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Indicator IV-6 State Arts Agencies
NOTE TO READERS: Please include the following reference when citing data from this page: "American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Humanities Indicators,".
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Updated (9/20/2013) with data for 2008–2013. Also expanded with two new graphs. The first provides the per capita amount appropriated to arts agencies by each state. The second depicts the percentage change in appropriations, by state, from 2007 to 2013.

When Congress established the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in 1965, it required the agency to direct a portion of its funding to any state that established its own agency to promote the arts. Today every state has such an agency, and, although the NEA continues to fund them, the bulk of these agencies’ revenues comes from state legislatures (in contrast to state humanities councils, which are funded largely by federal dollars; see Indicator IV-3, State Humanities Council Revenues).

Arts agency data are presented here because they offer a proxy for data on state humanities funding, which are not currently collected on a regular or comprehensive basis. These data are also of interest because a portion of arts agency funding is used to subsidize activities that are within the scope of the humanities as that term is used by the Humanities Indicators (see Statement of the Scope of the “Humanities” for Purposes of the Humanities Indicators). For example, in 2011 the state arts agencies distributed $5.4 million to humanities projects, according to an analysis by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. The arts agencies also make awards for a wide array of other projects of concern to the humanities, such as preservation of and access to materials and collections and direct support of humanists for their work.

As Figure IV-6 reveals, the history of arts agency funding has been one of long stretches of steady growth followed by shorter periods of decline. The first of these declines began in the early 1990s after 16 years of near-constant growth. From 1990 to 1993, funding levels decreased by 33%, from $469.7 million (in 2013 dollars) to $312.9 million. The period from 1993 to 2001 saw another surge in funding, one that brought state spending on the arts to unprecedented levels, but three subsequent years of deep budget cuts quickly brought funding back down to near its 1993 level. After a relatively modest increase in funding from 2004 to 2007, funding levels then fell 31%, from $382.3 million to $262.6 million, over the next five years. Even with funding having increased to $279.4 million in 2013, states’ funding for their arts agencies remained only about half (48%) of the 2001 high.

Figure IV-6a, Full Size
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The national trends mask considerable variation in funding at the state level. In 2013 the District of Columbia provided the largest per capita appropriation to an arts agency, dedicating $17.70 for each resident (Figure IV-6b1). But this was quite unusual. Among the 50 states and the District, the median2 appropriation was $0.70 per resident. Arizona did not provide funds to its state arts agency in 2013, making it unique in the nation.

Figure IV-6b, Full Size
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While Arizona’s 100% percent reduction in funding to its arts agency was particularly substantial, it was one of 39 jurisdictions that cut appropriations (when inflation is taken into account) to these agencies from 2007 to 2013 (Figure IV-6c). Among the states cutting their appropriations, the median reduction in funding was 30%. States reducing their funding to arts agencies did so by a total of $124 million. The remaining states and the District of Columbia increased their appropriations to their arts agencies by a total of $27.2 million, with most of the increase occurring in Minnesota, which increased funding 227% (from $9.4 million to $30.8 million). The median rise in appropriations among these jurisdictions was 20%.

Figure IV-6c, Full Size
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1 In both Figure IV-6b and IV-6c, states (including the District of Columbia) have been classified by quintile. Quintiles divide a set of values ranked in ascending order into five equal groups, each constituting one-fifth of the values.

2 In a ranking of values in ascending order, the median is that value below and above which an equal number of values fall. The median is used as an alternative to the mean (average) when the set of values in question contains a small number of extreme values that result in a mean that provides a misleading impression of what constitutes a “typical” value for that data set.

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