In a statement, Chu made no allusions to the Trump administration, or how the current White House has proposed twice to defund the NEA (though on March 23, President Donald J. Trump signed a spending bill that includes $152.8 million for the NEA but proposed defunding the agency in the 2019 federal budget).
Instead, Chu focused on the agency’s efforts, which include distributing millions of dollars to thousands of nonprofit arts organizations in every congressional district in the country (Theatre Communications Group, which publishes American Theatre, is one of the recipients). “The National Endowment for the Arts is doing effective and meaningful work,” Chu said in the statement, “to help the arts thrive and connect to individuals and in communities large and small, densely populated, rural, and remote in all 50 states, U.S. territories, and in every congressional district.”
Under her leadership, the NEA received a special Tony Award in 2016. During her tenure, Chu traveled to 200 communities in 50 states, making more than 400 site visits. “I have talked with visual artists, musicians, dancers, actors, and writers who are powerfully creating America’s culture,” she said. “Children from all walks of life are expanding their skills artistically and academically through the arts. And arts organizations are not only providing programs for audiences, they are also seen as leaders in their communities because the arts can bring people together. I am personally inspired and impressed by them. It has been an honor and privilege to serve as the chair.”
Prior to her appointment by former President Barack Obama to head the NEA, Chu was chief executive of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Mo. Chu is the agency’s 11th chair, following Rocco Landesman, who held the post under Obama from 2009 to 2012, and Joan Shigekawa, who served in an interim capacity after Landesman’s departure.