NEA Chair Landesman Makes First Georgia Visit to Macon for Arts Conference Keynote Speech At The Grand


MACON – The Grand Opera House will welcome Rocco Landesman, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, for a keynote address to a conference of arts professionals from throughout Georgia on Tuesday, May 8, at 12:30 p.m. Macon will be Landesman’s first stop in his inaugural visit to Georgia since his appointment in 2009. Performers from the Peach State Opera will kick off the one-hour event that includes remarks by Dennis Scholl, vice president for arts at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The keynote address is free and the public is welcome to attend.
“Chairman Landesman’s appearance in Macon is a monumental event for our community,” said Jim Coleman, executive director of the Macon Arts Alliance. “It not only shines a spotlight on the rich artistic and cultural heritage of our area, but it is also an example of how government must recognize the arts as a growth industry and as a catalyst for economic development.”
“This demonstrates the NEA’s commitment to organizations large and small wherever they are found,” added Wayne Jones, president of Georgia Arts Network and director of Abraham Baldwin Arts Connection in Tifton. “Macon’s vital commitment to arts and culture not only unto itself, but through an alliance with 23 counties throughout Central Georgia is a perfect example of how theresources of arts agencies, funders and, ultimately, the general public that is served by them goes well beyond the confines of major metropolitan centers.”
“Macon is extremely fortunate to have a wealth of arts organizations that have been touched by the National Endowment for the Arts,” said Betsy Fitzgerald, executive director of The Grand Opera House. “Grants from the NEA allow The Grand to continue providing professional quality arts education programs and performances of the highest artistic caliber to the region.  We are honored to host Chairman Landesman in his inaugural visit to Georgia.”
Rocco Landesman was confirmed by the United States Senate on Aug. 7, 2009, as the10th chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. Prior to joining the NEA, he was a Broadway theater producer whose credits include Big River (1985 Tony Award for Best Musical), Angels in America: Millenium Approaches (1993 Tony Award for Best Play), Angels in America: Perestroika (1994 Tony Award for Best Play), and The Producers (2001 Tony Award for Best Musical).
Landesman was born and raised in St. Louis, Mo. He pursued his undergraduate education at Colby College and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and earned a doctorate in dramatic literature at the Yale School of Drama. At the completion of his course work, Landesman stayed at the school for four years, working as an assistant professor. In 1977, he left Yale to start a private investment fund, which he ran until his appointment in 1987 as president of Jujamcyn, a company that owns and operates five Broadway theaters: St. James, Al Hirschfeld, August Wilson, Eugene O’Neill and Walter Kerr.
Landesman has been active on numerous boards, including the Municipal Art Society; the Times Square Alliance; The Actor’s Fund; and the Educational Foundation of America. He is also engaged the ongoing debate about arts policy, speaking at forums and writing numerous articles, focusing mainly on the relationship between the commercial and not-for-profit sectors of the American theater. Over the years, he returned to the Yale School of Drama and Yale Rep to teach.
His biggest passions are theater, baseball, horse racing and country music. On any given day he will insist that one of these is the perfect expression of American culture. At one time or another, he owned three minor league baseball teams, various racehorses and a collection of Roger Miller long-playing records.
This event marks the culmination of the 2012 Georgia Arts Network conference that will be held in Macon, May 6-8. The conference includes sessions led by Georgia Presenters, a program of the Fox Theatre Institute; professional development workshops; and town hall-style talkback sessions with representatives from Americans for the Arts the Center for Rural Arts Development, Georgia Council for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. For more informationabout the entire conference visit or call (478) 301-2933.
About the Presenting Organizations:
The Georgia Arts Network (formerly Georgia Assembly of Community Arts Agencies) is a statewide organization serving the arts community and arts supporters with a mission to strengthen, connect, and advocate for the arts, artists, and arts education in Georgia. A volunteer board comprised of arts professionals from throughout the state manages an agenda that includes positioning arts and culture as essential to individual and public well-being and to the economic development of Georgia; connecting arts and cultural organizations, artists, and communities with resources and experiences that make them more effective, informed, and engaged; advocating for the arts through research, coalitions and grassroots organization to build support for the arts, culture and arts education; developing a more creative work force for Georgia;  cultivating engaged, informed arts participants and practitioners through arts education policy and projects; and facilitating interaction among a network of arts and cultural organizations, artists and arts supporters where news, information, best practices and promotional opportunities are openly exchanged. For moreinformation visit
Georgia Presenters is a statewide booking consortium that provides a vehicle for collective programming among presenters, theatres and communities to increase cultural opportunities in Georgia communities. The consortium was established in 2008 by presenting organizations, governmental agencies, private groups and devoted individuals who recognized the potential impact of collaboration among presenters. Georgia Presenters is managed by the Fox Theatre Institute, which provides communication and administrative assistance and human resources to support the organization.
Fox Theatre Institute is the premier source for advice and consultation about historic theater restoration, preservation, and operations. By referencing the experience and success of The Fabulous Fox Theatre, the institue provides guidance to other theatres so that they too can create thriving arts programs in their own communities. For more information visit
The Grand Opera House, a performing arts center of Mercer University, is Central Georgia’s premier historic theatre presenting professional Broadway tours, concerts, comedy, dance and varietyshows as well as a full season of GrandKids arts education performances. Our stage is also home to the Macon Civic Club’s annual music revue, Macon Symphony Orchestra, Nutcracker of Middle Georgia and several other civic and arts organizations. The fully renovated 1,000-seat theatre is located at 651 Mulberry St. in downtown Macon, Ga. For a complete schedule of upcoming performances visit or call (478) 301-5470.
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