It’s always interesting to see which arts medium the chairs of the National Endowment for the Arts will come from. This year it’s the theater. The announcement was made today that Broadway producer Rocco Landesman was nominated for the chair of the NEA following poet and literary critic/scholar Dana Gioia who resigned in January and is now director of the Harman-Eisner Program in the Arts at the Aspen Institute. (Gioia brought us The Big Read initiative.)
The next most interesting thing about a new chair is what initiative he or she will bring to the Endowment and to the nation to energize citizen participation in its national arts. Landesman’s credits include “Big River,” “Angels In America,” and “The Producers.” According to the New York Times article, he’s got both the entrepreneurial and the artistic eye – probably a must these days. The article also says, “….he is not famous for his skills as an administrator or diplomat. Rather, he is known for his energy, intellect and irreverent — and occasionally sharp-elbowed — candor.” But didn’t I say Washington could use more Simons? Someone’s reading my blog over there on Pennsylvania Avenue.
The appointment is final pending confirmation by Congress.
How this will play out for the NEA? For now, we’ll have to wait until the curtain rises, but I suspect my theater friends are applauding.