Last week, Senior Advisor to the President and Director of the Office of Public Engagement Stephen Benjamin, Domestic Policy Council Director Neera Tanden, Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young, National Economic Council Director Lael Brainard, Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu, and National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chair Maria Jackson met with Lin-Manuel Miranda and the Professional Non-Profit Theater Coalition.
This National Arts and Humanities Month, the Biden-Harris Administration reaffirms its commitment to promoting the arts and humanities as part of broader efforts to restore the soul of America. The American Rescue Plan invested over $1 billion to help theaters, concert halls, libraries, and other venues, and the Administration has invested hundreds of millions more into strengthening the NEA and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). A year ago, President Biden signed an Executive Order to make art more accessible to people from underserved communities, elevate new voices through the arts and humanities, and expand opportunities for artists and scholars. The Executive Order also re-established the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities to promote excellence in the arts, humanities, and museum and library services and demonstrate their importance to our nation’s health, economy, equity, and civic life.
During the meeting, Lin-Manuel Miranda highlighted the challenges facing the non-profit theater industry and the impact on both artist employment and the broader economy. Director Benjamin affirmed the Administration’s commitment to American arts culture and theater. Director Tanden affirmed the nexus between theater and community, and the importance of theater for mending the social fabric and civic culture. Director Brainard emphasized the role of theaters in supporting the economic vitality of urban downtown areas and the Administration’s pandemic assistance to theaters especially through the Small Business Administration’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program. Director Young highlighted the Administration budgetary support of the NEA which has grown to a historic high. Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Coordinator Landrieu discussed the connection between arts and job creation and the need to maintain the creative economy. Chair Jackson provided an overview of NEA’s grant programs, research efforts, and convenings to support the non-profit theater industry and the arts overall.
Participants of the Professional Non-Profit Theater Coalition included:
• Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director, The Public, New York, New York
• Danny Feldman, Artistic Director, Pasadena Playhouse, Pasadena, California
• Maria Manuela Goyanes, Artistic Director, Wolly Mammoth Theatre, Washington, D.C.
• Leslie Ishii, Artistic Director, Perseverance Theater, Juneau, Alaska
• Chris Moses, Artistic Director, Alliance Theatre, Atlanta, Georgia