Restarting an arts engine in Louisville at Humana Festival

March 29, 2013
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Greetings from Louisville.

Just about every year since signing on with IBJ, I’ve made a pilgrimage around this time of year to the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville. See stories here,  here, and here

This remarkable fest gives full productions to untested work each year, launching such shows as “Crimes of the Heart,” “Dinner with Friends” and the recent off-Broadway hit “Becky Shaw” (which I’m still waiting for some theater company in Indy to stage—come on, folks).

This year, though, things are a little different on the far side of the Ohio River. Instead of just visiting, watching and reviewing at the Humana Festival, I’m doing a bit more.

I’ve been invited by the USC Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism to be a part of Engine31, a pop-up newsroom created exclusively (and briefly) to focus on the fest. With arts coverage around the country shrinking in favor of puffery and gossip, figuring out not just what to cover but how to cover it becomes increasingly important.  

Here’s what the Annenberg folks say about the project:

“As coverage of the arts in the traditional press has declined, we at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism have been working on new and different ways of covering the arts. In the spring of 2011 we created Engine28 in Los Angeles…In the space of six days a team of about 40 journalists produced more than 100 stories, and the website attracted thousands of visitors...Engine31/Humana is our first test outside of Los Angeles.”

I don’t expect to get much sleep this weekend. I do expect to challenge myself, learn from my fellow journalists, and pick up ideas that will help improve my arts coverage at IBJ.

And see a half dozen plays, of course.

Visit www.engine31.org if you want to see what happens. I’ll be posting reports here as well.

Oh, and don’t forget to chime in Monday on the You-Review-It Monday blog to fill me in on what I missed in Indy this weekend.

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