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NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman announces retirement

November 20, 2012|By Deborah Vankin
  • Tony Award-winning producer Rocco Landesman will step down as NEA chariman at the end of the year.
Tony Award-winning producer Rocco Landesman will step down as NEA chariman… (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles…)

National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman announced his retirement Tuesday effective at the end of the year -- but not without a sense of humor.

"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," Landesman said in a statement released by the NEA.

Landesman -- a Tony Award-winning producer of, among other hits, Mel Brooks' “The Producers,”  looked back on his three-year term in the statement:

“My intention has always been to serve one term, and we 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 was president of Jujamcyn Theaters, which produced “Angels in America” on Broadway in 1993-94 after its initial staging at Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum. The Taper was co-producer of the Broadway production.

He is also known for revivals of “Guys and Dolls” and “Sweeney Todd,” and the 1999 revival of “Death of a Salesman," among other credits.

“We at Americans for the Arts greatly admire Rocco and the work he has been able to accomplish during his tenure,” said Robert L. Lynch, president of the Washington, D.C.-based advocate for arts nonprofits.

“He used his bully pulpit to educate both Washington and the American people on the value of the arts, specifically noting that the arts are, of course, intrinsically valuable, but also a strong source of jobs and economic stimulus. In fact, his slogan 'Art Works' was intended to persuade Americans, including members of Congress, that investment in art can build stronger communities and revive a flagging economy.”

In his statement, Landesman said: "We have continued to support and strengthen the entire spectrum of arts in this country, and we have been able to expand the national conversation through convenings, traditional media, and new technology.”

The NEA, a federal agency that supports and funds the arts, has appointed Joan Shigekawa, senior deputy chairman, to fill Landesman’s role until a permanent successor is found.  

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Twitter.com/@debvankin

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