NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater

About the Institute

The NEA Institute in Theater and Musical Theater was an 11-day intensive workshop for writers, editors, broadcast and online producers from the 50 states and Puerto Rico. Based in Los Angeles, the Fellowship provided a total immersion experience that included attending as many as ten performances or rehearsals. Participants met theater professionals ranging from directors and administrators of L.A.’s primary theater companies to critics of national stature, who engaged them individually for writing instruction and exercises. Professional sessions addressing changes in the media industry were offered and special attention was paid to building digital media skills. Applicants included staff journalists and freelancers who worked in print, radio, TV or online media. It was overseen by Director Sasha Anawalt and Program Coordinator Arianna Sikorski. 

The Fellowship ended in 2011, but its legacy lives on. An exciting outcome from our past Fellowships was a web community created for theater critics across America. Fellows Joe Nickell, John Stoehr, Bridgette Redman and Jennifer Smith from the 2007 Fellowship were inspired by their experience during the program and launched a blog to discuss issues facing the nation’s theater critics and artists outside the major cities. Founder of Arts Journal, Douglas McLennan, who led the NEA’s digital media training sessions, invited these fellows to host on his heavily-trafficked site. Thus, the Institute gained a significant base in the blogosphere where hundreds of theater writers and supporters now regularly congregate.

“As arts coverage continues to shrink on paper and expand online, USC Annenberg School for Communication has retooled its already exemplary program to help media professionals keep pace with current changes in their field,” said former NEA acting chairman Patrice Walker Powell. “No matter what their medium, these arts journalists will return home ready to craft quality arts critical commentaries, reports and reviews for their communities.”

“This exceptional group of journalists possesses the qualities we at Annenberg are dedicated to developing: innovation, engagement and leadership,” said former Dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism Ernest J. Wilson III. “Despite challenging times, these arts journalists will be ready for the new transformations in journalism. We are pleased to offer them the opportunity to build their skills and create new ideas that will be to the ultimate benefit for all of us in the future.”

About the NEA

The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts — both new and established — bringing the arts to all Americans, and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Arts Endowment is the nation’s largest annual funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases. For more information, please visit their website.

Comments from past fellows and their editors

“The ideas we generated in the common area of the digital lab at USC began to make a huge difference, if only by giving us tools, vocabulary and motivation to start building a possible future.” – Thomas Cashman Avila, Metro Weekly, Washington, D.C.

“The Institute helped me make crucial connections with other writers and editors. It surely opened my mind about the myriad ways to cover the arts, and I’ve definitely made the jump from ink on paper to blog, voice and video.” – Wendy Rosenfield, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Pa

“Amazing, inspiring and career-changing.” – Bridgette Redman, Lansing State Journal, Mich.

“I use things I learned through the Institute every day.” – Sharon Eberson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pa.

Past Fellows

2011 fellows

Twenty-one arts journalists were chosen from 13 states to participate as fellows in the seventh National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Arts Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater. Through the generous support of the NEA, the Institute was overseen by USC Annenberg’s School of Journalism from June 13 to June 22, 2011. 

Participants in USC Annenberg’s 2010 NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater were:

