This piece at samefacts.com, itself a commentary on a New York Times discussion, is the most thoughtful and mature writing on the relationship of government and the arts I have ever read. Portions of it bring to mind local discussions of the arts as economic drivers:
Furthermore, trying to build a local economy on an arts program confronts the all-or-any problem. Any rustbelt factory can convert to making windmills, but most, can’t. Artists flock, for the most part to Richard Florida’s creative-class-friendly places, but almost always in concentrations of which relatively few can supply all of national demand . Northhampton, Mass, and Beacon, NY, and Marfa, Texas can build an economy or rescue a failing one with art. But most struggling towns and cities cannot; indeed, only a few can (though that doesn’t mean the others have to go without art). Here I differ with Kelly’s post; encouraging a lively local arts life can’t depend on attracting artists to live and work everywhere; for most places it has to have to do with engagement with art, and encouraging a lot of local amateur participation.
I recommend reading the whole post, which also touches on teaching and subsidizing art.