Mary Anne Carter has been confirmed to serve as the 12th chairman for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Carter first joined the NEA as senior deputy chairman during the Trump administration transition in 2016. She has been serving as acting chair since Obama’s appointee Jane Chu stepped down in June 2018. Carter was formally nominated by President Trump last November.
Since becoming involved in the NEA, Carter had led the growth of Creative Forces, an art therapy program for U.S. service members and veterans, and strengthened national programs like Shakespeare in American Communities. Prior to her involvement in the NEA, Carter had no significant arts experience. Previously, she worked as a staffer for former Florida Governor Rick Scott, overseeing budget and policy, and as director of the U.S. Senate Relations at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative public policy think tank.
Carter takes the helm of an organization that has been on the Trump administration’s chopping block for years. Most recently, in the proposed 2020 budget released in March, the administration called for the elimination of the NEA as well as the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), citing Kickstarter campaigns as better sources of funding for the arts and asserting the organization does not serve any “core responsibilities.” The proposed budget recommends cutting funding for the NEA and NEH to $29 million and $38 million, respectively, in order to start shutting both down. Both agencies received $155 million for 2019. The NEA and NEH receive bipartisan support and Trump’s budget proposal is more a reflection of the administration’s priorities than an official plan of action as the budget is set by Congress.
In a statement upon confirmation of her appointment, Carter said: “I look forward to continuing to lead a talented and dedicated staff of professionals in our important work of ensuring that every American—in every community and in every neighborhood—has access to the arts.” That is, if the NEA survives the Trump presidency.