I love a panel on the state of local theater! (Maybe it's just me?) Tonight at Imago, a handful of people who work in and write about theater convene to talk about how technology is changing coverage and promotion of the arts.
How do small, mid and large theaters untangle the multitude of options to promote shows? What reviews do you trust when everyone has a blog and can write a review? Will communication technology continue to change each year, and if so, how do we keep up? Imago Theatre is hosting a panel of theater professionals and critics to try to understand our day-by-day, ever-changing world of technology and how this has affected how we create, promote and write about the performing arts.
Dmae Roberts, Commentator, Independent radio producer and host of 'Stage & Studio' on KBOO & KZME
Marty Hughley, theater critic for the The Oregonian
Barry Johnson, editor and critic for Oregon Arts Watch
Cynthia Furhman, Director of Marketing and Communications, Portland Center Stage
Scott Yarbrough, Artistic Director, Third Rail Repertory Theatre
Brian Weaver, Artistic Director, Portland Playhouse
The makeup of this panel is interesting. It comprises a range of high-profile figures in the local theater world, to be sure, but these are people whose interests are at cross purposes, or at least they should be: An artistic director wants to produce a good show, a marketing director wants a good pull quote, and Barry Johnson—editor of the increasingly invaluable Oregon Arts Watch—wants 1,000 words of thoughtful arts journalism. Given that all of these people have very different jobs to do, I'm interested to see what common ground emerges, or if any does at all.
It's an important time to have conversations like this, though. With the imminent ouster of Oregonian critic Marty Hughley—he was a casualty in the recently announced layoffs—local theater coverage is going to suffer, at a time when the theater scene itself is as vibrant as its ever been in the eight (#$&!) years I've been covering it. Regardless of what you think of his reviews, Marty throws a lot of ink at local theater companies, and a preview or review from the O is a huge deal for a company, but there's no word from the Oregonian yet on what theater coverage will look like post-Hughley. (People keep asking me if Marty getting laid off opens the door for the Mercury to step up and become a bigger voice in local theater coverage: The answer is no, it doesn't, not even a little bit. Marty getting canned doesn't magically expand my freelance budget or give us more resources to devote to arts coverage. I wish it did!)
Like the guest list, the questions posed by the event description are rather at odds:
How do small, mid and large theaters untangle the multitude of options to promote shows?
Are there that many options? Press releases, social media, word of mouth. Some flyers. Maybe I'm missing something? I guess I'll find out tonight.
What reviews do you trust when everyone has a blog and can write a review?
A better question would be: Do we still need newspaper reviews? Do they serve a function that bloggers don't?
Will communication technology continue to change each year, and if so, how do we keep up?
:| (or, to use my words: Yes. It will. And most of you aren't keeping up now.)
I'm curious to see how this event unfolds: I think there are valuable, interesting questions to be asked about the state of arts journalism, what it means that we're losing newspaper critics, what value critics have to arts organizations, etc. Whether this event will answer them remains to be seen! (
I emailed Imago to ask who's moderating; I assume it's Imago's Jerry Mouawad, but I'll update when I hear back for sure Update! Dmae Roberts will moderate.)
The panel is tonight at Imago Theatre, 17 SE 8th, 7 pm, FREE