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News Print

News - November 2009

November 30, 2009 - Various:

Winning Arts Journalism Projects Announced for A National Summit on Arts

November 2, 2009, Los Angeles, CA: The USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism and the National Arts Journalism Program are pleased to announce the results of voting for projects entered in the National Summit on Arts Journalism, held October 2 at the Annenberg School Auditorium on the University of Southern California campus in Los Angeles.
First Prize of $7,500 goes to Glasstire of Texas. Second Prize of $5,000 goes to FLYP Media of New York City. Third Prize of $2,500 goes to San Francisco Classical Voice. Additionally, all three projects, along with finalists Departures (a project of KCET in Los Angeles) and Flavorpill, previously were awarded $2,000 each for being chosen finalists for the National Arts Journalism Program.
Voters are members of the National Arts Journalism Program and alumni of the National Endowment for the Arts' Arts Journalism Institutes.
"Each of the projects presented at the Summit represents an aspect of the changing nature of arts journalism," said Summit co-director Sasha Anawalt. "These are challenging times for journalism, but the creativity and level of commitment to reinventing the ways that the arts are covered is inspiring."
"We began with the basic premise that good journalism will continue," said Summit co-director Douglas McLennan. "Great work is being done in many places. Our hope here was to explore some of the issues facing journalism and highlight some of the creative ways in which people are trying to address them. I think that the range of projects and ideas testifies to this."
Ten innovative models of the next generation of arts journalism were presented at the Summit. Five of the projects, chosen from among 109 submissions in response to an open call earlier this summer competed for a total of $15,000 in prize money, courtesy of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The five other "demonstration" projects were not included in the competition; they offered ideas both from inside and outside arts journalism that touch on finding new models to support arts journalism.
Primarily a virtual event, the Summit was streamed live from Annenberg Auditorium in front of a live audience, and thousands of viewers from around the world watched and participated via text chat and Twitter. All ten presentations are archived and available on the Summit website: www.najp.org/summit. Videos from the Summit have been viewed more than 10,000 times so far.
Brief Background on the Summit:
The Summit was conceived as a virtual public event with the goal of reaching the widest possible audience of those who care about arts journalism. In addition to co-directors Anawalt and McLennan, the National Summit on Arts Journalism was executive-produced by Jackie Kain.
About the National Arts Journalism Program:
Since 1994, the National Arts Journalism Program (NAJP) has sought to advance arts and cultural news coverage. The NAJP is a membership organization that works to: advocate for arts reporting and criticism, improve the quality and increase the quantity of arts journalism, inform the public and the media industry of standards of excellence in arts journalism, support and mentor arts journalists, provide a network for arts journalists in all disciplines and help develop standards and viable economic models for arts journalism in emerging digital media.
About the NEA Arts Journalism Institutes:
The NEA Arts Journalism Institutes are a series of intensive, introductory professional training programs for journalists who cover dance, theater and musical theater, classical music and opera, and visual art. To date, more than 250 journalists from all 50 states - representing print and
broadcast organizations, as well as independent writers - have participated in the program, which has received universal acclaim from participants, faculty and arts organizations.
(Press release provided by the NAJP.)

NEA Arts Journalism Institute on Music & Opera an Eye-Opener

Arts journalism is in crisis. This was the take-away message I gleaned from the 10-day Arts Journalism Institute on Music and Opera, recently held at Columbia University. In its sixth year, the NEA-sponsored Institute works with 24 fellows to explore issues in the field in dialogue with leading music critics, scholars, performers, and directors of music venues. Not only has the weakened economy wreaked its havoc with budgets, resulting in the downsizing of media personnel, but the “message” itself is also in search of a more compelling mode of delivery. Print media now seems quaintly passé, as readers gravitate toward the web for more interactive modes of discourse, especially the blog. Arts journalism as we know it is changing before our very eyes, and people are scrambling to adapt.
This was made poignantly clear when we toured The New York Times. As we got off the elevator on the fourth floor, I noted the eerie quiet, as though the personnel had left early on a Friday. Our tour guide, James Oestreich (Editor of classical music and dance) led our group toward the newsroom for a glimpse and overheard with us the announcements that more layoffs and buyouts were in store. A decidedly dejected Dan Wakin, an arts reporter for the Times, joined our retreat to a conference room to discuss the future of our field. Of course, the results of such downsizing are deeply demoralizing for everyone. With more and more full-time positions eliminated, media are relying on part-time stringers to supply content, people who must cobble together a patchwork quilt of jobs, often without benefits, to survive. The few full-time people left on staff face a crushing workload and the void of missed colleagues and friends — the weariness on the faces of Oestreich and Wakin said it all.
Another issue raised at the Institute was the changing nature of the concert experience itself. Joseph Horowitz, a scholar of the history of classical music in America and Artistic Director of the Institute, led some lively discussions on the topic of concert programming. Using Dvorák’s "New World" Symphony as an example, he showed how the projection of period paintings during the second movement and the overlay of a melodrama culled from The Song of Hiawatha during the finale might enhance the performance. Another project juxtaposed performances of folk bands with related classical pieces. Pianist Jeremy Denk performed for us in a street-level storefront-type studio at radio station WNYC. Any interested passerby would have been treated to a serendipitous musical experience. Using Charles Ives’ first piano sonata as his model, Denk demonstrated snippets of the work, especially passages where two borrowed tunes were buried, before he performed the work. We also heard classical chamber music (a Mendelssohn piano trio and music for string quartet) at Le Poisson Rouge, a cabaret-style hot music venue in Greenwich Village. Unfortunately we missed out on “barge music,” the experience of hearing music while floating on a barge beneath the Brooklyn Bridge.
Anya Grundmann, Executive Producer of NPR Music (NPR's multi-genre online music discovery website) and NEA Institute co-director, showed us the exciting possibilities of music programming on the web. The NPR website generates not only more than 250 music features per month but also serves as a catalyst for discussion. This is a virtual candy store for lovers of music of every kind and news of the same. András Szántó, Institute co-director whose work spans the worlds of art, media, policy, and cultural affairs, kept us hopping with a stream of questions about the nature of culture and our access to it.
Our days were filled with lectures on music and opera by leading experts and explorations of some of the city’s classical music venues. We traveled to Carnegie Hall to meet its historian and, later, hear Murray Perahia in recital. We met George Steele (general manager and artistic director of the New York City Opera) and Peter Gelb (general manager of the Met) and toured the backstages of their opera houses. Three writing workshops gave us the opportunity to hone our writing skills with leading music critics. We discussed the voice of the writer, the dilemma of the use of professional jargon, and above all, the critic’s responsibility to the reader to report what happened in performance.
The “wow” factor of these interactions never let up in ten days. I would strongly encourage any critic interested in attending the Institute next October to apply. While the future of arts journalism may hang in the balance, as members of the arts community we have a stake in what the outcome will be.
Laura McDowell