Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Please Don't Marginalize the Arts in Akron

Here is what I sent to the Beacon:

Regarding your decision to cut back on arts reporting in the Akron Beacon Journal -- I would like you to reconsider and think about what effect your actions will have on our city. There are many of us who make our living creating art for our fellow citizens. You will be making it very difficult for us and for our audiences.

I was born in Akron and majored in theatre at the University of Akron. I received my first theatrical review from the legendary ABJ theatre critic, Dick Shippy -- who said I gave a "capable" performance. Years later, after returning to Akron from the West Coast where I honed my performance skills, another ABJ theatre critic, Bill O'Conner, wrote a wonderful story about my solo performance act -- the article was warm and thoughtful and included a beautiful photograph of me and my masks. That article propelled me into all kinds of theatrical opportunities and I will always be grateful for that man's ability to perceive what I was doing and find the words to share it with his readers.

Most recently, Kerry Clawson reviewed my production of "Man With Bags" at the University of Akron. Again, I was so fortunate to have a writer look at my work and appreciate the concept and the experimental nature of the project. I was greatly honored to find our production listed in her annual Best in Local Theatre column for 2005. The thought that there will be no more reviews of our local artistic endeavors sickens me to the core.

When you cut out the arts coverage, you are cutting out the one thing the Beacon does that makes me want to buy it. I can get news -- from international to local -- online. I can access endless sports web sites, and find all kinds of places that tell me how to garden, which stocks to buy, and what is fashionable to wear. What I will never be able to find online are the insightful and creative writers who currently staff the Beacon Journal. Those are your selling points -- Kerry Clawson, Elaine Guregian, Dottie Shin, David Giffels, Mark Price and all the rest -- they have developed loyal readers who want to know what is going on in our city. Drop these people or reassign them to mundane roles and you will lose more readers than you thought possible. I will be one of them.


Kyle said...

Local news, sports, business, and arts is why I buy the Beacon. Due to my information addiction, most of the national news I read in the paper is stale. It is the local stories and stuff I can't find in the national news that makes me buy the paper.

Arts coverage builds interest in performances and helps grow events. Perhaps an Akron Blog on the arts would help fill the void left by Beacon cuts?

Village Green said...

An arts blog is an idea, but does the future hold paying gigs for arts reviewers? This goes back to my post on the quandry of buying a real paper vs reading it online and how that trend has hurt the Beacon financially.

But then again, when the Beacon was up for sale, we read that it made profits, just not enough to satisfy the stock holders. Evidently it's not enough to satisfy the new owner.

I still don't get how they plan to make money off of something that doesn't cover what the local market wants to read. OR perhaps I'm refusing to believe that so few people read arts-related articles these days.

mencken said...

Don't mar‧gin‧al‧ize spelling either

Village Green said...

Wow, that was a bad typo. Thank dog I didn't send it that way to the editors of the ABJ. Gotta figure out how to use the spell check on this blogger thing here, as well as figuring out how to post pictures and add a blog roll. In my spare time -- sometime soon.

Sebastian said...

Is a blog roll anything like a blog role? I like blog rolls myself because I'll eat anything.

Village Green said...

I decided to avoid the issue of roll vs role by calling it "My Favorite Blogs."