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NEA Chairman to Play in Peoria

Landesman_0817 Say what you will about Rocco Landesman, but at least when he plants his foot in his mouth, he makes an attempt to extricate it. In an Aug. 8 interview with the New York Times, the new NEA chairman said, “I don’t know if there’s a theater in Peoria, but I would bet that it’s not as good as Steppenwolf or the Goodman. There is going to be some push-back from me about democratizing arts grants to the point where you really have to answer some questions about artistic merit.” This, of course, thrilled the Peoria arts community to no end.

But now the Times' Arts Beat blog is reporting that Landesman has accepted an invitation to visit Illinois' sixth largest city in December, just in time for the holiday show at the Eastlight Theater. The chairman was apparently impressed by the Peorians' welcoming attitude when they contacteed him with the invite. "I thought, ‘Let’s give him an opportunity to see some of our stellar theater,'" one local arts official told the blog. “We wanted to be pro-active but with a good spirit and allow him a chance to meet with us.”

Landesman, of course, responded by making jokes about the local cuisine: “I heard they have a Steak ‘n Shake there, which is my favorite place to eat,” he said.

Well, at least he's trying. Sort of.

Pictured: Rocco Landesman (Photo: Getty Images)

--Daniel Holloway

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