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Arts, Inc.: How Greed and Neglect Have Destroyed Our Cultural Rights Paperback – November 11, 2010
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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This is a passionate plea for support for the arts and getting arts from the maw of capitali$m. I am not certain how his prescription, a greater government role, would fly in today's political climate.
The opening chapters on ownership rights are the strongest and the place where government has long had a role. The extension of copyright, and the uses of copyright to block reinterpretation of a work are chilling.
Bill Ivey has six points in his Bill of Rights: our heritage, prominent presence of artists, an artistic life, represented to the world by art that embodies America's best values, the to know and explore art, the right to healthy arts enterprises. He is a strong advocate, experienced arts administrator, and clear writer. Some of the most interesting passages are where he makes global comparisons.
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.
(not always for good). There is an art & science to presenting and promoting the Arts, but this takes a critical look at what arts professionals/ nonprofits are facing in our current cultural malaise
Conclusion: I disagree with his argument that the government needs to do more to protect the Arts. The book is well written and interesting to read, but I just don't agree with the premise.
The crux of his argument is that he arts need the advocacy of government to protect us from the greed of big business. I just can't accept that. The digital era is starting to liberate artists from being dependent on big business.
Most artists these days have websites to reach the public directly. They don't need the government for that.
Artists now have the tools to produce their own finished product without having to rely on a big studio. Musicians can record and distribute their own CDs. Digital tools (cameras, printers, high-speed Internet) have allowed me to run a thriving art business in a remote rural area.
I would argue that the Arts in America are stronger now than they have ever been. One reason for that is that our government for the most part stays out of the way. If we want to ensure that the Arts in America continues to thrive we just need to be sure the government does nothing other than assure artistic freedom.
Note: when I first wrote this review I gave it two-stars, but that is not fair. The writing is clear, the argument is interesting. Just because I don't agree does not justify such a low rating. I would like to raise this to 4-stars. I tried to revise the post can couldn't.
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.