Valuing the Arts: A Contingent Valuation Approach

February, 2002


Government funding of the arts has received considerable attention in the United States in recent years. Efforts to cut funding to the National Endowment for the Arts and declining budgets for state arts agencies have raised questions about how much individuals value the arts. This paper applies the contingent valuation method to assess this value, using surveys of random households and of arts patrons in Kentucky. We find that mean willingness-to- pay (WTP) ranged from $6 to $8 per household among all Kentucky households to support a 25% increase in arts performances. Mean WTP ranged from $11 to $13 annually to avoid a 25% decrease in performances and from $25 to $27 to avoid a 50% decrease. Mean WTP in these scenarios was 4 to 12 times higher for arts patrons households than for the all Kentucky households.

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