Monday, May 18, 2009

Jeremy Gerard: Margo Lion Behind Rocco Landesman NEA Choice

According to this article on, the choice of Rocco Landesman resulted in part from $500,000 in campaign contributions raised by an adunct professor at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts:
When President Barack Obama announced his plan to nominate Rocco Landesman as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, I figured Margo Lion had a hand in it. So I called her up.

Lion, a Broadway producer, shares an office with Landesman, the loquacious, combative owner of five Broadway houses called Jujamcyn Theaters.

More to the point, she’d joined the Obama bandwagon early, raised more than $500,000 for the candidate and helped shape his arts agenda. She was well-situated to put forward Landesman, 61, for the NEA slot. He’s a brilliant choice.

“The president said, ‘Let’s find a game changer,’” Lion told me. “I didn’t have long-held plans, it wasn’t a strategy. But Rocco’s an unusual leader. He combines an impressive intellect, bravery and humor with a talent for getting the best out of people.”
Margo Lion's website provides more background:
Margo Lion was a member of President Barack Obama’s National Finance Committee and served as Co-Chair of his Arts Policy Committee during the 2008 Presidential Campaign. Margo produced the Barack on Broadway fundraiser on September 9, 2007 and the Women for Obama Central Park Rally on February 2, 2008.
Here's a link to a campaign letter from Lion and George Stevens about Obama's arts policy goals: A glance at Wikipedia tells us that Ms. Lion's first major hit was the musical adaptation of John Waters' Hairspray and that she hails from Charm City--Baltimore, Maryland...