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National Endowment for the Arts Chair Talks in O.C.

Updated: Aug 31, 2023

NEA chair Maria Rosario Jackson and Richard Stein, president and CEO of Arts Orange County, during a conversation as part of the Creative Edge Lecture series at the Irvine Barclay Theatre. Credit: Photo courtesy of Arts Orange County/Tony Lattimore

When President Biden nominated Maria Rosario Jackson to head the National Endowment for the Arts in October 2021, the appointment was groundbreaking but inevitable.

Groundbreaking because Jackson is the nation’s first NEA chair to be an African American and Mexican American woman. And inevitable because her background is the ideal blend of arts experience, administrative knowledge, urban planning, public service and a deep understanding of the impact of culture on diverse communities. She’s the right person at the right time for the job. Under Jackson, the NEA’s budget has grown significantly this year to $207 million, a $27 million increase over last year.

NEA chairs traditionally don’t pay much attention to Orange County; we haven’t hosted one since 1988. But Jackson is a Southern California native with deep roots here and in Mexico – she grew up in South Los Angeles, spending summers in her mother’s hometown of Mexico City, and she lives much of the time in this part of the country – so perhaps it should be no surprise that barely a year into her tenure, she visited O.C. Jackson delivered a lecture at Irvine Barclay Theatre on Tuesday, Feb. 7. It’s part of the Creative Edge Lecture series, which features thought leaders on creativity and innovation.

We talked recently to Jackson about the importance of art to the national fabric and how it positively impacts lives and communities.

This full story can be accessed for free in its entirety at Voice of OC.


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