Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects

Date of Award

Fall 12-2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Administration (MPA)


Political Science


Public funding for the arts has been the subject of debate for many years, particularly since the inception of the National Endowment for the Arts in 1965. Early questions about the role that government has in supporting the arts gave way to significant support at the federal level. A series of controversies in the 1990s, and a shift in opinion regarding the role of the federal government, however, led to the devolution of public funding from the federal to the state level, and a move away from supporting individual artists to supporting arts organizations and arts education programs. As state budgets have declined in recent years, funding for the arts has decreased correspondingly. Coupled with a decline in attendance and individual and corporate donations, this has spelled trouble for arts organizations throughout the country. At the same time, there has been an increasing movement recognizing the important economic contributions that arts and culture organizations make to communities. The nonprofit arts sector is a major contributor to job creation, urban revitalization, and economic growth.

As elsewhere in the country, nonprofit arts organizations play an important role in the economic environment in Cobb County, Georgia. This paper examines the impact that four of these organizations have in Cobb County using the methodology developed by Americans for the Arts in their landmark study, Arts and Economic Prosperity III. Using a survey adapted from this methodology, this study utilizes financial data from these organizations to examine the impact they have on the economy of the communities in which they exist. This analysis concludes with recommendations on what public administrators can and should do to support arts organizations in Cobb County.