Macon Arts Alliance receives NEA grant to support arts journalism partnership with Mercer’s Center for Collaborative Journalism

New program will embed arts journalists in community arts organizations

Macon, GA – National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa announced today that Macon Arts Alliance is one of 817 nonprofit organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Art Works grant. Macon Arts Alliance is recommended for a $40,000 grant to support Art Matters: Engaging the Community through Embedded Arts Journalists. Additional funding for the project will come from a matching grant from Knight Arts, a program of 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.

Art Matters is an initiative designed to engage the community through high-quality arts journalism. The Macon Arts Alliance (MAA), in collaboration with Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism (CCJ), will embed paid journalism interns in various arts organizations served by Macon Arts Alliance. These students will create news articles, blogs, video reports and more for local news outlets, the CCJ’s newsroom, and Macon Arts Alliance’s Ovations365.com and other publications. The program will provide funding for an Art Critic in Residence at the CCJ and a series of public symposia that will pair different artists and critics to discuss the state of various art forms and criticism.

Acting Chairman Shigekawa said, “The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support these exciting and diverse arts projects that will take place throughout the United States. Whether it is through a focus on education, engagement, or innovation, these projects all contribute to vibrant communities and memorable opportunities for the public to engage with the arts.”

Michael Killoren, NEA’s director of local arts agencies and Challenge America said, “On behalf of the National Endowment for the Arts, I congratulate the Macon Arts Alliance on their NEA grant to support Art Matters. This collaboration between the Alliance, Mercer University, Georgia Public Broadcasting and The Telegraph exemplifies the kind of smart partnerships and innovative thinking necessary to advance the field of arts journalism and strengthen the arts. I look forward to learning more as the project progresses.”

“We are honored to be recommended for a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support this program,” said Jan Beeland, executive director of Macon Arts Alliance. “Our selection among such a large pool of qualified applicants is a testament to the strength of the project.”

“Embedding journalists within arts organizations is a key component of the program. The ability to go beyond traditional arts criticism and tell the full story behind the productions and exhibits presented by local organizations allows us to foster greater appreciation for the hard work required to bring arts events to the community,” explained Jonathan Dye, director of communications at Macon Arts Alliance.

“We are very excited to participate in this innovative program with the Macon Arts Alliance,” said Tim Regan-Porter, director of the Center for Collaborative Journalism. “The arts are crucial component of Macon’s history and identity, as well as a vital part of economic development. This NEA grant will help arts organizations in the area improve their presence in the community, it will provide students with valuable experience in the field, and it will further enhance our regional reputation as a cultural center.”

“The arts play an important role in bringing us together to share our common history, culture and context,” said Beverly Blake, Macon program director for Knight Foundation. “This grant will not only inform people and highlight the vibrant art offerings in Central Georgia, it will support a new generation of journalists as they come to appreciate the power of the arts in building a connected community.”

In August 2012, the NEA received 1,547 eligible applications for Art Works grants requesting more than $80 million in funding. Art Works grants support the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts. The 817 recommended NEA grants total $26.3 million and span 13 artistic disciplines and fields. Applications were reviewed by panels of outside experts convened by NEA staff and each project was judged on its artistic excellence and artistic merit.

For a complete listing of projects recommended for Art Works grant support, please visit the NEA website at arts.gov.

About Macon Arts Alliance
The mission of the Macon Arts Alliance is to foster and support the advancement of arts and culture in Central Georgia. Macon Arts Alliance works to create an environment where arts and culture thrive and Central Georgia is recognized as an unparalleled cultural destination.

About the Center for Collaborative Journalism
The Center for Collaborative Journalism (CCJ) is a unique partnership between Mercer University, The Telegraph and Georgia Public Broadcasting, with generous support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Peyton Anderson Foundation. The Center’s groundbreaking collaboration has students, faculty and veteran journalists working together in a joint newsroom. Learning in a “teaching hospital” model, students engage the community using the latest digital tools and leave with a strong portfolio of published work.

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