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Arts Chairman Says Houston ‘Gets It’

Houston’s arts scene leaves NEA Chairman Jane Chu with a favorable impression.

Jane Chu
Jane Chu is the 11th Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Since being confirmed the 11th Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, Jane Chu has been making a case to increase federal funding for the arts. She’s been criss-crossing the country to get a sense of how cities use the arts to improve society.

Jane Chu says Houston “gets it.”

“We know that the benefits come from being engaged with the arts. They’re not just a luxury. But you see the work that the arts can do to transform us, and help understand ourselves, and bring communities together — then Houston really has that going for it,” says Chu.

Chu says the Project Row Houses serves as an inspiration to art and revitalization. Twenty-two abandoned shotgun-style houses are in Houston’s 3rd Ward, one of the city’s oldest African American neighborhoods. They were restored into individual dwellings that showcase art, history and culture.

“The arts touch us in a way that helps us understand emotionally, ourselves. And when we do that, that gives us more power to help others. And Project Row Houses has done that and helps people to understand themselves as well,” says Chu.

Houston’s diversity is an example of how the cultural landscape is shifting. Chu says the arts helps maintain relevance to the shifting conditions. It contributes to the health of the economy, helps heal trauma and stress, and is strongly associated with academic performace in students.

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