NEA Chair Candidate Ivey Takes Step Closer to Confirmation

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Bill Ivey, President Clinton’s nominee for the Chairmanship of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), has taken one step closer to confirmation. On Wed., May 13, Ivey was unanimously approved by the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee. The nomination now proceeds to the Senate floor for a vote.

“Bill Ivey will make an excellent leader of the agency,” said Sen. Jim Jeffords (R-Vt.), committee chair. “I urge quick confirmation by the full Senate.” NEA spokesperson Virginia Cohen said there was no telling when the Senate might get to the matter. Congress breaks after May 22 and does not return to work until June 1.

Bill Ivey was formally nominated on Feb. 11. The director of the Country Music Foundation in Nashville since 1971, he stands in stark contrast to actress Jane Alexander, who was chair from 1993-1997 (currently on Broadway in Honour). Born in 1944 in Detroit, Ivey is a musicologist and folklorist and the author of many essays on America's musical traditions. He has served as a panelist, panel chair, and consultant to the NEA's music, folk arts, challenge, and advancement programs. The Country Music Foundation is a not-for-profit education and research organization which operates the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Kathryn Higgins, deputy secretary of labor, currently serves as acting chair of the agency.

--By Robert Simonson

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