The Playgoer: Something Right in the state of Denmark?

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Something Right in the state of Denmark?

Isaac provides a salient analysis today in comparing our approach to arts funding to that of a small European country, Denmark.

Keeping in mind that Denmark has under 5.5 million people, they spent $32 million U.S. dollars on grants to artists and companies and $38 million US dollars on grants to venues last year, on top of maintaining a very generous social safety net complete with welfare, universal health insurance etc.

In the United States, the NEA has a budget of $139.4 million US dollars, none of which (by law) can go to individual artists. What does this translate to in terms of per capita spending on the arts? We spend $460K per person in the United States on the arts. The Danes spend roughly $12 MILLION per person on the arts. (To make the point even starker, if we were to raise the NEA's budget to keep up with the Danish government's budget it would come out to something around $3.6 billion dollars). This is despite the fact that the US's GDP is $13.22 trillion dollars and Denmark's GDP is $256 billion dollars.

The sadder thing--as Isaac goes on to argue--is that our bandaid of the nonprofit company structure is not coming even close to compensating for this lack of stable, condition-free support. And I agree with him that the paradigm is busted and needs drastic restructuring if it is going to be the basis of how arts groups--and particularly theatre groups--survive.


Dr. Cashmere said...

Hmm. I think there's a math issue here.

The Danes definitely do not spend $12 million per person on the arts. If the above figures are correct, by my calculations they spend about $13 per person.

Again, if the figures are right, the US spends a little under $.50 per person on the arts.

A universe may exist where governments spend hundreds of thousands of dollars per person on arts funding. But we don't live in it.

parabasis said...

I screwed up the math. It's been corrected if you go to the post. The point about the 3.6 billion dollars is still mathematically correct as far as I can tell. I took out some zeros when runnign things on a calculator and accidentally added too many back in. Rookie math mistake, I apologize. But again, fi you check it out, I've corrected it.


Dr. Cashmere said...

Yes, of course the larger point stands--didn't mean to imply otherwise.