Can the USA Produce Art?


Photo by Luisa Cortesao — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

The USA is very good at producing art as commerce (Hollywood), and pretty good at producing art as craft (National Endowment for the Arts).

Now, Yes-We-Can-Obama believes that USA can produce art as art.

President Obama has appointed Rocco Landesman to be the new chairman of the NEA. Landesman currently runs Jujamcyn Theatres, a Broadway theatre owning and producing organization.

Who better to lead the NEA than a producer — someone who knows how to produce art.

Landesman might have the perfect background to convince the public, connive the Congress, and conquer the press on behalf of the arts.

His parents ran a cabaret in his home town of St. Louis. Anyone whose parents proudly hosted Lenny Bruce has to be on the right side of artistic history.

Landesman received his doctorate from Yale School of Drama and then taught at Yale; left academia (another good sign) to lead a private investment company; formed a Broadway producing company with Des McAnuff; and was then hired by Jujamcyn.

Landesman is also known as a fan of country music, horse racing, and baseball. What could be more American?

Oskar Eustis, artistic director of the Public Theater and someone who understands well how to produce art that transforms audiences, was quoted in the Washington Post on Landesman’s nomination: “I was absolutely flabbergasted. For the theatre community, it is the most concrete evidence of Obama’s brilliance.”

A producer knows how to bring people together to contribute to a common vision. A producer knows how to analyze the costs necessary to pull off the vision. A producer knows how to find the money for the vision. A producer knows how to create an audience for the vision. A producer knows how to market the vision. A producer knows how to make art.

Rocco Landesman might just be the best person to leverage the NEA’s paltry budget request of $161.3 million for 2010 into an enterprise worthy of its mandate: a national endowment for the arts.

- Bill Reichblum

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One Response to “Can the USA Produce Art?”

  1. KadmusArts - where culture speaks » Blog Archive » Artless US Gov
    September 28th, 2009 01:44

    [...] of this week, Sergant is no longer employed at the NEA. The new chair of the agency, Rocco Landesman, promises to keep politics away from the [...]

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