Comparisons between arts administration techniques in different countries are often too glibly made. It has been a familiar sight for several decades to see tables such as the following, which first appeared in the US Saturday Review (22 April, 1972):
Table 4.1 Per capita support for the arts in selected countries
Per capita support ($)
Usually the countries which spend less per capita on the arts are held to be demonstrating their philistinism. However, as Schuster (1988) points out, even in purely economic terms such tables offer a misleading and flawed comparison. Only the most visible arts funding agencies are counted, and such studies neglect to account appropriately for the financial support to the arts embedded in foregone taxes. In wider terms they are even more seriously flawed. For 'the arts' are differently defined in each country, with complex attitudes towards each segment of them from different parts of differently-structured populations. Moreover, in such tables 'support' is too readily assumed only to consist of state aid.