Friday, March 28, 2008

ANOTHER one?! critics going, going, gone!

From NAJP's ARTicles:

"Critic Elizabeth Zimmer has just posted the news on that critic Deborah Jowitt, who for four decades covered dance at the Village Voice, was fired from her staff position..." Full post here.

Elizabeth Zimmer's post here.

Zimmer's response to my thesis proposal last semester mentioning her own sad experience being laid off from the Voice here.

Comment from her on my post on The Winger: The shifting of dance writing to the web has been a boon for a lot of people, but those of us who’ve attempted to make a career of it notice that there’s almost no paid opportunity for young writers to enter the field. Without the prospect of earning a living, or part of one, as a dance journalist, many talented people will leave the field. I’ve spent 35 years being paid–sometimes adequately, often pitifully—for my writing and editing by newspapers, magazines, and radio stations, which has enabled me to spend dozens of hours a week paying close attention to the work of dancers and choreographers, and still cover the rent, health insurance, and eating. Last year I was laid off from the best job I ever had, as the dance editor at the Village Voice. Now I’m scrambling to pay my bills, and going to half as many performances since I’m now working part-time as a theater critic and part time as an English teacher....

Also her comment on former LA Times chief dance critic Lewis Segal's lay off mentions cut backs even in freelance opportunities:

Comment: This breaks my heart. Lewis is a Los Angeles institution.
In the same batch of e-mail that brought his news came word that my rates as an arts freelancer at New York's METRO are being cut 25 percent, and that the frequency of my reviews is being reduced.

NOT GOOD! Is the Times the only paper left with a full-time dance critic?


Evan said...

It's very scary to consider how many critics have been fired within the past few months. As wonderful as it is to see more online dance criticism in the form of personal blogs and ones associated with a newspaper, it's unfortunate that the boon in online writing means a decrease in paid positions for print journalism.

tonya said...

Hi Taylor -- in reponse to your last question, I think so, and did you see Apollinaire's blog post recently (the one where she talked about Macaulay), where she talks about how the freelancers -- LaRocco, Kourlas, Sulcas, etc. -- seem to be receiving less and less assignments? What's going on?

I mean, I agree with Evan. I love all the online stuff, obviously the blogs. But blogs can't be a substitute for professional criticism. There needs to be both. Dance critics make so little as it is -- Apollinaire said freelancers at NYTimes make only $150 a review, which shocked me. I just don't see a real future in professional dance journalism...

Philip said...

Something I have been thinking about since I started blogging: up until this January I always had to pay for all my dance & opera tickets. It's of course a great benefit to get on press lists for some companies but even if I hadn't gotten on the lists, I would have continued to go and spend my money on it simply because I love it (I'm speaking mainly of NYCB, of course). And I continue to buy tickets in addition to getting the press benefit, since I don't want to be greedy with my press requests. It simply means I can go even more frequently.

I have sometimes thought how the mainstream press writers don't really have a personal investment in going to performances: they go for free and possibly they go more often than they really want to because they've been assigned. This might make them a little jaded and also account for a tone of negativity on nights they'd rather be elsewhere.

When writers lose their paying jobs and thus their press access, it will be interesting to see if they care enough about dance (or opera or whatever their 'fach' is) to buy their own tickets and start blogging.

Going to the opera continues to cost me dearly and the Met seems uninterested in giving the bloggers any press access. So I continue to run myself into credit card debt because I love it too much to give it up - despite a steady decline in the percentage of really first-rate performances as the seasons pass.

I guess what it boils down to is, the mainstream press has always done it for money - it's a job - while the bloggers do it out of love and are willing to put their own money into it. Possibly the performances mean more to us because we have invested both in the purchase of tickets and the costs of blogging.