In the current economic climate some British cultural organisations are looking to America in search of ideas for fundraising.
The received opinion is that America is the great shining example of private and philanthropic sponsorship of the arts.
But it was not always the case - there was one brief period, a radical blossoming of government subsidy, when President Franklin D Roosevelt initiated centralised arts funding from scratch.
The National Theatre's Nicholas Hytner investigates these five golden years in New Deal America when music and the arts flourished.
Federal funding stimulated the growth of new audiences, boosted music education, kept orchestras from going under and gave a platform for composers from rural and minority backgrounds.
Beginning in 1935, at the height of the Great Depression in America, the Works Progress Administration or WPA established a scheme to get people off the dole and into jobs.
Workers in the arts had to prove their skills and then were paid to perform or work behind the scenes.
Orchestras and bands went to parks, parade grounds, ladies lunch meetings, factories and churches.
The Federal Music Project was less radical than the Federal Theater Project, Hytner explains.
The head of music, was a Russian born classical violinist Nicolai Sokoloff, who wanted the public to be exposed to "cultivated music".
The public could also interrogate composers after "laboratory" lectures.
Much of the music has been lost but 12 discs of government radio broadcasts were discovered at the New York Public Library during the course of the making of this programme.
Funding ended in 1939 due to the war effort and some of the political direction of the theatre projects, which caused unease within the government.
Nicholas Hytner explores the federal arts funding in Roosevelt's New Deal America.