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NEA Announces Second Arts Institute

USC Annenberg program director Sasha Anawalt will direct the institute in collaboration with artistic adviser and L.A. Weekly theater editor Steven Leigh Morris.

The National Endowment for the Arts and the USC Annenberg School for Communication have announced the second NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater.

The institute will be held Jan. 9-20, 2006 at the USC Annenberg School as part of a nationwide series of linked programs that focus on improving arts criticism and coverage of theater, classical music, opera and dance.

“The vitality of the arts depends more than most people think on lively and informed criticism, especially local reviews and coverage from their own communities,” said NEA chairman Dana Gioia. “Outside our major cities, journalists who cover the arts are often overextended with multiple beats and assignments that allow few opportunities to concentrate on various artistic disciplines. USC has created an exemplary program of professional development for arts journalists.”

The NEA Arts Journalism Institutes are helping to establish the importance of professional training in the coverage of the arts. The programs are designed for print and broadcast journalists located outside the country’s largest media markets, where professional development opportunities are limited.

Institutes for dance critics also are being hosted by the American Dance Festival at Duke University and for classical music and opera critics at Columbia University. The NEA is providing $1 million for the first two years of the program, which will help cover most of the participants’ expenses.

“Theater criticism plays an important role in America’s cultural dialogue and development,” said USC Annenberg Dean Geoffrey Cowan. “Last year’s institute at USC Annenberg was a tremendous success and we are delighted to continue our partnership with Dana Gioia and the NEA to foster arts journalism and criticism that keeps the conversation going between artists and audiences.”

USC Annenberg program director Sasha Anawalt will direct the Institute in collaboration with artistic adviser and L.A. Weekly theater editor Steven Leigh Morris.

“The 25 NEA participants from last year are truly a fellowship,” Anawalt said. “They have stayed in touch with each other and their instructors, regularly exchanging professional advice, story tips and insights that they report have revolutionized their work for the better. The institute is actually a living network that serves America’s theater community. For the new batch of fellows coming in, the scene will become even more connected and vital.”

The NEA participants will work with journalists, faculty and artists. Los Angeles is home to more than 230 theater companies and ranks among the top cities in the nation for the number of visitors it attracts who are seeking cultural experiences.

Guest faculty for the 2006 Institute include Robert Brustein, founding director and creative consultant of American Repertory Theater and theater critic for The New Republic; Misha Berson, chief theater critic for the Seattle Times; Jason Robert Brown, Tony Award-winning composer of “Parade” and visiting professor at the USC School of Theatre; Ben Cameron, executive director of Theatre Communications Group; Gordon Davidson, founder and former artistic director of Center Theatre Group; Sylvie Drake, former theater critic of the Los Angeles Times; Eric Ehn, dramatist and dean of CalArts School of Theater; Geoff Elliott and Julia Rodriguez-Elliott, co-artistic directors of “A Noise Within; Barbara Isenberg, arts journalist and author of “Making It Big: The Diary of a Broadway Musical”; Thomas Leabhart, theater professor at Pomona College; Judith Lewis, features editor of the L.A. Weekly; Dominic Papatola, critic at large for the Pioneer Press; Michael Phillips, chief theater critic for the Chicago Tribune; Leonard Pronko, author of “Theater East & West”; and Jack Viertel, creative director of Broadway’s Jujamcyn Theaters and former theater critic at the Los Angeles Herald Examiner.

NEA Announces Second Arts Institute

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