National Endowment for the Arts Chairwoman Jane Chu will be in Boise Aug. 4-5.
The head of the NEA travels to all 50 states during their term. This is Chu’s first trip to Idaho. She will be hosted by U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, who is a ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee that funds the NEA.
Her itinerary has not been officially announced yet, but she is slated to meet with Idaho arts leaders, visit arts organizations in Twin Falls and meet with Boise State University professors and researchers Leslie Durham and Amanda Ashley about their current project. The NEA helped fund their research into how universities work as cultural anchors in the Intermountain West.
Idaho has enjoyed close relationships with the past two NEA chairman — poet Dana Goia and Broadway producer Rocco Landesman. Both traveled to Idaho multiple times to experience the arts in a rural American cultural outpost; both later said they learned the importance of arts funding in rural states specifically by visiting Idaho.
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Building that kind of relationship is key to continued support from the NEA. The NEA is a funds some Idaho arts groups directly, but most of their funds are funneled through the Idaho Commission on the Arts.
In 2015, the state received $776,800 to disperse among Idaho’s arts groups.
Chu is the daughter of Chinese immigrants, a pianist and arts administrator. Prior to taking office she was the president and CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Mo., where she oversaw the $413 million campaign that built the center. It is the performance home to Kansas City Ballet, Kansas City Symphony and Lyric Opera of Kansas City.
Congress established the NEA in 1965. It has since awarded $4 billion to state arts agencies, such as the Idaho Commission on the Arts, individual artists and arts groups. The chairman is appointed by the president and confirmed by Congress.