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Senate Approves Jane Chu As NEA Chair

courtesy: Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted to confirm Jane Chu, president and CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Mo., as the next chair of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The nomination was approved by a voice vote on the Senate floor.

In a statement, Robert Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, said: "Dr. Chu brings an insightful combination of expertise to the position—experience in arts education, business administration, and philanthropy. She also understands the value of art at the community level and how the arts are transformative to individuals as well as places."

President Barack Obama nominated Chu for the position in February, and it was approved by a Senate committee in May. Earlier this week, the Americans for the Arts Action Fund asked for letters to be sent to legislators to bring the nomination to a final vote by the end of June.

The NEA has been without a chair for the past 18 months. Former Broadway producer Rocco Landesman stepped down as NEA chairman in 2012.

Update 1:40 p.m.:

The Kauffman Center board of directors will soon announce plans to fill Chu's position as president and CEO, possibly as early as next week. Board chairman Julie Irene Kauffman today issued this statement:

“I am thrilled that the United States Senate confirmed 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 and the United States Senate saw in Jane what we know to be true in Kansas City: She is an outstanding leader who brings people together to get things done. 
“In my view, Jane’s confirmation is further validation of the important role the Kauffman Center plays in the performing arts, both locally and nationally. From the Kauffman Center and our wonderful resident arts companies to the hundreds of other excellent performing arts organizations throughout the city, Kansas City is a model for how a vibrant arts community can deliver positive results citywide. 
“With the full support of the board of directors and Kauffman Center staff, we will continue to build on the Kauffman Center’s vision of bringing outstanding performing arts to our community. Although Jane will always be one-of-a-kind, we are very fortunate that the Kauffman Center has a strong leadership team to carry on its mission.”

Update 2:30 p.m.:

According to a statement from the NEA, "The White House is expected to make the official appointment in the coming days and Chu will begin her appointment shortly thereafter."

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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