Shortly after President-elect Obama chose Rahm Emanuel as his White House Chief of Staff (causing a stir in the dance world since Emanuel studied ballet at the Joffrey and later at Sarah Lawrence College), Bill Ivey, former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts from 1998-2001, was named to Obama’s transition team for arts and culture. He will serve on the NEA/NEH review team. Like Emanuel, Ivey also served in the Clinton administration. He has a background in musicology and folklore, and is currently the founding director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University.
Ivey’s most recent book, Arts, Inc. (May 2008), has been on my reading list for a while. He argues that cultural rights are “the key to bringing public interest back into America’s creative life” and to enhancing Americans’ quality of life. Hopefully Ivey will put his words into action as a member of Obama’s transition team, ensuring that in the midst of an economic crisis the arts won’t get swept aside. According to Nashville councilman and arts advocate Ronnie Steine, Ivey is “the perfect fit for a national transition”.