Founded in 1965, the National Arts Council was open for 26 citizens to serve as advisors. The president appointed the members and if approved by the Senate, they would serve for six years.
The council’s first members were artists such as Ralph Ellison, Paul Engle, Elizabeth Ashley, Gregory Peck, Oliver Smith, William Pereira, Minoru Yamasaki, George Stevens Sr., Leonard Bernstein, Agnes de Mille, David Smith, and Isaac Stern.
This year’s nominees for the National Arts Council are Executive Producer at the Apollo Theater, Kamilah Forbes; Executive Artistic Director of Dance Place in Washington, D.C., Christopher Morgan; co-founder of The Arab American National Museum, Ismael Ahmed; Artistic Director of the Damascus Festival Chamber Players, Kinan Azmeh; the 7th Poet Laureate of Kansas, Huascar Medina; ukulele virtuoso, Jake Shimabukuro; coordinator for Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District, Constance Williams; and president of "Oh Boy Records," the country’s second-oldest continuing independent record label, Fiona Whelan Prine.
If these nominees are approved, they will advise agency policies and programs — and review and make recommendations on applications for grants, funding guidelines, and leadership initiatives.