No Plain Jane

Theatre reviews and musings (mostly) from Adelaide

Tag: On criticism

On writing an experimental theatre-review of Roman Tragedies

The Lifted Brow has recently re-launched their website, and are commissioning pieces which can only exist in the digital space. I find this incredibly exciting, because although most of my career is based around online-only publications (indeed, I find it rather novel and wonderful when my work appears in print) still the formula of reviewing is much the same today as it was mid last century. Online I am able to be freer with my word count (particularly when writing on my blog), insert hyperlinks, and (hopefully, sometimes) engage with commenters, but the overall form of theatre reviews has felt to me largely stagnant.

Last October, in preparation for a panel on ‘criticism in the digital age’, the Wheeler Centre asked me for some brief thoughts on writing reviews. I said:

Despite advances in technology opening up the possibilities of criticism, it remains very conservative. Largely, it hasn’t changed or expanded form, method or purpose in the transition from print newspapers to online platforms.

If we ask for – and witness – arts that push boundaries and forms but our responses to that art doesn’t, then the record of art left by criticism will be much more conservative than the art itself.

Criticism, when done well, creates a record that artists can continue to build on. If criticism isn’t building an accurate portrait of the most exciting contemporary art, and the strongest records are left of work that is most conservative, where does that leave anyone?

I think, for the most part, maintaining this lineage of review structure is the best thing for the art form: people who exist in the same job sphere as me do so because we believe art and the dissection of art is critically important, but also because we have great faith and love in the written word. On the panel (which you can watch at the above link) I spoke about games criticism, and the critics who are using YouTube and online video spaces to review these works: for these critics, the most pertinent and organic way to respond to the work is through video. Not being particularly versed in games criticism, I would suggest that most reviews still exist in a traditional text form, much like theatre criticism; and of course you could argue that reviewing through video isn’t particularly innovative except in the ways, like text, its production and broadcast are more accessible than they’ve ever been.

In theatre criticism, I’ve been loving Exeunt Magazine’s Doodle Reviews and, for something just silly and fun, Edinburgh Furinge, neither of which seem to be particularly dependent on the form of the theatre work, but have the ability to respond just as broadly as a traditional review. These examples, though, are rare.

Occasionally I’ve experimented with the form my criticism takes, always in response to the form of the work and always still in text. My review of Team Mess’ This Is It  was a response to the imagined film in the theatre work, and my review of Life & Times responded to the verbatim theatre piece by being a verbatim review – accidentally recorded at the end of an interview. While structurally quite traditional, my response to Shotgun Wedding endeavoured to take on extra meaning by being published on the date of my one year ‘anniversary.’ Working as a writers-in-residence on Brown Council’s Mass Action: 137 Cakes in 90 HoursIanto Ware and I were forced into a similar (but not as gruelling) endurance project as the artists, allowing us an ongoing and deepened relationship to the work we wouldn’t have otherwise experienced, and at one of my lowest points in the room I managed to craft a response to the work I am deeply proud of: a response that wouldn’t have existed had I been involved like a typical audience member. Then, too, there is “embedded criticism” which with Ode to Nonsense again I produced a traditional review, but after a relationship with the creation of the work.

With the exception of Ode to Nonsense, these reviews exist because they were able to directly respond to the forms of the works themselves. It is harder, therefore, to develop as a writer in these experimental forms because there are, simply, less opportunities, and because each must be a new organic response. I have no idea what, say, an experimental response to The Seagull would look like, because the traditional response to me seems the strongest way to respond to a traditional staging. Criticism is always a responsive form in which the art must come first, this of course means I have more opportunities to develop my craft in these traditional forms. (Although I’ve been lucky over the first three months of this year to contribute audio responses on Guardian Australia’s Culture Podcast, something I am certainly getting more confident and stronger in. You can listen to here or download on iTunes.)

And so for The Lifted Brow to formalise a space that asks writers to be responsive to digital platforms, and in my case responsive to art’s form itself, is a concept I find very exciting. My review of Roman Tragedies for the Adelaide Festival responds to this work from Toneelgroep Amsterdam by emulating their use of time and their invitation to use social media throughout the production. In just watching the piece I had to be hyperaware of my review – taking notes when I typically never do – and then I had to go an back-curate the tweets and instagram photos to integrate. After six hours physically viewing the show, the process of building the review took another several days, with the curation of the tweets and integration into the timeline being particularly difficult and protracted. Post the writing the review, I realised this was really a work that needed two people to create (plus a third in my editor, the very helpful Simon Collinson): one to review the show, and a second to solely curate the social media, ideally in real time.

