Arts In America: Introductory Post

Here is the first in a series of five posts that I’m creating for

Bill Ivey’s new book, Arts, Inc.: How Greed and Neglect Have Destroyed Our Cultural Rights, combines personal and professional experience with policy analysis to make a case for reshaping America’s cultural system. Twice elected Chairman of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Ivey was Director of the Country Music Foundation from 1971 to 1998, before serving as the chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (from 1998 through 2001.) On Thursday May 21st, 2009, the University of California Press in association with CORE: and Ovation TV hosted a panel discussion and book signing to consider the issues documented in Ivey’s book. Gaynor Stachan-Chun, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Ovation TV, moderated the discussion with Mr. Ivey, Agnes Gund and Robert Lynch.

Arts, Inc. Discussion Panelists

(from left to right: Gaynor Strachan-Chun, Robert Lynch, Agnes Gund and Bill Ivey)

Their conversation touched on a lot of really interesting issues, including: the value of creativity, how we pay for the arts, and what leaders might do to help the arts. As a citizen, and an advocate for the arts, I question our government’s spending priorities. We’re spending billions and billions to save companies too large to fail, and not enough on smaller bailouts – including arts bailouts – that would reap larger and more widespread economic benefits. Michael Kaiser, arts organization guru and current President of the Kennedy Center wrote in the Washington Post that “the arts in the United States provide 5.7 million jobs and account for $166 billion in economic activity annually.” According to the GM website, that company employs just 252,000 – and that’s globally – not just in the United States. Why are we not spending more to save arts institutions? Given the many compelling priorities facing the administration such as the economy and Healthcare reform, and the competition for funding, I think public discussion about the arts, arts education and America’s cultural system is critical.

To read the rest of the post go to the website here.

Author: Robert Bettmann

Founder of Day Eight, and the DC Arts Writing Fellowship.