National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $80 million in grants as part of the NEA's second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2018. Included in this announcement is an Art Works grant of $20,000 to the Center for Media & Social Impact (CMSI), housed at the American University School of Communication, for the study of present and future trends in the art and business of documentary storytelling, which has transformed over the past decade of the information age. The Art Works category is the NEA's largest funding category and supports projects that focus on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and/or the strengthening of communities through the arts.
"The variety and quality of these projects speaks to the wealth of creativity and diversity in our country," said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. "Through the work of organizations such as the Center for Media & Social Impact in Washington, D.C., NEA funding invests in local communities, helping people celebrate the arts wherever they are."
"The State of the U.S. Documentary Field Study" will examine an industry that has long enjoyed a vibrant space in the media arts ecosystem. However, the industry may be in the early days of an evolving digital golden age, offering both new opportunities and challenges, which the Center for Media & Social Impact will explore.
"We are truly honored to receive this award from the National Endowment for the Arts to support vital research and field-building to support growth and knowledge about the art and cultural practice of documentary storytelling," said Caty Borum Chattoo, director of the Center for Media & Social Impact and principal investigator for the project.
"We are proud of the work generated by the Center for Media & Social Impact here at the AU School of Communication, which works in a hybrid position between scholarship and the professional practice of documentary and other forms of media storytelling," said Dean Jeff Rutenbeck. "Documentary storytelling is important in civic discourse and democracy, and CMSI's new work will help build unprecedented knowledge about the field."
The field study will examine documentary filmmakers across the country and focus on four key themes: career sustainability, funding and revenue streams, diversity and inclusion, and distribution platforms.