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Kauffman Center President And CEO Tapped To Lead NEA

Jane Chu, president and CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, is President Barack Obama's pick as the next chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Arts.  Obama announced on Wednesday he intends to nominate Chu, who's led the Kauffman Center since November 2006.

The NEA awards grants to artists and arts organizations. In fiscal year 2012, its budget was $146 million.

“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 release. “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 believe the President has chosen wisely and we wish her well in this important endeavor." - board chairman Julia Irene Kauffman

Chu, a pianist, has earned bachelor's and master's degrees in music, as well as an MBA, and a PhD in philanthropic studies. She also holds an honorary doctorate in music from the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance.

Before taking on the role of president and CEO of the Kauffman Center, Chu served as fund executive for the Kauffman Fund for Kansas City, leading a five-year initiative to boost arts participation in the metropolitan area. Previously, she was vice president of community investment at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation and vice president of external relations at Union Station Kansas City, Inc.

If confirmed by the Senate as chair of the NEA, Chu would succeed Rocco Landesman. A former Broadway producer, Landesman stepped down at the end of 2012 after serving one term.

Chu was not available for comment during the confirmation process.

Julia Irene Kauffman, chairman of the board of the Kauffman Center, released this 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.

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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