What is the role of an arts critic today?

Posted on: June 22, 2015

In Sunday’s (6/20) New York Times, Anthony Tommasini writes that in Reynold Levy’s new book They Told Me Not to Take That Job, Levy, the former head of Lincoln Center, chides Tommasini “for paying scant attention over the years to what … really matters in the running of orchestras and opera companies: earned and contributed income, cost controls, responsible budgeting and such..… [Levy’s] comments got me thinking about whether critics should take financial realities into account in writing about the arts…. In-depth coverage of budget battles and managerial incompetence is better left to arts reporters. A critic is empowered to dream, to provoke, to foster excitement. The challenges facing classical music, the performing art most fixated on the standard repertory, demand that critics stand up for principle, even at the risk of seeming bent on a cause or unrealistic…. Even as [New York] City Opera sank, its productions often soared. However sad the situation, it was essential for critics to acknowledge the company’s continuing artistic achievements…. Arts institutions have been granted nonprofit status to encourage them to take on noncommercial projects. Critics should demand that major opera companies and orchestras earn their select status by taking chances with challenging work.”

Posted June 22, 2015