Erica Grieder reports that the arts have grown in Texas (and Oklahoma and Arkansas) more than anywhere else in the country over the past fifty years thanks largely to the efforts (and money) of private individuals:
Texas is home to some of the best museums in America and to some of the country’s wealthiest patrons, who tend to exert an inordinate influence on the culture around them. This is in keeping with the politics of the state. Texans are as wary of big government as they are receptive to big business, and this is reflected in the arts, where a scrawny public sector is buoyed by a robust private one. Individuals determine how to spend their money, not the government.
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This has served the art world well. If you want to create culture, the state won’t really help—but it won’t stop you, either. Private citizens have built much of the arts infrastructure in Texas, or at least led the fundraising efforts to do. The French couple John and Dominique de Menil, for example, moved to Houston for the same reason that most people arrive in Texas—to work. Their philanthropy came later. The couple realised that if they wanted to see art, they would have to stage it. This hands-on approach has shaped the state’s cultural hubs, including Fort Worth, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio, and continues to do so today.
Grieder does not provide many examples of the sort of work being funded in Texas, and this does not mean that the government should stop all arts funding, but it does suggest that cutting public funding for certain public goods does not necessarily end or even harm those public goods.