Good & Plenty

The Creative Successes of American Arts Funding

Tyler Cowen

2006, 196 pages. Published by Princeton University Press, 41 William Street, Princeton, NJ, 08540, (609) 258-4900,

In this book Cowen argues why the U.S. way of funding the arts, while largely indirect, results not in the “terrible and the small” but in “good and plenty”—and how it could result in even “more and better.” Few would deny that America produces and consumes art of a quantity and quality comparable to that of any country. But is this despite of or because of America's meager direct funding of the arts relative to European countries? Overturning the conventional wisdom of this question, Cowen argues that American art thrives through an ingenious combination of small direct subsidies and immense indirect subsidies such as copyright law and tax policies that encourage nonprofits and charitable giving. This decentralized and even somewhat accidental system results in arts that are arguably more creative, diverse, abundant, and politically unencumbered than those of Europe.