Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Art History

Second Department


Reader 1

Mary MacNoughton

Reader 2

Matthew Magilke

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Rights Information

© 2016 Jasmine P. Kusumowidagdo


The Great Recession dramatically reframed the debate on funding for the arts from a social one to a fiscal one. Instead of social ideology, economics came to the forefront; and fiscal conservatives replaced social conservatives as the loudest voice criticizing government funding for the arts. Under the shadow of an expanding government and staggering national debt, both supporters and critics argue in terms of the economic costs and benefits that the arts impose. These arguments against public funding for the arts are multi-tiered. Critics contend that the government arts agencies are ineffective, that federal arts funding is inefficient, and that government funding as a whole is an unjustified overreach of government. Fiscal conservatives also argue that private philanthropy is sufficient to sustain the arts independently without government involvement. But because public and private funding for the arts respond to recessionary impacts so differently and decreases in private philanthropy impact the arts disproportionately, public arts funding is absolutely justified on an economic basis. With the inclusion of social and political considerations, however, the final conclusion is that neither private nor public funding can or should independently provide a complete solution to the issue.