Rocco Landesman has received numerous Tony awards as a Broadway producer and recently completed a three year term as Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts. He considered it a great honor to return to his home town for recognition on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.
“There’s nothing like it,” he told Cityscape host Steve Potter an hour before his induction ceremony on June 11. “I don’t know that there is a better city. [St. Louis] has great beauty, beautiful architecture, great baseball, of course, (and) great food. It was a wonderful place to grow up and I cherish my friends and all my connections here.”
Landesman is also quick point out to his East Coast friends the merits of St. Louis' world class arts organizations such as the St. Louis Symphony, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and the Repertory Theatre of Saint Louis.
Growing up in St. Louis provided Landesman with a good foundation for his life’s work in theater and arts. His family built the Crystal Palace cabaret which was the anchor of Gaslight Square in the early 1960’s. As a youngster, he rubbed elbows with the likes of Nichols and May, Lenny Bruce, the Smothers Brothers and Barbra Streisand.
After leading the NEA for three years, Landesman expressed his optimism on the state of the arts.
“I think now, largely because of what we’ve done at the NEA, that there’s a perception between the arts and the revitalization of communities and neighborhoods and the economy, that the arts are an economic driver," Landesman said. "And I think when people talk about rehabilitating cities, revitalizing them, bringing them back, that the arts now have a central role in that. You look at the public sculpture garden downtown here and you see many examples of how the arts are revitalizing communities.”