Media Release

NEA Chairman to visit Spencer Museum

Lawrence, KS, March 15, 2012 – National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman will visit Lawrence on March 15, the latest stop on his nationwide Art Works tour. While in Lawrence, Chairman Landesman will meet with arts and civic leaders to learn about their efforts to use the arts to create vibrant, livable communities. The public is invited to a panel discussion and community conversation on Creative Placemaking with Landesman at 11:30 a.m. at the Spencer Museum of Art, 1301 Mississippi Street.

Chairman Landesman is touring the nation to visit cities and states to explore the impact of the arts on communities. “We know that when we bring the arts and artists into towns and cities, it changes those places profoundly,” said Landesman. “Creative placemaking is about how the arts can change and transform places, where the arts can intersect with the every day.”

Rocco Landesman is the tenth chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. Chairman Landesman's career has been a hybrid of commercial and artistic enterprises. After running a private investment fund for ten years, he became a Broadway theater producer. He has produced several Tony Award-winning shows, including Big RiverAngels in America, and The Producers. He holds a doctorate in dramatic literature from Yale.

Spencer Museum director Saralyn Reece Hardy will moderate the Creative Placemaking panel discussion. Chairman Landesman will be joined by panelists including muralist David Loewenstein, KU professor of geography Jay T. Johnson, environmental architect Bob Berkebile, scholar and author Daniel Wildcat, and Nebraska Arts Council executive director Suzanne Wise.

A reception will follow. Parking is available in the Mississippi Street Garage.


  • ROCCO LANDESMANChairman, National Endowment for the Arts

    See detailed bio below

  • SARALYN REECE HARDY, MODERATORDirector, Spencer Museum of Art
    University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas

    Director of the Spencer Museum of Art, Hardy is responsible for the leadership of the only comprehensive art museum in Kansas. Prior to her arrival at the Spencer, Ms. Hardy served as the director of Museums and Visual Arts at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) where she received a distinguished service award in 2002. She was appointed to the NEA from her work as the Director of the Salina Art Center in Salina, Kansas, where she developed and implemented programs ranging from commissions, socially engaged programs, and artistic experimentation to a national and international exhibition schedule, educational programs, and a statewide traveling exhibition service.

    BNIM Architects, Kansas City, Missouri

    Bob Berkebile is a founding principal of BNIM Architects and has contributed 44 years to the architectural profession. He is the founding chairman of the American Institute of Architects’ National Committee on the Environment (AIA / COTE) and was also instrumental in the formation of the US Green Building Council and its LEED rating system. Berkebile’s work as an architect and thought leader in sustainable methodologies continue to increase the national and global momentum towards triple-bottom-line solutions in our built environments – solutions that seek to find a balance between people, planet and prosperity.

  • JAY T. JOHNSONAssistant Professor of Geography and Indigenous Studies
    University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas

    Jay T. Johnson is an Assistant Professor of Geography and Indigenous Studies at the University of Kansas. His research interests concern the broad area of Indigenous peoples’ cultural survival with specific regard to the areas of resource management, political activism at the national and international levels and the philosophies and politics of place that underpin the drive for cultural survival.

    Lawrence, Kansas

    Dave Loewenstein is a muralist, writer, and printmaker based in Lawrence, Kansas. His more than seventy community-based public murals can be found in Kansas, across the US, and in Northern Ireland. Loewenstein’s prints focus on current social and political issues and are exhibited nationally. He is a founder and current chair of the Lawrence Percolator arts space, and since September, he has been working with the Occuprint group to produce posters for the Occupy movement.

  • DANIEL R. WILDCATDirector of the Haskell Environmental Research Studies (HERS) Center
    and acting Dean of the College of Natural and Social Sciences
    Haskell Indian Nations University, Lawrence, Kansas

    Daniel R. Wildcat is director of the Haskell Environmental Research Studies (HERS) Center which facilitates technology transfer and accurate environmental information to tribal governments and Native communities. He is also Dean of the College of Natural and Social Sciences at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas. Dr. Wildcat’s recent activities have revolved around forming the American Indian and Alaska Native Climate Change Working Group: a tribal college-centered network of individuals and organizations working on climate change issues. He is also the author and editor of several books on education, indigenous wisdom, and climate change.

  • SUZANNE WISEExecutive Director
    Nebraska Arts Council, Omaha, Nebraska

    Suzanne Wise, executive director of the Nebraska Arts Council, has been involved in building collaborative efforts with other agencies and the private sector to develop strong community cultural infrastructures. Wise is a frequent lecturer at area colleges and universities on the role of public art in neighborhoods. She is a board member of Mid-America Arts Alliance, the Nebraska Cultural Endowment (a public/private partnership that funds the NAC and the Nebraska Humanities Council) and Nebraskans for the Arts. She is an advisor to the Metropolitan Community College (Omaha) public art program and Nebraska's Main Street program.


Rocco Landesman was confirmed by the United States Senate on August 7, 2009 as the tenth chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Prior to joining the NEA, he was a Broadway theater producer.

Mr. Landesman was born (July 20, 1947) and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. 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, Mr. Landesman stayed at the school for four years, working as an assistant professor.

Mr. Landesman's ensuing career has been a hybrid of commercial and artistic enterprises. 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 theaters.

Before and after joining Jujamcyn, Mr. Landesman produced Broadway shows, the most notable of which are 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). In 2005, he purchased Jujamcyn and operated it until President Obama announced his intention to nominate him to the NEA chairmanship.

Mr. 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. Mr. Landesman has also vigorously 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.

Mr. Landesman is married to Debby Landesman. Mrs. Landesman is an independent consultant and the former executive director of the Levi Strauss Foundation; she advises corporations and foundations on their philanthropic strategies. He has three sons: North, Nash, and Dodge.

Mr. Landesman's 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.

Media Contacts

Margaret Perkins-McGuinness

Margaret Perkins-McGuinness
Art Director of External Affairs
Spencer Museum of Art