Dramatic Arts Associate Professor Karen Fricker co-wrote a piece recently published in the Toronto Star about the changing landscape of theatre criticism. Fricker co-wrote the piece alongside fellow theatre critic Carly Maga.
Fricker and Maga write:
There’s a lot of drama going on behind the scenes of theatre criticism these days.
As journalism has moved online, the number of critics paid to write theatre reviews for mainstream media outlets has dwindled (the same goes for other forms of arts criticism). After 19 years as theatre critic at the National Post, Robert Cushman left that post last September and has not been replaced, leaving only three mainstream outlets — the Star, the Globe and Mail, and NOW magazine — paying critics to review theatre on a regular basis in Toronto. There are other outlets that publish reviews, such as the vibrant site Mooney on Theatre, but their writers are unpaid, and in the case of Mooney the focus is not on theatrical knowledge and expertise but on enthusiasm and a layperson’s approach.
For at least a dozen years, many in our circles have been calling all this a crisis. If you believe that the arts need consistent and thoughtful critical response in order to thrive, then where is that response going to come from if so few people can make any money (let alone a living) doing critical work?
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