Journal of Cultural Economics

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 107–125 | Cite as

Art for the Masses? Justification for the Public Support of the Arts in Developing Countries – Two Arts Festivals in South Africa

  • J. D. Snowball
Presidents’ Prize Paper


In the New South Africa, as in other developing countries, the equitable distribution of public resources is a priority. The case for public support of the arts is thus difficult to make because it has been shown and borne out by South African research, that arts audiences tend to represent the better educated, more prosperous minority of society, not the majority of the very poor, mainly African-origin population. Using data from willingness to pay studies conducted at two South African arts festivals, this paper shows that, when the positive externalities provided by the arts are included in their valuation, it can be shown that both high and low income earners benefit. However, as suggested by Seaman (2003), it is also found that some of what the WTP figure is capturing is current and expected future economic benefit from the event.

Key Words

arts festivals developing countries valuation willingness to pay 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. D. Snowball
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa

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