It was dreaded, expected, almost forgotten and then ultimately made official on April 24: Popular National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) chairman William Ivey has announced plans to exit his job in September.
Immediately after the Presidential election of Republican George W. Bush, there were rumors in the arts community that Ivey would probably be replaced. When that did not occur, there was a rash of speculation within the same circles, including one suggestion that Vice President Dick Cheney’s wife wanted "something in the arts." In the short term, however, the rumors died down and Ivey’s spokespeople announced that the popular folklorist and former Nashville resident had signalled the White House that "he could work with the new administration."
Then the Washington Post reported (April 25) that Ivey "unexpectedly announced yesterday that he would step down in September."
On April 26, an agency spokesperson told Playbill On-Line she could confirm that report stating, "September 30 is the day he’s set for his last day." The spokesperson added that Ivey would not be doing any interviews until July.
Obvious questions are raised by Ivey’s resignation. In the immediate future, there may or may not be changes in strategy at the agency. Information on that issue is expected from Ivey’s office soon. In terms of replacing Ivey, questions about a search or any Bush administration criteria connected with the selection of a new NEA chair were referred by both the NEA and the White House Presidential Personnel Office to the White House Press Office. A call to a White House spokesperson was not returned at press time. —By Murdoch McBride