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Arts & Life

New NEA Chair Jane Chu Returns To Kansas City

Laura Spencer

Monday marked Jane Chu's first official visit to Kansas City as the new chair of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Chu's post at the NEA was confirmed by the Senate in June. Before then, she served as president and CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

During her tour of Kansas City, Chu gave a talk about creative leadership and attended a reception with the arts community. She started the day with visits to three arts organizations, including the American Jazz Museum. 

She also sat down to talk about her new position and and coming back to Kansas City as a visitor.

Interview Highlights: 

On touring the country as the new NEA chair

I have been traveling and really hit the ground running. It's inspirational to talk with people, arts organizations that are really out making a difference. Because they are sending out the same message that we want to at the National Endowment for the Arts, which is that the arts are an essential component of our everyday lives. 

On insights from a leadership role at the Kauffman Center

Being at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts has been such a gift to me personally. I had the opportunity to talk with many people of diverse perspectives. So, you know, one day there would be drywallers and the next day there would be oboe players. And they're all working on the same project. 

But the other part that's been great is to be out in the field and doing the work of an arts organization because you know the nuances and all the dynamics that are required. And so when I talk with other arts organizations on how they're doing, I get all those nuances that they share, the passion for their work, and the mission behind their work. I get it on a level because I've been through it. 

On creating a signature initiative for the NEA

We are working on some projects, we're still vetting the details. And so I'll be eager to share those with you at the right time. Probably the first of next year. 

On returning to Kansas City   

It's my first official visit to Kansas City, and it's been such a treat to return with my NEA hat on.

It's like 'old home week.' It's getting to see those familiar faces. I've been in Kansas City — prior to my going to the National Endowment for the Arts — for nearly 20 years. And so, there are lifelong friendships I have here. They'll always be with me. 

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