Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Political Science


John H. Mollenkopf

Subject Categories

American Politics | Economic Policy | Museum Studies | Nonprofit Administration and Management | Other Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation | Political Economy | Political Science | Public Policy | Quantitative, Qualitative, Comparative, and Historical Methodologies | Urban Studies | Urban Studies and Planning


Arts and Culture, Museums, Arts Funding, Cultural Policy, Government Funding for the Arts, Path Dependency


This thesis explores how local government support for arts and culture varies across 24 American cities. It has proven to be challenging for researchers to accurately measure municipal arts support. Research on cultural policy has also often focused on the federal level, despite total city expenditures far exceeding national or state government support. This thesis attempts to take an accurate pulse of city expenditures in 2017 and correlates those spending levels to the variation in city ownership of arts facilities. Rooted in the historical perspectives of the ‘new institutionalism’ and path-dependency, this paper argues that past decisions about taking ownership of cultural facilities bind budgetary decision-makers in the present; the resulting relationships, or lack of them, drive the great variation in cultural support in American cities. Tracing annual funding in the present day to historical decisions made during a city’s foundation period provides a better understanding of how cities make these budgetary decisions, or perhaps have them made for them.

This work is embargoed and will be available for download on Wednesday, June 02, 2021

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