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NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman Congratulates Sarah Cunningham on Six Years of Service as Director of Arts Education

by National Endowment for the Arts

July 1, 2011

Washington, DC – National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman congratulates Dr. Sarah Bainter Cunningham on her six years of service as the NEA’s Director of Arts Education, where she has overseen leadership initiatives and grantmaking for a range of arts education projects. This year, the NEA’s Arts Education Program has invested in 229 grants to organizations totaling $7,385,000 million.

Starting in August, Cunningham will serve as Executive Director of Research for Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts in Richmond, Virginia. She will also teach arts education policy and assist in developing a doctoral program in arts education.

“I am thrilled to be working with VCU’s School of the Arts and returning to my academic roots,” said Cunningham. “It has been an honor to work with the many inspiring leaders who are driving global conversations on arts, children and creativity, and collaborate with the many American organizations devoted to excellence in arts education.

“Arts education policy may not be glamorous work, but these discussions among policymakers, educators, artists, legislators, and other stakeholders are crucial to make high quality, standards-based arts education available in every K-12 classroom,” said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman. “The Arts Endowment is grateful to Sarah Cunningham for championing the value of arts education for our children and our communities.”

Dr. Cunningham has administered arts education initiatives conducted in partnership with a range of public and private partner organizations. She has led the NEA’s partnership with the U.S. Department of Education, to support the valuable work of the Arts Education Partnership. In collaboration with the Illinois Arts Council (IAC), she founded the Education Leaders Institute, which convenes key decision makers to enhance the quality and quantity of arts education at the state level. Since 2008, the NEA has gathered arts education policy teams from 28 states and the District of Columbia. Cunningham also oversaw the development of educational resources and materials produced for national NEA Big Read, Jazz in the Schools, and Poetry Out Loud. Other key partnerships include her work with the 56 state and territorial arts agencies, the State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education network, and NEA’s Shakespeare in American Communities.

A national search for Dr. Cunningham’s successor at the NEA will be announced shortly.

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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