Social Media Raises More for Arts than Federal Arts Program

Though recent reports might indicate otherwise, social media outlets are once again enacting tangible change. Filling in the hole left by meager federal funding, popular crowd-sourcing website Kickstarter is set to provide more money for art projects than the National Endowment of the Arts. Put another way, a 3-year-old internet start-up funnels more money towards the arts than the federal agency whose sole purpose is to funnel money to the arts.

Kickstarter allows artists to propose projects that users can decide to donate to. If the project gets above a certain threshold, all of the donations go live and the artist has enough money to actually pursue the project. If not, then it’s like it never happened — the artist doesn’t get any money and the users don’t lose anything. At the very least, this model indicates that social media is not just good at bringing people together, but can bring complete strangers together around a cause and actually accomplish something that betters the world.

On the other hand, Kickstarter’s success obscures the sorry state of  arts funding in the US today. The NEA’s budget stands at only $146 million dollars a year; compared to other government programs (or even SuperPAC spending, for that matter) that’s nothing. One of the reasons that Kickstarter could so quickly surpass NEA is because it didn’t have much to catch up with.

Not just artists and internet gurus are decrying this lack of government funding. George Mason economist Alex Tabarrok has called for an “Innovation Nation,” where government policy and funding is directed not towards paying for expensive wars and ineffective redistribution programs, but towards fostering and harnessing the creative power of Americans.

Though he focuses on scientific research, the point still stands: there’s simply not enough government support for new creative products, be they in the arts or sciences. (And anyone who might argue that scientific innovation is more socially useful than what is found on Kickstarter is clearly unfamiliar with the kind of socially useful creative products created through Kickstarter crowdsourcing). Though it’s great to see that a crowd-sourced website like Kickstarter is so successful, here’s to hoping that the NEA sees this for what it is: a wakeup call.

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Photo Credit: zoetnet


Laura Saxon
.4 years ago

Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

Lynn C.
Lynn C4 years ago


Charles Temm JR
Charles Temm JR5 years ago

great, just proves the government doesn't need to subsidizing the arts at all anymore. That's an easy budget elimination!

Hmmm, proving the private sector is better at supporting the Arts sure must rankle all of you...

James D.
James D5 years ago

Some of the most important art and artists in our nation's history were supported by the government, particularly in the 1930's. Yes, Federal dollars should go to support Art. And, that Art should be unrestricted. Furthermore, Art in our schools should be reinstated as a important area of learning and all aspects of Art Training should be available to all of our youths. Creativity invigorates the mind and actually increases critical reasoning abilities and intelligence. Hand-in-hand with that should go a re-emphasizing of physical education. For the mind to develop properly the body must be kept active and healthy. We short change our children and the next generations at our peril. Fortunately for many of us, our parents and grandparents were not so selfish, shortsighted and niggardly in their consideration of our welfare, although apparently many do not remember it.

Tamara H.
Tamara H5 years ago

I don't want one single dime of federal money to go to the "arts" which are, by definition, creative and non-scientific. Since what is art and what is garbage is in the eye of the beholder, I don't want my tax dollar supporting any of it.

You can't eat art and it doesn't lengthen or improve my life. Creating art, on the other hand, may do that. So let's all do it...on our own and on our own dime.

John Mansky
John Mansky5 years ago

Thank you for the article...

Deborah Vitek
Deborah Vitek5 years ago

The "arts", particularly music, have always been funded by the "ruling" class. However, the U.S. government has realized that the arts teach a completely different way of thinking and they don't like that. The result is the arts programs have been removed from the schools and they have segregated those who participate by putting them in "special" schools for the arts. This way they do not have friends who are "normal" people and therefore, the arts are cordoned off from the public.

That is the same reason they have cut most funding to the arts. The U.S. government would be happy if no art or music were taught in their schools at all.

Joy Dantine
Joy Dantine5 years ago

I voted, "leaning no" due to knowlege government focuses on the compassionate of the nation to take to task. However, let it be known "federal" grants are provided for legitimate art programs.

Tim Cheung
Tim C5 years ago


Jane L5 years ago