President Obama has picked Broadway producer Rocco Landesman to be the next chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. Here’s an excerpt from The New York Times article about the appointment:
“Choosing Mr. Landesman, 61, signals that Mr. Obama plans to shake things up at the endowment. While a major source of money for arts groups around the country, it has historically been something of a sleepy bureaucracy, still best known to some for the culture wars of the 1990s.
Since then, the agency has been trying to rebuild its image on Capitol Hill, along with its budget. The current allocation stands at $145 million, and though Mr. Obama has requested $161 million for 2010, that is still short of its high of $176 million in 1992.
Mr. Landesman, who would fill the post vacated by Dana Gioia, is expected to lobby hard for more arts money. But 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.”
I know very little about Landesman, but wonder if energy and passion are enough to strengthen the NEA and increase funding for the arts. It sounds like some of the other candidates for the position have more arts administration and policy experience – certainly essential in these uncertain times. Tonight’s New Economy Smack Down will undoubtedly be brimming with debate as the panelists tackle a variety of issues, but hopefully they’ll shed some light on the appointment of Landesman and what it might mean for the NEA and the arts community.