The new head of the NEA faces tough issues
July 24, 1998
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What will happen if Congress continues to cut funding? How does the U.S. art world compare with other countries? Does the NEA need to promote itself? Who should decide what is the "decent" standard for art?
June 25, 1998:
A NewsHour interview with the new head of the NEA, Willliam Ivey.
March 31, 1998:
The Supreme Court hears arguments in the case of the NEA vs. Finley.
February 6, 1998:
An Online Forum explores to benefits and pitfalls of corporate sponsorship of the arts.
Browse the NewsHour's coverage of Arts & Entertainment.
A question from Jeremy Carlit of Laurel, MD: You seem to have a very eclectic artistic background. In your opinion, what is the difference between high and low art? What influence do you think your leadership will have on the projects funded by the NEA?
William Ivey answers:
I wouldn't distinguish art on the basis of whether it represents "high" or "low" culture. Rather, there are many forms of art, which developed -- and continue to develop -- in different historical, social, and communal settings.
One of the finest attributes of our democratic society is the way in which diverse art forms stand proudly side by side. In fact, if you go back a few centuries there was a time when no one distinguished between "high" and "low" art. Shakespeare's plays are a good example; they were attended by persons from many walks of life at the original Globe Theater in London, and people went to them sometimes seeking pure entertainment and sometimes seeking profound spiritual insights.
More recently, any boundaries that might define art as "high" or "low" are dissolving. Many classically-trained musicians, for example, are equally comfortable performing in a jazz or folk idiom and have come to be called "crossover" artists. It's important to remember that today's creators often become tomorrow's classics. Our job is to recognize excellence - to encourage the best artists and art organizations who create and present works in a variety of artistic traditions.
Under my leadership the Endowment will continue its mission of fostering the excellence, diversity, and vitality of the arts in the United States and broadening public access to the arts. We will continue to fund projects of many genres and styles. We will continue to support projects that promote lifelong learning in the arts. And we will work to preserve America's unique cultural heritage for future generations.
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