Creative Capital and the Warhol Foundation have an idea I adore: Offer grants “directly to individual writers . . . in recognition of both the financially precarious situation of arts writers and their indispensable contribution to a vital artistic culture.”
From the Request for Proposals:
The program, which issues awards for articles, blogs, books, new and alternative media, and short-form writing, aims to support the broad spectrum of writing on contemporary visual art, from general-audience criticism to academic scholarship.
Therein lies the rub — for me, and members of my profession, music journalism. Fur us, nothing like the Warhol Foundation’s program exists.
Please don’t get me wrong: Warhol was a visual and conceptual artist, and his foundation is appropriately working within his legacy. I’m waiting for the wealthy musician who will endow a similar program, out of the recognition that music journalists face the same “precarious financial situation,” also make an “indispensable contribution to a vital artistic culture” and, by the way, have advanced rather than inhibited the success of my dream patron and his/her colleagues.
The Warhol grant guidelines make me drool -
[A]n applicant must be an individual; an art historian, artist, critic, curator, journalist, or practitioner in an outside field who is strongly engaged with the contemporary visual arts; a United States citizen, permanent resident of the U.S., or holder of an O-1 visa; at least 25 years old; and a published author (specific publication requirements vary depending on project type category). Please note that work published in college newspapers and undergraduate student-run publications will not be considered toward the published author requirement.
Substitute “music” for “art” re historian, artist, critic, curator, journalist, and a large, talented cohort of equally vital arts journalists qualify. The only other grants (financial grants, not residencies or subsidized academic semesters) that seem open to music journalists are the Guggenheim Fellowships. Congrats to Terry Teachout, read right here in Arts Journal as well as in the Wall Street Journal, for getting as Guggenheim a few days ago. His funding will reportedly help support his work on a biography of Duke Ellington. Other music commentators getting Guggenheims this year were all academics.
ASCAP’s Deems Taylor Awards for excellence in Music Journalism are the one honor specific to music journalism. For a long time they had no cash prize attached, although now, according to ASCAP’s website
Several categories of cash prizes are presented to writers of award-winning books and newspaper, journal or magazine articles (includes program notes, liner notes and on-line publications). Awards are also presented to the authors and journalists as well as to their respective publishers.
I believe those prizes are in hundreds, not thousands. The Awards program itself was suspended in 2009, reinstated in 2010, and is currently accepting submissions.
The Warhol/Creative Capital initiative “supports approximately twenty to twenty-five projects each year. Grants range from $3,000 to $50,000, depending on the needs and scope of the project.” I know many members of the Jazz Journalists Association, as well as unaffiliated colleagues writing, photographing, broadcasting, blogging about contemporary composed music, “world music,” the blues, rock, pop, electronic music, whatever people are listening to, who would love love love to be supported in their work, now that music publications have dried up, newspaper gigs disappeared, book publishers mostly turned away (except for some university presses, which are problematic in their own literally non-profit ways).
Just dreaming here, folks — journalists are supposed to be able to fend for themselves in the marketplace of ideas. Music journalists have often been regarded as parasites or publicists-in-disguise.
The old line that “writing about music is like dancing about architecture” is dismissively trotted out, with little regard for the fact that dancing is about architecture, the architecture of the body moving through space and time.
Okay, enough whining. I’ve got to get back to my present pre-occupation: fundraising for the 16th annual JJA Jazz Awards. Meanwhile, visual arts writers-readers: Think about your needs, think about your scope, apply.