Bill Ivey

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Not to be confused with Bill Ivy (disambiguation).

Bill Ivey is an American folklorist, and was the seventh chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.


Ivey was reared in Calumet, a small mining town in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. He graduated from the University of Michiganin 1966, received a master's degree in folklore and ethnomusicology from Indiana University in 1970, and became a PhD candidate in folklore and history in 1971. He was the first full-time director of the Country Music Foundation and the related Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, serving from 1971 to 1998..[1]

Ivey was appointed chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, by President Bill Clinton and served from 1998 to 2001. His "Challenge America" small-grant initiative is credited with restoring congressional confidence in the sometimes-embattled NEA. He gained national notoriety in 1999 for unilaterally revoking a grant to Cinco Puntos Press to publish La Historia de los Colores, a children's book that featured an introduction written by Subcomandante Marcos of the EZLN, over concerns that the funding might end up in the hands of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (Zapatistas). The grant was subsequently picked up and doubled by the Lannan Foundation.[2]

Following government service Ivey founded the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy, at Vanderbilt University, serving as director from 2002 to 2012.[3] He returned to Washington in 2007 as Team Leader in Arts and Humanities for the Barack Obama presidential transition.

Ivey has written and lectured extensively about the importance of cultural policy and the value of cultural engagement in the pursuit of a high quality of life. He coined the phrase "Expressive Life" to define the part of the human experience shaped by cultural heritage and creative practice.



  1. ^ "The Engaged Scholar Speaker Series - Bill Ivey - National Collaborative for the Study of University Engagement". 2010-04-07. Retrieved 2015-09-04. 
  2. ^ "The Story Behind The Story of Colors | Cinco Puntos Press | Independent Book Publisher". 1999-03-09. Retrieved 2015-09-04. 
  3. ^ Elizabeth Latt (2012-05-25). "Founding Director Bill Ivey to step down from Vanderbilt’s Curb Center; Jay Clayton named successor | News | Vanderbilt University". Retrieved 2015-09-04. 

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