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Andrew HeiskellAndrew Heiskell
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Session:         Page of 824

Heiskell:

About four years ago, four or five years ago at the beginning of the Reagan administration it was clear that the administration was out to make to make deep cuts in all the budgets, except defense. At that time there already existed The National Endowment for the Humanities, The National Endowment for the Arts, and an advisory committee was formed to advise the government on what his policy should be with regard to the arts and humanities. I rather suspect that it was put together to act as a proponent of some way of defending the expenditures in those two fields. Anyway, one of the recommendations it made was that a permanent committee should be created called The Presidents Committee on Arts and Humanities to, among other things, review what the endowments were doing and to promote private giving in these two areas through whatever means could be dreamt up. A fellow by the name of Barnabas McHenry then dispensed the Wallace Fund -- that's the Wallaces from the Reader's Digest -- he kept talking to me about this and I was never quite clear what it was that he was asking until suddenly he said, “This committee's been formed and here were the members,” partly government types and partly private citizens, mostly of a conservative stripe. And he said they wanted me to be the chairman. I couldn't quite figure out why. And I debated at length whether I wanted to do it or not, because it seemed like a rather difficult undertaking. I wasn't quite clear what the motivation was. I finally decided that they wanted me because I represented I guess, the humanities, in a sense -- my background, chairman of the New York Public Library -- and I also represented some degree of middle-of-the-road respectability. My reason for accepting it was that I said to myself, “Well if I



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