I was on a panel awhile back bemoaning the loss of the NEA back in the 80's, and how short sighted I thought it was not to have government funding for the arts, particularly film.
John Sloss responded that the government subsided film productions via the local state tax incentives -- and that's true, but not the whole picture. Don't get me wrong, I love the state tax incentives. They are good for the film businsess and great for the states' economies. They create jobs and drive a lot of money into the states. They have helped stem the flow of entertainment jobs out of the country. But they don't create a more diverse culture.
When we had a tiny tiny portion of our tax dollars going to artists to develop new work, we had the possibility of new forms of representation. The local state tax subsidies are for production, not development; they lead to more of the same work. We all benefit when creative voices help us look at the world differently. Without financial support how is anyone supposed to develop for anything other than the existing market?
I always use Julie Taymor as the poster child for government subsidies for the arts. Back in the day she received such funding and was able to develop a truly unique craft. She was later tapped by Disney to bring The Lion King to Broadway and thereby generated tremendous wealth for many. Without the support of her development, we all would have been deprived of such a voice.
All that said, if you have finished that script and are looking to move towards production, those state incentives are pretty sweet. The Incentives Office has a swell state-to-state guide that is free to download. And through friday you can download here with just one push of a button and no need to fill out any forms. Check it out.