Bill Ivey Receives Judith McCulloh Award for Lifetime Service to the Field

AFS News, Annual Meeting News, Prizes
marilyn white and bill ivey at the 2022 AFS annual meeting

Bill Ivey received the Judith McCulloh Award for Lifetime Service to the Field for extraordinary contributions in service that advance the visibility and success of the American Folklore Society or the field of folklore studies, making it possible for other folklorists to do their best work.

The AFS Executive Board recognizes extraordinary contributions in service that advance the visibility and success of the American Folklore Society or the field of folklore studies. The Board intends the award to foreground the critical importance to the health and sustenance of our field of those folklorists who, in addition to their personal accomplishments, make it possible for other folklorists to do their best work.

The Board named this award for Judith McCulloh (1935-2014), a driving force for excellence and leadership in book and journal publishing in folklore, ethnomusicology, and music history, and the creator of and prime mover behind the “Folklore in Society” and “Music in American Life” book series for the University of Illinois Press. Additionally, she was AFS President in 1987 and an AFS Executive Board member twice; she was a key member of the board of the American Folklife Center for 18 years, and for five of those years was its president; and, along with her peers Archie Green and Joe Wilson, she was one of the foremost advocates for the field in the larger world.

In his career, Bill has served in leadership positions in the nonprofit world, in the federal government, and in the academy. His CV is remarkable: Director of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum for more than two decades, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, team leader in the Barack Obama Presidential transition, founding director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, an early chair of what became the NEA’s Folk and Traditional Arts panel, a member of the advisory council for the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, and the author of three books on culture, politics, and public policy. 

Bill has also been a leader in the AFS. He was President in 2006-2007, and served on the Society’s Executive Board. He was centrally involved in creating and leading AFS’s China-US project. And, as a member of the Society’s development committee, he helped to plan and create the AFS Endowment Fund and the Society’s annual Sustainers’ Fund campaign.

Tim Lloyd, former AFS Executive Director and Ivey’s nominator commented, “Remarkable as it is, though, his CV is not the primary reason why Bill is receiving this award. He’s receiving it because he has been one of the most visible and effective advocates for our field, for the communities and people we serve, and for their traditional cultural expressions. In each position of leadership he has held, Bill has put his professional identity as a folklorist front and center. He has regularly made it clear that there was not a day of his career in which his deliberations were not guided by his background in our field, and he has skillfully articulated how that was so. He also has consistently used the pulpits he has occupied to make a strong public case for a big-picture idea: that folklore studies—along with history, philosophy, and the study of literature and art—ought to be regarded as a primary humanities discipline, because of the unique power its core ideas have to illuminate matters of art, culture, performance, and tradition, and to offer insight into the workings of society as a whole. And he has repeatedly encouraged folklorists to do the same: to attend to the big picture and the long view, and to become ambassadors for our field in all the worlds where they do their work.”

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