Supporting the arts US style

2 November 2011

While arts workers complain about the lack of governement funding in Australia, consider the plight of US artists, who have access to around ten percent of the funds available here.

Rocco Landesman chairs the National Endowment for the Arts, the US equivalent of our Australia Council. He accepted the job in 2009 but, for many years before that he was part of the commercial theatre scene as a producer and theatre owner. Rocco Landesman has a doctorate in Dramatic Literature from the Yale School of Drama and, around about the time he was studying for that, he also ran a private investment company.

He's variously described as plucky, frank and feisty -- even combative -- and he was in Australia recently for the World Summit on Arts and Culture. One of the big initiatives the NEA has just announced is ArtPlace, a project of grants and loans to revitalise depressed cities. So in a less than robust economic climate, how does the NEA convince government and business that investing in the arts makes good sense? 

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