TITLE: Vice President, Media, Culture, and Special Initiatives
FUNDING AREAS: Documentary films, media, arts
CONTACT: firstname.lastname@example.org, 312-726-8000
IP TAKE: Often referred to as a "media maven," Revere is looking for the next big thing in the journalism industry, from the electronic frontier to documentary filmmaking.
PROFILE: Elspeth Revere is Vice President of Media, Culture, and Special Initiatives at the MacArthur Foundation. Her responsibilities at the foundation include "support for media in a technologically changing environment... strengthening American democracy, arts and culture in Chicago, grants in response to special opportunities, and the Foundation's program of institutional grants."
Revere joined MacArthur as a program officer in 1991. She then quickly moved into a position as Associate Director in 1992 and eventually to Director in 1998, then Vice President in 2006. Before joining MacArthur, she was President of the Woodstock Institute, a "nonprofit policy research organization working to increase private sector investment in low-income neighborhoods." She also worked as Director of Program Development for the city of Chicago's Department of Housing, and as Senior Planner in the Department of Development and Planning. Overseas, she's also been involved in a variety of community development projects in Guatemala over the years.
Revere heads the MacArthur programs that help promote "the production and distribution of news and documentary programs for television, radio, and the web that help inform the American public about important domestic and international current affairs and policy issues." This is certainly one of the areas MacArthur does best.
Often called the most important woman in Chicago journalism, Revere has quite a bit of weight to throw around through her work at MacArthur. She's been referred to as tough, businesslike and "very direct with her questions, her comments, and her observations" in her decision-making process. And in the constantly changing landscape of media culture, her level-headedness and no-nonsense approach is fine-tuned to what the field needs to grow in new directions.
Revere seems to prize collaboration and new approaches in the area of news gathering and is open-minded about the direction of the field. As she explained in a recent interview, "One of the concerns is how journalism is going to be funded in the future now that it's been unbundled from classified advertising and weather and movie reviews and sports scores and all those things you used to have to go to newspapers for. And when possibly promising projects come along, if they're either national or local, we're interested. Everybody's trying to figure this out and nobody's quite got the answer."
Revere heads additional programs at MacArthur too, including the MacArthur Award for Creative & Effective Institutions, and Strengthening American Democracy. Revere also administers some arts grants through the Arts & Culture in Chicago program. Within this program, she steers the organization toward the grantmaking decisions that will best represent the diversity of disciplines, artists, neighborhoods, and citizens in the region. They do this primarily through multi-year, general operating support to various theaters, dance organizations, musical groups, museums, exhibitors, and visual arts organizations in the area, as well as time-limited support to "help strengthen specific elements of these organizations and the cultural sector as a whole."
Given the breadth of these areas it's easy to see how Revere has so much sway in the realm of media grantmaking. MacArthur has also been a huge supporter of Creative Commons, and this Q&A sheds even more light on Revere's role and her priorities. MacArthur is a giant of an organization to have in your corner, so if you think you have an innovative approach to doing journalism or in Chicago arts, this is the place to start.