Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Rocco to head the NEA?

Good news for theater, potentially: President Obama just tapped larger-than-life Broadway producer Rocco Landesman to head the NEA. It’s an audacious choice, one that still has to be confirmed by Congress, but I hope the nomination prevails. Rocco is no diplomat, but he’d blow the dust of a moribund organization that has contented itself in recent years with a policy equivalent of art appreciation.

Considering that RL is a major mover in an industry not always known for its artistic integrity, I’m impressed that he’s often made news by running counter to what you’d expect of a producer. My favorite controversy of recent years in his caustic observation that non-profit theaters have imperiled their missions by drifting into for-profit practices. Hello! THANK YOU!

Of course if the nomination sticks, Mr. Landesman will champion all the arts, not just theater. But in a nation where the anti-theatrical prejudice exists as powerfully as if this were ancient Rome, it can’t hurt to have someone at the helm who believes in the power of live theater to inspire and educate and transform. Oh, yes, and to entertain.

Quip of the day, regarding the nomination, comes from Tony Kushner: “It’s potentially the best news the arts community in the United States has had since the birth of Walt Whitman.”


Chris 'Frog Queen' Davis said...

That is great! Needed some good news today. I hope it happens.


Steve Patterson said...

The thought of Rocco answering supposed "gotcha" questions from Republican culture warriors makes me all blinky and giddy.