  • Christopher Arnott, affiliated arts journalist and critic, New Mass Media, Inc., New Haven, Conn.
  • Martin Brady, affiliated theater critic, Nashville Scene, Tenn.
  • Anthony Byrnes, affiliated weekly columnist and theater critic, Opening the Curtain KCRW, Venice, Calif.
  • Linda Fowler, affiliated arts writer, nj.com and Advance Publications Inc., Tewksbury, N.J.
  • Nancy Fowler, arts reporter, St. Louis Beacon, Mo.
  • Ben Fulton, arts reporter, The Salt Lake Tribune, Utah
  • Rachel Lee Harris, arts and culture news assistant/freelance writer, The New York Times, Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Lou Harry, arts and entertainment editor, Indianapolis Business Journal, Ind.
  • Gerry Christopher Johnson, freelance writer, Philadelphia Weekly andPhiladelphia Tribune, Pa.
  • Maura Judkis, art, theater and culture reporter, TBD.com, Washington, D.C.
  • Jenny Lawton, associate producer, Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen, from PRI and WNYC, Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Kerry Lengel, theater reporter and critic, The Arizona Republic, Phoenix, Ariz.
  • Rebecca Milzoff, arts reporter, New York Magazine, N.Y.
  • Jesse North, founder and editor, Stage Rush, New York, N.Y.
  • Kathryn Osenlund, affiliated theater critic, CurtainUp.com, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Julie Potter, affiliated arts journalist, San Francisco Bay Guardian, Calif.
  • Walter Ryce, staff writer and calendar coordinator, Monterey County Weekly, Seaside, Calif.
  • Laura Spencer, arts reporter, KCUR, Kansas City, Mo.
  • Grace Suh, theater writer, The Pitch, Kansas City, Mo.
  • David Timberline, affiliated theater critic, Style Weekly magazine, Richmond, Va.
  • Benjamin Waterhouse, assistant arts and culture editor, Willamette Week, Portland, Ore.

2010 Fellows

Twenty-five arts journalists were chosen from 16 states to participate as fellows in the sixth National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Arts Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater. Through the generous support of the NEA, the Institute was overseen by USC Annenberg’s School of Journalism from May 17 to May 27, 2010. 

Participants in USC Annenberg’s 2010 NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater were:

  • Bob Abelman, affiliated theater critic, News-Herald, Chagrin Valley Times, Solon Times and Geauga Times Courier, Cleveland, Ohio.
  • Sabrina Artel, independent radio producer and host, performance coordinator of "Trailer Talk," Liberty, N.Y.
  • Kelly Baker Ashkettle, arts writer, In This Week, Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • Ian Buckwalter, affiliated theater critic, DCist.com and NPR.org, Washington, D.C.
  • Lindsay Christians, fine arts reporter, The Capital Times and Wisconsin State Journal, Madison, Wis.
  • Mark Cofta, theater critic and arts correspondent, Philadelphia City Paper, Pennsylvania.
  • Sarah Fisch, arts and online editor, San Antonio Current, Texas.
  • Nicole Gluckstern, affiliated theater critic, San Francisco Bay Guardian, California.
  • Matthew Irwin, editor and reporter, Jackson Hole Weekly, Wyoming.
  • Michael Janairo, arts & entertainment editor, Times Union, Albany, N.Y.
  • Melinda Johnson, arts editor, Post-Standard, Syracuse, N.Y.
  • Mayank Keshaviah, affiliated theater critic, LA Weekly, Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Elizabeth Kramer, arts and humanities reporter, Louisville Public Media, Kentucky.
  • Larry Laneer, affiliated theater critic, Oklahoma Gazette, Oklahoma City, Okla.
  • Christa Lawler, arts & entertainment reporter, Duluth News Tribune, Minnesota.
  • Charles Patton, arts writer, The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, Fla.
  • Cindy Pierre, theater critic and senior writer, stageandcinema.com, Elmhurst, N.Y.
  • Zachary Pincus-Roth, freelance arts journalist, Los Angeles Times, Slate.com and other publications, Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Susan Saccoccia, affiliated arts journalist, Bay State Banner, Boston, Mass.
  • Ben Siegel, editor and writer, Block Club Magazine, Buffalo, N.Y.
  • John Staton, arts & culture writer and editor, StarNews Media, Wilmington, N.C.
  • Suzi Steffen, performing and visual arts editor, Eugene Weekly, Oregon.
  • Angie Fiedler Sutton, associate editor, KC Stage Magazine, Kansas City, Mo.
  • Emiko Tamagawa, associate producer, WBUR's "Here and Now," Boston, Mass.
  • Robert Waddell, reporter, MyLatinoVoice.com and VirtualBoricua.org, Bronx, N.Y.

2009 Fellows

Twenty-three arts journalists were chosen from 16 states to participate as fellows in the fifth National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Arts Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater. Through the generous support of the NEA, the Institute was overseen by USC Annenberg’s School of Journalism from April 14 to April 24, 2009. 

