Mary Anne Carter was confirmed as the 12th chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts on August 1, 2019, receiving unanimous consent from the United States Senate. Carter served as acting chairman of the Arts Endowment beginning on June 5, 2018 and following 18 months as the agency’s senior deputy chairman.
Since arriving at the agency, Carter has pushed to make the National Endowment for the Arts more accessible to the American people, directing an expansion of Creative Forces (an arts therapy program for U.S. service members and veterans recovering from post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, and other psychological health conditions) and bolstering many of its national initiatives, including Shakespeare in American Communities, NEA Big Read, Poetry Out Loud, and the Jazz Masters and National Heritage Fellowships.
To further expand the reach of the Arts Endowment, Carter has held the past several public meetings of the National Council on the Arts at locations outside the agency’s offices. These include a June 2018 meeting in Charleston, West Virginia—the first such meeting outside of Washington, DC in 27 years—and in June 2019, in Detroit, Michigan.
Carter brings a unique perspective to the Arts Endowment. Prior to her appointment, she was engaged in public policy analysis, issue tracking, and corporate and campaign communications through her work as a public affairs consultant. During her time at the Arts Endowment, she has demonstrated that lessons learned in her prior professional life are effective tools in directing the work of an agency dependent upon the support and confidence of Congress.
Her knowledge and genuine love for the arts are rooted at the most personal of levels—through the learning differences initially observed in her daughter at age seven. This challenge led Carter to schools that employ the arts as a teaching method in every class, making the learning process both productive and enjoyable for her daughter. Carter understands the power of the arts, as she witnesses that power every day.