In 2003 Atlantans began a conversation about sustainable funding for the arts, and whether there should be some kind of earmarked tax revenues for the arts in the Metro area. A Research Atlanta study looked at some of the options, the experience of other US cities, and the tough questions advocates of sustainable funding would need to address to secure broad public support for such a measure.
The 2003 study noted that in November 2002, voters in Metropolitan Detroit rejected, in a close vote, a proposed increase in property taxes that would have been directed to the arts and other cultural institutions. In this paper we ask what Atlanta can learn from the Detroit vote. In particular, we will use the precinct-level results of the Detroit referendum, matched with Census Tract data, to get some of idea of which voters supported the arts funding and which did not. To our knowledge this is the first detailed empirical examination of voting for arts funding in the US. We will then consider how Atlanta is like, and unlike, Detroit, and what conclusions we might draw from the Detroit experience.