Participants in USC Annenberg’s 2009 NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater were:  

  • Teresa Annas, arts writer, The Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, Va.
  • Marilyn Bauer, entertainment editor, Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers, Stuart, Fla.
  • Marcos Cabrera, features reporter, Monterey County Herald, Calif.
  • Colin Dabkowski, arts writer, The Buffalo News, N.Y.
  • Keli Dailey, content producer, San Diego Union-Tribune & SignOnSanDiego.com, Calif.
  • Kathi Scrizzi Driscoll, feature writer/editor, Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass.
  • Alicia Grega, current events editor, electric city/diamond city & the 570.com published by The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa.
  • Rebecca Haithcoat, affiliated freelancer, Leo Weekly, Louisville, Ky.
  • Bob Hoover, book editor and theater critic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pa.
  • Daphne Howland, freelancer and contributing editor, Port City Life, Portland, Maine.
  • MiChelle Jones, freelance visual arts writer, The Tennessean, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Chris Klimek, affiliated freelancer, The Washington Post and DCist.com, D.C.
  • John Kuebler, affiliated freelancer, Cairn Magazine, Denver, Colo.
  • David Lefkowitz, publisher and editor-in-chief, TotalTheater.com, Hewlett, N.Y.
  • Evelyn McDonnell, freelance writer/editor, Miami Beach, Fla.
  • Manny Mendoza, affiliated freelancer, KERA Art&Seek, Dallas, Texas.
  • Michael Merschel, assistant arts editor, Dallas Morning News, Texas.
  • Roxana Orellana, theater writer, Salt Lake Tribune, Utah.
  • Laura Pieper, affiliated freelancer, The Tribune, Ames, Iowa.
  • Steve Rowland, independent documentary radio producer, Seattle, Wash.
  • Jim Rutter, freelance arts critic, The Broad Street Review, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Alan Scherstuhl, freelance columnist, The Pitch, Kansas City, Mo.
  • Glen Weldon, affiliated freelancer, Washington City Paper, D.C.

2008 Fellows

Twenty-five arts journalists were chosen from 18 states to participate as fellows in the fourth National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Arts Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater. Through the generous support of the NEA, the Institute was overseen by USC Annenberg’s School of Journalism from February 5 to February 15, 2008. 

Participants in USC Annenberg’s 2008 NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater were:  

  • Thomas Cashman Avila, affiliated freelancer, Metro Weekly, Washington, D.C.
  • Jeffrey Bahr, features editor, Aberdeen American News, Aberdeen, S.D.
  • Alexandra Bonifield, affiliated freelancer, Black White Read, and Pegasusnews.com, Dallas, Texas.
  • Sarah Boslaugh, freelance writer, KDHX-FM and Talkinbroadway.com, St. Louis, Mo.
  • Michael Bowen, arts and culture editor, The Pacific Northwest Inlander, Spokane, Wash.
  • Skylar Browning, arts editor, Missoula Independent, Missoula, Mont.
  • Karen Cotton, features and entertainment reporter, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, Cheyenne, Wyo.
  • Mario Echevarria, staff writer, San Francisco Tribune, San Francisco, Calif.
  • Celeste Fraser Delgado, contributing editor, MOLI.com, Miami, Fla.
  • Missy Frederick, affiliated freelancer, DCist.com,Washington, D.C.
  • Philip L. Graitcer, freelance radio producer, WABE-FM, Atlanta, Ga.
  • Daniel Hartill, staff writer, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine.
  • Sherry Hughes, arts editor, The Keene Sentinel, Keene, N.H.
  • Brendan Kiley, theater editor, The Stranger, Seattle, Wash.
  • Jeffrey Korbelik, arts and entertainment reporter, Lincoln Journal Star, Lincoln, Neb.
  • Paul Kosidowski, affiliated freelancer, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Milwaukee Magazine, and WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio, Milwaukee, Wis.
  • Beverly Lindsay-Johnson, field producer and director, WHUT-TV, Washington, D.C.
  • Ashley Lindstrom, associate editor, The San Antonio Current, San Antonio, Texas
  • Francis Ma, assistant arts editor, Community Newspaper Company, Needham, Mass.
  • Heidi Masek, staff writer, The Hippo, Manchester, N.H.
  • Frankie Moran, affiliated freelancer, Sandiego.com, San Diego, Calif.
  • Annie Nelson, features reporter, Columbia Daily Tribune, Columbia, Mo.
  • Wendy Rosenfield, affiliated freelancer, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Emily Smith, staff writer, NOISE, Lansing, Mich.
  • Amy Stumpfl, affiliated freelancer, The City Paper, Nashville, Tenn.

