Chairman's Corner: June 4, 2020

Jo Reed:  I'm Josephine Reed from the National Endowment for the Arts with The Chairman's Corner, a weekly podcast with Mary Anne Carter, Chairman of the Arts Endowment. This is where we'll discuss issues of importance to the arts community and a whole lot more. In the past, the podcast has focused quite naturally on the work we're doing to process the Cares Act applications and get the money to grantees as quickly as possible. This week we're going to take a look at some of the other work we're doing as well and here's Mary Anne Carter to tell us about it.

Mary Anne Carter:. It is hard to believe we are in week 12 of this pandemic and our isolation. But, you know, I feel like we are-- I feel like we're over the peak and you know, starting to see some bright spots open up. And, you know, despite everything that has gone on in these last three months, the National Endowment for the Arts has continued to function as a full agency with everyone working. And obviously, we have given a lot of attention and priority to the Cares Act and of course we still do. But that hasn't stopped all the other things that the agency works on a daily basis. In the past couple weeks, we released a great report on theater for young audiences, talking about the importance of theater in the lives of America's youth. We soon will be releasing a survey that we took among the national service organizations that will talk about what reopening means for them, what it looks like, what are some of the best practices. And of course, you know, so many of our events got cancelled but we're trying to redo and renew some of those things as well.

Jo Reed:  And I know one program that is very dear to your heart is Poetry Out Loud and that did get cancelled this year.

Mary Anne Carter:  It did and it was so unfortunate and yes, I love Poetry Out Loud. The first time I sat in on that contest, I was so blown away and I have been such a big proponent of it ever since. But yes, so we had to cancel the National Finals in D.C. and so what we've done is of course, as you know, we partner with the Poetry Foundation in this contest and so the Poetry Foundation went ahead and gave every state champion a thousand dollar check. And what we are doing is promoting their recitation of one of their poems. So every finalist has been asked to submit to us a video of them reciting one of the poems they have picked and we have been pushing that out and providing content to ourselves but also providing some exposure to these phenomenal state winners. And it's I would have much rather had them all in D.C. and performing on stage but I'm glad that we were able to come up with an opportunity to make sure this extraordinary work is recognized.

Jo Reed:  And I know we have videos from 34 students and there's another 36 or so that are going to be sending them in in the coming weeks. That's a lot of video.

Mary Anne Carter:  It is. And it's great. And it's great content. It's great for the students. And it's just, you know, it's another great way to take this terrible pandemic and move things online. So we can even expand to a broader audience than typically would sit in the theater in Washington watching the finals.

Jo Reed:  And all the videos are on our YouTube channel so people can easily access them and enjoy them as much as we do.

Mary Anne Carter:  Absolutely.

Jo Reed:  And the Art Works blog is known for looking at the full spectrum of the arts and looking at them with diverse viewpoints by using a variety of bloggers. And this has not changed during the pandemic.

Mary Anne Carter:  Oh, yes. We have been so thrilled to host several guest bloggers, artists, arts administrators, just people finding a way to make it through the pandemic. And I'll give you a couple examples. So Michael Gallant, he's a musician and a writer who notes, and I quote, "I find inspiration within my own work. How I nudge and coax it forward, even microscopically, even with life twisted inside-out." We also had Betsy Fetherston in a guest blog. She's the Director of the Columbia City Gallery in Seattle. And she explores the therapeutic value of the arts, which is so important right now, and how other cultures approach mourning. And so just really great content that I know people would be interested in. And you know, I-- Well, you and I do this podcast, I don't-- I don't want our listeners to forget, though, about our Art Works podcast as well. And--

Jo Reed:  Ah, the other podcast.

Mary Anne Carter:  Yes.

Jo Reed:  <laughs>

Mary Anne Carter:  And hopefully many of those listening are already familiar with that podcast. And it's also hosted by you, Jo. But you do so many amazing interviews and one in particular that I would recommend is your recent interview with Brent Benjamin, the Director of the St. Louis Art Museum. And he's also President of the Association of Art Museum Directors. And what you guys talked about was looking at a museum's journey from closing as the pandemic gained force to its transition as the museum works to reopen. And I thought it was a great conversation so I encourage our audience to have a listen to that.

Jo Reed:  Well, I think that is a fabulous place to end it, Mary Anne. Thank you. <laughs>

Mary Anne Carter:  Thank you, Jo.

Jo Reed:  And I'll talk to you next week.

Music Credit: “Renewal” composed and performed by Doug Smith from the cd The Collection.

In past podcasts, we have focused on the CARES Act applications. But all of the Arts Endowment's other work has been continuing as well.