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To Cover the Arts or Not

By Rick Pender · November 12th, 2008 · Curtain Call

The world of arts journalism is shrinking. Driven by editors and publishers who think more about the bottom line than about great journalism, daily newspapers — long the traditional medium for arts criticism — are providing less and less coverage.

In Cincinnati, a lot of changes have occurred: One daily paper is gone, and the survivor, The Cincinnati Enquirer, evidently cares less and less about covering the arts even though city leaders often hold up our arts scene as a point of civic pride. (Can someone show me the logic in that?)

The truth is that newspapers everywhere have been downsizing arts coverage, driven by the misguided sense that the arts are an elite luxury of interest to only a few. Dozens of dailies have eliminated full-time staff writers who covered visual art, dance, film, classical music and theater. It’s a sad situation for anyone who understands that our arts make a stronger, more thoughtful community.

CityBeat, which just began its 15th year of publication, continues to cover the arts with zeal, commitment and enthusiasm. We are the only Cincinnati publication still using local writers to review movies and art exhibitions.

And if you want to know what’s happening on local stages, CityBeat offers more coverage (and more timely coverage) than you’ll find elsewhere.

In this issue you can read my review of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change that just opened at the Cincinnati Playhouse and Mark Sterner’s assessment of Gilbert & Sullivan’s classic operetta H.M.S. Pinafore, presented by Cincinnati Music Theatre at the Aronoff Center’s Jarson-Kaplan Theater. That’s not all: on this site you’ll find online-only reviews by Tom McElfresh of Covedale Center’s staging of Thornton Wilder’s 1938 Pulitzer Prize-winner Our Town (review here) and David Rambo’s 1999 play God’s Man in Texas at Mariemont Players (review here).

I recently covered Northern Kentucky University’s joyous Once on This Island with a print review, and I’ll write about the touring production of The Wizard of Oz in next week’s issue. Planned for online coverage later this month are the College-Conservatory of Music’s staging of the classic musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying at UC and Arthur Miller’s 1968 drama, The Price, presented by the Blue Chip Players at the renovated Madisonville Arts Center.

Check out CityBeat’s arts blog site, too. Every Friday you’ll find a “Stage Door” tip for the weekend, my recommendation of a show likely to please you. I mix up my suggestions to help you decide if Bob Walton in the Playhouse’s production of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (pictured) is worth seeing, from our most established companies to those pushing the envelope or finding inventive ways to re-examine a classic.

For 14 years CityBeat has been committed to providing readers with meaningful commentary on what’s happening in our city’s various arts communities. While other media pay less and less attention to local theater, CityBeat continues to be your best resource for the fairest and most comprehensive coverage.

CONTACT RICK PENDER: rpender@citybeat.com



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