2014 Archives

Obama picks low-profile arts center executive to chair the NEA


The following is from the Feb. 12, 2014, edition of The Los Angeles Times. Jane Chu earned a master’s degree in music from SMU's Meadows School of the Arts in 1981.

February 13, 2014

By Mike Boehm

Jane ChuOpting for arts-administration and fundraising credentials over star power, the White House announced Wednesday that President Obama will nominate Jane Chu, president and chief executive of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Mo., as the next chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Chu has led the Kauffman Center since 2006, when it was still being planned. She oversaw a $414 million campaign to build the center, which opened in September, 2011.

Chu, who has spent most of her life in the Midwest and Texas, has had a much lower national profile than most nominees for the NEA chairmanship over the past 20 years. Obama’s first appointee, Rocco Landesman, headed Jujamcyn Theaters, a leading producer and landlord for Broadway shows, before Obama tapped him in 2009.

Landesman turned 65 in 2012 and retired at the end of the year; the NEA’s senior deputy director, Joan Shikegawa has been acting NEA chairman since then.

“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,” Obama said in a written announcement. “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.”

Chu’s appointment is subject to Senate confirmation. . .

She focused on piano studies as an undergraduate at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, after earning an associate’s degree in visual art at Nebraska Wesleyan University. She earned a master’s degree in music from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, a master’s degree in business administration from Rockhurst University in Kansas City, and a doctorate in philanthropic studies from Indiana University, where, according to (The Kansas City) Star, she completed her degree after taking over at the Kauffman Center, focusing her studies on the funding and administration of arts centers around the United States.

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