The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), which Donald Trump was trying to eliminate, announced the first round of recommended awards for fiscal year 2021 totaling $27,562,040. Supported projects span 14 artistic disciplines and, in the music field, many orchestras, ensembles and opera houses.

At the same time, the NEA announced four political appointees designated for senior positions at the agency by the Biden-Harris Administration. « These accomplished professionals will bring their expertise to the Arts Endowment to advance priorities for the new administration », the press release says.

They are Chief of Staff Ra Joy, White House Liaison and Senior Advisor to the Chief of Staff Jennifer Chang, Director of Strategic Communications and Public Affairs Sonia Chala Tower, and Director of Congressional Affairs Ben Kessler. The previous political appointees along with former chairman Mary Anne Carter left the Arts Endowment on January 20.

There is one musician in the new staff, Sonia Chala Tower, Director of Strategic Communications and Public Affairs. A classically trained mezzo-soprano, she has performed as a soloist and an ensemble singer with a number of groups on both the East and West Coasts, and is a specialist in Byzantine and Russian liturgical music.

During the 2008 presidential election, Sonia Chala Tower was appointed to the position of convener for the Obama Arts Policy Committee, and served as an advisor to the Obama transition. Most recently she was the national co-chair for Arts for Biden-Harris, which engaged the arts and creative industries in 18 key states in the 2020 presidential election.

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