September 9, 2012

The Parable Of The Tuileries and the three economic principles that justify public funding for the arts

The following video is entertaining and amusing, but it also critically informs the argument that government funding for the arts represents a sound economic investment. It underscores government support of public spaces including parks, town squares, symphonies, museums and other arts and cultural institutions.

The original video was produced in French on behalf of public funding for the arts in France. Interestingly, the work was initiated by the French newspaper, Le Monde. Beautifully translated to English, the economic principles illustrated in this "parable" reach far beyond the Tuileries Gardens in Paris. In fact, they can be applied to all arts and cultural institutions including those in Oklahoma.

The primary thesis of this video is "economic mechanisms at work in the field of culture are distinct from current rules." 

"You still don't know it, but you have experienced something in economics called positive externality. The free market, unable to take externalities into account, it is the State that has to gauge their importance through public funding...would you purchased all those goods if you had not been near all those public spaces worth visiting?" 

The three major economic principles mentioned in the video, and which justify public funding for the arts are:
  • Positive Externality
  • Marginal Utility
  • Multiplier Effect
In order to advocate for public funding for the arts in a down economy, it's important to understand these principles and how they work in the arena of arts and culture.

This video is the work of TeKino. It tied for first place in the commissioned film category at the ASIFA Spring Film Festival, San Francisco.

It is an amusing sponsored work promoting the importance of the French government’s support of public spaces (parks, town squares) and institutions (museums, etc.). 

In  March, the New York Times reported the Euro crisis and its impact on European governments cutting support for arts and culture. In the last three years, the Oklahoma Arts Council, the state's flagship agency for public arts investment, has had its budget cut more than 20 percent.