$80,000 will help Charlotte media cover the arts

A group of Charlotte media outlets will expand their coverage of the area’s arts scene with the help of up to $80,000 from the Knight Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts.

The Charlotte Arts Journalism Alliance is one of three winners in the second stage of the Knight/NEA Arts Journalism Challenge, which was open to projects from eight U.S. communities.

The money will follow $20,000 that Charlotte group received in the first round of grants.

The Charlotte consortium consists of the Observer; WCNC-TV; WFAE-FM; QcityMetro.com; CharlotteViewpoint.com; and UNC Charlotte.

The groups, which have been publishing arts stories using the initial money since fall, will expand those efforts. UNC Charlotte will offer classes in criticism and arts writing. A smartphone app will be developed to highlight the consortium’s work.

“To succeed, art requires informed and engaged audiences, and those audiences require news, criticism and information on a regular basis,” NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman said in a statement Thursday. The three winning projects, he said, “are smart solutions that will make a difference in their communities and beyond.”

The other winners, announced Thursday, are in Philadelphia and Detroit. The Art Attack program will draw on students, faculty and staff from Philadelphia’s Drexel University to produce stories for the Philadelphia Daily News.

CriticCar Detroit will be a mobile video recording system that will go to performances and exhibitions and record audiences’ on-the-spot reactions, which will be broadcast online.

“This is great news for Charlotte and its growing arts community,” said Observer editor Rick Thames. “Expect now to see more and better coverage about local arts groups – in print, on the Web, on radio and on TV. That’s good for these groups, and even better for people eager to experience the arts in Charlotte.”