The Art Attack, Granted

Daily News Last October, Drexel University’s proposal to provide community arts coverage in conjunction with the Philadelphia Daily News won one of eight $20,000 grants from the Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge. Thus, the Art Attack was born — a section of the Daily News written by Drexel students, staff, and faculty, as well as journalists associated with the University. And this April, there was more good news —Drexel’s program was one of three Community Arts Journalism Challenge programs to win an additional $80,000 in funding.

Journalist Jason Wilson – a Drexel professor, editor of Honors College-funded publication The Smart Set, and columnist for the Daily News — conceived of the program, and he is currently running it.

“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, as well as with Drexel’s ongoing strategic efforts of building innovative community partnerships.”

Art Attack will continue to provide coverage for the Daily News, and the University will begin offering courses in arts journalism as well as opportunities for students to study with critics-in-residence. Creating a new generation of arts journalists is one of the goals of the program — and it’s already having great results. Senior Mary Sydnor was one of the first students to write for Art Attack, and she speaks glowingly about the experience. “I am developing a ‘beat’ for myself, because I primarily write about classical and world music," she says. "This has helped me to build a much stronger, more defined portfolio and I'm now thinking about going to grad school for music.”

The program also has potential to make a difference beyond Philadelphia. The Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge chose Art Attack and the two other programs for additional funding in hopes that they can serve as models for combining community resources and arts journalism in other cities.

Readers can find Art Attack articles regularly in the Daily News and on Philly.com. For more information about the other grant winners, visit the Community Arts Journalism Challenge website.