The burning question in the cultural world today is not the creation of art, but its funding. In Washington, the Reagan administration’s halfhearted attempts to bring the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts into line have been opposed by a solid phalanx of advocates passionately convinced that more money means more beauty. The very health of our national soul, we are told, is a simple function of just how generously the federal government supports cultural activity.

Among the several states, the scurrying for the arts dollar goes on as well. Oregon now has a simple checkoff provision on its income tax returns, painless in its execution, which has been welcomed by Joan Mondale—America’s erstwhile “Joan of Art”—as a milestone in paying for culture. Massachusetts prides itself on an arts lottery, in which purchasers of inexpensive tickets can pursue fortune...


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