Cantrell: what is the role of an arts critic?

Posted on: April 3, 2014

“Every arts and entertainment critic gets one of these letters or e-mails from time to time. ‘You should be encouraging people to support X, not discouraging them,’ ” writes Scott Cantrell in Sunday’s (3/30) Dallas Morning News. “Actually, selling tickets isn’t in our job descriptions.… Like everyone else, critics have immediate, visceral reactions to performances. Their task is to figure out why a performance worked or didn’t and put it into words.…  The question I always ask is: Is this as good as it could or should be, given available resources? Personal taste is a big factor—and that’s OK.… I avidly read, and learn from, critics who have perspectives different from mine…. It’s important sometimes to sit back and contemplate larger issues, to figure out what’s working and what could and should be better. Is the orchestra’s programming a responsible balance of standard and less familiar repertory? … You don’t become a critic to be a beloved figure in the community. But, as when our doctor tells us our blood pressure is too high and we’ve gained too much weight, unpleasant news can lead to improvements.”

Posted April 3, 2014