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Obama Names Kansas City Arts Leader to Head National Endowment

President Barack Obama has announced his plans to nominate Jane Chu, who heads a major performing arts center in downtown Kansas City, Mo., to become the next chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Chu, a trained pianist, has been the president and CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts since 2006. 

"Jane's lifelong passion for the arts and her background in philanthropy have made her a powerful advocate for artists and arts education in Kansas City," Obama said in a news release. "She knows firsthand how art can open minds, transform lives and revitalize communities, and believes deeply in the importance of the arts to our national culture."

The president's nominee must be approved by the U.S. Senate.

The NEA provides small grants to support arts education across the country. The recent federal spending bill, signed into law last month, included $146 million for the organization.

The organization has been without a permanent leader since Rocco Landesman stepped down at the end of 2012.

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