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This article investigates the social grounds for public funding of the arts and how this valuation has shifted as economic justifications are now being considered. The funding cuts in St. John’s during December 2015—and their eventual reinstatement—serves as a particular site of investigation. The protests against these cuts spurred a dialogue regarding the values that justify public funding for the arts. However, the justification and valuation of the arts is now responding to the shifting language of “investment,” comparing the arts to other profitable industries. This emphasis on the arts as an economic contributor has, in some ways, shifted the social and cultural values of the arts to become additional or fringe benefits of public support. In the case of the St. John’s funding cuts, I examine the duality of social and economic evaluation and how these justifications for public support are working in tandem to defend arts funding.