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Extra info for Art and the State: The Visual Arts in Comparative Perspective

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We examine these issues comparatively, for it is only by comparing different political-cultural systems that one can study such large-scale subjects. By looking at a variety of political systems we can draw out the implications of contrasting relations between the political order and the world of the visual arts, ranging from different patterns of funding 16 Introduction through contrasting social environments in which artists work to the varying character and responses of audiences for art. These comparisons will show that the state has an important impact on what happens in the art world.

It is well known, for instance, that art museums disproportionally attract the more highly educated members of the public (DiMaggio and Useem, 1978b; DiMaggio and Ostrower, 1990). In fact, in predicting preferences for fine arts, the key variable is educational attainment, not social class or income. The expansion of education at all levels and fields of study has been accompanied by a growth in higher education programs for artists. Awards of MFAs increased from 525 in 1950 to 8708 in 1980 (United States Bureau of the Census, 1951, 1982–83).

Direct support The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), founded in 1965, offers grants to nonprofit arts organizations for programs and exhibitions. 2 For art museums and the visual arts, such grants can include artists’ commissions; workshops; short-term residencies (but not fellowships or grants to artists); exhibitions of painting, sculpture, media art, or other fine or folk arts; education and outreach programs; and documentation and conservation of art objects. Organizations must match NEA grants on at least a one-to-one basis.

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