Chairman Gioia Visits Connecticut


Chairman Gioia, Harry Philbrick, and U.S. Representative Christopher Shays

Chairman Gioia tours the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum with Harry Philbrick, the museum's director, and U.S. Representative Christopher Shays. Photo: Terri Garneau

On May 30, NEA Chairman Dana Gioia toured arts facilities in southwestern Connecticut after speaking at a press conference that kicked off an Arts Endowment grants workshop for local arts organizations. U.S. Representative Christopher Shays of Connecticut's 4th District hosted the event at Silvermine Guild Arts Center, an historic gallery, artists' guild, performance venue, and school in New Canaan.More than 40 representatives from the local arts community attended the press event and workshop, led by the NEA's Director of State and Regional Programs, John Ostrout.

At the press conference Chairman Gioia explained the purpose of the workshop. "The National Endowment for the Arts is committed to supporting the arts in communities throughout the country," said Chairman Gioia. "I am delighted to be here in New Canaan today to encourage local arts organizations to apply for federal grants."

In addition to remarks from Chairman Gioia and Congressman Shays, Elaine Carroll of the Stamford Symphony Orchestra, Dr. Donald Rainone of the Music and Arts Center for Humanity in Bridgeport (a 2005 Coming Up Taller award recipient), and Jennifer Aniskovich, Executive Director of the Connecticut Commission on the Arts each offered their perspectives on the value of the NEA's work and the importance of the arts to the individual spirit and well-being of a community.

Following a docent-led tour of Silvermine, Chairman Gioia, Congressman Shays, and Aniskovich visited the Westport Country Playhouse, which had been transformed from a leather factory into a theater in 1931. The group's next stop was Ridgefield's Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, where they viewed Anselm Kiefer's Velimir Chlebnikov, a series of 30 large-scale paintings housed in a Kiefer-designed steel pavilion.

Congressman Shays and Chairman Gioia rejoined the workshop attendees for lunch and shared poems, bringing the day full circle.