It’s been eight months since we founded the Twin Cities Arts Reader. That’s a nice round number – we have eight people on our team, too. Some of us are more visible than others. Some of us are more active than others! Together, we’ve built some of the largest and most expansive performing arts coverage in the Twin Cities. That’s something to be proud about.
Let me share a little bit about the creation of the Twin Cities Arts Reader. Once upon a time, several of us wrote for a publication called the Twin Cities Daily Planet. The Daily Planet was founded with a vision of solving all the problems that print journalism had by existing purely in an online-only environment. It worked well for many years; it attracted many young writers who did great reporting and used it as a springboard for great things elsewhere. One need look no further than Jay Gabler, the founding arts editor, to see this – Jay’s now the principal theatre critic for City Pages and a writer for MPR’s The Current and Your Classical. Kristoffer Tigue, as the Editor, broke the story on the St. Paul Skyway tasing incident, which exploded worldwide and led to a national conversation about police brutality, discrimination, and public space. Along the way, the Daily Planet built the Twin Cities’ most extensive critical theatre coverage, became host to several prominent theatre blogs, and assembled substantial coverage of concerts, dance performances, and arts journalism.
Along the way, business models stared to change. Internet advertising is a fast-shifting business, and with new leadership came a move to rework the Daily Planet‘s identity and business model. First came paycuts and unpaid bills. Then came a strong move away from critical journalism and arts criticism (which, by the way, was one of the site’s big traffic drivers) to a sort of issues journalism more . Then the dam broke and the exodus began.
We wish our colleagues at the Daily Planet well with they’re doing, but several of us felt very strongly that there should still be a place for detailed, incisive, informed arts reviewing – the kind of reviews that newspapers just don’t run these days due to shrinking page sizes and ever-smaller column space. This desire to continue the Daily Planet‘s excellent tradition of arts coverage – to take up the baton – is what led to our starting the Twin Cities Arts Reader.
So here we are eight months in. Are there things that we’d like to expand more in the rest of the year? Absolutely – we want to build out our visual arts and dance coverage, and to take on film as more than an occasional feature. Expanding our popular music section is a strategic priority. One of these days we need to hang out a shingle and hire a few more writers to help with that.
However long that takes us, we’re pretty proud of our crown jewels and dedicated to expanding the collection. Our classical music and theatre coverage is the most substantial and (we like to think) substantive newspaper coverage of opera, plays, and musicals in the whole Twin Cities region. We have interviews, previews, and reviews like you won’t find anywhere else.
So thank you, dear reader, whether you’ve been with us from the start or are joining us now. Let’s make the news worth reading again and make reviews that you want to talk about because they’re good, interesting, and insightful, not just because they’re flippant and tweak your tail. And yes – oh, yes – there’ll be puns.
-Hanne Appelbaum. Editor, Twin Cities Arts Reader.