Macon Arts, CCJ announce partnership with National Endowment for the Arts grant

pramati@macon.comApril 23, 2013 

Macon Arts Alliance officials said Tuesday it’s one of 817 nonprofit organizations across the country to be awarded a grant by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The $40,000 grant -- which includes $40,000 in matching funds from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation -- will fund a partnership between Macon Arts and the Center For Collaborative Journalism, an initiative involving Mercer University, Georgia Public Broadcasting and The Telegraph.

Students from the center will work with various arts agencies and organizations in the city and Bibb County to help publicize the work of those organizations as well as give the students training in writing about the arts.

In addition, the grant will fund a part-time critic-in-residence who will write about arts events as well as give lectures to the center’s students.

The grant also will fund six symposiums featuring an arts critic and a well-known artist in a certain field such as music, filmmaking or writing -- that the public will be able to attend.

Jonathan Dye, director of communications for the alliance, said his organization has been working on the grant for a while under former director Jim Coleman.

“We’ve been working on the concept for a couple of years,” Dye said. “We had an idea for embedded journalists who would not only write about the arts but also tell the story about the people who were doing the work.”

When the alliance approached center director Tim Regan-Porter, he said he was onboard with the concept immediately. Regan-Porter said the program will begin in the fall when students return to campus and will provide the students with excellent training opportunities.

“The arts are a crucial component of Macon’s history and identity, as well as a vital part of economic development,” Regan-Porter said.

Dye said the arts are a $1 million industry in Macon and contribute about that much in taxes.

Beverly Blake, program director for the Knight Foundation in Macon, said it’s important to Macon and its arts scene to publicize it as much as possible.

“Macon and Central Georgia has an extremely vibrant arts community,” she said. “This grant will help support journalism and journalists in telling people what we have here and get more people involved. I’m excited about the opportunity. This will lift up the arts and train a new generation of journalists to tell how important arts are to a community. The arts are all-encompassing. They are what really makes a community come alive.”

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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