Critic’s role is to foster debate

Posted on: July 2, 2009

Wednesday (7/1) on the Washington Post blog Classical Beat, Anne Midgette writes, “The fact that the classical music, dance, and art critics are not represented in today’s critics’ survey in the Washington Post may give those of us in those disciplines extra reason to worry that what we write doesn’t actually matter. But the whole idea that there should be some kind of correlation between reviews in the paper and ticket sales, or popularity, is fundamentally flawed to start with. … Part of our role is to foster dialogue and debate. That doesn’t mean setting forth judgments of taste in order that readers might fall obediently into line behind us. Quite the contrary: it may mean putting out views that one knows may represent the minority. … The disciplines collectively referred to as ‘the arts,’ commercial or not-for-profit, highbrow or low, offer a lot more than simply the possibility of passive consumption and a thumbs-up, thumbs-down reaction at the end of the exercise. Their very existence is a tacit reminder that there is a lot more out there than this passive consumption, and critics should be reminding people of this fact.”

Posted July 2, 2009