Finalists announced in challenge to find new models of local arts coverage and criticism

arts / Article

This summer, 233 ideas for new models of local arts coverage and criticism were submitted as part of the first-ever Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge. The challenge focused on the eight communities where Knight Foundation invests.

Today, Knight Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts announced the five finalists who will have the opportunity to create an Idea to Action plan for their idea to inform and engage audiences in the arts.

You can watch the announcement live at 1 p.m. EDT/10 a.m. via a live webcast, straight from the Grantmakers in the Arts conference in San Francisco. Follow @knightfdn on Twitter for updates during the session on Monday and join the conversation using the hashtag #artsjourn. Several themes run through the finalist’s projects, including partnerships between traditional and new media and ways to foster greater participation from cultural art lovers. The winning ideas are: Charlotte, N.C. - Developing the Next Generation of Citizen Arts Journalists Winner: The Charlotte Observer, Editor, Rick Thames Major media outlets and the University of North Carolina/Charlotte will create the Charlotte Arts News Alliance, a collective of citizen arts journalists who will publish across media platforms. These aspiring arts journalists – from high school students to adults – will receive training at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the arts and in journalism. The media partners (others may join as the project progresses) will act as directors of the collective and help train the new writers in weekend seminars and semester-long courses.   Once the new journalists have been prepared, they will be paid on a freelance basis by the Alliance. Every piece produced will be shared with the other media partners of the Alliance and on a new app that will also include interactive features. Several of the media partners already have initiatives underway to enhance the quantity of arts coverage. The Charlotte Observer is in the planning stages of a new, weekly Arts Alive spread and interactive web page. UNC-Charlotte is interested in creating a new course focused exclusively on arts journalism. Detroit, Mich. - Empowering the People’s Voice in Arts Criticism Winners: Jennifer Conlin and Dan Shaw iCritic Detroit will create a mobile video booth where audience members can record their video reviews of cultural events. Those reviews will be posted on local websites and shared on social media channels. Attending the performances of both established and emerging groups, iCritic Detroit will crisscross the city and weave together diverse geographic and ethnographic communities, creating a video tapestry of the city’s cultural life. iCritic Detroit also will provide a much-needed platform for residents to talk about the vibrant art scene growing in their city. Instructions will be given to iCritic users to aide them in presenting an informative and interesting video and their reviews will be curated by iCritic Detroit. Visitors to the iCritic Detroit web site will be able to follow their favorite citizen reviewers. An app will allow users to track where the iCritic Detroit is located on any given night. Early reviews will be solicited from local celebrities to generate interest. A high school competition for the most popular high school reviews and a Reviewer’s Slam at the end of the first year will further promote the project.   Miami, Fla. - Engaging the Public in Creating and Supporting Local Arts Journalism Winner: Creative ED. Inc. ArtSpotMiami will be an online arts journalism marketplace where citizen journalists pitch news stories about the local arts scene to the public and the public pays for the ideas they like to be produced. ArtSpotMiami will use the software created by the Knight-funded site SPOT.US – a crowd-funded news site for citizens, professional journalists, and news publishers – to create the site’s platform. Once the financial goal for a story idea is reached, the citizen journalist will team up with local news organizations such as WLRN and The Miami Herald to produce the story. Academic institutions including the University of Miami’s Motion Picture Program at the School of Communication and mentoring programs such as those provided by Creative ED., will provide digital media training to the new journalists. In addition to media training, the citizen journalist will be paired with a member of the media to learn how to produce for major market audiences. ArtSpotMiami will add to the SPOT.US design with interactive mapping that allows readers to select the stories they support based on selected criteria such as theme, medium and location. By leveraging available technologies for mobile devices, ArtSpot can combine storytelling with locator tools to expand the audience and enhance its experience. ArtSpot will streamline the production process and reduce costs for the journalist through information aggregators and APIs.   Philadelphia, Penn. - Combining Forces to Increase Cultural Coverage Winner: Jason Wilson, contributor, Philadelphia Daily News Drexel University faculty, students and other contributors from the university's respected online arts and culture journals will produce stories for the Philadelphia Daily News. The paper has agreed to expand its pages to accommodate the additional coverage. Philly.com will also use the material. Widening the pool of writers will enable the Daily News to pull from different expertise and voices, expanding the ways in which the arts are covered. Over the long term, the project will train emerging arts writers, providing the city with a larger pool of professional arts journalists. San Jose, Calif. Engaging Patrons in the Local Arts Scene Winner: The Bay Citizen The Silicon Valley Arts Technica is a three-part endeavor lead by The Bay Citizen that features a mapping component that visually highlights arts events, a mobile app that will allow people to add reviews, images, and comments, and a series of investigative reports probing the divide in arts funding between San Francisco and Silicon Valley. The mapping initiative will aim to address one of the biggest challenges facing the arts in Silicon Valley/ San Jose: the lack of a flourishing culture district. The Bay Citizen will work with Civic Center to develop maps that by highlighting arts events and venues throughout the city will indicate what areas have potential as arts hubs. In conjunction with mapping existing cultural assets, Civic Center will solicit feedback from San Jose residents about what kinds of art projects and venues they’d like to see in their region.   The Bay Citizen will work with Code for America to create the app that will build on the map by enabling crowdsourcing to add reviews, comments and images to the events and institutions already highlighted. Also, some of the places included in the feature story series will be integrated into the map to further enrich understanding of San Jose’s arts landscape and its future potential. Finalists will work with a consultant to develop their Idea to Action plans. They will also be eligible for up to $80,000 to implement their projects. In addition to the five finalists announced, six Honorable Mentions were also awarded for projects based in Akron, Macon, St. Paul and San Jose. For more about the challenge, visit artsjournalism.org.

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communities / Article