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Rocco Landesman Confirmed as NEA Chairman

Rocco Landesman

Rocco Landesman, a Broadway theater producer, was confirmed yesterday by the U.S. Senate as the 10th chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. He was nominated by President Barack Obama and follows Dana Gioia, the poet and former General Foods executive who stepped down in January 2009 to focus on his writing.

Landesman was born in St. Louis, Mo., in 1947 and earned a doctorate in dramatic literature from Yale. He founded and managed a private investment fund from 1977 until 1987, when be became president of Jujamcyn Theaters, a group of prominent Broadway venues. (He would eventually buy Jujamcyn in 2005.) As a producer his credits include “Angels in America” and the Tony Award-winners “Big River” and “The Producers.”

For jazz fans and advocates, Dana Gioia is a difficult act for Landesman to follow. Gioia made jazz a priority, increasing the number of annual NEA Jazz Master recipients and upping their award money. Following his philosophy for taking the arts to the American people, Gioia initiated Jazz Masters tours. (Gioia’s brother, Ted Gioia, is a noted jazz historian and author.)

In his NEA bio, Landesman is said to have a deep love for country music.

Originally Published