What is the Future of Arts Journalism?

Arts journalism is changing rapidly. Newspaper coverage has shifted, and the number of blogs and small magazines covering the arts has grown exponentially. While it’s uncertain what the structural changes in arts journalism will mean for the arts over the next twenty years, changes are happening and affecting audience participation.

As an artist, editor, arts writer and arts advocate, I was right at home moderating the “Future of Arts Journalism” panel at the recent Dance Critics Association (DCA) conference held in downtown Philadelphia at the Gershman Y. The DCA was created in 1973, “when a group of dance critics attending a Philadelphia arts conference saw a need for an organization that represented working dance critics.” The annual DCA conference draws leading arts writers from across the country for a weekend of panels, performances, and trainings. As she has before, critic Elizabeth Zimmer led the “Kamikaze Dance Writing Workshop”, which is a two-day boot camp for young and aspiring dance critics, and as he has before DCA Board Chair Robert Abrams organized the conference volunteers, and panelists.

The “Future of Arts Journalism” panel included Michael Norris, interim executive director of the Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, Merilyn Jackson, Philadelphia Inquirer dance critic, and Lois Welk, DanceUSA Philadelphia executive director. During the panel, Michael Norris noted that newspapers and classical arts organizations are similarly suffering from aging and shrinking audiences. Merilyn Jackson articulated that making a living as an arts writer can’t be a goal of professionals today. And Lois Welk brought in Clay Shirky, who argues that dialogue, not content, is now king.

Attendees agreed that today, as opposed to even ten years ago, there is uncomfortably both less and more criticism written by professional writers. Individuals that have been covering our profession for generations are being drowned out, and silenced. Will a similarly professional pool of dance critics exist to convene in twenty years?

Looking back on the panel, I’ve come up with a small set of questions that I think can help advocates investigate the impact of arts journalism in their communities:

1. What are the changes in content serving the arts in your community? Do the changes in content matter, to whom and why — artists, arts writers, the public?

2. Is there a historic relationship in your community between arts participation, and a community of independent evaluators/arts critics?

3. Are there differences, for your community, between coverage written by a talented 25-year-old, versus a talented 50-year-old with 20 years of writing experience? What are those differences?

4. How are the changes in arts journalism asymmetric in impact to communities of color, women, emerging artists, and/or classical artists in your area?

Advocates should push to ensure that communities invest in mechanisms to support the arts journalism necessary for a healthy arts ecosystem. Additionally, advocates can support best practices in the field for the next generation of critics. As just one example, the magazine that I founded has for four years managed a ‘Student Arts Journalism Challenge’, designed to identify and support talented young arts writers.

The business model that once supported a career in arts writing no longer exists. Arts journalism is arts education for adults, and advocates should spend more time considering the impact of arts writing within the arts ecosystem, and shaping future supports for the field.

Read on Americans for the Arts ArtsBlog here: http://blog.artsusa.org/2014/07/02/what-is-the-future-of-arts-journalism/

Bourgeon exemplifies multifaceted D.C. arts scene

by Kayleigh Bryant for Washington Examiner

Bourgeon, an arts magazine for the unpretentious, has now published a book featuring the works and voices of 50 local D.C. artists. The book’s group show held at Tryst on 18th Street on Thursday, May 9, 2013 featured selected works by three of the artists represented in the book, curated by Elizabeth Grazioli CEO of ArtSee, a local arts consultancy.

The Bourgeon book, Bourgeon: Fifty Artists Write About Their Work, is a project of the non-profit Day Eight and the brainchild of general editor, Robert Bettmann.

While the art presented may not meet the expectations of the art-elite it is no less representative of the passion of expression that is at the core of every artistic experience. The Bourgeon art philosophy boldly contends with the elitist assumption that good art must be inaccessible.

In the preface, arts journalist Leonard Jacobs exclaims, “At precisely the moment the nonprofits arts world hungers and thirsts for something that feels like unity, common purpose and cohesion, we are pitted against each other; faction against faction” (Bourgeon, xiii).

Outside of publishing, Bourgeon is many things: an artists’ collective; a nonprofit endeavor for culture, taste, and diversity; a passionate project to make the arts more accessible physically and intellectually; and a provocative alternative to the sometimes exclusive, academic, commercialized, competitive art world.

Featuring artists working in contemporary and traditional styles in dance, visual arts, and poetry – working in many mediums, the Bourgeon project encompasses the diversity of D.C. arts outside the galleries and museums.

The exhibition honed in on the diversity of the Bourgeon book, while only representing a mere 6% of the book. Featuring a photographer, a painter-collagist, and a watercolorist the exhibition holds true to the breadth of style, technique, and aesthetic represented in the book.

Camille Mosley-Pasley’s “Mama Love” photography series is well-titled. The warmth of maternal love exuding from each image is breathtaking. Her work is like that of commercial family portraiture but with the keen sense of a true artist, in composition and inspiration. Her essay in the book points to her father’s photography as artistic inspiration and sheds light on the familial themes in her work.

Megan Coyle calls her collage technique “painting with paper.” Her small handcrafted collages of D.C. cityscapes and nature are constructed of layers of magazine clippings, which are carefully selected based on lighting and shading. Each work consists of a purposefully-constructed color palette ultimately resulting in a well-crafted artwork.

Michele Banks examines microorganisms in her quilt-like watercolors. Her work consists of brightly colored grids, each box featuring a stunningly-detailed study of cells or other small living things. Her work bridges the gap between the sciences and the arts.

While the audience of Tryst is not the usual well-established, well-to-do, older stereotypical collector demographic, young Millennial-hipster newbies in art collecting should also be exposed to the opportunity to collect art.

In partnering with Tryst Bourgeon provides the opportunity for young people to explore the beginnings, or continuation, of their own private collections. Art collecting newbies can approach the Bourgeon exhibition with confidence knowing that as a “for-us, by-us” artist initiative the Bourgeon artists are peer-reviewed and advised by a committee. So the artwork represented has been properly vetted.

For those interested in beginning to explore art for themselves but are not yet ready to make the commitment to open their lives to a permanent art fixture in their homes or offices, the Bourgeon book is a good introduction into the works, styles, techniques, and aesthetics of D.C. artists.

Elizabeth Grazioli’s curation of the book show compliments both Bourgeon’s and Tryst’s personalities. The framing is casual and the hanging of works displays creative ingenuity that customers can re-create for their own home collections.

The show is well-constructed. Even without a distinct narrative the groupings of the works are reflective of composition, contrast, and concept. The works complement one another, despite their vast differences.

Being open to collaboration with local venues and organizations, Bourgeon has established a reputation for discerning taste in local art. Many of the Bourgeon artists have successfully sold their work, or had their work exhibited in local shows, offices, and even some galleries. Their Kickstarter.com project to fund the book, begun almost a year ago, met its donation goal in under a month, and gained them the attention of many art supporters including ArtSee.

Many of the artists, committee advisers and supporters of Bourgeon the magazine and the book are involved in other D.C. based art organizations including the D.C. Advocates for the Arts. Thus, Bourgeon is a representation of the multifaceted arts management, advocacy, and programming of D.C.

by Kayleigh Bryant

Original Publication URL: http://www.examiner.com/article/bourgeon-exemplifies-multifaceted-d-c-arts-scene

Artists Should Know About Fair Use Copyright Law

copyright2This was originally published as “Fair Use Copyright Law for Artists” – Published on Bourgeon, May 22, 2009. I think artists need to know that Fair Use copyright law exists, cause it’s important to understand what copyright gives you control over, and what it doesn’t give you control over.

As you know if you read this blog regularly, I don’t usually write for Bourgeon. Bourgeon is a communal publishing point; a place for artists to share their words about their work. Every now and then though, I do man up and write articles that I think are relevant to the community. Bourgeon’s readership is the art-interested public, and artists themselves. If you’re reading this and you’d like to be published in Bourgeon, please don’t hesitate to contact me; I’m always interested to hear/learn more about what folks are up to.


Creators today may assert copyright ownership of their creations, but this does not necessarily limit the publics legal access to or usage of their work. Fair Use copyright law is intended to protect usage of a copyrighted work for criticism, comment, new reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. In application and implication, Fair Use law has significant impact on creators, scholars, and journalists.

Fair Use law is different from some other areas of the law in that legality of an action depends on several factors. Harvard Law School Professor and copyright expert Charles Nesson wrote, “Fairness is a standard, not a rule.No simple definition of fair use can be fashioned, no bright line test exists.” The U.S. Copyright Office outlines four factors in determining whether or not usage of a copyrighted work is fair (legal):

“The purpose and character of the use.the nature of the copyrighted work.the amount and substantiality of the portion used. and, the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.”

In order to clarify some of the inherent fuzziness in the law, practice communities (such as book publishers, movie producers, and the music industry) are empowered to create Statements of Fair Use. These Statements document common allowable usages, and outline (but do not define) the ways in which a member of the public may use copyrighted material without reasonable threat of legal repercussion.

On Friday May 8th, 2009, the Dance Heritage Coalition presented the results of their multi-year project to develop a new Statement of Fair Use for Dance-related Materials. The mission of the Dance Heritage Coalition is to improve the ability of the dance community to retain and utilize materials documenting the art form. According to Project Director Libby Smigel, through developing and publicizing the new Fair Use Statement, the Dance Heritage Coalition hopes to encourage increased access to and usage of Dance-related materials. Smigel asserted that one reason archival materials remain out of sight to the public and researchers is confusion over copyright, and fear of lawsuits. The press release for the event noted, “it hasnt been clear how librarians, archivists, and curators can legally use. images and texts.” The issues addressed in the new Dance-related Materials Statement are common to other art forms. Fair Use access issues apply to images, videos, notes, copies, and recordings of any type.

In an explanation of Fair Use issues on their website, the Copyright Alliance (a trade association dedicated to tracking copyright issues) explains, “An individual does not have the right to make use of anothers copyright work. [Fair Use may apply] when someone already has a copy of a copyrighted work and makes copies, distributes, performs, alters, or displays that work and the copyright owner subsequently challenges that use of the work as being an infringement. In that case, the person could raise a defense of fair use.” Fair Use law is not intended as a defense for people who are simply too lazy to seek copyright permission.

nixon-leaving-white-houseThe impact on the financial value of a copyrighted material is a central issue in settlement of Fair Use-defended law suits. Writing on his website, journalist Brad Templeton reported, “Famously, copying just 300 words from Gerald Fords 200,000 word memoir for a magazine article was ruled as not fair use, in spite of it being very newsworthy, because it was the most important 300 words – why he pardoned Nixon.” Artists would be well-served to empower their own usage and the usage of others by considering how fair use law applies to their work.

The best way to be certain of the legality of ones usage of a copyrighted material is to seek copyright permission. In the event that copyright permission is not secured, Statements of Fair Use articulated by practice communities provide guidelines for usage, and defense in case of prosecution. To receive a copy of the new Fair Use Statement in Dance-Related Materials produced by the Dance Heritage Coalition, or to learn more about the document, visit www.danceheritage.org.