The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced on April 14 that Jason Schupbach will be the agency's new director of design. Currently the creative economy industry director for the Massachusetts Office of Business Development, where since 2008 he has been instrumental in coordinating efforts that leverage the power of design for the good of economic development, Schupbach will assume his new role at the end of May.
"I was interested in this position because [NEA chairman Rocco] Landesman and President [Barack] Obama are doing really creative thinking about placemaking," says Schupbach, citing the NEA's involvement in the Mayors' Institute on City Design and its new Our Town program, which seeks to help communities create arts districts. As for the president, who has made it clear since his before his election that urban places, infrastructure, and the creative economy would be a White House priority, Schupbach remarks, "This is really the first administration to embrace these issues."
Prior to his position at the Office of Business Development, Schupbach was the director of ArtistLink, a Massachusetts nonprofit that advocates for artists' professional and housing needs. From 2003 to 2004, he was the capital projects manager and staff urban planner/designer for New York City's Department of Cultural Affairs. Schupbach has a B.S. in public health from the University of North Carolina and a master's in city planning with an urban design certificate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"What I'm most exited about is that design has an intrinsic value, not just to designers, but to the business community," says Schupbach. "We've done a little bit of that here in Massachusetts, and I want to bring that conversation to the national level."