Date of this Version
Government funding of the arts has received considerable attention in the United States in recent years. Efforts to cut funding to the National Endowment for the Arts and declining budgets for state arts agencies have raised questions about how much individuals value the arts. This paper applies the contingent valuation method to assess this value, using surveys of random households and of arts patrons. Our analysis estimated a mean willingness to pay (WTP) among all Kentucky households from $6 to $27, depending on the estimation technique used and on whether the scenario discussed is to increase arts performances by 25 per cent, or to avoid a 25 per cent or 50 per cent decrease in the number of performances. Among arts patron households, the mean WTP ranges from $61 to $132. Consumer demand for arts performances in large part follows a predictable pattern. The likelihood of respondents agreeing to make the donation that is requested rises as the size of the donation decreases. The likelihood is higher to avoid a 50 per cent decline in performances than to avoid a 25 per cent decline in performances. The mean WTP rises with income, and arts patron households have a much higher WTP than all households. WTP rises with on-site use factors such as frequency of attendance. The WTP also rises for arts patrons households with off-site use such as watching arts events on television or reading about the arts in newspapers and magazines.