NEA Acting Chair Mary Anne Carter Replies to CFR Open Letter

"It is my mission...to expand access to the arts everywhere throughout the nation."

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Acting NEA Chairperson Mary Anne Carter (via arts.gov).

On July 19, 2018, Clyde Fitch Report editor Shawn Lent published an open letter to Mary Anne Carter, the newly named Acting Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Lent’s open letter presented a comprehensive and thoughtful roadmap of actions and suggestions that Carter could undertake as her tenure of the nation’s indispensable public arts agency begins. Lent’s open letter additionally offered a measured, constructive critique of the current administration’s policy toward arts and culture, and further made the case not only for why the NEA deserves more funding from the federal government, but for why Carter herself must be a vocal, visible, unapologetic, indefatigable cheerleader for the agency.

On July 21, Carter graciously replied to Lent via private email. Subsequent communications ensued, including a request by the CFR to publish her original email on the site, in full. She agreed; see below. We’d like to thank Carter for granting us this permission, and also for demonstrating her knowledge of, and respect for, the hardworking staff of the NEA.

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July 21, 2018

Hi Shawn,

Thank you for your letter. Your sincerity, coupled with the time and thought you invested in your words, is truly appreciated.

I sincerely hope the hundreds of people I’ve met with over the past 18 months as the National Endowment for the Arts’ Senior Deputy Chairman would tell you I am open to new ideas and suggestions, and always made them feel welcomed and respected. And because that is who I am, I take your recommendations seriously.

I am proud of the good work this agency does. From expanding our military healing programs to increasing our funding in the Arts Education Partnership to reaching out to underserved communities, it is my mission, while I serve here, to expand access to the arts everywhere throughout the nation.

Respectfully,

Mary Anne Carter
Acting Chairman | Office of the Chairman
National Endowment for the Arts
400 7th Street SW | Washington DC 20506

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Shawn Lent
Shawn Lent moves this world as both a program manager and a social practice dance artist, with experience from a field in Bosnia to a children’s cancer hospital in revolutionary Egypt. She is a U.S. Fulbright Scholar and UNAOC International Fellow, and has spoken at the University of Maryland, Universal Exposition Milan, TEDx Shibin El Kom, Sandbox Industries, and Commencement for Millikin University. From 2013-2015, Shawn served as the EducationUSA Egypt Coordinator for AMIDEAST and the U.S. Department of State. In 2013, her blog post "Am I a Dancer Who Gave Up?," went viral. Shawn holds a Masters in Arts Management from Columbia College Chicago and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Youth Arts Development from Goldsmith's College.