July 20, 2007

Whitehouse Joins National Arts Council

Distinguished Panel Advises National Endowment for the Arts on Grants, Initiatives

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) has been appointed to serve as an ex-officio member of the National Council on the Arts, the advisory body to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). He was named to the Council by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

“I’m honored to represent the Ocean State on this distinguished panel,” Whitehouse said. “The NEA supports Rhode Island artists, performances, and educational opportunities that make our communities richer, our economy stronger, and our lives more meaningful. Our great senator, Claiborne Pell, championed the NEA, and I’m proud to have the opportunity to assist this organization in its important work.”

The National Council on the Arts serves in an advisory role to the Chairman of the NEA, Dan Gioia, reviewing and making recommendations on grant applications and initiatives. Along with the six ex officio Congressional members, the council consists of 14 people widely recognized for their contribution to the arts. Over the years, members have included Duke Ellington, Leonard Bernstein, Helen Hayes, and John Steinbeck.

The NEA was created in 1965 with the enactment of the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act, signed into law by then-President Lyndon Johnson. The bill was originally sponsored by former Senator Claiborne Pell (D-R.I.), a champion of the NEA throughout his life. The agency has repeatedly recognized Rhode Island’s contribution to the arts through grants to some of the state’s famous artistic institutions, including the Trinity Repertory Company, the Everett Dance Theater, and the Rhode Island School of Design.

Rhode Islanders are also taking advantage of the NEA’s innovative programs, such as the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s participation in The Big Read program, which will give residents of the city of Warwick the opportunity to read Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God together.


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