This is a book about public cultural policy in the United States, that is, about why and how government in the U.S. intentionally intervenes in culture. Most often, public policies are presented in a way that highlights their instrumentality, their status as tools created and used to address some pressing public problem. Understanding that policies are conceived as tools of government action and that they are implemented, at least in part, in order to accomplish a goal is fundamental to understanding public policy. However, public policies are chosen for many reasons other than how well they might perform an intended instrumental function or functions. A whole range factors influences which policies are adopted and how they work. History and politics influence public attention and priorities, determining which somethings it is that we choose to try to accomplish and when. Overall resources available to government are influential as well; policymaking always involves choices, but sometimes those choices are more constrained and sometimes less so. Cultural values and attitudes set horizons and influence priorities. Political traditions and institutions privilege certain ways of doing things and disallow others. So too do the preferences and experiences of public administrators. All sorts of information and knowledge will make a difference to how policy is formulated and implemented: knowledge about a problem to be tackled; knowledge about alternatives and their viability; knowledge about effectiveness and it how can be measured. Knowledge and information in any of these areas may be expansive or limited, and that will affect what a policy looks like. Understanding how a public policy works as a tool is important. Understanding why anyone finds it necessary to create such a tool, what knowledge, experience, and prejudices its creators bring to its invention and use, and what materials are available to them, equally so.