The ground rules: "I applied several standards to my recommendations. First, they must save the federal government money, to appeal to the Republican Congress. Second, they should stand a chance of appealing to Trump, given his stances on other issues. Third, they should offer a reasonable chance of improving the quality of the arts in the U.S., and fourth, the arts community should not hate every aspect of the changes."
1. End the transfer of 40% of the NEA budget to state arts councils; and
2. Restore NEA funding for individual artists.
I stole that pithy summary from Michael Rushton, who adds: "The two recommendations are driven by a common goal: help fund more interesting, innovative art. Transfers to state arts councils don’t do much for that goal, since they are driven by local politics and the need to serve constituencies on building projects and established arts organizations. Even at the federal level, grants to composers and artists have a chance of doing more to generate interesting art than traditional grants to orchestras and museums." (His conclusion: "Of Cowen’s recommendations, I am solidly behind (2), on the fence on (1). But at least he is trying to suggest an end for arts policy, which in turn suggests ways of criticizing alternative means to those ends and suggesting better ones. More like this, please.")