January 12, 2009
Mr. John Podesta
The Obama-Biden Transition Team
451 6th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20270
Re: Recommendation for Michael C. Dorf, Esquire, To Chair the
National Endowment for the Arts
Dear Mr. Podesta,
On behalf of the Arts, Entertainment and Media Industries unions of the Department for Professional Employees (DPE), AFL-CIO, I am writing to recommend Michael C. Dorf, Esquire, for Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Michael’s distinguished career, and his deep knowledge of the arts and the NEA, make him uniquely qualified.
Michael has a rare blend of arts experience – public policy, legal, cultural planning, funding, and education – that positions him to chair the NEA on day one. He served as co-convenor of the Obama National Arts Policy Committee, the official arts policy committee of the presidential campaign. He worked as Special Counsel to former Representative Sidney Yates and helped to develop federal arts funding policies. He developed the first Cultural Plan for Chicago. He teaches about the arts and public policy. And Michael chairs or serves on Illinois organizations at the intersection of public policy and the arts. His experience thus spans the federal, state, and local levels.
In these difficult economic times, it is easy to forget about the arts as a part of the American economy. That would be a grave mistake. The Great Depression gave rise to the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which provided meaningful and constructive employment to tens of thousands of artists, musicians, writers, actors, and others working in the theater. The WPA provided the nation with a wealth of art and culture we still enjoy. As we work to avoid another depression, the NEA – with the right leadership – could play a vital role. Michael Dorf would provide that leadership.
The Arts, Entertainment and Media Industries unions of DPE represent more than 200,000 artists and other professional and technical workers who bring the arts to all Americans. The unions include the Actors’ Equity Association, the American Federation of Musicians, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the American Guild of Musical Artists, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employes, the Broadcast Division of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Office and Professional Employees International Union, the Screen Actors Guild, and the Writers Guild of America, East.
When Congress created the NEA in 1965, the legislation declared that works of art “reveal the inner vision which guides us as a nation”. The NEA is dedicated to bringing artistic excellence to all Americans. Michael Dorf will enable it to fulfill its mission. We strongly urge that President-Elect Obama name Michael Dorf the next Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts.
Thank you for your consideration.
Sincerely and respectfully,
Paul E. Almeida, President
Department for Professional
cc: Senator Richard Durbin