Thursday, February 13, 2014

We Have a New Chair of the NEA - Finally!

Good morning.
"And the beat goes on.................."

A year after Rocco Landesman left the NEA, the White House has finally put forth a nominee to replace him.

Here is the White House Press Release from last night:

"President Obama Announces his Intent to Nominate Jane Chu as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Dr. Jane Chu as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

President Obama said, “Jane’s lifelong passion for the arts and her background in philanthropy have made her a powerful advocate for artists and arts education in Kansas City.  She knows firsthand how art can open minds, transform lives and revitalize communities, and believes deeply in the importance of the arts to our national culture.  I’m proud to nominate her as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.”

President Obama announced his intent to nominate Dr. Jane Chu as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts:

Dr. Jane Chu, Nominee for Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts
Dr. Jane Chu is President and CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Missouri, a position she has held since 2006.  She was a Fund Executive at the Kauffman Fund for Kansas City from 2004 to 2006, and Vice President of External Relations for Union Station Kansas City from 2002 to 2004.  She was Vice President of Community Investment for the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation from 1997 to 2002.  Dr. Chu is a Trustee at William Jewell College and serves on the Board of Directors of the Ewing Marion Kauffman School and the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.  Kansas City’s Nonprofit Connect recently announced her as their Nonprofit Professional of the Year.  Dr. Chu received an A.A. in Visual Arts from Nebraska Wesleyan University, a B.M. in Piano Performance and a B.M.Ed. in Music Education from Ouachita Baptist University, an M.A. in Piano Pedagogy from Southern Methodist University, an M.B.A. from Rockhurst University, and a Ph.D. in Philanthropic Studies from Indiana University.

It would be interesting to know the backstory of how Dr. Chu's name came to the attention of the Administration and ultimately rose to the top of the list, but that isn't really important.

While Dr. Chu may not be widely known throughout the nonprofit arts field, she certainly appears to embody what many of us were looking for -- someone passionate about the arts (and an artist herself), with experience in the operation of an arts organization, with a business background and knowledgable with philanthropy.  Here is a link I found to a prior video interview with Dr. Chu, and here is another one in print.   (I hope I can convince her to continue the tradition of allowing me to interview her as she begins her tenure (once confirmed by the Senate).  Finally, here is an article on Dr. Chu's appointment to a local college.

The next two months will be whirlwind for Dr. Chu.  She has to wind up her tenure at the Kauffman Center, relocate to Washington D.C. and make the rounds of the Senate offices as she goes through the confirmation process.  I see no reason at all why she won't be confirmed.

There will be plenty of time for Dr. Chu to share with us her thinking about the Endowment, it's role in our field, and what she thinks are the major issues she wants to address during her tenure.  After her confirmation, I would expect and encourage all sectors of our field to communicate and share with Chairwoman Chu their thoughts, concerns and ideas on the arts in America and the issues facing the Endowment.

I join everyone in our field in congratulating Dr. Chu.  It will be much to our collective advantage to again have someone in the position of permanent Chair.

And I also join in extending our gratitude and deep appreciation to Joan Shigekawa - Senior Deputy Chairman - who has helmed the agency for the past year with consummate professionalism and skill - and to all of those on the agency's staff who have been a part of that effort.  Thanks very much.  Well done.

Don't Quit.