My review begins with the voices of others:

 

 

Just as the show relies on its audience, my review relies on the audience I shared that room with.

Despite experimentation with form, perhaps the most liberating thing was complete freedom with word count in a commissioned environment: the piece was able to be precisely how long I thought it needed to be and I was able to write until I stopped, a freedom typically only afforded to me on my blog. My favourite piece of the review, though, is one that came up truly organically as a realisation I came across in the writing: the use of white space towards the end. This space replaced language when the I found the work emotionally overwhelming me. In this written form, I felt emptiness spoke louder than words. 

Although the tweets and intsagrams are so much of the digital space, it feels to me that forcing the reader to scroll past this nothingness was the most native to the online platform. In print, not only would my work not be able to take up the equivalent physical space, but also the way the readers’ eyes would jump from one piece of text to another, even over pages if possible, would feel inherently different, and I don’t know if it would carry the same impact that I hope it does here. Looking back at it now, I think I would have liked to have been even more ambitious with how much blank space we used, how much we forced the reader to contemplate the stretch of time in the work.

I don’t think it is entirely successful as a review: the form has its limitations as much as its advantages. Much was left unsaid, depths of the work are not truly explored as time forced my piece forward, wider connections to contemporary theatre are ignored, and as is typical my perspective on it is dampened by thoughts I’ve developed now but could not articulate by deadline. But, and I think this is particularly important when looking at a production that has been touring the world since 2007, I think my review offers something unique to the work and the global recording of its history. I think it’s a response, too, that offers something to both an audience who has witnessed the work and those who haven’t, and this is something I always strive to achieve in my work.

When will I next get the opportunity to write something like this again? I don’t know. Perhaps the work will jump out at me in advance or perhaps I will see a show and walk out thinking of the new radical way I can respond having not gone in with those thoughts at all. I don’t think the traditional way we respond to theatre is dying or needs reviving, but I hope innovative and truly digital responses can continue to develop and grow up alongside as a contemporary – and sometimes, as a rival.

You can read my review in full here. I am very keen to hear thoughts.

Ode to Nonsense blog four: wrap-up discussion

The following is an edited transcript of a conversation between me and Andy Packer, the Artistic Director of Slingsby and director of Ode to Nonsense. I interviewed Andy several times before the production opened, including time spent in the rehearsal room and tech, before reviewing the work on opening night. You can read my previous pieces on the work here.

Jane: I really appreciated you having me in the rehearsal room. I think it was really valuable just in a general, much broader sense, because I haven’t spent a lot of time in rehearsal rooms. It’s a weird place where I sit, almost, in this industry, where I’m very connected to everyone and I invest a lot in having really strong connections with the community, but I only ever see this end point which is such the tip of the iceberg of the whole ecology.

Andy: You kind of see the church service without everything else that goes on through the week.

Yeah.

It is interesting. I’m glad you were able to come in. And I really appreciated all of our conversations and what you wrote. And I think it’s really important that people critiquing or writing about theatre understand the process that we go through. And things that may seem ill-considered are not necessarily un-considered. So it’s great. I think it should happen more.

Yeah, definitely. I think it should happen more but I am at this point in my career where I am trying to figure out to make it a career, and how to make it sustainable. And that means writing preview pieces more often than not, because that’s where the money is. Stuff like this I’d love to do, but where is the money to sit in the rehearsal room?

It’s the same with artists, as well. You’ve got to create demand. You’ve got to do it and do it and do it until there is interest, and then hopefully there is an audience which means there is some commercial viability to it, you know?

Yeah, absolutely. 

I don’t know if you’ve read any of this stuff: there is a British critic called Andrew Haydon and he coined the term ‘embedded criticism’, and so lots of people particularly in the UK have used that term. Then Jake Orr and Maddy Costa have created Dialogue, and that’s about having conversations with artists and understanding process, and also thinking about what artists want from reviews. Not that that’s the be-all-end-all of what a review can ever be, but it’s about engaging on this really deep level.

And so obviously I’ve been involved with a lot of those conversations online, and I’ve read a lot of their writing about it. So I went in the first rehearsal thinking ‘oh, I’m doing embedded criticism’ and I came out thinking I’m not. What am I doing? You can’t do criticism of that room. And so I started to think of myself as an embedded critic – because I am a critic, that’s how I describe myself – but it took me a while to figure out what my relationship was to the work in that room and how I could respond to it.

