Thursday, August 7, 2008

50 Days, 50 Ways: National Capitol Arts and Cultural Affairs Program

The Kennedy Center. Ford's Theater. The National Building Museum. The National Symphony Orchestra. Whether you've ever been to these Washington D.C. landmarks yourself, you've already bought a ticket.

Congress spends $8 million each year on these D.C. cultural institutions, using your money. For the past 22 years, Congress has made sure they always have something to do on Saturday night, and used your money to do it. Grants under this program go only to institutions in Washington D.C., are handed out with no competitive process, and often conflict with other sources of public funding.

For example, the Kennedy Center receives 44% of its annual budget from ticket sales, 39% from voluntary donations, 19% from an annual appropriation, and just 0.3% ($500,000) from the NCACA Program. Eliminating this wasteful program might make Members of Congress pay a little more for their theater tickets, but it won't diminish the cultural options available to American consumers.

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