Thursday, March 04, 2010

Within the past two years critics have moved from the printed page (with many notable exceptions) to blogs. I have found myself following a very different kind of criticism, one that is more personal, more engaged with a political point of view, and more committed to the arts. Among those, I enjoy Edward Winkleman, CreateEquity, Culturegrrl, the Artful Manager, and Barry's Artblog. And the conversations initiated on those pages follow strands of thought I've pondered more and more over this past year and a half.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Critics still wield power.

Although last year there was a great deal of agreement that critics simply didn't have the clout that they had in the 20th century (notably Greenberg, of course) it seems that getting a good review in the New York Times helps increase attendance at a local gallery. In the preface to his June 7th blog, Edward Winkelman writes:

We were fortunate enough to receive a glowing review in The New York Times for our last exhibition by Joe Fig. We felt the work deserved the review, but we feel that way about nearly every show. We were very appreciative of the interest and insight of the critic, whom I've known a number of years and always find charming and very smart and a man of integrity.

And yet it's terribly daunting to realize the power all the critics of The New York Times wield. The day the review appeared the phone started ringing promptly at 11:00 when we opened and virtually never stopped, and we had literally more than 30 times the normal number of people come by (we counted), often with a cutout copy of the review in hand.

It definitely helps if you have a good show up on the walls that people can enjoy and it helps to get any kind of press coverage. Thirty times your normal attendance just boggles the mind. If your daily attendance hovers around 10 people... that's 300 people. Pretty shocking what a difference a review can make.

The New York Times has certainly maintained its reputation and influence in arts reviews. Not all newpapers succeed in establishing an arts editorial staff that can generate a following that responds. Also, New Yorkers may be more likely to respond to reviews than the inhabitants of many other cities. In which case, this particular x30 effect might not occur in your neighborhood (sigh)... but nevertheless, at least we have one documented case of +coverage = +audience. Thanks to a blogger!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Can blogging change the way that people perceive the arts? If the answer is yes, then can tapestry be included in the community of arts that benefit from the increase in interest?

In anticipation of a conference on arts journalism called "The New Playing Field", Arts Journal hosted a discussion blog called "Critical Edge." The arguments definitely piqued my interest but another article actually captivated me. On the sidebar is a link to "Why Arts Coverage Should Be More Like Sports" by Chris Lavin... which brings up some very interesting points.

Is it possible to have arts coverage in the newspapers the same way that we have sports coverage? I don't see why not. Coverage of my favorite local musicians, performances, films, etc. as well as national news along the same lines could easily fill many pages in a newspaper that I would pay for and actually read rather than skim. Certainly we have cultural personalities that have attracted this kind of coverage - famous baritones of opera, famous conductors, famous film stars, etc. We have new rising and falling "stars" in all the disciplines. Maybe I've just been looking in the wrong places for this kind of news... or maybe there's some other reason it's not getting reported?

Maybe the need for more transparency in arts organizations actually extends all the way down to the audience and affects how they perceive the arts. Have we been walled in by ourselves or by some outside force that caused us to circle the wagons? Or maybe both?