A month of intensive arts programming designed to broaden the audience of National Public Radio's network was announced yesterday.
The May festival will include some of the broadcasts of Arturo Toscanini with the NBC Symphony, a new production of Gershwin's 1924 musical "Lady, Be Good" and numerous interviews with artists and performers.
NPR president Frank Mankiewicz said the "Public Radio Arts Months will be (the network's) first major effort to coordinate so much programming around a central theme within a definitive time frame."
The initiative to broaden the audience will come from the National Endowment for the Arts, which will lobby state, local and corporate arts patrons to support the undertaking.
Mankiewicz estimates that in excess of 80 hours of arts programs will be broadcast on the national network during May and says local outlets also will be encouraged to produce their own programs.
Many of the arts shows will be included the PR's nightly news magazine "All Things Considered," its hour-long documentary series "Options" and the weekly arts program "Voices in the Wind." The Toscanini series will begin May 4 on most stations, running for 52 weeks. The "Lady, Be Good!" production will be directed by Lehman Engel and produced jointly with Belgian Television. It will be available for broadcast on May 21.
NpR was established in 1970 and is funded primarily by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It now serves 207 noncommercial public radio stations, including WETA and WAMU locally. NPR now estimates its national audience at about 4 million.