Sunday, March 3, 2019

State Arts Agency Revenue Update

Good morning.
And the beat goes on...................."

NASAA released its annual State Arts Agency Revenue Report a couple of weeks ago - a comprehensive look at funding for the state and regional arts agencies around the country, breaking down legislative allocations, line items, per capita funding et. al.

There aren't usually mega trend changes in this funding paradigm.  The better the economy - and that may vary from state to state - axiomatically, the more robust the funding for state agencies.  It isn't unusual for some states to experience relative dramatic increases or decreases, though most states stay consistently within certain ranges.

And thus the numbers for the sector as a whole, change little.  The total $360+ million fiscal year funding increased by only 2.1 percent, and that increase included line items (appropriations within an agency budget, but which are for a specific entity named by the legislature and not controlled by the agency - i.e., "pork").  Excluding these line items, and SAA appropriation funding increased by only 0.9 percent.  Total per capita appropriations increased by one cent to $1.09.

And total appropriations remain nearly 20 percent below their all time high in 2001 - some 43 percent lower adjusting for inflation.  

Over time, the average increases are modest for the whole sector - including total amount of funding and on a per capita basis.  Several smaller states that have a history of healthy state funding, have a disproportionate impact on per capita funding as they represent very healthy funding on that basis - skewering the overall numbers.

And several states are, if not annually, than over decade long periods, subject to a roller coaster, up and down cycle of funding.  Included in this category are California - a forty seven percent increase - now back to meaningful funding levels after a decade or more of subsistence state support, and Florida, unfortunately, again taking a depressing decline in support - a disheartening seventy one percent decrease.  New York and Minnesota continue to lead the pack in total funding.  Alaska, Delaware, Rhode Island, Hawaii, Maryland, and Minnesota lead in per capita support.

All states share proportionally in the 40 percent of NEA funding allocated to the states and regional arts agencies. For some smaller states, that revenue is a healthy percentage of their total funding. Many states have supplemental income as well - from vanity license plates to event income.  In many larger states with urban centers, the Local Arts Agency budgets complement the state's efforts, even sometimes eclipsing the state support.  Again, the better the economy, and the more active the local advocacy efforts, the healthier the funding at the local level.

On one hand, it is a testament to the continuous hard work of a lot of people that the sector is able to, on balance, keep funding to SAAs relatively stable.  On the other hand, it is frustrating and emblematic of how far we still have to go in terms of effective lobbying and making the case for our value to the public, that we can't realize consistently meaningful significant increases, sustainable over time.

Have a great week.

Don't Quit