Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Rocco Landesman as NEA Chair

Apparently, theatre producer Rocco Landesman has been nominated as Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts. He is an interesting choice, and one that I have mixed feelings about.. I remember reading Act Two: Creating Partnerships and Setting Agendas for the Future of the American Theatre, and he seemed to be one of the few voices who saw the increasingly snuggly relationship between the regional theatres and Broadway as disturbing. Isaac notes a similar orientation when he was on a post-How Theatre Failed America panel and Landesman said ""I realized when we were doing Caroline or Change on Broadway as a commercial production and a non-profit was doing Barefoot in the Park that something was deeply wrong." I have a sense that Landesman has a clear and strong opinion of how the regional, non-profit theatre ought to be different than a commercial production. Furthermore, many of the plays he has brought to Broadway have been excellent, including the aforementioned Kushner musical and Angels in America.

My uneasiness, perhaps predictably, is with his seeming NY-centricity. It is my sincere hope that Dana Gaoia's support for geographical diversity for the arts will continue to be championed by Landesman. If the NEA is going to receive the funding it deserves, it will have to reach out to all of the states and districts in this nation, and not only those in the Northeast and in the urban areas. I also hope that Landesman will use his bully pulpit to lead both the public and the arts themselves. I hope he will speak and write extensively, and provide a sense of direction for the arts in the country.
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1 comment:

Ken Davenport said...

I think Rocco is a fantastic choice for the chair. He has fantastic business sense, and great artistic taste. In today's economic firestorm, we need exactly that kind of leadership.