Sunday, November 30, 2008

November 30, 2008


Welcome back everybody.

"And the beat goes on.............."

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. The world seemed to get even crazier over the holidays.
 The answer to Rodney King’s plaintive plea of: “Can we all just get along.?” seems to continue to be: “No.” Alas.

Nominees for the New Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts.

As promised, here are five names of people I think would be excellent as the new Chair of the NEA – each for different reasons. I caution that I have no idea if any of these leaders might be interested in the position - and I can think of reasons they would be, and reasons they wouldn’t. This list isn’t meant to be exclusive or leave anyone out. I could probably easily think of another half dozen individuals who I personally think might also be outstanding candidates – these names just come to mind given my priorities for qualifications. I’m sure all of you out there can also think of names to add to this list. I encourage you to do so, and I hope you will do so by sending a letter to the Obama Transition Team and to your own Congressmen or women or Senators.

Here then is my short list – in no particular order: Three are women of color. Four have longtime Washington experience – three are current ‘inside the beltway’ people. Two have major Foundation grant making experience. All are dynamic visionaries, yet have practical experience and broad knowledge of the issues. All are at the peak of their careers. Any of the five would be truly excellent in the position.

1. BOB LYNCH – CEO Americans for the Arts. Visionary, yet practical. Washington insider. Loads of experience across broad spectrum of areas. Excellent managerial acumen. True leadership qualities. Facilitator extraordinaire. Familiar with all the major issues. Well travelled and networked.

2. MOY ENG – Director Performing Arts Program William & Flora Hewlett Foundation. Another big picture thinker. Extraordinary direct grant making experience. Very successful Arts Education advocate. Widely respected for launching initiatives that make a difference. Experienced administrator, with sharp mind and practical approach. Direct arts organization prior experience. Superb collaborative skills.

3. OLIVE MOSIER – Director of Arts & Culture at the William Penn Foundation in Philadelphia. Prior NEA experience as White House Director of the Office of Policy, Research & Analysis at the Endowment. Substantial direct grant making experience. Extremely smart & savvy. Diplomat too. Proven leadership qualities.

4. PATRICE WALKER POWELL – current Deputy Chair of the Endowment for States, Regions & Local Arts Agencies with long time NEA experience. Widely respected. Lots of community arts issues knowledge. Familiar with the Endowment – problems, challenges, ways to improve their mission. Collaborative expertise. Great sensitivity to the field.

5. JONATHAN KATZ – Executive Director NASAA. Huge experience with state arts agencies & issues. Outstanding advocacy experience. Another visionary. Keen analytical abilities. Excellent at getting people to work together. Skilled administrator. Well liked across diverse constituencies.

That’s my short list. Any one of these people would, I believe, be an outstanding choice for the position and represent our field very well. Again, I have no idea if any are interested, but I would hope they all would be.

If you agree with any of these nominations, or have other names to add, please feel free to do so via a comment to this blog.

And please consider making support for your choice known to the Obama people and to your elected representatives. And also, perhaps encourage others to join a dialogue on what we need in a successful candidate and who that candidate might be.

We really ought to involve ourselves NOW in this process – we all have much at stake in who the next Chair of the NEA will be. I believe for the very first time, we have an Administration which is not only open to, but would truly like to hear, our thoughts. Let’s not squander this opportunity.

I invite – and challenge - each of the state arts agencies and the regional arts agencies, and the big national arts service organizations serving the various disciplines and interest areas in our sector, as well as the vast array of diversity based constituencies, the superb cast of independent consultants and all our recently retired leaders, together, with YOU, the individual members of our field, to ALL get involved in the process of a national dialogue on what the role of the Endowment ought (and might) be in the next four (eight, twelve) years. And to solicit the involvement of the people in your areas in this dialogue – from your Boards and Staffs, to your volunteers, supporters, clients and the very artists you serve. Please. Use your email listservs, websites, board meetings, staff meetings, newsletters and events to raise the questions put forth herein to talk about the endowment, about public cultural policy, about funding and priorities and about who President elect Obama should appoint as the new Chair of the NEA.

We desperately need to make sure the proposed investment in this country includes investment in arts & culture – and there are countless issues involved in determining what that investment should be, might be, and how it should be prioritized. We need to examine public use and access of culture and what role we play in the wider society and why. And we need money to sustain our infrastructure, and to promote creativity as a national asset. We need the boldest, most astute, most ‘willing to take risks’, visionary, savvy, yet practical thinker, to ever occupy the Chair of the Endowment seat – an experienced representative of the whole of our sector; someone who can effectively lead us, galvanize our field, move us to united action, and of whom we can be proud to support. Only you can make this happen. And it really ought to happen you know.

UPDATE: By Charles Storch | Tribune reporter

November 30, 2008

"President-elect Barack Obama has his economic team in place and his national security squad is soon to be named. Somewhere down the line, he will have to fill out his culture roster.

Chairmanships of the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities come vacant in January. The Obama transition corps has asked three people to lead a review of the agencies and suggest appointments.

They are BILL IVEY, an NEA chief during the Clinton Administration, current head of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University, and a proponent of creating a U.S. Department of Cultural Affairs; ANNE LUZZATTO, another former Clinton official and a member of the Obama campaign's arts policy committee; and historian CLEMENT PRICE, head of the Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience at Rutgers University.

With Obama having supported many issues dear to the cultural community during his campaign and that sector having provided him much financial support, attention will be paid to his picks for NEA and NEH.

For NEA chief, many arts people's dream choice is CAROLINE KENNEDY, who was an early and active Obama supporter. Some Illinois arts advocates are promoting Chicago attorney MICHAEEL DORF, a specialist in arts law who was special counsel to the late U.S. Rep. Sidney Yates (D-Ill.), a champion of the NEA and NEH. Dorf declined to comment."

REMINDER: I will be leading a Workshop on the ABC's OF EFFECTIVE ADVOCACY & LOBBYING at Compasspoint in San Francisco, on December 9th from 9:00 am to Noon. Please click here for details

Thanks. Have a great week.

Don’t Quit.