President Barack Obama announced Thursday that he is nominating the head of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts Center to lead the nation's top performing arts organization.
The Senate will have to confirm Jane Chu's nomination to serve as chairwoman for the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA is an independent federal agency that supports and helps fund artistic exhibits.
Chu has been president and CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts since 2006, and oversaw a massive construction project in downtown Kansas City for a new performing arts center. The daughter of Chinese immigrants, she grew up in a small town in west-central Arkansas about 30 minutes from Hot Springs, AR.
"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 statement. "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. I'm proud to nominate her."
The center's chairwoman, Julia Irene Kauffman, praised Obama's nomination.
Kauffman said Obama "has chosen wisely," and Chu's nomination is a validation of the important role the Kauffman Center plays in the performing arts.
Some national news organizations aren't as enamored with the selection. The Los Angeles Times called Chu "low profile," and sniffed that Obama was "opting for arts-administration and fundraising credentials over star power."
If confirmed, Chu would replace Obama's first appointee, Rocco Landesman, who retired last year. The NEA's senior deputy director, Joan Shikegawa, has been at the helm since then.
The Kauffman Center would then replace Chu if she is confirmed.
Kauffman issued the following statement:
I am thrilled that President Obama has announced his intent to nominate Jane Chu for the prestigious chairmanship of the National Endowment for the Arts. Although we will miss her at the Kauffman Center, I believe the President has chosen wisely and we wish her well in this important endeavor.
This nomination is another validation of the important role the Kauffman Center is playing in the performing arts locally and nationally. From the Kauffman Center, to our wonderful resident arts companies, and the hundreds of excellent performing arts organizations, Kansas City is setting the pace for what a vibrant community looks like.
We look forward to supporting Jane through what we hope is a speedy confirmation process. With the full support of the board of directors and Kauffman Center staff, Jane will continue to deliver the Kauffman Center's vision of bringing outstanding performing arts to our community until she is confirmed for her new position.
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