Art Works Blog

Inside the NEA: Getting to Know Alyce Myatt

Washington, DC

Alyce Myatt. Photo courtesy of Ms. Myatt

Happy New Year!

What better way to kick off 2011 than to introduce you to Alyce Myatt, our new Director of Media Arts. An award-winning producer, Myatt's distinguished career includes stints at ABC, PBS, and the MacArthur Foundation, among other notable organizations.(Read our press release announcing her appointment here.)

Without further ado, in the immortal words of Johnny Olson, Alyce Myatt, come on down!

NEA: In five words or less, who is Alyce Myatt?

ALYCE MYATT: Exuberant!

NEA: What do you hope to accomplish while you’re at the NEA?

MYATT: I’d like to effectively leverage the agency’s funding to increase the quantity and quality of work being produced in our country. This includes helping to bring new voices and visions to the media arts and, along with my colleagues, advance the use of media in other disciplines.

NEA: What do you hope to learn while you're at the NEA?

MYATT: Actually, what I’m most excited about is what I don’t know that I’m going to learn---it’s the serendipitous learning that’s always the best!

NEA: What are you most proud of accomplishing during your career to date?

MYATT: Changing the nature of media production in the country of Singapore by showing them music videos. The day after my first workshop, the entire network started shooting and editing differently and developing a whole new aesthetic.

NEA: Given the types of programs and projects you’ve overseen throughout your career, how would you define public art?

MYATT: I define public art as any art that is openly available and accessible. What’s exciting about digital technologies is that art needn’t be confined by time and space; it can cross borders and be available to the global public whenever they decide to access it.

NEA: What does the phrase “Art Works” mean to you?

MYATT: Art can work on you; you can work the art; and if you work to make art, you should get paid!

NEA: We've been talking a lot about the relationship between artist and community. What do you think is the role of the artist in the community?

MYATT: Our artists are our storytellers---whether our writers and filmmakers or our painters, dancers, and musicians. Our artists convey what has been, what is, and the possibilities of what can be.

NEA: Conversely, what do you think is the responsibility of the community to the artist?

MYATT: Communities have the responsibility of honoring artists as they would any other member of the community. This includes ensuring that their basic needs are supported as well as whatever is required for the artist to exercise their craft.

NEA: What would most people be surprised to learn about you?

MYATT: I’m not so sure because whenever I’m engaged in what I would consider somewhat wacky, (like entering grad school at 58!) the response I generally get from people is a rather blasé, “That doesn’t surprise me.”

NEA: Any last words?

MYATT: Onward!

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