Dec 14, 2012

Theatre reviewer’s curtain call shows bare stage of criticism

Australia's best blog devoted to theatre criticism has frozen in time. There are fewer opportunities for thoughtful arts criticism, robbing culture of important conversations.

Ben Eltham — <em>Crikey</em> arts commentator

Ben Eltham

Crikey arts commentator

Alison Croggon’s much-loved blog Theatre Notes is closing down. Croggon — a novelist, critic, poet and distinguished woman of letters — says she is going to stop reviewing theatre in order to concentrate on her books. In her aptly titled “Last Post” from November 28, Croggon explains some of her reasoning:

“I idly thought, back in 2004, that it might be an interesting idea to begin a theatre review blog. It’s been my privilege and joy to chronicle the theatre I’ve seen over the past eight years, and to bear witness to what I am quite sure will be seen as one of the richest periods of Australia’s theatre history.

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

3 thoughts on “Theatre reviewer’s curtain call shows bare stage of criticism

  1. Anna Gifford

    Alison Croggon’s blog was one of the first, and one of the best, arts criticism sites I ever encountered. That aside, it’s great to see Ben write about the dilemma/Catch 22 many arts organisations face with the under-resourcing for arts criticism. The arts are regularly pressured by funding bodies to demonstrate reach and profile – and without the input of critics, I’m not sure how the funders can measure organisations’ artistic (as opposed to economic) return on investment – without going to the often highly biased peer evaluation by other artists. It’s a bigger problem than under-resourcing criticism – it ties into how we value and support the arts.

  2. jmendelssohn

    Alison Croggon’s blog is really going to be missed, but its disappearance is part of a pattern.
    As a part of my current research into the history of Australian art exhibitions I’ve been reading collections of press cuttings from the 1970s and ’80s.
    The past is indeed another country. Many solo exhibitions at dealer galleries, and all exhibitions at public galleries, used to receive considered reviews expressing a variety of opinions.
    Now the only media coverage of art events is often orchestrated pap from the pr industry.
    There is no recognition that writing art criticism requires time, and that this time needs to be paid for.
    There are some exceptions. The kids from das Superpaper do a great job – but they are all volunteers. The Australia council does support specialist publications (eg Artlink, Photofile)but the fee for a review is about the same as the price of a meal in a reasonable restaurant. The only newspaper publishing substantial intelligent art criticism these days is the Financial Review. The reason they can afford Doug Hall’s incisive commentary is that he has other sources of income.
    The most likely source of new critical voices, junior academics in universities, is effectively silenced by the horrendous culture of penalising those who write for the popular media while promoting those who stick to conference papers and academic journals with little real impact.

  3. Andrew Chalmers

    You are right to highlight the confused reporting of Cameron Woodhead. It’s a shame he doesn’t have more grace.

    No one will miss his writing when it goes.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details