Ever wondered how much money the world’s richest cities pump into culture? The World Cities Culture Forum published a report on May 3 investigating how much cities spend on their arts and culture scenes. The report finds Paris dedicating $3.3 billion of its public money to culture every year, while Moscow’s culture scene receives $2.4 billion and London’s $1.6 billion.

The report argues that no one is aware of the amount of money spent on culture scenes in cities worldwide, who spends it and where exactly this money goes – not to mention the impact it has. The forum hopes that, by publishing the report, it will help to fill these awareness gaps and make it easier for policymakers to allocate appropriate funds in the future.

“Finding insights to fill these gaps is vital, particularly now. Public finances, consumers’ disposable income, corporate sponsorship and the value of endowments and financial investments are all volatile and or/under pressure in today’s world. Cultural policymakers need to be resourceful and aware of the full ‘toolkit’ of options that can be used to help support culture in world cities,” states the report.

Culture scenes

Members of Russian ensemble perform a traditional Cossack’s dance with swords during the opening ceremony of the 3rd Krasnoyarsk Asian-Pacific International musical festival in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, in this file photo taken June 29, 2012. People hailing from Siberia who were related to the first humans to enter the Americas during the Ice Age also mingled with prehistoric populations in Europe and left their mark on the DNA of today’s Europeans, scientists said on September 17, 2014. REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin.

Out of 16 cities in the study’s sample, Paris, Moscow and London – all national capitals – top the pyramid of public money spending on culture. The sample is balanced between eight cities that are capitals and eight non-capital (but large) cities. The capitals sampled include: Stockholm, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Brussels, Moscow, Tokyo, and Seoul. Non-capitals are: Istanbul, Toronto, New York, Sydney, Los Angeles, San Fransisco, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

According to the results, culture scenes in capital cities are the most likely to receive above 20% of national culture budget spending. With the exception of Istanbul, non-capital cities receive less than 19.7%, which is the median level of expenditure by national or federal governments’ culture budgets.

The report also finds new financial trends and instruments used by cities to better provide for their arts and culture scenes. Seoul, Stockholm and Sydney have been experimenting with providing culture organizations public sector match funding for sums raised by the public via their crowdfunding campaigns. Collaborating with Community Arts Stabilization Trust, San Francisco is tackling its high property prices by bringing together public and private funds to purchase property assets for cultural organizations. In the meantime, Moscow is offering subsidized or free tenancy in state-owned historic buildings in exchange for capital investment in restoration and maintenance.

culture scenes

London Hotel Market.

The World Cities Culture Forum argues that there is no right way of funding cities’ culture scenes, because – simply – every city has it’s own governance, circumstances and way of doing things. Nevertheless, the report states the philosophies of the cities sampled included the full ideological spectrum. Some communist-thinking cities believe that relying on governmental investments is seen as the best guarantee that the interests of of the public will be served. State funding is seen as differing from the market in that it views culture not only as a commodity but as a common inheritance, linked to individual and collective identity, which needs to be nurtured and sustained. Other, more liberal-thinking cities believe that public funding of culture often translates politically, shaping culture in a way that serve the interests of regimes – which would inevitably include state interference in content and freedom of speech – leading to weakening of creativity and cultural drought.