Saturday, May 29, 2010

Pitching Arts to Conservatives III

I presumed that, in the previous post, comparing the percentage of arts money spent per state to the state's percentage of the population would give a clue into whether or not the stimulus spending was in proportion to population. Ian Thal, in the comments, asked about the numbers per capita, and I assumed it would reflect the same imbalance.

Using the Wall Street Journal's helpful widget (which I wish I'd found last night), I looked up the amount of money dispersed to the arts in the Stimulus Bill:

Of course, they reflect two different pools of numbers; this diagram above is the stimulus bill; what I was looking at last night was a break down of just the music education. Also, the WSJ doesn't show their work (the raw numbers it is taken from).

When I have a little bit more time, I'm going to play around with the raw numbers at the NEA site and see if the per capita really does match the evenness above, and if it is in fact individual disciplines that vary from state to state. Also, I'll see if I can track down the numbers for the NEA's regular funding, not the stimulus bill, and see whether the stimulus bill is representative of NEA spending in general.

I made the mistake of using a data set that confirmed what I already believed to be true about the NEA. My apologies.


Ian Thal said...

This map is interesting, because, if it's true, we're seeing some very high per-capita spending proposals on the arts going on in states like Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, Vermont and the Dakotas, which, have very low populations as well as low population densities. Delaware is a very small state, but at least it is densely populated.

Washington, D.C. is the nation's capital. No modern nation state is not going to put a lot of cultural spending into its capital city.

I suspect that the reason that most of the NEA grants in the pie chart you posted previously has to do with grants going to individual artists and organizations which for reasons that should be obvious, choose to locate (or relocate from other parts of the country) to New York or California.

CultureFuture said...

Well, I'm not surprised about the high per-capita spending in extremely low population areas, because my hunch (which again I'd have to look at the numbers more closely than I am doing while ostensibly on vacation) is that at a certain point, even a small grant would look very large, per capita.

Montana has a population of 974,989 according to the US Census. Spending $50,000 would still be $.05 per capita, which according to that map would be one of the highest per capitas. The same investment in California would be $.001 per capita.

I'll look at the raw data, but I have a feeling that even in low-density states, the money is being concentrated in a few organizations at their cultural centers (Missoula, MT?). It just so happens that the population is so low that it makes the per capita look higher.

You're probably right about the last point though.

99 said...

Just a slightly pedantic reminder: NEA grants don't go to individuals anymore, only organizations. And it's extremely rare for an organization to move from one state to another. They may take a project to New York or L.A. or Chicago, and may be using the funding for that, but I can't think of an organization that physically moved. Okay, maybe one.

I think a good correlation would also be to look at state level spending. I wonder how much the federal government is stepping in when there's very little state spending, particularly in those less populous states.

Ian Thal said...

You're not being pedantic here, J. That bit of information is actually useful if we are going to interpret this map correctly.

Now what is interesting is your suggestion that the NEA funding is sort of stepping in where local funding isn't.

I'm seeing two possible outliers to that hypothesis though:

Given the well-established art scenes in Brattleboro and Burlington, Vermont, I would imagine that there are local institutions there. Is it possible that Vermont just has a really crack team of grant writers? At least in the New England region, Vermont has the reputation as the place where artists move to if they want to get away from the "big city."

(I have a contacts in Vermont, so I know there's a community there, but don't have any details on how they function economically.)

Now the other question is: Delaware, coastal, high population density, and much higher per capital NEA funding than other northeastern states.

CultureFuture said...

I suspect we're reaching the limits of the map's usefulness. All of the points raised are good ones, and in my discussion with my dad I realized that the stimulus may be a bad datapoint because of its origin in Congress, and therefore the apportioning may have been decided through the earmark process or something similar - he jokingly suggested I compare per capita arts spending in stimulus with seniority of Congressman.

I think I'm going to post today a list of the different hypotheses that could explain arts funding distribution today, and propose the variables that may be involved, and see if the correlations exist. Hopefully I can find the raw data I need.