New NEA Director of Literature is Ira Silverberg
This is just fantastic news all around. I really like Ira, and I think he’ll be great for the NEA. Well done.
Washington, DC—The National Endowment for the Arts welcomes Ira Silverberg as its new director of literature on December 5, 2011. Silverberg brings 26 years of experience in book publishing and literary professions to the NEA. He has been a literary agent, editor, director of his own public relations firm, and a frequent guest speaker and panelist at literary events and organizations.
“I’m delighted to welcome Ira Silverberg to the National Endowment for the Arts,” said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman. “Ira brings a wealth and variety of expertise that will be of great value to the agency. The NEA’s already robust literary portfolio will benefit further from Ira’s skills and connections to both the national and international literary communities.”
As the director of literature, Silverberg will be responsible for managing a staff of four, assembling the application review panels that recommend NEA grants to organizations as well as fellowships to individual creative writers and translators. He will manage the grantmaking process with recipients including small presses, literary magazines, and national literary centers as well as oversee NEA initiatives such as The Big Read.
“I’m excited to take my experience in the private sector of publishing to serve the not-for-profit sector,” said Silverberg. “As the digitization of the book industry creates a new publishing ecosystem, we want grantees to be strong and ready for the challenge of this brave new world. It’s an exciting time in the literature field and I look forward to leading the charge at NEA’s Literature Office.”
Most recently Silverberg was a literary agent and director of foreign rights with Sterling Lord Literistic (SLL) in New York City. As an agent with SLL since January 2008, he managed a client list of award-winning fiction and nonfiction authors including Adam Haslett and Wayne Koestenbaum, placing works with U.S. and foreign publishers, executing contracts, and implementing digital strategies for new and backlist books. As director of foreign rights, he represented SLL’s full list to the foreign market, creating all marketing materials and digital strategies and negotiating contracts.
From September 1998 to December 2008, Silverberg was with Donadio and Olsen also as a literary agent and director of foreign rights. Previous to Donadio and Olsen, he served as editor-in-chief with Grove Press, and U.S. publisher and co-editorial director for Serpent’s Tail, a British publishing company that he brought to the U.S.
Silverberg’s experience in public relations spans 11 years, including five years as director of public relations for Grove Press and Grove/Weidenfeld, and more than six years leading his own public relations firm Ira Silverberg Communications.
Silverberg has served on the boards of PEN American Center, the Portable Lower East Side, The Gregory Kolovakos Award for AIDS Writing, and the Accompanied Literary Society. He has also been a panelist with the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, the Wallace Fund, and the Mellon Foundation.
Silverberg replaces Jon Parrish Peede who left the agency in September 2011 to pursue his own writing.