The National Endowment for the Arts and the Venice Biennale
Agency’s commitment firm
August 13, 2004
Washington, D.C. - The National Endowment for the Arts wishes to provide accurate information regarding the official artist representative at the Venice Biennale as well as for other American artists abroad.
The structure and process by which the American exhibition at the Venice Biennale is selected is in transition as agreed upon by all partners participating in the Fund for U.S. Artists at International Festivals and Exhibitions. The Fund, a partnership of the NEA, the Department of State, the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Rockefeller Foundation, has been in existence since 1987, a long life for such a private-public partnership. The two private foundations with the Department of State provided the funds to support the American exhibition at the biennale. The NEA’s role was to convene the review panel that made recommendations on the proposals received.
As was reported in prior years, the portfolios of private foundations were harshly affected by the economic downturn in 2001-02 requiring reassessment of resource allocation and policies. In 2003, the private partners informed the NEA and State Department that they could no longer support the Fund. Pew’s support terminated in 2003 and Rockefeller funds will terminate at the end of 2004.
In December 2003, as each of the Fund partners experienced changes, all agreed that the Fund would conclude at the end of 2004. With the dissolution of the partnership, the convening of a review panel within the framework of the Fund became moot. The NEA did not abandon the Fund, the former selection mechanism simply gave way to another process that has yet to be determined.
The NEA has never funded exhibitions by visual artists abroad - at the Venice Biennale or at other exhibitions overseas. The NEA’s support in the Fund always has been for American performing artists abroad and that support remains intact and the NEA’s commitment, sound.
National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Dana Gioia said, "Contrary to media reports, the NEA has not dropped out of the Fund nor caused its disbanding. The NEA has made clear its desire to assist the State Department in whatever role the department deems most appropriate to help maintain the fairness and integrity of the artist selection process for the Venice Biennale. In addition, the NEA continues to both support American artists abroad and bring foreign artists to the United States and has in fact continued to budget for its traditional support for performing artists at festivals abroad."
For further information, please contact the NEA’s Office of Communication at 202-682-5570.
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency