Columbia to Close National Arts Journalism Program

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(AP) The National Arts Journalism Program, founded in 1994 at Columbia University to advance the quality of arts coverage in the press, will close due to lack of funds, the program’s advisory board said Monday.

“After an outstanding 11-year record of advocating for and promoting the cause of arts journalism, the National Arts Journalism Program, the only program in America dedicated to the advocacy of arts journalism, is being closed down at the Columbia School of Journalism,” board member Doug McLennan, editor of the affiliated ArtsJournal.com, said in an e-mail to past fellows of the program.

Calls to Columbia and to the National Arts Journalism Program were not immediately returned.

McLennan said that when its funding from the Pew Charitable Trusts ended “a couple of years ago,” the program was left with the task of raising its entire operating budget from other sources. He said the program’s budget of $1.6 million in 2002-03 fell to less than half that by the current year, and the number of research fellowships was cut drastically.

He said $560,000 had been raised by March, not enough to pay for full administration of the program.

“At a time when arts journalism is under pressure across America, you might think that a program like NAJP is even more crucial to the field than ever,” McLennan said. “You’d be right, and perhaps it’s an indication of how much work we have to do in arguing the case for arts journalism that there currently doesn’t seem to be major institutional support to keep NAJP going.”

Since its inception, the program has hosted more than 130 journalists from 32 states and two countries who studied everything from history and language to theater and literature. The program also hosted 25 National Endowment for the Arts Institute fellows and has presented 35 symposia and public events.

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