Cultural policy is the aggregate of what governments do, or fail to do, to encourage the arts and humanities to apply creative/cultural solutions in the arts and other civic sectors. Cultural policies of governments in the United States have evolved from being centered on artists, arts organizations, and arts audiences to more widely apply the arts and humanities into civic affairs. With a backdrop of progressively diminishing funding for the arts and a move toward embedding the arts in social change, community engagement and projects from the Creative Economy to Creative Placemaking, as well as those not traditionally connected to the arts like transportation and public health, it is policy that determines focus and advocacy can push policy.
Changes in political climate and value-driven ideologies have spurred this shifting of the lens through which governments view the arts. As a result, arts managers and future leaders should have a solid grasp of basic principles behind public policy, historical and current development of cultural policies, the gatekeepers who enforce them, and how they can deftly position themselves through advocacy to address intended and unintended political forces.