National Endowment For The Arts Chair Found A Language In Music

Jan 20, 2015

NEA chair Jane Chu says she turned to music to express herself after the death of her father.

When Jane Chu was growing up in Arkansas, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, she remembers that her parents liked bok choy while she liked corn dogs. They spoke Mandarin and "book English," and that, she says, could only go so far when her father died when she was nine-years-old. But she played piano, and she says music is where she found a way to express emotions where words fell short.

NEA Chair Jane Chu
Credit Strauss Peyton Studios

Chu believes strongly in the ability of the arts to transform individuals, communities and the overall economy. 

She came to the National Endowment for the Arts in June after overseeing a major building project at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Missouri, where she says, she had to learn a good bit about drywall to complement her understanding of acoustics. 

She was recently in Miami to announce the NEA's latest round of funding. Fourteen arts organizations throughout South Florida were awarded a total of $350,000 in grants. 

Click here for a list of which organizations received grants, and listen to an interview with Chu below.