National Endowment for the Arts and Knight Foundation Announce Charlotte, NC; Detroit, MI; and Philadelphia, PA as Winners of Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge

NEA and Knight also announce ongoing funding opportunities for arts journalism projects moving forward

To keep pace with the 21st-century news cycle, traditional journalism has had to rapidly evolve in order to stay relevant. In the days of cultural blogs and Tweet seats, arts journalism is no exception. Three new models designed to strengthen local arts coverage will soon launch with funding through the Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge, which sought innovative ideas for informing and engaging people in the arts.

The National Endowment for the Arts and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which believe that the arts and arts journalism are essential to thriving communities, announced the challenge winners today at a virtual press conference. The winners, who emerged from 233 applications in eight communities, will each receive up to $80,000 to launch their ideas.

"To succeed, art requires informed and engaged audiences, and those audiences require news, criticism, and information on a regular basis. Both the arts and arts journalism are key to building vibrant and creative communities," said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman. "I'm excited about these three projects because they are smart solutions that will make a difference in their communities and beyond."

"The digital age has brought great changes -- and opportunities -- to rethink models for cultural coverage that are enlightening, engaging, and sustainable. These three communities have embraced the challenge to engage communities in the arts in interesting ways," said Dennis Scholl, vice president for arts at Knight Foundation.

Art Attack  Philadelphia, PA

Art Attack will increase arts coverage in the Philadelphia Daily News by publishing coverage produced by staff, students, faculty, and journalists affiliated with Drexel University. The university already publishes high-quality reports through two websites: Cultural Passport and The Smart Set. Art Attack will emphasize quality, critical writing, and "think pieces," giving readers a better understanding of the arts in the city. In addition, courses in arts journalism will be offered at Drexel University by critics-in-residence throughout the academic year.

Charlotte Arts Journalism Alliance  Charlotte, NC

The Charlotte Arts Journalism Alliance (CAJA) is a collaboration with the University of North Carolina and five major media players: the daily newspaperThe Charlotte Observer; commercial station WCNC-TV; public radio station WFAE; African-American interest website QcityMetro; and online civic and cultural magazine Charlotte Viewpoint. Within its first year, CAJA will provide specialized training for aspiring citizen journalists under the guidance of the university, and develop an app that will highlight CAJA's work and solicit reader interaction. By commissioning trained arts journalists to produce compelling stories to be shared among the partners, the project will improve the quality and quantity of local arts journalism and highlight the city's cultural diversity

CriticCar Detroit 
Detroit, MI

CriticCar Detroit is a mobile recording system that will criss-cross the city, offering event-goers the opportunity to record video reviews as they exit performances and exhibitions. Those interviews will later be broadcast on a variety of web channels accessible via smartphones and computers. The critiques generated through CriticCar will not only create buzz about cultural events, but will document in words and images the diversity of Detroit's cultural life and audiences, and help connect residents and visitors to local arts organizations. Jennifer Conlin, a long-time contributor to the New York Times, and Dan Shaw, former New York Times reporter and co-founder of the online cultural magazine, lead the project.

More information is available at

Applications to the Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge were accepted in August 2011 from eight communities where Knight Foundation invests: the three communities previously mentioned as well as Akron, Ohio, Macon, Georgia, Miami, Florida, San Jose/Silicon Valley, California, and St. Paul, Minnesota. Five finalists announced in October 2011 received $20,000 to create an Idea to Action plan detailing their business development strategy. The three winners' plans held the greatest promise for delivering a sustainable arts journalism model that both uses community assets and can be adapted in other cities.

Continued Support for Arts Journalism

Because of the success of the challenge, both the NEA and Knight Foundation plan to continue funding arts journalism projects, both groups announced.

The NEA will fold funding for arts journalism projects into its regular grantmaking through the Local Arts Agencies portfolio. Beginning with the next Art Works deadline of August 8, 2012, the NEA will encourage local arts agencies to submit applications to develop new ways to create and deliver arts news. The proposed projects should represent partnerships that can include the media, academia, and arts organizations. Innovation is a key component for these projects. NEA guidelines are here.

Given that local arts agencies maintain both deep connections to the people and institutions in their cities as well as with other local arts agencies across the country, they are the ideal leaders for arts journalism projects. In addition, local arts agencies played an important role in managing the first phase of the Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge.

Knight Foundation will provide matching funds to arts journalism projects from any of the eight communities originally included in the challenge.

Earlier Press Releases

Challenge Seeks New Models for Arts JournalismKnight Foundation and NEA offer up to $100,000 for projects in eight-city Community Arts Journalism Challenge(July 2012)

New Models for Arts Journalism Receive FundingWinners of the Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge will participate in live webcast discussion today (October 2012)

About the National Endowment for the Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities, and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit


Andrew Sherry
Knight Foundation

Victoria Hutter