Here’s to the Dilettantes and Blockheads

I love what former Indy Star critic Jay Harvey wrote in response to my recent post welcoming him to the world of arts blogging.  Here is a direct link to his smart, delightful post entitled “And worth every penny, too: The mixed pleasure of being an unpaid writer”:

A few years ago I was trying to figure out how to do what I wanted to do (i.e., write more thoughtfully and usefully about live theatre) without going back to school.  Much as I would love to get two more master’s degrees – one in journalism and one in theatre – I probably won’t ever be able to afford to, for a number of reasons.

I discovered the American Theatre Critics Association and thought, “Ah-HAH!”  I couldn’t afford to do the ATCA’s “critics’ boot camp” right then but I can see it, or something like it, happening for me in the near future.   It sounds like heaven! 

In the meantime, I read as much of the ATCA members’ work as I could, looking for models.

Two of the members had retired from their paid careers as newspaper theatre critics and started their own theatre review blogs.  Both had abandoned their blogs after a while, saying it just felt too much like drudgery when they were no longer getting paid for it and/or being formally published by someone else.  (I’m sorry I can’t remember the writers’ names to quote them exactly, but I don’t want to take the time to look for them again.)

So…when Jay Harvey said he was leaving the Star and starting his own blog, I wondered if he would eventually feel as they did.

But…maybe for him, something else will happen.

Blogging is hard work, even when it’s fun.  And sometimes it’s a tool for influence (with all of the responsibility that comes with that.)  And sometimes it’s a sort of spiritual practice, like meditating.  I’m also beginning to think an independent blog about the arts can become a work of art in its own right. 

Or maybe that is just what I want mine to become.

Anyway, I’m still figuring it out as I go along.  And I look forward to reading more of Jay’s posts!

‘See you at the theatres…

Hope Baugh – and @IndyTheatre on Twitter.

Jay Harvey’s New Gig

In 2008, I was upset when the Indianapolis Star managers fired theatre reviewer Whitney Smith and gave his beat or whatever you call it to music reviewer Jay Harvey to cover as well. 

Here in 2013, when I hear that Jay resigned from the Indianapolis Star (his last day was Friday, May 17), I just sigh and hope that the Star’s head honchos will hire someone good to replace him. 

I’m afraid that they won’t hire anyone, not even a hodge-podge of freelancers.  I’m afraid that the Star will see this as an “opportunity” to just stop covering local performance art all together.

That would be horrible for Indianapolis’ arts organizations and a shame for the city itself.  It would also be a further erosion of the Star’s already low trust capital.

But I can’t control what the Star managers do, so I’m going to focus on the good news in Jay’s resignation:

Jay has started his own arts blog: Jay Harvey Upstage. 

Jay hasn’t said anything about monetizing his blog, only that he sees himself “thriving on this blog, responding to the arts scene around me, making it clear that I’m not in love with my opinions (I hope), but that my perspective after so much practice of cultural journalism in central Indiana might contribute fruitfully to the arts conversation.  I like to think I can encourage people to develop their own thoughtful responses to the arts just by modeling that behavior. I’m dreaming that ever more significant numbers of people will join me.”

How cool is that?! 

Even if he doesn’t have to worry about earning a living, Jay may get tired of writing for free once the rush of writing whatever he wants to write wears off.  And he may find that he simply wants to try doing other things.  He wouldn’t be the first “retired” professional journalist to have started a blog and then given it up.  There is no shame in that. 

But as long as Jay keeps writing his blog, I will keep reading it because I love the way he writes and thinks.  I wish him the very best with it.  I encourage you to give it a look, too.

See you at the theatres!

Hope Baugh –

©2013 Hope Baugh