2007 fellows

Twenty-five arts journalists were chosen from 21 states to participate as fellows in the third National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater. Through the generous support of the NEA, the Institute was overseen by USC Annenberg’s School of Journalism from January 30 to February 9, 2007.

Participants in USC Annenberg’s 2007 NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater were:  

  • David Burke, entertainment editor, Quad-City Times, Davenport, Iowa
  • Sherry Deatrick, affiliated freelancer, Louisville Eccentric Observer, Ky.
  • Anthony Del Valle, theater critic, Las Vegas Review Journal, Nev.
  • Darcie Flansburg, staff writer, Redlands Daily Facts, Calif.
  • Barry Gaines, theater critic, Albuquerque Journal, N.M.
  • Michael P. Howley, theater critic, The Montgomery Advertiser, Ala.
  • Marty Hughley, theater and dance critic, The Oregonian, Ore.
  • Mia Leonin, freelance writer, Miami Herald, Fla.
  • Sherry Lucas, staff writer and columnist, The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss.
  • Deborah Martin, assistant arts and entertainment editor, San Antonio Express-News, Texas
  • Michael Maza, assistant arts editor, Dallas Morning News, Texas
  • E. Kyle Minor, freelance writer, New Haven Register, Conn.
  • Richard Moeschl, arts and entertainment editor, Mail Tribune, Medford, Ore.
  • Michael Morain, arts reporter, Des Moines Register, Iowa
  • Joseph Nickell, arts and entertainment reporter, The Missoulian, Missoula, Mont.
  • Dana Oland, art and culture reporter, Idaho Statesman, Boise, Idaho
  • Bridgette Redman, affiliated freelancer, Lansing State Journal, Mich.
  • Rebecca J. Ritzel, freelance writer, Intelligencer Journal, Lancaster, Pa.
  • Kati Schardl, arts writer, Tallahassee Democrat, Fla.
  • Jennifer Smith, freelance writer, Isthmus, Madison, Wis.
  • Whitney Smith, performing arts writer, The Indianapolis Star, Ind.
  • John Stoehr, arts and culture reporter, Savannah Morning News, Ga.
  • Renée Valois, freelance theater critic, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Minn.
  • Victoria Welch, staff writer, The Burlington Free Press, Vt.
  • Byron Woods, theater and dance critic, The Independent Weekly, Durham, N.C. 

2006 Fellows

Twenty-five arts journalists were chosen from 21 states to participate as fellows in the second National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater. Through the generous support of the NEA, the Institute was overseen by USC Annenberg’s School of Journalism from January 9-20, 2006. 

Participants in USC Annenberg’s 2006 NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater were:

