National Endowment for the Arts to Establish Arts Journalism Institutes
Three Sites Will Provide Professional Development for Arts Writers
June 1, 2004
Washington, D.C. - The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) today 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."
American Dance Festival
The American Dance Festival at Duke University will host the NEA Arts Journalism Institute focusing on dance. Revived last year with NEA support after a decade-long hiatus, the new program is in its second year and provides the model for the other institutes. This year's session will be held June 18 to July 13 and the participants have already been selected. Application materials for next year's institute will be available in early 2005 at www.americandancefestival.org.
"We consider this Institute to be the most important of activities in communicating the value of dance to the greater community. After all, it is not easy to verbalize what is generally a nonverbal art form," said Charles L. Reinhart, ADF's Director.
While attending the three-week intensive residency, journalists will attend performances, classes, seminars, and panel discussions focusing on the history of dance and dance criticism, as well as the function and responsibility of the dance critic today. They will participate in movement sessions to heighten their awareness and sharpen their observatory skills; and will gain practical knowledge and hone skills by writing reviews and participating in analytical discussions. Performances at this year's institute will include Paul Taylor Dance Company, Shen Wei Dance Arts, and the Russian Festival: Provincial Dances Theatre & Kinetic, and others.
Dance critic and historian Suzanne Carbonneau, the project director, will plan and implement the workshop with the ADF Directors. ADF faculty, visiting choreographers, scholars, teachers and other distinguished guests will lead discussions and seminars, giving the critics a breadth of experience and information throughout the residency. In addition, established dance critics will serve as faculty, offering sessions focusing on dance, past and present.
"The institute provides an antidote to the isolation in which most dance critics find themselves working," according to Carbonneau. "It not only gives critics the opportunity to exchange ideas about dance writing but also, by virtue of its setting at the American Dance Festival, to take a crash course in the contemporary dance world itself." The ADF was established in 1934 in Bennington, Vt., with founding artists Martha Graham, Hanya Holm, Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman and led by Director Martha Hill. Currently under the leadership of Director Charles L. Reinhart and Associate Director Jodee Nimerichter, ADF has a worldwide reputation for discovering, commissioning and bringing deserved recognition to many of modern dance's finest talents. The site of more than 550 premieres, many of them landmark dances commissioned by the Festival, ADF plays a vital role in nurturing young talent.
At Columbia University, the NEA Arts Journalism Institute will concentrate on classical music and opera criticism, and will be managed under the auspices of the National Arts Journalism Program (NAJP), based at the Graduate School of Journalism. The institute will take place October 18 to 28, 2004, immediately following a symposium on the present state and future of classical music criticism, which the NAJP is hosting at Columbia with the Music Critics Association of North America. Additional information and application details are available at www.najp.org. The deadline for applications is August 13.
Participants will take part in morning classroom sessions on the history, concepts and current practices in classical music and opera, as well as classical music journalism. Afternoon sessions will bring them into contact with leading practitioners in the field - performing artists, composers, arts managers and others. Evenings will include visits to performances at New York's main classical music and opera presenting venues. The curriculum for the institute includes hands-on sessions conducted by experts on classical music reviewing and the basics of musical performance. The nationally renowned consultants and instructors of the seminar will include - in addition to professors drawn from the ranks of Columbia's faculty - classical music critic and historian Joe Horowitz, New York Times senior cultural correspondent John Rockwell, Pulitzer prize-winning Newsday critic Justin Davidson, and classical music radio producer Anya Grundmann. Horowitz and Grundmann are alumni fellows of the NAJP.
"We are grateful to the National Endowment for the Arts for giving the Columbia Journalism School the opportunity to deepen its service to the Profession," said Nicholas Lemann, Dean of the Columbia School of Journalism. "The program the NEA's grant makes possible will provide journalists from all over the country with a wonderful means of learning more about classical music and opera, and over time it should have a demonstrable positive effect on American journalism in that area."
