The Arts and State Governments

At Arm’s Length or Arm in Arm?

by Julia F. Lowell, Elizabeth Heneghan Ondaatje


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Even though a majority of Americans claim to support public funding of the arts, state government spending on the arts is minimal — and may be losing ground relative to other types of state expenditures. Moreover, most state arts agencies, or SAAs, have not succeeded in convincing state government leaders that the arts should be integral to their planning for their states’ futures. This report, the second in a series commissioned by The Wallace Foundation to cover the findings of a multiyear RAND Corporation study of SAAs’ changing roles and missions, examines SAA leaders’ efforts to more firmly establish their agencies’ value to state government in a changing political and fiscal environment. Case studies of two SAAs are used to illustrate a more strategic approach to public management, and to clarify some of the risks and rewards of bringing the arts and political worlds closer together.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    At Arm’s Length

  • Chapter Three

    Catalysts for Change

  • Chapter Four

    Making the Case for the Arts in Montana

  • Chapter Five

    New Priorities for Public Arts Funding in Maine

  • Chapter Six

    Strategic Management of State Arts Agencies

  • Chapter Seven

    At Arm’s Length … But Dancing

  • Appendix A

    Some Facts About State Arts Agencies

  • Appendix B

    Montana Arts Council’s Listening Tour

The research in this report was produced within RAND Education, a unit of the RAND Corporation. The research was commissioned by The Wallace Foundation as part of its State Arts Partnerships for Cultural Participation (START) initiative, which was designed to help state arts agencies develop more-effective strategies for encouraging arts participation in their states.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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