Tomorrow, September 15 at 6:30 PM, NCAC and the Vera List Center for Art and Politics, presents the first of two FREE panels on art and censorship. Panel 1, “Survival vs. Autonomy: Public Funding of the Arts, Free Speech and Self-Censorship”, examines how the introduction of the decency clause and culture wars over arts funding in general have contributed to a growing distinction between conservative and avant-garde institutions.

Joining us tomorrow is Bill Ivey, Director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy and former chair of the NEA (1998-2001). In the following interview with Douglas McLennan of diacritical (an ArtsJournal blog) last June of 2009, Ivey discusses the future of art policies and funding in America and whether or not the arts will have a higher profile in the Obama administration.

Ivey describes the trials of obtaining money for the NEA through the economic recovery bill, saying,

I went to see John Podesta [co-chairman of the Obama-Biden transition team] and he told me…he just didn’t think it was a good idea to specify the NEA in that bill, because Republicans will use it as a wedge into attacking the entire stimulus effort. He is of course 100% correct, Republicans attacked it … it took some heavy lifting – Americans for the Arts, David Obey the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee – pushing back, pushing to maintain that $50 million, and it got done. But it was symptomatic of how hard it’s gonna be, to really change the way government and public policy interact with the arts.

The panel will take place at the New School’s Tishman Auditorium (66 W 12 St, NYC). Panelists include founders of new alternative spaces that seek autonomy from government funding, leaders of art projects that have been supported by the NEA, and key figures in public art funding: Beka Economopoulos, Founder of Not an Alternative and The Change You Want to See Gallery; Magdalena Sawon, Owner and Director of Postmasters Gallery in New York; Nato Thompson, Chief Curator at Creative Time; Martha Wilson, Founding Director of Franklin Furnace Archive. Laura Flanders of GritTV, Moderator.

For more information, visit How Obscene Is This! The Decency Clause Turns 20.