Also we didn’t set up any strict rules. I was pretty open to the fact that the reason we were bringing you in was not so we could ensure that you would write a better review, I was really clear on that. The outcome of your response to the work was completely your own, but hopefully what would happen is you would get a better understanding of us as a company and us as a team of artists and the way that we work.

I think probably for myself, I can’t speak for anyone else, what I would love to see more in reviews is long form. Like Theater Magazine in the US: it’s longer form exploration of the artists, the context, and then the work is part of that, as opposed to ‘it didn’t work’ or ‘it worked, it was brilliant.’ Even ‘it worked, it was brilliant’ is great for picking out quotable quotes to put on posters, but it’s not journalism. That’s when I think a bit of writing is really interesting, when it takes all of that into consideration.

And I don’t think you necessarily need to be in a rehearsal room to understand that, but I do think you need to have an ongoing conversation with an artist or with a company.

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Calling Adelaide’s Young and Emerging Arts Writers

I’ve been lucky enough to spend a lot of time travelling with my writing this past year, and somehow all of a sudden I have found my writing community existing in Melbourne and Sydney, while my artistic community exists in Adelaide. I think it’s time for us young professional arts writers and critics to really start talking.

Thanks to the support of the SA Writers Centre, I would like to extend this invitation:

Young and emerging arts writers and critics are invited to an informal discussion about arts writing and Adelaide. This meeting is designed for people who are pursuing a professional career in arts writing and/or criticism, and are interested in discussing and analysing the state of arts writing and the arts industry in South Australia, what it means to be a young professional arts writer, future directions for the craft, and the relationship and intersection of arts writers with artists.

The discussion will be at the SA Writers Centre, October 29 6:30pm. Please email me janehoward at ozemail.com.au with any inquires and with your RSVP. I really want this discussion to be free wheeling and driven by all in attendance, but I have some plans up my sleeve and I’d like those interested to get in on the ground floor. Look forward to having you.

Crack Theatre Festival (This Is Not Art)

Three hours on a train up from Sydney are some really wonderful beaches. On the October long weekend there is also an arts festival. But, let’s be honest, mainly there are beaches.

I was asked to come up to the Crack Theatre Festival with This Is Not Art to talk on a panel about blogging and criticism. Normally when I got to a festival I do everything and drive myself insane and to the point of exhaustion. However, TINA found itself at the end of several exhausting months and at the beginning of a month of festival related travel, so I decided to take it slow.

How slow? In four days I went to: seven shows, one walking tour, two launches, one closing party, one workshop, four panels (plus the one I was on), and one rooftop market.

Slow.

But it still, somehow, felt nice and slow. I spent time walking around Newcastle and its beaches, I went to the museum, I had long breakfasts and long lunches and long barbeques.

To Quota or Not To Quota was perhaps the healthiest panel on representation of women and culturally diverse backgrounds in theatre I’ve been to. Maybe because Crack is such a youth-oriented festival many of the artists in attendance have only just started to come into their professional practice, and they have come into a world where the conversation – and the numbers – about women in theatre in particular have been at the forefront.

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Critical dialogue about critical voices.

“Everyone’s A Critic” has been that ever non-specific and slightly annoying phrase on my mind lately, as May 10 I will be on a panel to discuss just that. You should join Alison Croggon (from the mother of all Australian theatre blogs, Theatre Notes), Marc Fennell (Triple J and self-titled blog), Samela Harris (The Advertiser) and me, with our host Fenella Kernebone at the Adelaide Festival Centre. Tickets are FREE (like this blog, hey! And who says there is no such thing as a free lunch?) and can be booked here.

Mostly, I think the actual conversation surrounding “everyone’s a critic” is a bit tired and done. Yes, everyone now has the platform to talk about art. We know this. It is a good thing. The internet has opened this up in a wonderful way which is still revolutionising the way artists, administrators, marketers and audiences interact as all parties learn and refine “social media strategies.” Much of the best arts coverage in Australia comes from online platforms where writers can respond with speed to news, with time to review, and without (too) restrictive word counts. Some of the finest work I read are long-form responses from individual blogs. For recent examples, take Jana Perkovic‘s essay on The Wild Duck (however much I disagree; I was blown away by the production), or Alison’s review of The Histrionic.

If anything, I think we’re still at a stage where not enough people are engaging in these platforms – theatre artists are all too reluctant to offer thoughts on art unless it is absolutely positive (and when it’s not, the silence can be deafening).

