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Drexel's Art Attack Partnership Wins NEA/Knight Foundation Grant

April 20, 2012

Art Attack, the innovative partnership between Drexel University’s new Center for Cultural Outreach in the Pennoni Honors College and the Philadelphia Daily News to expand local arts exposure for the newspaper, is among three new models to receive up to $80,000 in funding through the Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge, which seeks 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 announced the challenge winners on April 19 at a virtual press conference. The winners emerged from 233 applications in eight communities. In addition to Art Attack, the other winners were the Charlotte Arts Journalism Alliance in Charlotte, N.C.; and CriticCar Detroit of Detroit, Mich.

“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 will increase arts coverage in the Philadelphia Daily News by publishing coverage produced by staff, students, faculty and journalists affiliated with Drexel University. The Center for Cultural Outreach already publishes high-quality reporting 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 by critics-in-residence throughout the academic year.

Art Attack is spearheaded by Jason Wilson, a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, director of the Center for Cultural Outreach, 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.”

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, Ga.; Miami, Fla.; San Jose/Silicon Valley, Calif.; and St. Paul, Minn. 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. More information is available at

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

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