Thanks to a government initiative, all teen residents who reach that milestone this year will be given a “Cultural Bonus”—a cool €500 to spend on movies, books, theater and concert tickets, museums, and national parks, reports The Local.
From an economic point of view, such vouchers can make good sense, as Alan Peacock used to stress. Nonetheless they take away two of the big reasons why arts funding is politically popular. The vouchers do not offer well-defined benefits to specific suppliers (read: interest groups), and the government cannot affiliate very directly with specific popular or prestigious projects.
In terms of stimulus, this is less likely to boost employment than many public works projects. A lot of cultural goods are local public or club goods, supplied beyond the point of congestion. In other words, just let one more person sit in the movie theater. That does, however, mean lots of pure profit for suppliers of reproducible popular culture.