million per year for arts funding. But supporters of the arts argue that during economic recessions, it’s important to remind taxpayers of more than their cultural benefits. Arts can be economic drivers as well, they say.

“Everybody talks about economic engines these days,” John Frohnmayer, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, tells the program. “One thing that gets ignored is that the arts are a tremendous employer. You have an industry here; it’s not just something frilly around the edges of the economy.”

The show comes in advance of next Wednesday’s arts summit, co-hosted by Cleveland State University and ideastream, and piggy-backs on some of the themes explored by Changing Gears earlier this month in “Living For The City: Reinventing the Region with Music and the Arts.”

Should local and state governments fund the arts, or leave the responsibility to others? Tell us what you think.

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