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The Role of the (Art) Critic

There’s an interesting piece in the Guardian on the future of theatre criticism, HERE. The role of the (art) critic is on our mind quite often (naturally) and one of the comments on the article – reproduced below – raises some good questions:

Putting the purpose, form and teaching of theatre criticism under the microscope is absolutely vital, but before we consider these points, should we not be addressing the economic state of our publishing outlets? Without a viable financial framework to support the professional critics work, there is little room for discussion on remit and form. Im not suggesting a relapse into doom and gloom diatribes on the decline of print media, what I suggest is a detailed and constructive look at how newspapers and the wider media industry is restructuring in light of economic pressures and digital distribution demands; and understanding where the theatre critic stands in relation to this.


The Art Critic. Image: api.ning.com

Personally, I would like to see the newspaper trustees, investors and editors join the discussion and address revenue models and distribution strategy. What do they think the role of the critic in the 21st century should be? In what way(s) has the critic’s role changed since the pre-Web and pre-recession era? Where do they see the theatre critic in 10 years from now? In terms of content, where does the Review sit in relation to other types of content (blog posts, photos, video clips etc.)? What criteria do editors use to rate the success of a piece of content: quality of work, depth of research, reader comment count, visitor view count, time on page, number of trackbacks, social media buzz, ad clicks, all the above, none of the above?

In 2009, if we haven’t got a grasp on the state of the medium, then we won’t have a grasp on our ability to change the form. How can we speak with any degree of certainty about the hows and whys of training new theatre critics when we are oblivious to the direction media outlets are taking?

Some of these questions are answered more comprehensively in this brilliant blog post by Clay Shirky, that we read a while ago and has stayed with us:

For the next few decades, journalism will be made up of overlapping special cases. Many of these models will rely on amateurs as researchers and writers. Many of these models will rely on sponsorship or grants or endowments instead of revenues. Many of these models will rely on excitable 14 year olds distributing the results. Many of these models will fail. No one experiment is going to replace what we are now losing with the demise of news on paper, but over time, the collection of new experiments that do work might give us the journalism we need.

Read the full article HERE.

One Response to “The Role of the (Art) Critic”

  1. I BELIEVE THAT ANYONE WHO BELIEVES IN MODELS WILL FAIL – WE MUST EXPLORE IN THE REAL SENSE WHAT OUR WORLD IS IN WHATEVER MEDIUM WE WORK IN, OR INDEED WITHUOT A MEDIUM OTHER THAN LIFE ITSELF

    CHEER UP! U GOT IT RONG – TYPOS INCLUDED

    JOHN GRAND, LONG TERM ART AND ECOLOGY CRITIC AND WRITER FOR THE WORLD WE LIVE IN

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