ATCA Anyone?

I was unable to attend this year's American Theatre Critics' Conference in Washington, D.C. last week (had to review five shows in five nights), and would really like to hear from those who attended. Was there much formal discussion about the state of employment for critics? Discussion of unions? What were the pressing issues and highlights of the event? Lowlights? 

Please report here about what went on and what was missing. I'm eagerly awaiting the news. 
Thanks, and I'll definitely be there next year in Sarasota.
June 24, 2008 9:39 PM | | Comments (2)

2 Comments

Late to the game, but the fact is, there wasn't all that much conversation about those important issues. At a roundtable with DC area critics, there was some talk about disappearing and shrinking arts sections. There was an interesting talk from some specialized theaters (Spanish, Shaw-focused, Jewish) on how to get mainstream critical attention. And there was some talk about the relevance of ATCA itself, whether the conventions are all that beneficial when so many can't attend, how most papers won't pay or necessarily give time off for said conferences, etc. I think people were most impressed by Signature's "The Visit" (we got to meet Chita; Kander didn't show), Synetic's Carmen (so happy our most exciting company had a show running) and the intriguing "This Beautiful City" (music from Mr. Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson!)

From a standpoint of a local DC critic, the convention was great in terms of getting to show off my city's theater scene, and I made some good connections. But I wish there would have been even more opportunity to network and have a serious discussion - there was a shocking amount of critics over the age of 60 (which isn't inherently bad, just surprising), and many conventioneers were no longer practicing critics who seemed to be on vacation - that was kind of strange. Discussions could be frustrating - hours about whether to post email addresses online rather than getting at more important things. There were plenty of jokes about the grey hair of the crowd, but arguably no attempt to include the handful of younger members in discussion until the final wrap up meeting.

So both a beneficial and frustrating experience from my end. I wonder how others felt.

I blogged fairly extensively on the conference. Find them under the Blog heading at www.ibj.com/arts

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