  • Kathleen Allen, arts reporter and editor, Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, Ariz.
  • Jennifer Brummett, arts and entertainment editor and columnist, The Advocate-Messenger, Danville, Ken.
  • Kristina Church, producer/host KSKA Public Radio; affiliated freelance theater Critic, Anchorage Daily News, Alaska
  • Jackie Demaline, theater and art critic, Cincinnati Enquirer, Ohio
  • Miriam Durkin, arts editor, The Charlotte Observer, N.C.
  • Evans Donnell, affiliated freelance theater critic, The Tennessean; editor/writer, StageCritic.com, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Sharon Eberson, entertainment editor, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pa.
  • Ellen Fagg, theater critic and arts writer, The Salt Lake Tribune, Utah
  • Jay Handelman, theater and television critic, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Fla.
  • Sarah Henning, arts and entertainment reporter, Duluth News Tribune, Minn.
  • Richard O. Jones, arts and entertainment writer, Journal News, Hamilton, Ohio
  • Bob Keefer, arts and features writer, The Register-Guard, Eugene, Ore.
  • Roger McBain, theater critic and cultural affairs reporter, Evansville Courier & Press, Ind.
  • Donald Munro, critic-at-large, The Fresno Bee, Calif.
  • Dori O’Neal, arts and entertainment reporter, Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, Wash.
  • Rick Rogers, critic-at-large, The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, Okla.
  • Joseph T. Rozmiarek, affiliated freelance theater critic, The Honolulu Advertiser, Hawaii
  • Karen Shade, theater and features writer, Tulsa World, Okla.
  • Howard Shapiro, theater reviewer/staff writer, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Pa.
  • Lori Solinger, affiliated freelance arts & entertainment reporter/producer for Cox Communications; writer/editor, WJAR-TV; Providence, R.I.
  • David Templeton, affiliated freelance theater critic, North Bay Bohemian, Santa Rosa, Calif.
  • Robert Trussell, theater critic, Kansas City Star, Mo.
  • Janet Van Vleet, arts and entertainment reporter, Abilene Reporter-News, Texas
  • J.D. Ventura, features staff writer, The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.
  • Jaci Webb, arts and entertainment reporter, Billings Gazette, Mont.

2005 Fellows

Twenty-five arts journalists were chosen from 22 states to participate as fellows in the first National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater. Through the generous support of the NEA, the Institute was overseen by USC Annenberg’s School of Journalism from February 21 to March 4, 2005.

Participants in USC Annenberg’s 2005 NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater were: 

  • Mary Barber, arts and entertainment reporter, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Mich.
  • Christopher Blank, performing arts writer and critic, Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn.
  • Jeffrey Bruner, film and theater critic, Des Moines Register, Iowa
  • Kerry Clawson, theater critic, Akron Beacon Journal, Ohio
  • Bob Fischbach, film and theater writer, Omaha World-Herald, Neb.
  • Trey Graham, contributing writer, Washington City Paper, D.C.
  • Brent Hallenbeck, arts and entertainment writer, Burlington Free Press, Vt.
  • Donna Hartman, performing arts and features writer, Bradenton Herald, Fla.
  • Curt Holman, theater critic/columnist, Creative Loafing, Atlanta, Ga.
  • Jessie Royce Hill, Cape Cod, Massachusetts-based freelancer
  • Carl Hoover, entertainment editor, Waco Herald-Tribune, Texas
  • Robert Keyes, arts writer, Portland Press Herald, Maine
  • Pam Kragen, arts and entertainment editor, North County Times, Vista, Calif.
  • John Lamb, reporter, The Forum, Fargo, N.D.
  • Lisa Marie Millegan, staff reporter, Modesto Bee, Calif.
  • Sarah Miller, entertainment reporter/reviewer, Press & Sun-Bulletin, Binghamton, N.Y.
  • Tim Miller, entertainment editor/film critic, Cape Cod Times, Mass.
  • Jason Nix, features editor/columnist, Opelika-Auburn News, Ala.
  • Robert Nott, staff writer, The New Mexican, Santa Fe, N.M.
  • Brett Oppegaard, staff arts writer, The Columbian, Vancouver, Wash.
  • Christopher Page, theater critic/editor, East Valley Tribune, Phoenix, Ariz.
  • Lee Roberts, feature writer, Racine Journal Times, Wisc.
  • Steffen Silvis, associate arts and culture editor, Willamette Week, Ore.
  • Tom Sime, staff critic, Dallas Morning News, Texas
  • Anne Wilson, arts and entertainment editor, Salt Lake Tribune, Utah