State Arts Agencies at a Crossroads

The Search for Public Benefit

Repeatedly whipsawed by state budget emergencies, and by swings in the public's perception of what art is and how government ought to support it, state arts agencies are developing innovative ways to refocus their efforts from supporting arts providers through grant-giving to the larger public benefits of their work. Tiny agencies often overlooked among the welter of much larger line items in state budgets, they nonetheless have considerable impact in determining the destinies of arts providers, and the different constituencies they serve. “Many SAA managers are convinced that their agencies must undergo profound philosophical changes in orientation if they are to thrive rather than merely survive year to year,” writes Julia Lowell, an economist at the RAND Corporation.

Available online from The Wallace Foundation