Thursday, January 18, 2007

Response from ABJ to Actors' Summit Theatre

Neil Thackaberry had a response from the Beacon which he shared in a comment on my original November post on this topic. I'm re-posting it here for all to see:

"In response to the email I posted above, I received a response from the Beacon Journal. I replied as follows.


Thanks for getting back to me. I wish I could say that I found consolation or reassurance in your letter, but that would be untrue.

I stated that coverage of Actors' Summit no longer seemed to be a priority. That is exactly what was demonstrated by Elaine's choices for last weekend. I gather the three events you referred to were her reviews of two professional productions in Cleveland and one community theater production in Akron.

The Cleveland Play House, as one of the premiere regional Equity theaters in the country certainly deserves the Beacon Journal's attention, as does the Equity professional touring production of Light In the Piazza. But a choice was obviously made to cover two productions in Cleveland. That decision is an example of a priority, one that continues to denigrate the value of professional theater in the Beacon Journal's home market.

The question of priority is clearest in Elaine's decision to see Fat Pig at Bang & Clatter instead of QED at Actors' Summit. I'm glad that Fat Pig was reviewed. As a start up, semi-professional theater I'm delighted that Bang & Clatter is being covered. I'm also happy to see the Beacon continuing to cover Weathervane's community theatre efforts.

Neither of these ventures employ members of Actors' Equity, the international union of professional actors and stage managers. I believe that most of your newsroom staff are members of a union, as I am. Without just union compensation, healthcare and retirement benefits, it is impossible to sustain a community of artists capable of serving the highest aspirations of our community.

Elaine is working very hard to do an impossible task. While all of us involved in the theater are grateful for coverage of our productions, perhaps, given the paucity of resources the Beacon has committed to the arts, more care could be taken in allocating those resources. I would be happy to speak with you or any of the other editors or writers about suggestions you may have on how we can do a better job of keeping Elaine informed. The dates of all of our regular season productions are announced in late summer. We send press releases before each show opens. I have also contacted Elaine by email prior to each opening to remind her.

As for the possibility of Elaine's getting to QED during its final four performances, I'm afraid that any review she would write would have about the same relevance for the readers of the Beacon Journal as her dispatches from Florida -- coverage of performances that none of the readers will ever have a chance to see.

My original letter stated "I'm sorry that the Beacon Journal's priorities don't allow for consistent coverage of Actors' Summit, the only fully professional nonprofit theater in Summit County." My feeling is unchanged, and nothing in your letter leads me to believe that the Beacon Journal intends to establish policies or provide sufficient resources to change the situation.

I'm glad you read my letter and took the time to respond to it. I look forward to a time when we will be able to see more coverage of the professional theaters located within Summit County.


Neil Thackaberry
Artistic Director"

1 comment:

Village Green said...

Neil -- The Akron Beacon Journal seems committed to making our city and county appear a vast cultural wasteland. Do we really need more coverage of major professional Cleveland theatre events at the expense of local endeavors? Absolutely not. I encourage my readers to bombard the ABJ with letters of complaint. The lack of coverage will kill us all -- local newspaper AND local theatres -- in the end.

I have been re-posting Neil's comments as they come in so that new readers also come across this story. Keep spreading the word.