Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Too Many Theaters? NEA Chairman Appeals to Basic Economics

When arts advocates make economic pronouncements connected to arts and especially the economic benefits of arts subsidies, I most often am less than convinced. Sometimes, however, an NEA Chairman speaks the truth. This happened recently when Rocco Landesman caused quite a stir at a conference last month when he said:
There are 5.7 million arts workers in this country and 2 million artists. Do we need three administrators for every artist?

This is an excellent question when, as Landesman notes"

"What I'm seeing is more and more organizations struggling to pay their bills. There's a survival crisis, certainly in the theater and probably across the board. I don't think the answer is to put your head in the sand."

When asked about declining attendance at performing arts events, he replied:

There are too many theaters. Look, you can either increase demand or decrease supply. Demand is not going to increase. So it is time to think about decreasing supply.

It is refreshing when a government bureaucrat so embraces fundamental economic law.

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