NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman
Visits TheatreSquared in Northwest Arkansas
Tuesday, March 13, 2012—Northwest Arkansas—On Monday, Rocco Landesman, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, joined TheatreSquared Artistic Director Robert Ford and Managing Director Martin Miller for a conversation about T2's role as Northwest Arkansas's professional regional theatre.
Participants also included Debby Landesman, former head of the Levi Strauss Foundation; NEA White House liaison Mike Griffin; Arkansas Arts Council Executive Director Joy Pennington, Commissioner Bill Mitchell and Grant Program Manager Jess Anthony; T2 Development Officer Elizabeth France and Board President Robert Kohler.
Seated on the set of the recent T2 production of Kim Rosenstock's Tigers Be Still, Chairman Landesman commented on TheatreSquared's rapid growth as a professional theatre through a period of economic uncertainty. He requested details on the theatre's world premiere production of Kevin D. Cohea's Sundown Town, funded in part by the theatre's first NEA Art Works grant, as well as earlier original productions such as Robert Ford's My Father's War. Singling out these plays as well as the theatre's annual Arkansas New Play Festival, the Chairman applauded TheatreSquared's willingness to take artistic risks.
"There's a reason non-profits need public support," said Landesman. "They shouldn't have to base their decisions on the market. They can take risks—that's why they're here."
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. While in Northwest Arkansas, Chairman Landesman also visited Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Northwest Arkansas Community Creative Center, and the Walton Arts Center.
"At the NEA we're interested in getting out around the country and seeing what's being done with the arts," Landesman said in an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. "What we're seeing here, I think, in Bentonville and Fayetteville, is a real intersection between the arts and communities."
TheatreSquared (T2) is Northwest Arkansas’s regional theatre, producing professional work that is challenging and heartfelt, intimate and entertaining. More than 10,000 patrons attend the theatre’s 95 annual performances in the 180-seat Studio Theatre at Walton Arts Center’s Nadine Baum Studios. In 2011, T2 was recognized by the American Theatre Wing as one of the nation's ten most promising emerging professional theatres.