John Rockwell: May 2010 Archives
The other day Laura Sydell was in town and she and I got together at Bob Christgau's for a mini-NAJP board meeting/social hour, more the latter than the former. But we did find ourselves talking about yes, arts journalism, and how best to map out its shaky path into the future.
What we decided was that one way to enliven the profession would be to start a publication, in print or online or both, with a real staff devoted to arts journalism in all its facets. To do that, we figure, would entail real money, ideally provided by someone who cared enough about the cause to provide an endowment that would spin off enough money annually to subsidize such a venture. That wouldn't preclude further income streams, contributions or advertising, but it would provide an ongoing base of support. The notion of engendering such a publication on a purely commercial basis seems long gone.
The various models that emerged from the "summit" Doug McLennan organized at USC a few months ago would be a start, but we'd like to build on them to create an actual publication of our own. The Goldring arts journalism program at Syracuse, the one Joanna Keller runs, was made possible by such a donation ($20 million, as I recall). We need another Goldring. More than we need a foundation, no matter how generous Pew was to the old NAJP. Foundations can (and maybe should) cut off their support at some point; they don't provide the kind of basis for the future that an endowment does.
So the questions for the readers of ARTicles are these: Think about anyone you know (or about yourself, if you happen to have a spare $20 million plus) who might endow such a project. And think about what that project might be. We would rather envisage the publication we want, one that would best serve the arts and arts journalism and arts journalists, rather than let a philanthropist determine the project. We'd like to inspire an endowment with the brilliance of our ideas, not beg for one, vaguely.
We have a potential basis for such a publication in this blog, and a potential editor in Laura Collins-Hughes. But maybe a publication is not the way to go. Maybe such a big (if still phantasmagorical) endowment would be better spent elsewhere (I mean to support arts journalism, not to feed the hungry, however important that may be). Anyone have any bright ideas?