In Session: The November National Council on the Arts meeting

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NEA Chairman Dana Gioia, former Idaho Senator James McClure, Idaho Senator Larry Craig, Mark Hofflund, former NCA member Louise McClure, and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales

Above, from l to r: NEA Chairman Dana Gioia, former Idaho Senator James McClure, Idaho Senator Larry Craig, Mark Hofflund, former NCA member Louise McClure, and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales at the November 4 public session. Photo: Kathy Plowitz-Worden

Since 1964, nearly 200 artists, patrons, arts organization directors, and members of Congress have served on the National Council on the Arts (NCA), the Arts Endowment,s advisory board. (Congressional members serve ex-officio.) The 156th Council meeting was held November 2-4, with Council members reviewing nearly 800 Access to Artistic Excellence grants. The Council recommended the distribution of nearly $20.5 million in federal arts money, with more than half of the 2,270 submitted applications being approved for some funding.

During the November 4th public session, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales administered the oath of office to new council member Mark Hofflund,Managing Director of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival and Chairman of the Idaho Commission on the Arts. Idaho Senator Larry Craig and former Idaho Senator James McClure were on hand to congratulate Hofflund, along with Mrs. Louise McClure, a former NCA member.

NEA AccessAbility Director Paula Terry presented a landmark study on creativity and aging, the preliminary results of which indicate the markedly positive impact of arts participation on the physical and emotional health of elders. The NEA was the primary sponsor for the study led by Dr. Gene Cohen at George Washington University,s Center on Aging, Health, & Humanities. The study focused on three arts organizations across the country, which provide regular arts programming for the elderly.

Douglas Sonntag, Director of Dance and National Initiatives, spoke on the agency,s pivotal role in creating a growth environment for concert dance in the U.S.

The presentation on the agency,s 27-year history of grantmaking in the folk and traditional arts, by division director Barry Bergey, was capped off with a performance by National Heritage Fellow Wayne Henderson. The NCA will convene for its 157th meeting on March 22-24, 2006.