Ending an unprecedented 18-month vacancy at the top of the largest arts funding organization in the country, Dr. Jane Chu has been confirmed as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. The post had been vacant since the November 2012 departure of previous chair and former Broadway producer Rocco Landesman—who, regardless of other achievements during his tenure, may end up being best known for his controversial position on "supply and demand" concerning arts organizations.
Since Landesman's retirement, NEA senior deputy chairman Joan Shikegawa had been serving as acting chairman, but despite her long history with the organization, she was never officially vested with its highest office. The president's odd lack of action—neither recognizing Shikegawa as chairman nor nominating another candidate—led to some frustration in the arts field at what was perceived as negligent inattention to a crucial public institution. The resulting instability in leadership took its toll in more ways than one; during this interim period, two other key NEA officials left the organization for other jobs.
But the future looks brighter. Dr. Chu, nominated in February 2014, comes to the position with a wealth of experience as both an arts leader and an artist. Most recently serving as president and CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Missouri, she is a pianist as well, holding degrees in piano performance and pedagogy as well as an MBA and a PhD in philanthropic studies. She is also the first person of color to ever hold the chairmanship.
says... Posted Thursday, June 12, 2014