Federalizing the Muse: United States Arts Policy and the by Donna M. Binkiewicz

By Donna M. Binkiewicz

The nationwide Endowment for the humanities is frequently accused of embodying a liberal time table in the American govt. In Federalizing the Muse, Donna Binkiewicz assesses the management and ambitions of Presidents Kennedy via Carter, in addition to Congress and the nationwide Council at the Arts, drawing an image of the key avid gamers who created nationwide arts coverage. utilizing presidential papers, NEA and nationwide records fabrics, and diverse interviews with coverage makers, Binkiewicz refutes persisting ideals in arts investment as a part of a liberal time table via arguing that the NEA's origins within the chilly battle period coloured arts coverage with a fairly average undertone.

Binkiewicz's research of visible arts provides unearths that NEA officers promoted a modernist, summary aesthetic in particular simply because they believed the sort of type may most sensible exhibit American fulfillment and freedom. This in the beginning led them to overlook many modern artwork types they feared can be perceived as politically troublesome, comparable to pop, feminist, and ethnic arts. The company was once unable to stability its investment throughout a number of artwork varieties sooner than dealing with severe funds cutbacks. Binkiewicz's research brings vital old point of view to the perennial debates approximately American paintings coverage and sheds gentle on provocative political and cultural concerns in postwar America.

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Extra info for Federalizing the Muse: United States Arts Policy and the National Endowment for the Arts, 1965-1980

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Beneath the overt commendation lay a subtle challenge for American culture. The reference to Sinclair Lewis’s landmark 1925 novel Babbitt evoked images of early twentieth-century American nouveaux riches who believed they had achieved a certain level of prominence. However, these arrivistes were more interested in wealth and social climbing than in genuine cultural progress. On this level Kennedy’s reference may be taken as criticism of perceived growth in American materialism and complacency during the 1950s.

At that time the economy began to improve and cutbacks in the art programs began in earnest. After the United States entered the Second World War, the wpa art program became part of the Graphic Section of the War Services Program, and art projects, especially poster projects, concentrated on the advancement of the war e√ort. ≥∑ Less creativity was tolerated and service to the War Department became the primary function of art. Even these modest war activities were finally abolished in 1943. ≥∏ Thus ended what until that time had been the most widespread federal arts program of the twentieth century.

The e√orts of many cultural advocates on Capitol Hill began to converge during the late 1950s as cultural policy concerns mounted. Promoters increasingly drew on intellectual writings about American culture and the need to elevate it during the 1950s. Their fear of pervasive mass culture drove their call for the formation of a national arts foundation to combat debasement. However, a more solid political coalition with the executive o≈ce would not form until the 1960s. Another senator influential in the fight for a national arts foundation was 28 H f e d e r a l i z i n g t h e m u s e Hubert Humphrey, who was elected in 1948.

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