Jane Chu is the eleventh chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. With a background in arts administration and philanthropy, Chairman Chu is also an accomplished artist and musician. She leads a dedicated and passionate group of people to support and fund the arts and creative activities in communities across the nation.
Chu was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma, but was raised in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, the daughter of Chinese immigrants. She studied music growing up, eventually receiving bachelor's degrees in piano performance and music education from Ouachita Baptist University, and master's degrees in music and piano pedagogy from Southern Methodist University. Additionally, Chu holds a master's degree in business administration from Rockhurst University and a PhD in philanthropic studies from Indiana University.
In addition to awarding $116 million in grants during her tenure to-date, Chu has issued new research reports on arts participation and the impact of the arts and cultural industries on the nation's gross domestic product; announced a leadership initiative called Creativity Connects; and in celebration of the agency's upcoming 50th anniversary, launched the Tell Us Your Story project.
"We have an opportunity to start a new dialogue on the ways in which the arts-and the ways the NEA supports the arts-are an essential component of our everyday lives," says Chu. "Although many may not realize it, the arts actively intersect with areas such as the economy, human development, and community vitality. The arts and artists who are funded and supported by the NEA are an integral part of the solution to the challenges we face in all parts of our society."
In the fall of 2015, Chairman Chu will announce the details of her signature leadership initiative,
. The program will show how central the arts are to the country's creativity ecosystem; investigate how support systems for the arts have changed; and explore how the arts connect with other industries.
Chu has a deep understanding of and commitment to the arts. From 2006 to 2014, Chu served as the president and CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Missouri, overseeing a $413-million campaign to build the center. She was a fund executive at the Kauffman Fund for Kansas City from 2004 to 2006, and vice president of external relations for Union Station Kansas City from 2002 to 2004. Previously, she was vice president of community investment for the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation from 1997 to 2002.