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? How does the U.S. art world compare with that of other countries? Does the NEA need to promote itself?
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 Rev. Robert C. Palmer, Sr. of Ponca City, OK: Funding requests are submitted to your agency for projects located in certain communities. Would you agree that "decency" is a relative concept? Why not let those communities decide whether a project is "decent"?
William Ivey answers:
I would say that in a pluralistic society like ours, "decency" can mean different things to different people. One of this country's greatest assets is the broad diversity of its people, and that diversity takes many forms: geographic, racial, ethnic, religious, and intellectual, to name a few. The law requires that we take decency into account when making grants, and we do so by assembling application review panels that are broadly representative of the diversity of the American people. Panelists come from different geographic regions, and represent different racial, ethnic, religious, and educational backgrounds. Together they hold views of decency that represent the views of a cross-section of the American public.
Since we are a national agency, and since many of our grants have multi-state and national significance, it is appropriate that recommendations to fund specific proposals be made at a national level and not only at a local level. Numerous decisions about the allocation of NEA funds continue to be made at the state and local levels as well, since 40 per cent of our program funds go to the state arts agencies who, in turn, determine their use.
The debate over "decency" has taught us a great deal, and it has encouraged us to serve as many communities as possible -- including the culturally conservative as well as the avant-garde.
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