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Challenge Seeks New Models for Arts Journalism

Knight Foundation and NEA offer up to $100,000 for projects in eight-city Community Arts Journalism Challenge

Washington, DC - Knight Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) today are launching an eight-city  competition seeking new models for local arts journalism in the digital age. The initiative seeks to rethink how traditional media systems function, harnessing the latest tools and technology to make the transition to the new information environment.

Just as cultural institutions are pursuing new ways to engage audiences, information portals are also seeking innovative methods to cover, inspire, and engage communities through the arts and to provide platforms for high quality cultural criticism and coverage. 

Winners of the Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge will use the latest tools for storytelling and engaging readers to create model programs that could be replicated in other communities.

“Arts journalism is essential to the kind of vibrant communities we all want to live in,” said Dennis Scholl, vice president/arts for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. “With the changing media landscape, we have a real opportunity here to find new, engaging, and sustainable models.”

NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman said, “The challenges facing arts journalism are well known.  However, no clear solutions have yet emerged to sustain locally relevant coverage.  We are counting on the bold and innovative thinking in these eight communities to begin showing a path forward.”

Applications are being accepted for projects in the following cities: Akron, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Macon, Georgia; Charlotte, North Carolina; Miami, Florida; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; San Jose/ Silicon Valley, California; and St. Paul, Minnesota. Although the applicant may be from outside these eight cities, the proposed project must benefit at least one of these communities directly.

Up to $100,000 is available per project: first round winners will receive up to $20,000 to create an “action plan” for developing their idea, and will be eligible for up to $80,000 in the contest’s second round to implement it.

Individuals, not-for-profits, and businesses are eligible to apply. Partnerships between legacy and emerging media organizations are encouraged. There is no limit to the number of applications an organization can submit.

“No idea is too unusual,” Scholl said. “Embedding a nonprofit reporter in a for-profit news organization? Creating a new collective to share professional work? Asking the community to decide which arts stories are best and put up the money to cover those? Have better ideas that never would have occurred to us on our own?  Fill out the application form, and send them in. The best ideas may well be the ones that stretch our thinking.”

For application materials and more information, visit  The application deadline is Thursday, August 18, 2011.

Knight and NEA staff will answer questions about the challenge during a live, online chat at 2 p.m. July 27th at No registration is required, though you can go to to sign up for a reminder.

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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. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit

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


Marc Fest
Knight Foundation

Victoria Hutter


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