The National Arts Journalism Program is a 10-year-old fellowship program and research center dedicated to the improvement of arts journalism, based at Columbia University since 1997. The program's national network of past and present fellows includes 126 professional arts journalists - critics, reporters and editors - in 29 states. Next fall, in addition to organizing the NEA Arts Journalism Institute for classical music and opera writers, the program will release a national report on the state of arts coverage in the U.S. news media, titled Reporting the Arts II, and will host a convention of classical music critics, among other planned public events.
"We're thrilled to host such a diverse group of classical-music writers in New York City, where they will have access to some of the finest musicians, thinkers and presenting organizations in the world," said Andras Szanto of the National Arts Journalism Program, who will direct the institute at Columbia. "Knowledgeable critics and reporters are essential to the long-term vitality of classical music and opera. The participating critics will benefit from the unsurpassed artistic, intellectual and professional resources of Columbia University, the Graduate School of Journalism, and the National Arts Journalism Program."
University of Southern California
Theater criticism will be the focus of the NEA Arts Journalism Institute at the University of Southern California's (USC) Annenberg School for Communication. The institute is expected to be held February 21 to March 4, 2005. The application deadline is October 25, 2004. More information and application details are available at http://annenberg.usc.edu.
"First-rate arts criticism helps strengthen cultural institutions and the communities they serve," said Geoffrey Cowan, dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and an award-winning playwright. "NEA's support of this unique program will make it possible for the USC Annenberg School to enrich the perspective that critics in every part of the country bring to their coverage of classical and modern theater."
A rigorous schedule of interactive instruction will be integrated in
four modules. The Theater Arts segment will include journalism training
and formal instruction in the basic elements of dramatic production, including
the history of theater; hands-on experience in writing, directing, acting,
set design, lighting and costume design; and analytical readings of reviews
by influential theater critics. This section will also provide insight
into theater policy and business practices, including public relations,
budgeting and marketing. The Journalism Skills module will provide instruction
in the basic skills required to produce thoughtful, intelligent theater
reviews, including research, critical writing, interviewing and narrative
writing. This will be combined with professional critiques of reviews
written by participants during the institute. In the Expert Dialogue portion,
participants will take part in informal discussions with leading professionals
and faculty members. A Performance module will include "behind-the-scenes"
experience of theater productions, including backstage observation, rehearsal
attendance and interviews with key members of the theatrical companies.
Participants will attend productions of plays, sometimes seeing the same
one more than once, and write a review on deadline that will be critiqued
by leading professionals from the Los Angeles print and broadcast media.
These modules will be built as case studies of works in production in Southern California, providing participants with the unique opportunity to explore theater and journalism principles and skills with leading professionals and faculty.
"Theater helps define American cultural life," says Michael Parks, director of USC Annenberg's School of Journalism and former editor of the Los Angeles Times. "Better informed and trained theater critics will offer audiences beyond our largest urban centers more exciting choices for cultural participation and appreciation."
Among the guest faculty for the program will be Robert Brustein, Founding Director & Creative Consultant of American Repertory Theater; Gordon Davidson, artistic director of Center Theatre Group; Thomas Leabhart, Resident Artist and Professor of Theatre at Pomona College; Madeline Puzo, dean, USC School of Theatre; Steven Leigh Morris, theater editor of the LA Weekly, and Jack Viertel, former chief theater critic for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and currently creative director of Jujamcyn Theaters.
Located in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California, the USC Annenberg School for Communication (www.annenberg.usc.edu) is among the nation's leading institutions devoted to the study of arts journalism and criticism. Its programs include the USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Program and the Western Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. In addition to its programs for working journalists, USC Annenberg enrolls more than 1,500 graduate and undergraduate students earning B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in journalism, communication, and public relations.
For more information about the NEA Arts Journalism Institutes or the National Endowment for the Arts, contact the NEA Office of Communications at 202-682-5570.
Return to News Index
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency