State governments are important supporters of arts and culture, reaching communities, organizations, and artists through different funding programs. State arts agencies are funded by allocations from their state legislatures and from the National Endowment for the Arts.

State arts councils invariably face requests from more organizations than they can support, and for more dollars than they can award, so only some programs and organizations receive funding, and many receive partial funding. Obtaining state arts grants is a mark of success in competition, as every grant applicant waiting for a funder’s positive response knows well. The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) collects data from all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, and provided data for funding by states in fiscal years 2003-2009. Recipients of arts funding were associated with counties using the “zip-to-FIPS” procedure described in the Methodology section, then aggregated for 2003-2009.

This indicator measures how successful county arts recipients were in the awards they received relative to those they requested, thus this indicator is total state arts dollars awarded divided by state arts dollars requested. To reduce the influence of large requests or awards in a specific year, the indicator sums grant requests and awards over all years. Also, to reduce the effect of outliers, it was limited to counties receiving at least $70,000 in funds over the seven year span (an average of $10,000 per year). The indicator represents the percentage of dollars requested from county applicants that were awarded to county grantees. A value of 100% means that the amount awarded equals the amount requested.

Arts leaders can look at their measures to see how local state arts applicants are faring, explore how to improve their success rate if it is low performance, or maintain high performance if it is strong. This indicator does not differentiate between arts disciplines with varied funding needs. This would likely generate a different mix of applications from each county based on its population of arts organizations. Comparisons will be most valid for counties within the same state as policies and funding amounts vary state-to-state.


Additional Information: Counties with indicator value = 1,211. Average county indicator value = 70.85%. Median county indicator value = 73.53%.


Fast Facts from the Arts Index

Consumer arts spending steady at $150 billion!

Since 2002, consumer spending on the arts has remained in the $150 billion range, though as a share of all expenditures it has slipped from 1.88% in 2002 to 1.45% in 2010. Following four years of decreases, musical instrument sales rebounded, growing from $5.9 billion in 2009 to $6.3 billion in 2010.