MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Jane Chu, chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Arts, made her first trip to Alabama this week since being nominated to run the NEA three years ago.
It's the 48th state she's visited, and state leaders want to show her how Alabama and arts mix.
"Alabama has a very rich cultural landscape with a lot of wonderful surprises. I mean, Alabama is known for college football, NASCAR and a whole lot of other things. But when people come to Alabama and see and experience the arts, they go 'My goodness, I had no idea,'" said Albert Head, director of the Alabama State Council on the Arts.
Chu sat with James Bowen, an actor, director and writer at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival who told her about the Southern Writers Project.
The project, funded by NEA gr ants, makes sure the southern perspective is represented.
"With the help of the NEA, this theater provides the opportunity to go out into the community and actually help people learn to create. without the NEA, I believe that lots of opportunities would disappear," Bowen said.
In President Donald Trump's budget, he proposes making the NEA disappear, slashing all of it's funding. But state arts leaders say the return on investment is worth it.
"Quality of life, anyway you slice it, includes the arts and our culture. Then shame on us, if we cannot make an investment there," Head said.