Daniel Reid


Debate over arts policy in the United States today rightly focuses on the legal background of market regulations, asking how our property rights regimes, intellectual and otherwise, should adapt to the internet's revolution in reproducibility and to the growing consolidation of distribution channels and backlists. Issues of copyright, digital rights management, and frequency access have obvious and fundamental ramifications for the creation, availability, and quality of a broad range of artistic endeavors. Adjustments to these policies are the most important form of "intervention" undertaken by the federal government because only it can legitimately craft and enforce these necessary rules.

This Note focuses on financialinterventions in the arts, which have also been the subject of heated, if less productive, dispute. In the last few decades, the American conversation about government subsidies to the arts has been highly politicized, with many of the arguments wielded by supporters contributing little beyond ideological posturing. Despite the rhetorical force of appeals for money for the arts, virtually all of the major justifications advanced by proponents fail to build a persuasive case for direct federal funding. This Note argues that these proponents have largely overlooked by far the strongest justification for direct arts subsidies, one that is uniquely American and uniquely persuasive: a civic argument for government funding.