Statement by American Alliance of Museums President Ford W. Bell on President Obama’s Nominees to Lead NEH, NEA

Following President Obama’s April 10 announcement of Dr. William “Bro” Adams, president of Colby College, as his choice to serve as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and his February 12 announcement of Dr. Jane Chu, president and CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, as his choice to serve as the next Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, American Alliance of Museums President Ford W. Bell, made the following statement:

“I am thrilled that President Obama has nominated William “Bro” Adams to serve as the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities and Jane Chu to serve as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. These two accomplished leaders will be terrific additions to the cultural landscape in Washington, DC and I urge the U.S. Senate to confirm them without delay.”

“Dr. Adams brings a vast array of experiences to the National Endowment for the Humanities, including as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and as president of Colby College, home of the AAM-accredited Colby College Museum of Art.”

“Dr. Adams is well positioned to oversee the NEH, currently a $146 million funding agency especially given his experience leading a $376 million capital campaign at Colby College, which included an expansion of the Colby College Museum of Art and investments in internationalism, environmental sustainability, ocean sciences and civic engagement.”

“NEH will also be well served by Dr. Adams’ experience as a Fulbright Scholar, his board service to both the Maine Film Center and the Maine Public Broadcasting Corporation and his previous positions at Bucknell University, Wesleyan University, Stanford University, Santa Clara University and the University of North Carolina. It is heartening to know that the next NEH chairman has been vocal in recognizing the value of arts and humanities as central in helping young people to develop creativity, innovation and problem solving skills.”

“I am equally delighted by President Obama’s choice of Jane Chu to lead the National Endowment for the Arts.”

“Dr. Chu has dedicated her life to the arts, from her early days as a pianist and music educator to her leadership at one of the nation’s finest performing arts centers. Kansas City is lucky to have had such a strong leader at the helm of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, MO since 1996, a full five years before it opened to the public. Dr. Chu and everyone else involved with the Kauffman Center recognized that it had the potential to become a ‘cultural campus’ that would revitalize a downtown section of Kansas City. That is exactly the kind of vision and leadership we need at NEA.

“The Kauffman Center makes the arts accessible and relatable to diverse audiences by hosting a wide range of community presentations, including various types of dance, Broadway, opera, instrumental music, and children’s theater, among others. Its reach—and impact—are impressive; the Kauffman Center has welcomed more than one million people from all 50 states and around the world over the past three years, including 29,000 school children from 27 school districts in its first year alone. The NEA will no doubt benefit from Dr. Chu’s experience bringing the arts to such vast audiences.”

“It will be a great asset to have an NEA Chairman who instinctively understands the economic impact of the arts in our communities, recognizes the value of arts education and aspires to bring great art to all Americans.”

“I call on the U.S. Senate to approve these nominations swiftly so these talented leaders can get right to work supporting our nation’s cultural and educational treasures, and I urge my colleagues to ask their U.S. Senators to vote in favor of confirmation and expedite the confirmation process.”

The National Endowment for the Humanities is an invaluable agency that provides grants to museums, colleges, universities, archives and libraries for educational programming and the care of collections. Over the past five years, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded more than $71 million for a wide range of museum-related projects.

Read the American Alliance of Museums’ Issue Brief on the NEH.

The National Endowment for the Arts is essential to making art accessible to all and providing leadership in arts education. Its grants to museums help them exhibit, preserve and interpret visual material through exhibitions, residencies, publications, commissions, public art works, conservation, documentation, services to the field and public programs. The partnership between the NEA and Blue Star Families has created the Blue Star Museums program to provide military families with free museum admission from Memorial Day to Labor Day. In 2013, over 2,100 participating museums served more than 700,000 active-duty military personnel and their families.

Read the American Alliance of Museums’ Issue Brief on the NEA.

Media Contact

Dewey Blanton
Alliance Communications
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