Okay, so, in my post about different methods of subsidies (comparing the US and UK methods of funding film), I said this:
I wonder how these two approaches stack up in their effectiveness. I do know one thing: when you give money in a grant, you almost always have to justify the work you're investing in. But when you couch it as a tax subsidy, you have to give everyone equal access to it, and therefore you're more likely to focus on the labor and purchasing that comes out of it.
I do need to approach this with a little bit more nuance. Butts In Seats reports that apparently UK theaters had a certain level of subsidy that was No Application Required (and also reports that it is over). It was, however, still somewhat exclusive:
According to BBC arts editor Will Gompertz,“If you were in the club, you tended to stay in the club; if you weren’t, there was no obvious way of joining.” Apparently this was the way the Council was set up when it was established during the Second World War. Funding was solely based on the council members’ judgment that an art organization had a reasonable chance of success.
What I meant to say was that historically, in the United States, tax subsidies are given across the board to an entire industry, whereas grants to be more exclusive, only given to compelling projects.
It is, however, possible to imagine a system in which the government holds a contest/submission process by which the end result is a tax credit, rather than a bucket of cash. It's also possible to imagine cash prizes that require no artistic review possible.