Episode 8: Mapping an Infrastructure that Helps the Arts Thrive

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Last year Jane Chu, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), visited parts of Boston where the arts are core to community revitalization efforts. She shared NEA plans for its 50th anniversary and offered a glimpse into how the agency is preparing for the next 50 years.

NEA Chairman Jane ChuJane Chu is the eleventh chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. With a background in arts administration and philanthropy, Chairman Chu is also an accomplished artist and musician. She leads a dedicated and passionate group of people to support and fund the arts and creative activities in communities across the nation.

Chu was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma, but was raised in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, the daughter of Chinese immigrants. She studied music growing up, eventually receiving bachelor’s degrees in piano performance and music education from Ouachita Baptist University, and master’s degrees in music and piano pedagogy from Southern Methodist University. Additionally, Chu holds a master’s degree in business administration from Rockhurst University and a PhD in philanthropic studies from Indiana University.

In addition to awarding nearly $220 million in grants during her tenure to-date, Chu has issued new research reports on arts participation and the impact of the arts and cultural industries on the nation’s gross domestic product; has made hundreds of trips to communities across the nation to see first-hand how the arts are impacting people and places; and launched the Tell Us Your Story project that demonstrates the importance of the arts in our lives.

And, on the date marking the agency’s 50th anniversary – September 29, 2015 – Chairman Chu announced the details of her signature leadership initiative, Creativity Connects. The program will show how central the arts are to the country’s creativity ecosystem; investigate how support systems for the arts have changed; and explore how the arts connect with other industries.

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