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Design on the Agenda
NEA's new design director Jason Schupbach to emphasize creative industries and place-making

COURTESY Jason schupbach

The National Endowment for the Arts today announced the appointment of Jason Schupbach as its new Director of Design. Schupbach’s portfolio includes a range of grantmaking and design initiatives, among them the Mayor’s Institute for City Design and the Governors’ Institute for Community Design, as well as traditional design grants. He will also develop a new program called Our Town, which will help communities develop and support arts districts.

Schupbach currently serves as the Director for IT and Creative Industries for the Massachusetts Office of Business Development, a state agency. In that position, he has overseen the development of new industry groups for creative workers and initiated a statewide design excellence program to overhaul and improve procurement procedures. Prior to that, he was director of ArtistLink, where he managed a statewide artist space development initiative. He has also worked in capital projects for the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Schupbach holds a masters degree in urban planning and design from MIT.

“My career has been at the nexus of creativity and economic development,” Schupbach said. “The Obama administration and Chairman [Rocco] Landesman are interested in expanding the creative economy and leveraging design thinking to improve communities.”

NEA Chairman Landesman indicated that Schupbach will have significant authority to shape the design program. “Part of Jason’s job will be to help set that agenda. At the NEA, I expect our discipline directors to have strong points of view and senses of priorities,” he told AN via email. “I want Jason to tell me what our design agenda will be going forward. That’s, in large part, the job.”

Schupbach replaces Maurice Cox, an architecture professor at the University of Virginia appointed in 2007, who bolstered NEA grants to the design community and helped launch the Sustainable Communities Partnership. Schupbach said that he wants to build on the success of the Mayor’s Institute, while emphasizing “real, implementable results.” He takes over on May 10.

Alan G. Brake