EVER SINCE WORLD WAR II, the arts in England—as elsewhere in Europe—have been generously if variably funded by the government, by means of the Arts Council of Great Britain, which was split into four independent organizations, for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, in 1994. If not quite the envy of the world, the level of funding provided by Arts Council England has certainly been the envy of America, where investment in the arts is largely a private affair. Whereas the Arts Council will invest £417 million ($836 million) in the arts this year alone, the United States (federal, state, and local governments) will spend about $1.5 billion, although England’s population is one-sixth that of its former colony. Regardless of the relative munificence of public funding for the arts in England, however, the figures belie a fundamental shift in the way the arts are now being underwritten

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