This affects everyone involved in the arts. You can’t say that often.

From today’s Washington Post:

Dana Gioia, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts since March 2003, plans to announce today that in January he will leave the federal agency he is credited with helping revitalize.

Gioia, 57, is scheduled to participate in a discussion today at the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies in Chattanooga, Tenn., and outline his plans.

During his term, Gioia spearheaded a vigorous program of initiatives that quelled much of the criticism of the agency, especially from conservative groups. Also, through a landmark study on reading, he gave adult literacy an unexpected platform.

The rebuilding of the NEA, the largest funder of the arts in the country, began after a ferocious attack on the agency in the 1990s by conservative members of Congress, who cut the budget from a high of $175.9 million in the early 1990s to $99.4 million in 1996. Gioia’s predecessors, actress Jane Alexander and folklorist Bill Ivey, worked to restore confidence and save the budget, a process that Gioia continued. “We have taken the NEA into a more active position,” Gioia said. Funding for the agency has risen to $144.7 million for fiscal 2008. “When I came here, it was an interesting job with unbearable pressure; now it is bearable with pressure,” he said.