NEA Chair Rocco Landesman Visits Cincinnati
September 30, 2010 § 1 Comment
Rocco Landesman, the eccentric and acclaimed Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts visited Cincinnati on Tuesday, September 28, and spoke to a packed house at the Ensemble Theater in Over-the-Rhine about his vision of a revitalized NEA impacting communities across America. Mr. Landesman’s background includes owning 5 Broadway theaters, having produced numerous hit Broadway Musicals, having owned three minor league baseball teams, being a part-owner of the Cincinnati Reds and a frequent gambler of Horse-racing.
Famous for his Alligator skinned cowboy boots, Rocco, after having visited Cincinnati “at least a hundred times,” visited Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood for the first time. Home to tens of thousands of German immigrants in the late 19th century, Over-the-Rhine had become one the nations most dangerous neighborhoods in the late 20th century before its recent (and still ongoing) revival that has centered around the arts, the city government, and private developers. In his speech, Rocco used Over-the-Rhine as a prime example of the NEA’s new focus to work closely with other government departments such as HUD, HHS, and DOT to revive urban and neighborhood centers with a focus on cultural institutions. Having been introduced by friend and Reds owner, Bob Castellini, Rocco’s speech was followed by a panel discussion that included Jack Rouse from Jack Rouse & Associates, Mary McCullough-Hudson from ArtsWave, Victoria Morgan from Cincinnati Ballet, amongst others.
Overall, the afternoon was a great success for the local arts community and the city of Cincinnati in general. Moving forward, the city and its various arts groups should keep in close contact with Mr. Landesman as he hoped to bring national attention and “put a spotlight” on the renaissance underway in Over-the-Rhine.
-Jon J Harmon