National arts endowment leader explains why art is worth it

Are you part of an arts organization? Need a grant? Three very important people in the national and state arts advocacy community recently talked about what they are looking for on “A Juneau Afternoon.”

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National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu listens as Alaska State Council on the Arts Chairman Ben Brown speaks about Alaska’s art scene. (Photo by Annie Bartholomew/KTOO)
National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu listens as Alaska State Council on the Arts Chairman Ben Brown speaks about Alaska’s art scene. (Photo by Annie Bartholomew/KTOO)

As part of her visit to Alaska, National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu visited Juneau on Tuesday. She met with staff and actors at Perseverance Theatre, visited the Sealaska Heritage Institute, and attended a reception at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center.

She also joined Alaska State Council on the Arts Chairman Ben Brown and Executive Director Shannon Daut for an interview on A Juneau Afternoon. Here are some highlights:

    • Jane Chu on her impression of the state’s arts scene: “The arts community is thriving in Alaska. And one of the things I’ve noted the most is they have a wonderful way, the Alaskan artists, have a wonderful way of honoring the long established traditions of Alaska and at the same time looking forward to the future as well.”
    • Jane Chu on  how the arts have impacted her: “It’s really been there for me, a gift to me for expressing my own self and really connecting to other people and understanding them too.”
    • Ben Brown on what his organization looks for in potential grantees: “Collective impact is probably what we are all looking for. Which is, don’t just do something in isolation. Have a concert, have a play. OK, people went and enjoyed it and that’s the end beneficial result. And not that that’s a bad thing, but it’s possible to target resources, target artistic activity in collaboration with other agencies, other individuals that are trying to accomplish things—so whether that’s helping wounded servicemen recover from post-traumatic stress disorder—I think that’s something we’re looking at, and I think that’s something the NEA is looking at as well.”
    • Jane Chu on what her organization looks for: “If we can show through hard evidence the connections of arts to our everyday lives, where it might be the beauty of art itself, or it might be the results of how the arts affect and help academic performance in our students and achievement as well as healing, and other aspects — economic, it’s s strong economic driver. … When we are able to send out the message that the arts belong to all of us, that they’re not a frill, and they’re not off in a corner, but they’re really for everybody in all kinds of different ways—that’s a measure of success.”