Folklorist, Author, Arts Advocate & Former Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts
Bill Ivey is recognized as a cutting-edge thinker and author working at the intersection of culture and public policy. His new book, Rebuilding an Enlightened World: Folklorizing America, casts a broad net, arguing that centuries-old Enlightenment values are threatened by the resurgence of ancient ways — tribalism, sub-national groups, fundamentalist religions. For Bill Ivey, the collapse of the Enlightenment consensus and the rise of informal culture forms a thread that runs from the Taliban, through the Tea Party, to Trump, menacing civility and the achievements of modernity. But all is not lost. If Americans step out of the frame to adopt the patient listening stance of Folklore Studies to engage different societies and their alternative paths to understanding, the Enlightenment dream can be ignited again. Read More >
What underlying forces disrupt humanity around the world today? Are we alone in our sense of dread and drift? Is it just ISIS and Trump, or is something more profound going on? How can Americans turn things around?
The National Endowment for the Arts was launched in 1965, a bastion of the Fine Arts beginning its work just as independent film, the Beatles, Bob Dylan enhanced the importance and transformed the character of American popular culture. How did the NEA get this way? Should America re-think its official, government engagement with America’s creativity and cultural heritage? Why does the NEA conversation matter?
How do we step out of the frame of understanding that defines the limits of the American imagination? Can we really understand how people in other societies, other places, other cultures think; grasp what they want? Can Bill Ivey link a Native American shaman with a pirated Chinese edition of a Walter Isaacson biography to the character of our digital age into a cocktail that can make us smarter about what the online world is doing to America’s soul?