Art Works Blog

Inside the NEA: Getting to Know Daniel Lurie

"Self-Portrait at My New Desk" by Daniel Lurie

Earlier this month we welcomed Daniel Lurie to the NEA as our new Senior Advisor and Director of Strategic Partnerships. As you'll learn in the interview below, Dan comes from a family that firmly believes in the interrelationship of arts and community. Seems to me he won't have any trouble at all fitting in around here!

NEA: In five words or less, who is Daniel Lurie?

DANIEL LURIE: Community, collaboration, place, equity.

NEA: What do you remember as your first engagement/experience with the arts?

LURIE: I have been deeply influenced by my father’s love of music, photography, architecture, and theater. He decided to invest this love toward improving the cultural vitality of his community. As a volunteer, and with other like-minded friends, he founded and grew a theater company and a historic preservation group into community institutions that were integral to the growth and vibrancy of the Chicago region. He continues to approach art, culture, and community as interrelated, much as I do.

NEA: What do you hope to learn while you're at the NEA?

LURIE: I hope to learn from the NEA team and from local leaders about innovators who can expand my understanding of community, art, and place, and how the interrelationship among them can change lives and neighborhoods.

NEA: What do you hope to accomplish while you’re at the NEA?

LURIE: I hope to identify new and innovative opportunities for other federal agencies to participate in NEA’s core work, and to find new ways to support the NEA team’s efforts to sustain arts organizations that are doing crucial work in their communities. I hope to identify new strategies that the federal government can provide to support local communities as they find new ways to engage artists and arts communities in the revitalization and re-visioning of their communities. I hope to help Chairman Landesman catalyze a new national conversation, with those other federal agencies, on the importance of vibrant, resilient places in our nation’s economy. And I hope to open up that conversation to new voices and towards tackling challenges artists and arts stakeholders sometimes don’t see as their own.

NEA: What are you most proud of accomplishing during your tenure at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)?

LURIE: I was a part of Secretary Shaun Donovan and Deputy Secretary Ron Sims’ team that launched HUD’s Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities (OSHC). OSHC manages a cutting-edge grant program that analyzes how existing federal transportation, land use, and housing funding intersects (or fails to) in local neighborhoods and regions, and provides innovative tools to communities seeking to better align those investments to make themselves more economically competitive and vibrant. OSHC and NEA collaborated to include arts organizations in OSHC’s grant program and seeded the beginnings of a broader conversation and coordinated approach to place-making within HUD and NEA as well as other federal agencies. And HUD’s work, I’m proud to say, has focused on helping local communities expand access to opportunity-rich neighborhoods so that “sustainable communities” has come to be an inclusive, rather than exclusive, approach.

NEA: Before you moved to DC (to work at HUD), you were in Chicago, which is a great arts town. What do you miss most about Chicago?

LURIE: My family, my friends, the food, the neighborhoods, the weather, and the music community.

NEA: What does the phrase “Art Works” mean to you?

LURIE: It means that artists and arts stakeholders are fundamental players in the ongoing evolution of American communities: they drive cultural identity and expression, economic development, civic engagement, and community resiliency.

NEA: Which contemporary artist are you secretly hoping to meet during your tenure at the NEA?

LURIE: That’s very hard for me to answer, but I’ll go with Mos Def since he’s who I was listening to when I walked in to NEA headquarters this morning.

NEA: What would most people be surprised to learn about you?

LURIE: I am a lawyer, with a (brief) background in antitrust law. And I am a big animal person. My girlfriend and I have two adopted cats now, but at some point I hope to have a large brood of adopted cats and dogs.

NEA: Any last words?

LURIE: I’m honored to be a part of Chairman Landesman’s team.

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