Jane Chu, chair of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), will be the featured speaker for the Bienen School’s convocation ceremony on Saturday, June 23, 2018 at 9 a.m. in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall.
Chu is the eleventh chairperson of the NEA, a term she will conclude on June 4, 2018. She is an accomplished musician with additional expertise in the areas of arts administration and philanthropy.
During her four-year tenure at the NEA, Chu traveled to all 50 states, 200 communities and made more than 400 site visits to visit visual artists, musicians, dancers, actors, writers, arts educators and arts administrators. The agency awarded $430 million over the four years to support the arts in 16,000 communities covering all 50 states, U.S. territories, and in every Congressional District. She led the agency through increases in the arts endowment budget for three consecutive fiscal years (2016, 2017, 2018).
The NEA’s Creative Forces military healing arts initiative expanded from two sites to 12 across the nation, to connect arts therapy with service members and veterans with brain recovery conditions. She launched another new program – Creativity Connects – to connect $2 million in grants for art programs that linked with science, technology, health, agriculture, aging, and other non-arts sectors, and she cultivated two international performing arts exchange programs with Cuba and China. Chu launched a national Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for high school students to identify the next generation of songwriters from across the nation, and provide these students with opportunities to be mentored by Broadway artists. The agency was also the recipient of a 2016 Special Tony Award and a 2018 Drama League Award for its support of theater and musical theater, as well as two Emmy nominations for the creation of a storybank of personal arts stories from people across the nation. The NEA was ranked number one in 2016 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government, in the small agency category.
Prior to coming to the National Endowment for the Arts, Chu served as the president and CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, overseeing a $413 million campaign to construct and open the performing arts center in Downtown Kansas City, Missouri.
Jane Chu was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma, and raised in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, the daughter of Chinese immigrants. She studied music, receiving bachelor’s degrees in piano performance and music education from Ouachita Baptist University, as well as a master’s degree in piano pedagogy from Southern Methodist University. Additionally, Chu holds an MBA from Rockhurst University, a Ph.D. in philanthropic studies from Indiana University, as well as four honorary doctorate degrees.