Drexel’s Pennoni Honors College will begin a new partnership with the Philadelphia Daily News to increase local arts exposure after receiving a $20,000 arts journalism grant Oct. 10.
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts awarded the College’s two online cultural publications, the Smart Set and the Cultural Passport, a Community Arts Journalism Challenge grant to promote and strengthen coverage of the arts. The announcement was made at the Grantmakers in the Arts Conference in San Francisco, Calif., and Drexel was one of five beneficiaries.
“I am really glad that Drexel is the one behind this because I feel it’s a great step for us towards President Fry’s goal of being engaged in both the arts and the community,” Jason Wilson, the editor of the Smart Set and Cultural Passport, said.
Wilson, who is also a columnist for the Daily News and The Washington Post, will be responsible for running the project.
Students from both Drexel’s Smart Set and Cultural Passport will write pieces on the arts to be published in the Daily News, as well as Philly.com and the Cultural Passport’s website, in late October. Two additional students have been added to the staff writing for Cultural Passport.
“This is not just about the arts, it’s about working with newspapers as well. We are helping out a major local newspaper with resources. This is a good thing,” Wilson said.
Faculty experts and professionals will be working with students as an effort to create an arts writing community at Drexel. Part of the grant will be used to bring a writer to campus for the winter term from Writers in Residence. They will have a commitment to the Daily News and will work with students and others who are interested in writing about the arts.
The grant is a substantial resource for the project, but a main priority is to maximize existing resources. A major advantage is that their most crucial resource, the Daily News, is already in existence and will be providing additional pages as writers provide the content. This allows writers to have their content published immediately.
This project is an experiment as to whether it can effectively benefit arts journalism. It relies heavily on being selected during the second round, where three winners will be awarded funding from the Knight Foundation and NEA for $80,000.
“I believe the Knight Foundation is interested in models that can be duplicated all over the U.S., which is why I feel our project appealed to them by partnering universities with local newspapers,” Wilson said.
According to Kailey Kluge, a sophomore international area studies major, writing for Cultural Passport is a great way to inform fellow students about the arts by writing on their level from the perspective of one of their peers. The project allows student writers to have the opportunity to expose their writing to a larger and more public audience.
“It’s a great opportunity for the Smart Set and Cultural Passport overall. It’s interesting because it will be a great way to expand the Smart Set and its readership and give us more possibilities,” Kluge said.
Including Drexel, 233 individuals or organizations submitted their own solutions to preserve and promote arts journalism. From the 233 applications, five finalists and six honorable mentions were selected.