Detroit and Wayne State University Welcome National Critics Institute for arts journalism workshop

Photo by Frances Kai-Hwa Wang. NCI’s 2022 class attends a dance theater production of Kyle Abraham’s, An Untitled Love, at Jacob’s Pillow in Becket, Massachusetts on July 15, 2022. Jacob’s Pillow was one of several excursions attended by NCI participants.

The National Critics Institute, in collaboration with Tostada Magazine and Wayne State University’s Journalism Institute for Media Diversity, is hitting the road to lead an intensive, three-day workshop and conference March 31 through April 2 in Detroit for up to 15 journalists of all experience levels interested in pursuing careers in arts journalism and criticism.

This first-ever, condensed version of NCI’s signature residential programming takes place on the Wayne State campus, in the heart of Detroit’s Cultural Center, and is led by NCI director Christopher Jones, theater critic and columnist at the Chicago Tribune, and Serena Maria Daniels, founder and editor of Tostada. Over the course of three days, participants will strengthen their skills by immersing themselves in a series of workshops on writing reviews and arts profiles, critiques of their peers’ work, two off-site excursions, and engaging roundtable discussions. Upon completion of the workshop, participants, including metro Detroit professionals and Wayne State journalism students, will have the opportunity to connect with local editors and pitch stories to media outlets.

“Wayne journalism and the Journalism Institute for Media Diversity work in partnership with professional organizations to bring this level of exposure to our diverse student body. This ensures that they have the skillset that sees them being hired before or upon graduation,” says Alicia Nails, director of the Journalism Institute for Media Diversity.

Daniels is the founder and editor of Tostada and a 2022 alumna of NCI, which takes place over the course of two weeks at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in the New England coastal community of Waterford, Connecticut. She became interested in organizing similar programming in her home base of Detroit, where she sees a need for more compelling storytelling in arts journalism.

“Detroit has such a rich history in the arts, with its world-class museums, roots in Motown and techno, and many other aspects of pop culture,” says Daniels. “When I attended NCI last year, it clicked for me that this is just the sort of hands-on programming that Detroit journalists need. For years, I’ve been looking for ways to strengthen coverage of culture in the city, whether it be through mentoring aspiring writers or offering internships or other freelance opportunities. I hope that bringing this sort of workshop to the city will empower more journalists to pursue arts and culture as a career path.”

The workshop mirrors NCI’s traditional model, which invites mid-career and aspiring critics to the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center campus every summer to help writers gain insight into the specialist areas of the arts and to understand arts journalism from all sides. Past fellows have included: Mark Blankenship, Michael Phillips, Suzy Evans, and Diep Tran. Expenses, including meals and off-site activities, are provided by NCI.

Newsrooms and individuals interested in participating in the workshop are encouraged to contact Tostada Magazine at by Tuesday, February 28, 2023. For more information about the National Critics Institute, click here. For more information about the Journalism Institute for Media Diversity, click here.

Lead funding for NCI is provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots that invests in journalism, the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers, including Detroit. Its goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which are essential for a healthy democracy.


Author: Tostada Magazine Staff

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