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.
In 2011, art funding in the United States reached a record low following the financial crisis. The 2013 National Arts Index revealed art spending made up just 0.28 percent of the government’s non-military budget in 2011, with local government spending also dropping by 21 percent over that time. The percentage of American households donating private funds to the arts also declined by almost 9 percent.
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. In the spirit of reviving art funding and our perception of culture on our home soil, here is a list of 10 countries that fund citizens to pursue artistic endeavors.
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. What artist wouldn't want to live there?” Moss told Huffington Post. Since the 1970s, Germany has implemented a federal program for art purchases and the collection of contemporary art in a bid to support artist organizations and bodies. In fact, publicly funded cultural institutions are used to educate people to promote interest in art. In 2013, the German culture budget rose by 8 percent even despite an overall federal budget decrease by 3.1 percent.
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. The Arts Council is the development and funding agency for the arts in Northern Ireland. It distributes public money and National Lottery funds to develop art projects and events throughout the country for both individual international artists to perform in Ireland as well as organizations.
France has always had a vast appreciation for art and culture, which it considers almost holy. Home to some of the most prominent art displays in the world, French museums generate over 20 million viewers a year. The budget of the French Ministry of Culture for 2013 was close to €7.4 billion ($10 billion USD) with €3.5 billion ($4.73 billion USD) dedicated to the cultural field alone. Despite such a large distribution, these figures actually represent a 2.3 percent drop in art, which has prompted protests and strikes across the country in recent times.
The other countries investing in art are: 4. Sweden, 5. Australia, 6. Finland, 7. England, 8. Uzbekistan, 9. Mexico, 10. The Balkans: