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Arts, Inc.: How Greed and Neglect Have Destroyed Our Cultural Rights Hardcover – May 10, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Chairman of the National Endowment of Arts from 1998 to 2001, Ivey brings an informed perspective to a growing chorus of alarm over "big media, abetted by government, running roughshod over public interest." An enthusiast for mainstream American culture and the vernacular performing arts (he directed the Country Music Foundation from 1971 to 1998), Ivey demonstrates how the promise of early 20th century mass media-when film, radio and TV produced an unprecedented mass audience and "enabled America to discover its cultural mainstream"-is being stifled in the era of digital technology. A major mechanism for this is copyright law, which has become less a tool to protect creative enterprise than "to protect certain industries against competition"; as corporations snap up the rights to works of art, ordinary citizens are losing easy access to their national heritage. Ivey's answer is an official U.S. Department of Cultural Affairs (as well as a "Cultural Bill of Rights") committed to the idea that the arts are "key to a high quality of life for all Americans." With cogent consideration of the stakes for all involved, and some interesting glimpses behind the scenes at the NEA, Ivey has produced a comprehensive treatment of an important subject.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Cogent consideration of the stakes for all involved. . . Interesting glimpses behind the scenes at the NEA. . . A comprehensive treatment.”
(Pw: Nonfiction (2) 2008-04-07)

(USA Today 2008-06-17)

“Ivey is well equipped to lead a fresh discussion about the role of creativity in a healthy democracy.”
(Utne 2008-07-01)

“Explore(s) and define(s) a co-ordinated vision for art, culture and expression in American life.”
(Times Higher Ed Sup (Thes) 2008-05-15)

“Reads like a manifest on cultural happiness and quality of life through access to the arts. . . . Recommended.”
(Choice 2008-10-01)

“A gift. . . . Timely and important.”
(Journal Of Folklore Research 2011-03-02)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1 edition (May 10, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520241126
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520241121
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,172,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. Hudson on April 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
It's amazing that we've made it all the way into the 21st century without anyone attempting to write about the condition of the entire U.S. arts system and how it connects - or doesn't connect - with the public interest. But Bill Ivey has done it in Arts, Inc., a comprehensive and very readable look at how market forces and an inattentive government have allowed our culture to drift away from public purposes. Ivey is convinced that we can enhance quality of life for all Americans if we assert his six "cultural rights," and I tend to agree. Although I wish the author had spent more time on specific art forms like theater and the art gallery scene, Arts, Inc. includes plenty of eye-popping examples of how we've got things wrong. The book defines a whole new arena for public policy and goes beyond complaining about what we haven't done with art and art making to paint a picture of how a vibrant cultural life can give the U.S. a high quality of life in the coming post-consumerist age.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By G303.16.14.4 on July 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Arts, Inc. is a very good book and probably the only one out there that explores the position of the arts--fine, popular, folk, commercial, and non-profit--in the United States. Whether one agrees with Bill Ivey's framing of the American arts scene in terms of "rights" or not, the book raises a set of issues that need to be discussed by citizens as well as members of government (who never seem to engage the arts seriously except when it comes to playing football with the NEA). Each right really focuses on a separate issue, and while there is inevitably some overlap between them, the book is not one idea endlessly repeated. The book reads extremely well and is filled with a good number of compelling examples of why the arts are in peril in the United States today. What is perhaps fundamental in Ivey's take on the arts is that they have a great potential to enhance the quality of life of ordinary Americans--both as art producers and consumers--and this potential is squandered because the arts have been totally left to market forces without any consideration of their relevance to the well being of the nation and its citizenry.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Henkel on February 27, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bill Ivey is an important voice in the national conversation on arts policy. In 'Arts, Inc.' and in his leadership in general, Ivey pursues tough questions that others are trying to ignore, or that powerful lobbyists have been able to silence. His rhetoric is a bit extreme for me, but the issues he discusses and his illustration of the facts far outweigh that in this book. Anyone interested in cultural policy, including those whose lives are affected by it (i.e. everyone) should read this book. It can serve as an introduction into the problems the next generation of Americans will have to face as we determine the course we want our cultural rights to take, but it is also useful for those who already have a firm grounding in issues of arts policy and want a thoughtful look at the current state of affairs.

I gave it 4 instead of 5 stars only because at times, I thought his tone was too passionate and polarizing, at least more than something I would write. But honestly, he's probably got the tone we need to take if we actually want to mobilize people to care about these issues and understand why they affect everyone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Goodri51 on June 17, 2012
Format: Paperback
This book was not one I would have read on my own, but I read it for a class for my Master's program and found it very thought-provoking.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bill Ivey covers an enormous amount of arts terrain in this thought provoking book. Anyone involved with the arts rarely considers all the facets of the arts and the way in which they intertwine. Ivey, from his unique perspective as former NEA Chairman, is in the position to inform and to a slightly lesser degree offer solutions to some of the larger problems to how greed and neglect have destroyed our cultural rights.

As a music educator, I found his assessment of the historical hierarchical structure of music valuing on target, but felt he could have acknowledged the more recent progress in multicultural music education. The National Association for Music Education developed national standards in the 1990's that have largely been adopted by the states. As written, these national standards have proven to be a vehicle to promote all types of established cultural traditions in music. The correct argument he makes in Arts, Inc. that music education is about "band and choir", is a practice that is slowly changing.
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