Country Singer Lee Greenwood, President Bush’s recent appointee to the National Council on the Arts
With Hillary named to become Secretary of State and the arts candidate, Bill Richardson, just named as Commerce Secretary, clearly the most important posts left for President-Elect Barack Obama to fill are the chairmanships of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. (Just kidding.)
The NEA last month welcomed a maverick council member, appointed to a six-year term by President Bush—country songwriter and singer Lee Greenwood (above), who, as the NEA’s press release informs us, is “best known for his anthemic, crossover single ‘God Bless the USA,’ which received the Country Music Association Song of the Year honor in 1985. A Grammy Award winner and multi-platinum entertainer, Greenwood has charted seven number one country music songs, including 1980’s hits ‘Somebody’s Gonna Love You’ and ‘Dixie Road.'”
And let us not forget the ever popular “Between a Rock and a Heartache.” (No, I am not kidding.)
What would have been his views, we all wonder, on the application for the grant awarded by NEA this year for the Frick Collection’s “Masterpieces in Bronze: Riccio, Sculptor of the Paduan Renaissance”?
Let’s get back to the chairmen’s search. Victoria Hutter, the National Endowment for the Arts’ acting director of communications, gave CultureGrrl some useful background on how it will play out:
For the transition team, it’s Bill Ivey [Bill Clinton‘s NEA chairman] as the team leader for the three cultural agencies (NEA, NEH and Institute of Museum and Library Services) and Anne Luzzatto for the NEA itself. [Luzzato was Clinton’s special assistant to the President, deputy White House press secretary for the National Security Council, and assistant U.S. trade representative for public affairs.]
Given how these things have rolled out in the past, we don’t expect to hear about a new chairman until well after January. That said, it may be different this time.
A third member listed on Obama’s NEA/NEH Review Team (scroll down) is Clement Price, history professor at Rutgers University, Newark, and director of its Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience. He also happens to be the husband of Mary Sue Sweeney Price, the director of the Newark Museum. Is there an NEA appointment in her future?
CultureGrrl is a notoriously poor prognosticator of likely candidates for important posts, so let me now give the kiss of death to someone who seems to me a natural to lead the NEA, should she want that job—Mary Schmidt Campbell, dean of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and a past leader of government arts agencies in New York City and State. She was also formerly director of the Studio Museum in Harlem.
Just think, if we can just get a visual arts person in there, maybe the arts agency will resume giving fellowships to visual artists. After all, with a literature guy at the top, writers are currently getting preferential treatment.