But the questions we need to ask are: a world where “everyone’s a critic” where do we find the support platforms for people who want to be more than the tweeters, or more than the volunteers writing consumer guides? In what ways can we expand the role of the “serious” arts writer or critic? How do we make robust critical discussion a vital part of the culture and community? Is it possible for the main-stream media to be place where we are going to get this? How do we make online platforms viable?

In short: how do we make today’s writers, today’s publications, today’s dialogue better?

I think the first thing we need to do is remove the thoughts that critics are somehow outside the rest of the culture. London theatre critic Andrew Haydon published an excellent blog last week about the idea of the “embedded critic.” Andrew, like me and many other writers, particularly in the blogosphere, are increasingly interested in tearing down the false separations between the “artist” and the “critic”: the critic coming in closer to the artists work, and creating better dialogue around it.

“Emeddeness” comes in many forms. Andrew spent every night at Forest Fringe at the Gate, a two week London residency of Edinburgh Fringe Festival institution, the Forest Fringe. Jake Orr (of A Younger Theatre) documented the rehearsal process for a new work by performance group Dirty Market. Being asked to blog through the Australian Theatre Forum was an opportunity for me to be embedded in an environment with some of Australia’s best theatre makers and administrators. Living and writing and working in Adelaide makes sure I’m always at least somewhat embedded in the local theatrical culture. While I don’t know everyone, the city is small enough that I’m not far off: I place myself in an active role in the forums, the panels, the foyers; I interview artists; all of a sudden I found myself production managing a fringe show.  I feel like I’m fighting for something here, and I have to go into that battle with the artists themselves.

Beyond Adelaide, I am currently one of six emerging arts writers (with Melissa Deerson, Naomi Gall, Rebecca Harkins-Cross, Anabelle Lacroix and Sam William- West) involved in Text Camp through Next Wave and the Emerging Writers Festival. Not only am I endlessly excited that I get to spend all nine days at Next Wave (The festival program is everything I want from art one festival. I may have teared up when Emily Sexton read out her launch speech.), but I am so exhilarated that this structure exists within a festival. We have been invited by the festival to be a part of the festival. We get to learn about and practice and stretch our own craft, but we get to do this as a recognised part of a sprawling beast of artistsresidentsadministrators and so on and so forth.

But even better, Next Wave’s commitment to arts writing extends beyond people in my role. Rather than releasing a program – short blurb, time, date, location – Next Wave released a magazine, filled with essays, snatches of writing, or photographs about and from the work and the artists. Communication surrounding the art is presented as an integral first step to connecting with, understanding, and finding the work.

We’ve created the very first Next Wave Magazine. With the guidance of Editor Alice Gage, we created a publication that introduces a new collection of people. That doesn’t try to sell you something. That doesn’t assume that you should know these artists – of course you don’t, they’re the next wave! Our magazine has our artists explain why they make art, how they’re coming to understand generosity, why what they have been making feels urgent.

-Emily Sexton, Change not yet able to be articulated, or, art

Particularly being from Adelaide, but even being from Australia, I feel a need (and want) to cover work in detail, to analyse it, to expose it, to illuminate it. We’re a small city in a small country, and to have a long-form record out there in the world that says this is what is happening in my city, this is what is happening in my country is crucially important. Isn’t this going to be more illuminating if I’m part of it?

The oft asked question is then but what about your objectivity? To which I say there is no such thing. This question, of course, comes from an assumption that consumer guide judgements are even interesting, let alone necessary: a notion I disagree with strongly.

As Andrew wrote on his blog:

Another aspect of “embeddedness” that I think worth addressing is whether, if a critic gets “embedded” in some way or other, it will make them view the work more favourably.

Well, here’s a thing. I reckon a critic’s actual *opinion* of a piece is frequently the least important part of a review. Yes, some people treat reviews as some kind of consumer guide. I suspect many of them might be the same sort of people who grumble if they suspect a critic isn’t “being objective”. They’re the people who prize the star-rating. And, having taken into account what I’ve said only a couple of paragraphs earlier about respecting the humanity of others, I still think those people are the wreckers of civilisation.

Ok, it is useful to know if something is good or not. But unless you’re actually the person who’s reviewed the show – or you have the magical good fortune to have a critic with whose taste yours corresponds exactly – the good/not-good question just boils down to that most mysterious of things; one’s taste.

