Whenever I encounter American bands who come across the northern border, they’re amazing at how much Canada supports our music industry. Cancon. FACTOR. VideoFACT. Starmaker. And so on.
The number of ways the public and private sectors support the domestic music industry is the envy of much of the world. But given that we’re situated next door to the biggest exporter of pop culture in the known universe, this kind of cultural support/protectionism is necessary. Otherwise, we’d have been completely Kardashianized decades ago. And we can’t have that, can we?
Our geographic location makes our situation unique. But are there any other countries that dump as much money and support into its domestic music scene? Pitchfork takes a look.
[M]any rich countries use public funds to nurture homegrown musical talent. The amounts are often paid out by federal arts councils that tend to prioritize traditional fine arts like painting and opera, while contemporary music frequently draws funds from public-private partnerships. Regional and municipal governments contribute, too. Though these webs of financial assistance for music can be complex, and unique from country to country, the overall impression is of a funding landscape increasingly driven by market forces as much as cultural ones. And the threat of an ax to these budgets is nearly always an election away.
Under President Trump, the relatively modest U.S. budget for arts spending—of the National Endowment for the Arts’ $148 million budget in 2016, only $8 million went to programs for music, including opera—is now on the chopping block. The downturn isn’t just happening in the States: More countries with generally higher levels of cultural spending seem to be acting more like America. It can seem more trivial than ever to worry about music spending when so many other issues are at stake. But in the countries with the strongest reputations for funding the arts, cultural expression, like other basic needs, is considered a universal right, not a privilege for the wealthy.