NEA Selects New Director of Music and Opera

Ann Meier Baker of Chorus America Joins the Agency


Photo of Ann Meier Baker

Photo courtesy of Chorus America

Washington, D.C. –The National Endowment for the Arts has selected Ann Meier Baker as its new director of music and opera, effective January 12, 2015. As head of the NEA’s Music and Opera Office, she will lead NEA grantmaking in music and opera grants as well as the NEA Jazz Masters Fellowships, and represent the agency to the field. 

“Ann’s experience leading national music and education organizations makes her ideally suited to connect with our partners in the music and opera community,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. She has led a variety of coalitions and collaborative projects, and this knowledge will enrich her public service at the NEA.”

Currently, Baker serves as president and CEO of Chorus America, where she leads the national membership association of more than 2,000 professional, volunteer, symphonic and children/youth choruses. She was founding director of the National School Boards Association Foundation, an incubator for new ideas about the challenges facing urban school board leaders and other issues in public education. Baker also worked for the League of American Orchestras, the National Association for Music Education, and began her career as a professional singer with the United States Air Force Singing Sergeants. The author of several books on music organization governance, she has garnered several awards, including Chorus America’s induction into the Classical Music Hall of Fame in 2011.

"I have seen firsthand the positive impact that the National Endowment for the Arts has on arts organizations and its power to spur innovation and creativity,” said Baker. “It will be my honor to join the NEA leadership team, and to contribute to the agency’s work that ensures the arts thrive and bring value to communities throughout the country."

Baker replaces Wayne Brown, who stepped down as longtime music and opera director in January 2014.

The National Endowment for the Arts supports a wide range of music, from classical to contemporary, and grants support both performing ensembles and music presenting institutions including chamber music ensembles, opera companies, choruses, early music programs, music festivals, and symphony orchestras. In FY 2014, the NEA awarded $7.4 million to 330 music and opera projects across the country, from the Opera Iowa Educational Touring Troupe to free neighborhood concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra. The NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship is the nation’s highest honor in this uniquely American art form. The 2015 NEA Jazz Masters will be honored at an awards ceremony and concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center on Monday, April 20, 2015.   

About the National Endowment for the Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $5 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at

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Sally Gifford

NEA Public Affairs