John Frohnmayer, Former Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts under the first Bush administration, has joined the Eugene International Film Festival Advisory Board. His tough-minded support of the First Amendment captured national attention when he fought against the meanest partisan forces in Washington and exited with his integrity intact.
“Leaving Town Alive” by John Frohnmayer tells the story of his life under attack by the religious right and party politics. The relentless controversy forced him to resign. But the experience did not dull his love for the arts and the First Amendment.
His Presidential appointment as Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. His leadership of the NEA led to a coalition of over 50 national organizations as diverse as the AFL-CIO, the National Association of Nurses and the US Conference of Mayors to urge Congress to save the NEA from funding cuts and ultimately its demise. He was successful against astronomical odds.
Mr. Frohnmayer ran for the U.S. Senate in 2007-2008 as an independent, received the (Oregon) Governor’s Arts Award in 1993, the Intellectual Freedom Award in 1997, is the author of the stage play “SPIN” (a comedy about his time in Washington) and received the Eugene International Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009. Mr. Frohnmayer is a lawyer, author, ethicist, radio commentator and competitive rower (Canadian National Champion in two events, 2007).
Highlighting his experiences at the 2009 Eugene International Film Festival in an NPR commentary he confirmed the buzz among attending filmmakers and distributors that it is one of the best, most creative film festivals in the country. His enthusiasm for the festival, the filmmakers and attending distributors led him to join the Advisory Board.