Obama names Kansas Jane to head the NEA

Obama names Kansas Jane to head the NEA


norman lebrecht

February 13, 2014

This is a cool appopintment. After the abortive tenure of Broadway producer Rocco Landesman, who baled out a year early, the new candidate to head the National Endowment for the Arts is Dr Jane Chu, president and CEO of the outstandingly bold and successful Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City. She has degrees in piano playing and music education. A positive choice.

kauffmann center kansas


  • I don’t know enough about Ms. Chu to say whether or not she is a good choice, but with a budget of only 140 million she will by necessity be little more than a place marker. She could only break from this mold by becoming very outspoken about the neglect of the NEA.

    The NEA’s funding is 0.0036% of the 2013 US budget – 36 thousands of one percent. Or as a simple fraction, it is 1/27,000th of the budget.

    By comparison, the GAO estimated the cost of the F-22 fighter jet at $412 million per aircraft. That’s almost 3 times the entire budget of the NEA for just one plane. The U.S. has 183 F-22s on order.

    Or for another comparison, the 900 billion spent on the bank bail out would fund the NEA at is current budget of 140 million for the next 6428 years.

  • nyer says:

    Bravo, excellent choice!

  • M.A. Steinberger says:

    What we really need right now for the NEA is a high-profile, popular, loudmouth type. Not another civilized, educated, earnest, person.

  • Larry says:

    I’m not completely certain but is she the first-ever NEA chair who actually has a background running non-profit arts organizations? Certainly Mr. Landesman did not, nor did his predecessor Dana Gioia.

  • PK Miller says:

    she sounds like an inspired choice though if she requires Senate confirmation she may be languishing till 2016. William Osborne is absolutely right. Our local Empire State Youth Orchestra in its 9 different ensembles, just had its annual Playathon to raise money. They are incredible musicians. I love that they play some “war horses” with such elan. It’s all fresh to them–even the somewhat boring Saint Saens Organ Concerto. Yet, I kept thinking, Saturday, listening to the different ensembles of such outstanding young people, how indeed, as Mr. Osborne implied, these kids–and the arts in general–should have all the funds they need–no need of a Playathon except to play their virtuosity & the Pentagon should have to hold a bake sale to fund its next bomber. We have our priorities so screwed up in the US.

  • Eric says:

    So now our great pretender-in-chief thinks he’s done something else spectacular.


    Sure hope she does something positive for the Arts!