Art Works Blog

Drexel U + Philadelphia Daily News = Art Attack

Image courtesy of Pixeltown

In part two of our series catching up with the finalists of the Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge, we're heading to the City of Brotherly Love where Art Attack is mentoring the next generation of arts journalists while broadening the scope of the city's arts reporting. Under the Art Attack umbrella, a partnership between Drexel University’s Center for Cultural Outreach in the Pennoni Honors College and the Philadelphia Daily News, reviews and features produced by students and journalists affiliated with the university appear each Friday in the features section of the Daily News.

Drexel already publishes high-quality reports through two websites: Cultural Passport and The Smart Set. But the goal of Art Attack is to generate not only reviews and features but also more critical writing and “think pieces,” providing newspaper readers with a richer context from which to understand and experience the arts in the city.

Jason Wilson, project director of Art Attack and director of the Center for Cultural Outreach, acknowledged that placing more substantive art pieces can be challenging. “Arts coverage is impacted not only by budget constraints, but also by editorial vision for what arts coverage can be.”

Wilson remembered listening to NEA acting chairman Joan Shigekawa at the Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge press conference in October 2011 when five semi-finalists were announced. At that event, Shigekawa delineated four different types of coverage, noting that critical analysis and in-depth profiles were the two types she felt were missing the most from arts coverage.

“I really took that to heart,” said Wilson. “That's what we're pushing for with this project.” He added, “There is a cultural shift within city newspapers that we’re interested in furthering. Our job then becomes finding the writers that best match that editorial vision.”

Wilson has been impressed with the ability of the Drexel students to do professional grade work. “It takes a while sometimes but we do find young writers who really deliver. We have plenty of students contributing 500-800 word pieces, profiles, features.”

Beginning mid-February Art Attack will have its own web page at A very pleased Wilson is looking forward to being able to include in-depth pieces about the arts in Philadelphia on the website. "We're going to try this and I'm confident it will be successful."

Want to know more about NEA support for arts journalism projects? Join us for an Art Works guidelines webinar with Local Arts Agencies Director Michael Killoren on Tuesday, January 29 at 4:00 pm ET. Can't make the webinar? Not to worry, we'll post an archived version soon after the event!


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