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Working Paper Series

Arts Policy Research for the Next Twenty-Five Years: A Trajectory after Patrons Despite Themselves


  • Michael O’Hare, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley


  • Goldman School of Public Policy Working Paper: GSPP08-006 (August 2008)


This paper was commissioned for a plenary session at the Association for Cultural Economics International 2008 Research Conference recognizing the 25th anniversary of the publication of Patrons Despite Themselves: Taxpayers and Arts Policy.  It proposes five “big questions” to which arts policy research should attend if carried on in the spirit that animated the book, namely that arts policy should seek to generate “more, better, engagement by more people with better art.”  The five issues are:

1. Waste of cultural resources represented by works that are not heard or seen, such as unperformed music and works in reserve collections of museums.
2. Design and implementation of a workable business model for works in digital form (recordings, video, text, etc.).
3. Increasing the value created by amateur participation (in contrast to passive consumption of art provided by professionals).
4. Withdrawal of elites, especially economic elites, from their historic participation in arts governance and support.
5. Fragmentation of collective patrimony as people have fewer and fewer works commonly experienced and art serves niche markets.

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Last updated on 06/07/2013