March 13, 2005

ORGANISATION | NEA Arts Journalism Institutes

An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, USA, established in 2004. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced it will establish three NEA Arts Journalism Institutes that will focus on improving arts criticism in classical music, opera, theater and dance. The institutes will be designed for journalists who cover the arts for print and broadcast outlets located outside the country's largest media markets, where professional development opportunities are limited. Institutes for dance critics will be hosted by the American Dance Festival at Duke University; for classical music and opera critics at Columbia University; and theater critics at the University of Southern California.

"The vitality of the arts depends more than most people think on lively and informed criticism, especially local reviews and coverage from their own communities. Outside our major cities, journalists who cover the arts often are over extended with multiple beats and assignments that allow few opportunities to concentrate on various artistic disciplines," said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia.

The NEA is providing $1 million for the first two years of the program. Beginning in the summer of 2004, each site will host a two- or three-week institute each year for up to 30 attendees. All of the participants' expenses will be covered including travel, room, board, materials, instruction, and admittance to performances.

The NEA Arts Journalism Institutes will establish the importance of arts journalism through lectures and seminars with leaders in higher education, the arts, and journalism. Participants will acquire basic working knowledge of the relevant art form through pre-institute reading lists; introductory lectures covering basic vocabulary, historical roots, and contemporary trends; and by attending performances. The attendees will work with senior journalists and faculty members to improve their viewing, analytical, and writing skills.

In addition, participants will attend performances that cover a wide variety of genres and styles, as well as rehearsals and behind-the-scenes meetings with artists and administrators. Finally, the journalists will develop a firsthand understanding of artistic creation through a physical learning component, such as a basic lesson on a musical instrument, memorization of a monologue, or a lesson in physical movement.

"Through the NEA Arts Journalism Institutes we'll bring working journalists to great performances, writing workshops led by experienced critics, and even participatory classes to give them hands-on artistic experiences," said Gioia. "We believe these exciting and intensive workshops will enhance and increase local arts coverage across the United States."