NEA chairman Rocco Landesman to step down

Broadway producer has chaired endowment thru Obama's first term

National Endowment for the Arts chairman Rocco Landesman will step down at year’s end.

Landesman has chaired the NEA throughout President Obama’s first term. He said that it “has always been” his intention to serve just during one presidential term.

“The time has come for me to become a cliché: I turned 65, am going to retire, and cannot wait to spend more time in Miami Beach,” he said in a statement.

A Broadway producer perhaps best known for “The Producers” and “Angels in America,” Landesman was a somewhat unconventional choice from the private sector to lead the NEA when Obama nominated him for the post in 2009. The agency distributes grants to arts organizations, documentary filmmakers, theater groups and other nonprofits.

In interviews shortly after he took the position, he was outspoken in talking about how little federal funding there was for the arts given the demand, although his tenure was often marked by a defense of federal outlays in the face of calls for severe cuts among congressional Republicans. During the presidential campaign, Mitt Romney called for eliminating the agency altogether.

The NEA’s appropriation was $146 million in 2012, down from $154.7 million a year earlier.

In his statement, Landesman said that they “have been able to accomplish more than I had ever thought possible: sparking a national movement around creative placemaking, forging significant relationships with other federal agencies, creating an unprecedented healing arts partnership with the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and increasing both the scope and impact of our research office.”

Landesman also is co-owner of Jujamcyn Theatres, although he has been a silent partner during his tenure at the NEA.

NEA senior deputy chairman Joan Shigekawa will serve as acting chairman until a successor is announced.