The internet opens so many amazing opportunities for writing about art: everyone’s a critic. Not only in the idea that you don’t need permission or validation to comment any more, but also in the fact that you can do new things with the form. You can take a month to sort out your thoughts, you can draw crazy parallels, you can hyperlink everything you possibly can to make a point about how you can hyperlink, you can publish a telepathic interview, you can you can you can.

Why then in Adelaide do we see so much of the traditional same old same old? The 250 word (if that) consumer guide: thumbs up / thumbs down, make sure you buy a ticket / give this one a miss.

The recent Humana Festival of New American Plays hosted a panel called Critiquing Criticism: (re)imagining the future, and it is a brilliant discussion on criticism from artists, administrators, and writers well worth the hour listen. One of my favourite comments on the panel was a very succinct point from playwright Deborah Stein:

The consumer report question implies that there is a consumer, and we’re all in agreement with who that is, and I find that more and more to not be true.

Later, Sasha Anawalt, the director of the Arts Journalism course at USC Annenberg, pitched in:

Critics and arts journalists have audiences, too. And we serve our audience, and we’re figuring out who our audience is. Because you guys all want critics, you want to hear – that feeling that you had of being understood and you cried? – that’s the kind of criticism that I HOPE to create, and help others create. We just went through a dark period, where the critic had to be “objective” and held outside, and now we can come in. And everything is individual. Those individual critics in Boston and Austin and New York are DIFFERENT. And your relationship to them is individual and it’s different. So it really comes down to that one by one by one thing. And it’s very personal.

So in this world where everyone’s a critic, can we invite the critic in? Can we invite them into work, into conversations, into festivals, into support systems? Is there some way we can find an environment where critical dialogue surrounding art is seen as so crucial that it needs to be supported just as art is?

99% of the time writing about theatre is an act of failure. It’s never good enough. There is no way I can capture everything on – or behind – a stage. There is always more to be said. I think “embedding” myself further into the culture can only possibly be for the better.

As UK theatre maker Daniel Bye wrote in his response to Andrew’s blog:

The only way we can save criticism as an institution from the idiocy imposed on it by the marketplace and the broader culture is by giving it space, access and generosity. Criticism is in trouble as a serious form, and keeping it at a respectful distance from its subject isn’t going to help.

As I write this today, I’m coming up with much more questions than answers. Maybe if we discuss it we can start to flip that ratio? I’d love to know your thoughts, and I’d love to see you Thursday week fortnight.

The face for radio.

Back when I was young and naïve and thought I would be able to keep pace writing about the shows I was seeing in the festival season (oh, how I will look back on that period and laugh!) I was a guest on radio show The Scenery.

If you follow this handy link, you can hear me talk about things including: what it means to me to be a young critic in Adelaide; how a critic came to be production managing Sepia; how I fit in to the wider arts scene here, and how I fit into a national landscape; problems I see in the local industry when it comes to the perception of criticism and critics; wanting to make arts writing a conversation; issues I have with the old guard of the Adelaide Critics Circle; dealing with criticism for my criticism; and the crazy experiment I’ve taken this fringe when requesting tickets, which has been quite wonderfully received.

Listen; discuss; and come help me on my crazy trek to increase this conversation I’m one teeny tiny part of.

Addendum: A Chorus Line, the commercial musical, and the review

My piece on A Chorus Line and the thoughts I had surrounding reviewing such an existing entity had spawned a very interesting discussion on the role of the review and the reviewer (please join in if you have more to add).

But, what I’m asking from you now is what do you want from a review of an existing, commercial musical?  If that’s a thirty-seven year old production of A Chorus Line or if that’s, say, a replica of a current mega-musical such as Wicked - what do you want a review to tell you about the locally playing production, when you can just as easily google dozens from NYC or around the world?

I want specific answers. In the comments on the first post Keith said:

pointing out sound problems is a big deal and mentioning current actors in the cast is important, too. (The cast will use ACL reviews like an indepedent theatre company would, for pull-quotes and to build their reputations.) But you’re just a different part of the conversation with a show like this; you’re speaking to people who will see this cast on that stage – and probably not to any future readers with interests in ACL.

So is it these things: execution of production qualities, more detail of individual performances?  Is it more background and context, or is it less?  Does it matter that it’s been running for forty-odd years?

What do you dear reader of this blog – you audience member, you artist, you marketer – read a review of such a show for?  What didn’t I talk about in my first review which I should have?  What did I talk about which you wish I’d left out?  What do you want to know, or want to discuss with me, or discuss with anyone when you leave a show like this?

You help me, and I might learn to be a better writer.  I might even try and write you another review.

