Results tagged “journalism” from Drama Queen
Now here's something you don't see every day, an arts community rallying behind a laid-off critic.
There have been so many layoffs lately it seems as though these things are becoming, if not unnoticed, then at least unremarkable. And really, you have to wonder who, besides other critics and desperate arts editors, would stand up for a critic anyway? Every enthusiast believes themselves capable of the job, hence the proliferation of user reviews and, of course, blogs. And the reviewed? They don't seem too fond of us either.
But at least in beautiful Kansas City they understand the importance of informed critical opinion on the cultural climate and aren't willing to accept anything less than full-time attention. And brava/o to them.
I'm certainly one of those to whom the job has been farmed out, and though I love what I do as much as any full-timer, it's not exactly a living. If I didn't have a husband whose profession makes it possible for me to indulge my passion part-time while still taking extended vacations, I'd probably be copy editing Gardasil pamphlets for Merck and availing myself of their excellent dental plan (though lately, even they have been laying people off). Getting rid of full-time positions narrows the field of reference inestimably, and if people are fine with having opinions fed to them through a very narrow and privileged straw, I can at least attempt to make up for some of that lost flavor, even if it makes me feel somewhat like a scab. After all, if no one fills in the gap, then what?
Right. So praise the lord and pass the ammunition.
Still, it's awfully gratifying to see that people outside the newsroom also care about critics' thinning ranks. I hope creative communities across the country take Kansas City as an example and rise up to resist the disappearance of their reflection in the aesthetic mirror.
Maybe it's because in this desperate economy, things like this are also starting to occur, and arts professionals realize that as goes the critical voice and its commitment to making art a relevant topic of contemporary conversation, so goes art. Take a cue from Kansas City (who knew?) and demand that your media outlets--print, television, radio, online--consider arts news as important as sports and business news. I wish all those dancers, singers and musicians, as well as Paul Horsley, the best outcome for their "formal protest," and encourage them to see it through to fruition. The nation's arts writers could really use that backup right about now.
Michael Feingold, in yesterday's Village Voice seconded my contention on this blog that musicals, rather than being the "beleaguered" form Ben Brantley described in the New York Times, are experiencing a second, breezier wind. Anyway, here it is. Ironic, too, that he should cite the Cameron Mackintosh extravaganza, when the big news from his corner is that he's allowed several U.S. houses (including Philly's Walnut Street Theatre) to mount Les Miz on the condition that they--gasp--ditch the turntable and offer Monsieur Valjean la liberte at last. Even Mr. Mackintosh, it seems, is ready for a change.
If you're just joining me for the first time, welcome. You've happened on a conversation already in progress, so here's the lowdown: I blogged on my former site, Philly Drama Queen, about Ann Hulbert's New York Times Magazine piece on arts education. Then, I blogged some more (please see previous entry) about the issue. I'll wait here until you've caught up.
Ok, now catch your breath, hold my hand, and prepare to be depressed...
After poking around a bit more on the NAEP's website, one thing quickly became clear: the government definitely considers the arts to be the country cousins of math, reading and science. Next year, the NAEP plans to
"administer the assessment to over 1,000,000 students in more than 19,000 public and private schools in each state and the nation."
This testing, whatever you think of it, has been and will be conducted in fourth and eighth grades annually, and in 12th grade for reading and math (this last on a volunteer basis).
In comparison, the arts were last assessed in 1997, with a sample of roughly 7,000 eighth graders, and covered music, theater and visual arts. Though a dance test was developed, it was dropped due to "the lack of a suitable national sample," a statement which speaks volumes.
The test was somehow revived this year, but seems to have lost its theater component in the intervening decade. Judging by the 1997 results of schools' own reporting--74% of students received no theater instruction--one can only assume that under No Child Left Behind, with its emphasis on funding the three R's at the expense of everything else, the situation has only worsened.
So though schools were tested on their ability to nurture creative thought about visual art and music, the NAEP only processes these results as national scores, leaving states to shrug off responsibility and continue allowing their arts programs to disappear. Remember in Truth or Dare, that Madonna documentary, where Warren Beatty asks her, "Why do anything if it's off-camera?"
Well it's sort of like that. Why bother teaching something if no one's testing it? It doesn't get you any more money even if your students enjoy it, and in fact, if they enjoy it too much, that might reduce their math and English scores, which will, in turn, reduce funding.
Wanna know the next time NAEP will test the arts? 2016. Maybe by then they can get rid of music, too.
Drama Queen: Wendy Rosenfield on theater, onstage and off...
Wendy Rosenfield is a freelance arts and lifestyle features writer and theater critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer. She was previously chief theater critic for the Philadelphia Weekly...