Challenge Seeks New Models for Arts Journalism

Knight Foundation and NEA offer up to $100,000 for projects
Philadelphia among eight cities to participate in Challenge

Philadelphia (July 6, 2011) -- 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. Philadelphia is among the eight communities able to participate in the Challenge.

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.

“With the changing media landscape, we have a real opportunity here to find new, engaging and sustainable models,” said Dennis Scholl, vice president/arts for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The best ideas may well be the ones that stretch our thinking.”

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.”

Individuals, non-profits and commercial businesses are eligible to apply. Partnerships between traditional and emerging media organizations are encouraged. There is no limit to the number of applications an organization can submit. 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 Challenge’s second round to implement it. Although the applicant may be from outside Philadelphia, the proposed project must benefit Philadelphia directly.

“Being selected as one of the eight challenge cities is another vote of confidence in Philadelphia as a leader in both cultural innovation and journalism,” explains Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance President Tom Kaiden. “We are proud to be chosen, and I am confident that, as a city, we will rise to the Challenge, and come up with some breakthrough solutions”

“Philadelphia has a very rich cultural history and vibrant arts community. There are hundreds of arts events happening all over the city and throughout the metropolitan area each week. This challenge provides an opportunity to leverage the dialogue about the arts and connect everyone to what’s happening,” said Donna Frisby-Greenwood, Philadelphia program director for Knight Foundation.

“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.

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.

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 at

Media Contacts:
Marc Fest, Vice President of Communications, Knight Foundation,

Victoria Hutter, Assistant Director, Public Affairs