The National Arts Journalism Program and the USC Annenberg School for Communication held the first-ever, live-and-online National Summit on Arts Journalism Friday — with various panels and roundtables about the future of arts coverage before an audience of cultural leaders . (Locally, TheatreJones offered the live streaming of the summit.)
The summit also announced the finalists for its awards — to the most promising new models for cultural criticism: new online formats and functions, new ways of financing or interacting with artists and the community, etc. Over the summer, they received far more submissions — 109 — than they’d expected and expanded their call to two categories, “public” and “showcase” (I still don’t understand the difference.) Each of the five finalists in the two categories receives $2,000 with the eventual top winners getting $7,000 – $5,000 and $2,500. Those top three will be announced at the end of October.
(Full disclosure, Art&Seek submitted an entry, and as a former fellow of the NAJP, I’m a voter.)
At any rate, Houston-based Glasstire is one of the five public finalists, appropriate, non-biased huzzahs. And you can see their presentation here. Art blogger Reginna Hacket even thinks Glasstire’s Rainey Knudsen was the hit of the Summit.
But frankly, I was a little surprised about Glasstire because for a visual arts blog, it’s not the most attractive one — not by a long shot. But Hacket believes that the Tire’s homeliness is actually a virtue: “I also like that it’s not a design wonder. It serves those who want to think about art, not just click through razzle-dazzle.”
Which I suspect may refer to Flyp, another finalist, which I happen to think is a stunning combination of traditional magazine reporting and Flash media (check out their feature on MacArthur “genius” winners, the husband-and-wife designers Ric Cofidio and Liz Diller). My complaint with Flyp: It’s really more like a true, general-interest magazine, not really arts-focused. Hell, the lead story is about health care.
One strong factor in Glasstire’s favor, as Knudsen makes clear, is that it’s a rare attempt to cover an entire state’s arts scene. How well it manages to do that up here is open for debate, although Christina Rees’ two-part essay over the summer about the state of local art galleries certainly caused a stir.
The other positive factor about Glasstire? Many writers get paid.
Oh, yeah, and NPR Music was also one of the showcase finalists.