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Drexel wins Knight Foundation-NEA grant

October 12, 2011

As arts and culture coverage at many newspapers continues to dwindle, Drexel University’s Pennoni Honors College will begin an innovative partnership with the Philadelphia Daily News to expand local arts exposure for the newspaper, backed by funding from a $20,000 grant.

Drexel was the recipient of one of five Community Arts Journalism Challenge grants intended to bolster arts journalism nationwide, from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The grant recipients were announced on Monday, October 10, at The Grantmakers in the Arts Conference in San Francisco. The five projects will receive up to $20,000 apiece to carry out their plans. Locally, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance will administer the grant.

The Knight Foundation and NEA challenged individuals and organizations to come up with ideas for the development of new, sustainable models for arts journalism. Two hundred and thirty-three individuals and organizations in eight pilot communities submitted their solutions to preserve and promote arts journalism. From the 233 applications, five finalists and six honorable mentions were selected. In addition to Philadelphia, the other pilot cities are: Akron, Ohio; Detroit, Mich.; Macon, Ga.; Charlotte, N.C.; Miami, Fla.; San Jose, Calif.; and St. Paul, Minn.

Beginning in late October, Drexel University faculty, students and other contributors from the university's respected online arts and culture journals, The Smart Set and Drexel’s Cultural Passport, will regularly produce articles and feature-length arts coverage for the Philadelphia Daily News. The newspaper has agreed to expand its pages to accommodate the additional coverage. will also use the material.
The project will be spearheaded by Jason Wilson, a regular contributor to the Philadelphia Daily News and editor of Drexel’s The Smart Set and Cultural Passport.

“This is an amazing opportunity for Drexel to help improve awareness of the arts in our city at a time when the ailing newspaper industry is making so many cuts to this type of coverage,” said Wilson. “It dovetails nicely with what we do here with The Smart Set and Cultural Passport, as well as with Drexel’s ongoing strategic efforts of building innovative community partnerships. Over the long term, the project will train emerging arts writers, providing the city with a larger pool of professional arts journalists.”

At the end of November, the groups will present more comprehensive proposals to the Knight Foundation and NEA. Up to three of the projects will receive up to $80,000 each to put their extended plans into action. Winners will be announced in April 2012.

For more information on the grant, visit:

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