An intriguing paper by Tally Katz-Gerro, from the University of Haifa, published in the Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events (March 2012) aims to understand more about attitudes to state funding in the UK and the USA. Is it only those who go to arts events who back arts funding, and what social groups do they come from?
The paper reveals some intriguing answers. In both the UK and the USA, education isn’t the main factor determining who’s in favour of arts funding: it’s arts attendance. If you attend the arts, you are more likely to support state funding.
The report also looks to links between attitudes to culture and support for arts funding. It finds that people, in both countries, who feel comfortable in an art gallery are more likely to support arts funding.
These conclusions may not seem very surprising, but they provide crucial information for arts organisation. Increasingly , public support is a bulwark against the continued, long-term pressure from budget cuts. If arts organisations, especially galleries, want to increase public support they need to make the public feel welcome and wanted. And if organisations want to increase support for the arts, they need to increase the appetite for their own outputs. It is not an easy job, but at least the mission is clear.