Reviews, who are they good for? (Including Review: A Chorus Line)

On Friday December 31st, A Chorus Line had its first preview at the Adelaide Festival Centre.  Before the curtain even fell, Adelaide Now (the online branch of The Advertiser) had published an article about the first performance entitled A Chorus Line Dazzles At Premiere.  It’s your typical arts fluff-piece – “stars were made”, producer tells you you should go, Adelaide’s the place to be, etc.  Critics weren’t invited until the official opening night of Jan 3, yet journalist Emily Watkins – the Sunday Mail’s Crime and Justice Reporter - still tells us the production “dazzled the opening night crowd.”  Can’t you just see that on the posters?

On Jan 1st, the Adelaide Festival Centre’s twitter asked tweeters what they thought of “opening night”:

before getting well and truly in the act, tweeting Watkins article as their “first review”, to which I replied:

To which I got no response.

So not only do we have the local newspaper conflating a first performance with an opening night, we have the Adelaide Festival Centre also ignoring this distinction, and then calling an article a review.

I mainly thought no more of it, until down to the Festival Theatre I went on January 3rd to pick up my tickets and watch the show to write my review.  And it wasn’t until I sat down in my seat that I fully comprehended that critics had been invited to see and respond to a production which is a replica of a production which first played Broadway in 1975, where it continued for fifteen years. Which first played the West End in 1976; Sydney in 1977.  Which won nine Tony Awards, the Pulitzer Prize, became the longest running show on Broadway, and played to 6.5 million people on that stage alone. These are all facts which could leave someone in awe, but I was left with just one thought:

What am I doing here?  What are any of us critics doing here?

What will any of us have to say about a production which has been kicking around the globe for 37 years?  What is that going to offer to theatrical discussion?

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Even A Critic Is A Person

Even a critic is a person.  No: especially a critic is a person, and the voice of a person must be heard in all his work. Conversely, all criticism in which a human voice is not heard is bad criticism.

Question: isn’t it possible that criticism might become too personal – in the sense that the person indulges himself, asks for overparticular attention, preens, poses for the cameras, overinsists that attention be paid to him?

Answer: Oh, what an unfair question! How could one answer it except in the affirmative?  But the affirmative answer is so uninteresting!

May I advocate for a style of criticism, however serious, that is not too far from the spoken word? An argument has been made for obscurity in modern literature.  But when this literature is discussed by an Edmund Wilson it becomes less obscure.  That is why he took pen to paper: to make the more unknown by the less unknown. The more grandiose and doctrinaire school of modern criticism explains the unknown by the more unknown. Proust is difficult, God knows, but criticism of Proust can be even more difficult! My argument is that this is a reason for not reading such criticism.

Good criticism results from no lazy or easy going process or mentality, but its purpose is to make life – the life of the student of the arts – easier.  If it fails, the student is justified in taking leave of the critic and having another go at Proust.

- Eric Bentley
Thinking About The Playwright , p233

Australian Theatre Forum: A terrifyingly amicable discussion between artists and critics

Open Spaces thoughts: two.

Terrifyingly frank discussion between arts and critics”, is what was proposed by Cameron Woodhead,  and “Given the ABC has just dropped its in house arts coverage, how do we nourish and sustain critical connections?”  was instigated by Alison Croggon.  I was very excited by the size of the group which choose to attend the discussions.  I was disappointed together, everyone was much more “terrifyingly amicable” than “terrifyingly frank.”

There are so many issues surrounding both prongs of this debate.  For me and my “career” as a critic it boils down to two key issues: how do I receive critical feedback of my work as an emerging writer, and how do I create a sustainable career in a field which is rapidly being removed from our traditional media sources?  I am paid for only two of the publications I write for – and this sum is minimal.  I figure in a good month I might be able to bring in as much as $220.

I have not yet had one of these months which I would describe as good.

(And then, of course, I buy tickets for a great chunk of the shows I review for this blog, so that’s where that money goes. I am often struck how often I am praised for my work on this blog, and how few media lists I am on.)

This career is currently completely unsustainable, this blog is completely unsustainable.  It’s not necessarily that not getting paid is the issue, it’s that I’m not paid and I work full time and then and then and then.  It can all get a bit much.

And on the other point, it is really really hard to get artists to talk to critics about criticism.  I’ve been having more luck in Adelaide in recent months, perhaps my “contribution” to the arts scene there more visibly seen or appreciated?  My annoying voice popping up in more forums, people figuring out I’m not going away?

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