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A Question of Morality: Artists' Values and Public Funding for the Arts

Gregory B. Lewis and Arthur C. Brooks
Public Administration Review
Vol. 65, No. 1 (Jan. - Feb., 2005), pp. 8-17
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Society for Public Administration
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3542577
Page Count: 10
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A Question of Morality: Artists' Values and Public Funding for the Arts
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Abstract

In 1989, the combination of art, religion, homosexuality, and public dollars set off an explosive two-year battle and a decade of skirmishes over funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. To promote artistic freedom and to avoid political controversy, federal arts policy delegates specific funding decisions to private donors and arts professionals. In an era of morality politics-hot-button issues driven by deeply held beliefs rather than by expertise-that strategy no longer works. Artists, donors, and arts audiences diverge widely from the rest of the American public in their attitudes toward religion, sexual morality, and civil liberties, as General Social Survey data show. Delegating funding decisions to them has naturally led to some subsidies of art offensive to important segments of the population.

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