Essays in Honor of Dick Netzer
Edited by Amy Ellen Schwartz
Chapter 8: The partially subsidized muse: estimating the value and incidence of public support received by nonprofit arts organizations
8. The partially subsidized muse: estimating the value and incidence of public support received by nonproﬁt arts organizations Joseph J. Cordes INTRODUCTION Publication of The Subsidized Muse in 1978 marked an important milestone in the application of economic analysis in several respects. It provided one of the ﬁrst comprehensive treatments, not only of the economic magnitude of public support of the arts in the United States, but also of the policy issues raised by such support. Moreover, because nonproﬁt organizations play a major part in the production and distribution of artistic goods and services, the book was also among the ﬁrst to oﬀer a detailed economic analysis of one of the most visible and important parts of the nonproﬁt economy.1 A hallmark of the economist’s approach to studying the arts is to remind (even unwilling) listeners of the marketplace’s role in guiding the allocation of resources and talents to artistic endeavors generally, as well as among diﬀerent types of artistic activity. It is thus ﬁtting to note that the marketplace oﬀers one tangible acknowledgment of the intellectual importance of Dick Netzer’s contribution. Today, more than 20 years after its ﬁrst release, the interested reader can order a newly reprinted copy of The Subsidized Muse which, like a well-loved musical performance or literary work, has been re-released as a ‘classic’ in public ﬁnance.2 Much has happened to public support of the arts since the late 1970s. Direct public support of the arts, which showed signs...
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