Senate Confirms NEA Chief, Panelists

The U.S. Senate approved a second four-year term for the chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts on Monday, and also confirmed President Bush's nominees to the National Council on the Arts, the advisory panel for the NEA.

Dana Gioia, a poet, author, and critic, was reappointed by President Bush on Sept. 30 and unanimously approved by the Senate's Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee before winning unanimous approval from the full chamber.

During his first term, Gioia initiated the Shakespeare in American Communities program, the largest theatrical tour of Shakespeare in history. He also enhanced the NEA Jazz Masters program and started the Big Read, an initiative to revitalize the role of literature in American popular culture.

Frank Price, a longtime movie and television executive, and Ben Donenberg, the founder and producing artistic director of Shakespeare Festival/LA, are among the six new members of the National Council on the Arts. The council reviews and makes recommendations to the NEA chairman on grant applications, funding guidelines, and initiatives.

Price, who ran the television division of Universal and the film division of Columbia Pictures and is the former chairman of the MCA Motion Picture Group, is the founder and CEO of Price Entertainment. Donenberg, who has worked as an actor on and off Broadway, has served as a theatre grants panelist for the NEA and the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.

The other new members of the council are Chico Hamilton, a jazz percussionist from New York; Joan Israelite, president and CEO of the Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City, from Lee's Summit, Mo.; Charlotte Power Kessler, an arts patron from New Albany, Ohio; and Bret Lott, an author and English professor at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.