NEA Arts Magazine

Last Words

A Final Message from the Chairman


Dana Gioia speaking

Chairman Gioia at the Supreme Court reception for the NEA Opera Honors. Photo by Michael G. Stewart

As this issue of NEA Arts goes to print, I approach the last weeks of my NEA tenure. I have made my decision to leave with some regret. I love the Arts Endowment and the important work we do. I especially like and admire my NEA colleagues and have enjoyed working with members of Congress. I shall never have a more interesting job.

But I am a writer. Coming to the Arts Endowment, I have given up six years of my creative life. As rich and rewarding as these years at the helm of our nation's cultural agency have been, I know that if I don't return to poetry now, I shall bitterly regret it.

In addition to writing, I have taken a half-time position at the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC, as the director of the new Harman/Eisner Program for the Arts. This is an ideal opportunity in a remarkable organization. My mission will be to expand the Aspen Institute's involvement in the arts and integrate them into their programs -- not only in Colorado and Washington but elsewhere in the U.S. and abroad.

I plan to divide my time to pursue both undertakings. Washington will remain my principal residence, but I will spend part of each month in my home in Sonoma County, California, writing.

I am very proud of the work that we've accomplished as an agency in the last six years, including the creation and subsequent expansion of NEA Arts. It has been a pleasure to have a vehicle for showcasing the organizations and individuals that do the real work of the agency, fulfilling our mission to bring great art to all Americans.

I look forward to receiving new issues of NEA Arts in my mailbox every few months, reminding me not just of my friends and colleagues at the Arts Endowment, but also of how important it is to continue promoting the value of arts and arts education. As I transition back to my life as an artist and a private citizen, I remain even more committed to do what I can to foster the arts for all Americans.

Dana Gioia
Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts