The new head of the NEA faces tough issues
July 24, 1998
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What influence will your eclectic artistic background have on NEA sponsorship? What will happen if Congress continues to cut funding? 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 Laura Cullison of Lincoln, NE: I'm not an artist or anything like that, but I really value the arts. I know other countries do far more to support the arts than we do, and it shows. How do you think cultural life of the U.S. compares with that of other nations?
William Ivey answers:
It's true that many countries provide government funding for the arts and culture at a much higher level than we do. The Arts Endowment costs each American about 36 cents per year -- less than a cup of coffee. But the diversity, vitality, energy, and innovative spirit of America's cultural life is unmatched anywhere in the world. This results, in part, from our unique combination of public and private sector funding for the arts which many other countries are studying. It also is because we are, in Walt Whitman's words, "a nation of nations." Our history combines elements of every culture in the world, and our arts reflect this.
Moreover, our belief in the essential equality of all human beings sets us apart from more hierarchical societies, and this belief has led to the development of some uniquely American art forms. This nation's gifts to civilization include film, modern dance, musical theater, and jazz. In many ways, American art is democracy's calling card around the world. Because we are a diverse, complex democratic society, we've never been able to claim the unified, "national" culture of which many European nations boast. But our diverse arts scene, which mirrors our democracy, embodies much of what is exciting about the American political system.
The excitement and challenge of democracy is embedded in America's expressive life; that is why American art and artists are so popular around the world.
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