The good news is that there does not seem to be any direct government funding used in the program. However, the NEA is involved, so there will be some bureaucratic administration costs funded by the U.S. taxpayers.
Private support or no, I think the initiative faces an uphill battle if they really think that funding arts projects will be a source of sustainable economic progress. Rocco Landsman uses Keynesian language to explain why the government wanted the funding of the various foundations and corporations coordinated.
"We really need to scale up the resources in the field. It is not going to be through Congressional appropriation.We felt if we worked together and coordinated our efforts, it would have a multiplier effect.
In explaining why he thinks the project is important, Luis A. Ubiñas, the president of the Ford Foundation, said,
“We need to communicate that the arts are as important as ever, that they can’t be left behind, that they can’t be dropped to the cutting-room floor. Too many people think of the arts as luxuries, as jewels, things that may not be necessary in times of need, things that can be put off. The arts are inherently valuable, and they’re also part of what’s going to get us out of this economic problem we’re in."
Additionally, from an economic perspective, the arts are, like it or not, a luxury. As a musicologist friend of mine told me in response to the ArtPlace proposal,
Consider every major period of Western history and, from protogeometric Greece to fourteenth century Europe, economic instability has stymied the production of art—and for obvious reasons. We must eat and find shelter before we do these other activities. This is not to say that these activities are important. Reading God’s word is important too. But if I have to spend all my free hours working or seeking out work, I won’t have time to read God’s word. So, sometimes the most important (from an absolute sense) things are the things that from an economic point of view we must neglect.