NEA replaces communications director

Posted on: September 24, 2009

Tuesday (9/22) on the Los Angeles Times blog Culture Monster, Mike Boehm writes, “Rocco Landesman, the new NEA chairman, issued a written explanation today ‘to clarify the issues’ surrounding an Aug. 10 conference call in which Yosi Sergant, representing the NEA, invited representatives from the arts world to get involved in President Obama’s United We Serve volunteerism initiative. The teleconference got blogged about as an attempt to enlist artists on behalf of the White House’s agenda, prompting Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) to issue an open letter to the president expressing alarm over the politicization of the NEA, and suggesting that ‘this episode appears to merit congressional hearings and sustained oversight.’ … According to Landesman, Sergant took part in the teleconference without authorization from his then-boss, Patrice Walker Powell, who was in charge as the NEA’s acting chairman through Aug. 10. Landesman, a noted Broadway producer, said he became chairman on Aug. 11, the day after the teleconference. ‘Some of the language used by [Sergant] was, unfortunately, not appropriate and did not reflect the position of the NEA,’ Landesman said. ‘This employee has been relieved of his duties as director of communications.’ ”

Posted September 24, 2009