President George W. Bush announced his plans to nominate Dana Gioia as the next chairman for the National Endowment for the Arts. The poet, critic and teacher Gioia (pronounced JOY-uh), if approved, would replace the current acting chairman Eileen B. Mason. Senior Deputy Mason took on the duties when NEA Chairman Michael P. Hammond died suddenly in January, a week after being sworn in.
Gioia's numerous credits in varying fields of the arts include his 1991 book "Can Poetry Matter?," his recurring commentary on literature and culture for BBC Radio and his classical music critiques for San Francisco magazine. Trained in music, the nominee has seen his work set to music from a full-length theatrical work called Counting the Children to the Alva Henderson-composed opera "Nosferatu" to which he wrote the libretto.
The educator, with a B.A. and M.B.A. from Stanford University and a M.A. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University, has taught at Johns Hopkins University, Sarah Lawrence College and Wesleyan University. As a translator, he has published Italian Nobel Prize winner Eugenio Montale's poetry in "Motteti" and Senecca's The Madness of Hercules, which was performed by Verse Theater Manhattan in New York City.
President Bush's nomination must go before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions headed by Massachusetts Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy and New Hampshire Republican Senator Judd Gregg. Once approved, the candidate would serve a four-year term.
The National Endowment for the Arts provides funding for many non-profit arts organizations through grants. For the 2001 fiscal year, the NEA granted over $92 million to organizations in Arts Education, Dance, Design, Folk and Traditional Arts, Literature, Local Arts Agencies, Media, Multidisciplinary, Museums, Music, Musical Theater, Opera, Presenting, Theater and Visual Arts. The current budget for 2002 is $115 million. For more information on the NEA and grants applications, visit www.nea.gov.
— by Ernio Hernandez