WASHINGTON — Outgoing National Endowment of the Arts chair Bill Ivey has a message for the West Wing — take advantage of the good will the arts org now enjoys on Capitol Hill.
Ivey, a holdover Clinton appointee, will step down Sept. 29, clearing the way for the Bush administration to officially take over the reins of the NEA.
“I would hope that they would begin with the awareness that we have the best relationship with Congress that we’ve had in at least 10 years. There is real potential.,” Ivey told Daily Variety during an exit interview. “We’re handing them a real opportunity.”
New topper in wings
Last month, Bush announced new Institute of Museum and Library Services topper Robert Martin will also head the NEA until a permanent successor to Ivey is selected and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
When Ivey arrived at the NEA in 1998, the agency was still reeling from the conservative right’s attempt to strip funding.
Since then, Ivey has successfully shored up relations with GOP leadership in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, as well as continuing to tap Democratic support. He has launched several initiatives that have been praised by politicos for advocating arts education and giving hands-on experience to young people.
Ivey said he has met with Bush administration officials, but wasn’t able to glean how the Oval Office views the NEA, even if first lady Laura Bush is a strong advocate of the arts and humanities.
In January, Ivey will assume a teaching post at Vanderbilt U.