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Speaking of the Arts: Art Works
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This project is funded by the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, through the generous support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.




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+ About the Performance
This program was recorded 10/20/2009 at Symphony Space.

New York Times Op-Ed columnist Frank Rich is joined by new NEA chairman Rocco Landesman for a conversation about the state of the arts in the United States, as well as the direction of the NEA under his leadership.

A co-production with the community affairs department of The New York Times.

In The News - The New York Times:  New Endowment Chairman Sees Arts as Economic Engine

+ About the Artists

Frank Rich is an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times. His weekly 1,500-word essay on the intersection of culture and news helped inaugurate the expanded opinion pages that the paper introduced in the Sunday Week in Review section in April 2005. From 2003 to 2005, Mr. Rich was the front-page columnist for the Sunday Arts & Leisure section as part of that section's redesign and expansion.

Mr. Rich was previously a columnist on the Op-Ed Page starting in January 1994. In 1999, he began writing a 1,400-word opinion piece that ran on the Op-Ed page every other Saturday (instead of the 700-word piece that ran twice a week) and was given the additional title of senior writer for The New York Times Magazine. The dual title was a first for The Times and allowed Mr. Rich to explore a variety of topics at greater length than before. His columns and articles in each venue have drawn from his background as a theater critic and observer of art, entertainment and politics.

Before writing his column, Mr. Rich served as The Times's chief drama critic beginning in 1980, the year he joined The Times. During the presidential campaign year of 1992, Mr. Rich joined with The Times's Washington reporter, Maureen Dowd, to write a daily column at the political conventions, repeating the assignment for Inauguration week in Washington in January 1993.

Among other honors, Mr. Rich received the George Polk Award for commentary in 2005. In addition to his work at The Times, he has written about culture and politics for many other publications. His latest book, "The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth From 9/11 to Katrina," was published by the Penguin Press in 2006. His childhood memoir, "Ghost Light," was published in 2000 by Random House and as a Random House Trade Paperback in 2001. The film rights to "Ghost Light" have been acquired by Storyline Entertainment. A collection of Mr. Rich's drama reviews, "Hot Seat: Theater Criticism for The New York Times, 1980-1993," was published by Random House in October 1998. His book "The Theatre Art of Boris Aronson," co-authored with Lisa Aronson, was published by Knopf in 1987.

Before joining The Times, Mr. Rich was a film and television critic at Time magazine. Earlier, he had been film critic for The New York Post and film critic and senior editor of The New Times Magazine. He was a founding editor of The Richmond (Va.) Mercury, a weekly newspaper, in the early 1970s.

Mr. Rich earned a B.A. degree in American History and Literature, graduating magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1971. At Harvard, he was editorial chairman of The Harvard Crimson, an honorary Harvard College scholar, a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the recipient of a Henry Russell Shaw traveling fellowship.

Mr. Rich has two sons. He lives in Manhattan with his wife, the author and novelist Alex Witchel, who is a reporter for The New York Times.

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 Arts 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.

 

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