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National Endowment for the Arts Announces Three New Members of the National Council on the Arts

originally posted by The National Endowment for the Arts
November 21, 2013

Washington, DC — Three new members have been confirmed by the Senate and appointed by the President to the National Council on the Arts, the advisory body of the National Endowment for the Arts. These individuals will bring their varied experience — ranging from contemporary art curatorship, to classical Indian dance, and creative placemaking — to help the NEA advance its mission to support artistic excellence, creativity and innovation in communities across the country. The National Council on the Arts advises the chairman on agency policies and programs. It reviews and makes recommendations to the chairman on applications for grants, funding guidelines, and leadership initiatives.

The new members are:

Ranee Ramaswamy, Founder and Co-Artistic Director of the Ragamala Dance Company

Ramaswamy has been a master choreographer, performer, and teacher of the South Indian classical dance form of Bharatanatyam dance since 1978. She founded the Ragamala Dance Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1992. Her work has been commissioned by the Walker Art Center, American Composers Forum, and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and has been supported by the National Dance Project and the Joyce Foundation. Ramaswamy’s tours have been highlighted by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the American Dance Festival, and the National Centre for Performing Arts in Mumbai, India. Among her numerous grants and awards are 14 McKnight Fellowships, a Bush Foundation Choreography Fellowship, and an Artist Exploration Fund grant from Arts International. She is the recipient of the 2011 McKnight Distinguished Artist Award and was named “2011 Artist of the Year” (with co-director Aparna Ramaswamy) by the Minneapolis StarTribune. Ramaswamy earned a B.A. in Fine Arts from the University of Madras, India.

Olga Viso, Executive Director of the Walker Art Center

Viso is executive director of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which ranks among the five most-visited modern/contemporary art museums in the United States. Prior to her tenure with the Walker Art Center, Viso held positions at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden – Smithsonian Institution, starting as assistant curator and becoming director in 2005. Viso was a curator at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida from 1993 to 1995, and held several curatorial and administrative positions at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia from 1989 to 1993. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and is a member of the Association of Art Museum Directors. From 2003 to 2006, she served on the Federal Advisory Committee on International Exhibitions. Viso received a B.A. from Rollins College and an M.A. from Emory University.

Rick Lowe, Founder, Project Row Houses

Lowe is founder of this neighborhood-based nonprofit art and cultural organization in the Northern Third Ward, one of the oldest African-American communities in Houston, Texas. He has participated in national and international community art exhibitions and programs since 1995. In 2012, Lowe was an artist in residence at the Community Innovators Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tensta Konsthall in Stockholm, Sweden. Previously, he was a master artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in 2011, a visiting artist at the Otis College of Art in Los Angeles, CA in 2010, and a Loeb Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Design from 2001 to 2002. Lowe serves as a board member of the Menil Foundation. He received the Creative Time’s Leonore Annenberg Prize for Art & Social Justice in 2010, the United States Artists Fellowship in Design in 2009, and the Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities in 2002.

About the National Council on the Arts

The National Council on the Arts is convened three times per year to vote on funding recommendations for grants and rejections; to advise the chairman on application guidelines, the budget, and policy and planning directions; and to recommend to the President nominees for the National Medal of Arts.

Serving with the chairman and the three new members are 13 current members of the National Council on the Arts: Bruce Carter, Ph.D., Aaron Dworkin, Lee Greenwood, Deepa Gupta, Paul Hodes, Joan Israelite, Maria Rosario Jackson, Ph.D., Emil J. Kang, Charlotte Kessler, María López De León, David “Mas” Masumoto, Irvin Mayfield, Jr., and Barbara Ernst Prey. Ranee Ramaswamy, Olga Viso, and Rick Lowe will join the Council as outgoing members Frank Price, Joann Falletta, and Miguel Campaneria conclude their terms.

There are also six ex-officio members from Congress — Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and U.S. Representatives Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Patrick J. Tiberi (R-OH). Appointment by Majority and Minority leadership of the remaining two members of Congress to the council is pending.

Visit for more information about the National Council on the Arts and its members.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at

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