Theater Criticism Is Not Dying

Theater Criticism Is Not Dying

By Lindsay Barenz

There’s a narrative developing — emboldened this week by theater critics David Cote and Linda Winer’s departures from Time Out New York and Newsday — that theater criticism is dying. But that’s not true.

Theater criticism, like the news and editorial industry as a whole, is struggling. We’ve seen giant cuts to arts and culture coverage. Between 2000 and 2013, more than half of arts coverage disappeared* and there have been more cuts since but they’re not quantified because the organization of arts journalists that used to track this information disbanded. Opportunities for training, mentoring, and earning a living are rare but criticism endures and it’s more diverse than ever. It just isn’t where it used to be.

Are you reading Jose Solis at StageBuddy?

How about Nicole Serratore at Exeunt?

As Helen Shaw noted on Twitter, 4 Columns has 3 theater critics (notably, none are white men). 

Are you watching To See or Not To See?

Are you following the We Were There series on BroadwayBlack?

Theatre is Easy has the largest, most diverse lineup of critics in the city.

New York Theatre Review is totally devoted to indie theater and has been since 2010.

Are you listening to the Maxamoo Theater & Performance Podcast? We’ve been recording the damn thing for 4 years.

This isn’t a comprehensive list of alternative media outlets covering theater. It’s what I came up with in a fury. I know there are other outlets and other critics. Please list them in the comments or tweet them to me @lindsaybarenz (I’m making a list for a future demographics survey).

Now none of this is to say that the state of arts and culture journalism is healthy. It’s definitely not. We need to find ways to compensate emerging critics and provide training, editing, and mentoring, especially for critics who bring perspectives that are almost entirely missing from mainstream outlets. But criticism is happening and we creators of it would be ever so grateful if you read, watched, and listened to it.

*Is There a Future for Cultural Journalism?, Artblog, February 27, 2013.