The Fate of the Arts   /   Summer 2004   /    Articles

The Corrosive Incoherence of the U.S. Arts System

Bill Ivey

When I began to think about the topic of this issue, “The Fate of the Arts,” I asked myself two questions: What is meant by “fate” and what is contained within “the arts”? The dictionary provides two different notions of “fate.” First, fate is defined as the “principle or determining cause by which things come to be”; more ominously, it is also an “inevitable, and often adverse outcome, condition, or end.” For me, “fate” implies a state or condition—an assessment of condition shaded by an apprehensive eye toward the future. How healthy is the system of nurturing and gate keeping that advances or constrains art and art making? Does the architecture of the support structure of America’s cultural system serve artists, organizations, and the public interest? Answer these questions, and we’ll get a sense of the “fate” of “the arts.”

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