A couple of weeks ago, I put up a post that outlined cuts to the local arts coverage.
It’s happening all over again. This week, Jerry Wasserman, a local theatre critic that writes for Vancouver’s Province newspaper, had this on his website:
Sad to report that after four excellent years Jerry will no longer be reviewing theatre for The Province newspaper. Canwest/Global, like Canada’s other media conglomerates, has been hit really hard by the recession. Struggling to stave off bankruptcy, Canwest is radically cost-cutting in all its divisions. Freelancers are among the first to go. This is an unfortunate situation for Vancouver’s arts community in that it loses one of the major venues in the region for formal theatre reviews. Arts and entertainment editor Carey Gillette wants the community to know that The Province will still preview plays and profile theatre artists, and she hopes that when the economy turns around, Jerry and his reviews will be back in the paper. Carey is a great supporter of ours; don’t blame her. Things are tough in the media biz.
Last week, several cuts were also announced at A-Channel in Victoria, and 24Hours, a local free daily, laid off Graeme McRanor, their entertainment reporter. Modern Vancouver Woman (formerly Shared Vision) folded entirely, and My Vancouver (formerly Vancouver Lifestyles Magazine) is on extended hiatus.
So, what’s an artist to do? The media is involved in a vicious cycle: folks can’t afford to buy advertising, so newspapers are having to cut back or fold entirely. This creates less editorial space for those of us that probably didn’t have the money to advertise to start with.
So, what to do?
If you haven’t already, I’d encourage you to jump into social media. While traditional media outlets are struggling, content continues to grow on the internet. Get a Google Reader account and start getting to know some bloggers. Start your own blog or start Twittering. Get involved with Flickr, YouTube or Facebook.
We have to be creative and start to think beyond the traditional media outlets we have relied on in the past. Check in on Wednesday when I post three specific examples.
UPDATE, JULY 6, 2009: Another one bites the dust. Paul Grant, a 30-year vetran of our local CBC radio, is set to retire at the end of the summer. Paul had a daily segment on The Afternoon Show called The Arts Report, and has done numerous stories on shows I have been working on. The Arts Reporter position will not be replaced, so yet another outlet for arts stories is now gone.