January 26, 2004
Does government arts and culture spending stimulate economic growth? – no says Steven Malanga

Steven Malanga of City Journal pours cold water on the idea that public arts and culture spending can revitalise the economy of a city. Boring things like anti-crime measures and lower taxes do this. Arts and culture spending does not, says Malanga. And if arts and culture spending spawns tax increases, then it does harm. And even if it were economically advantageous for a city to be hip, that doesn't mean that governments can contrive this, any more than they can run other industries successfully.

I'd add that although Malanga doesn't say it, his article reads like a prolonged spanking of the notion that because the wives of millionaires often sport diamond necklaces, the way to get rich is to buy your wife a diamond necklace. The man in Malanga's crosshairs, Richard Florida, developed his theories about creative cities just before the internet boom turned into the internet bust. Florida was describing, in other words, a culture not of wealth creation, but of wealth dissipation, not of getting but of spending.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 08:34 PM
Category: This and thatTown planning