Arts Criticism Under Attack

The Australian’s Review magazine examined Australia’s arts criticism in an age when it is challenged by bloggers and the struggle to make the web profitable.

Since 2006 more than 60 full-time critics have been sacked in the US including Variety’s shock dismissal of its chief film critic in March. In Australia we’ve seen the Herald Sun cull its arts writers and News Limited’s film critics reduced from four nationally to one Melbourne-based writer.

The finger of blame is pointed at blogs and internet aggregators like Rotten Tomatoes, which hoovers up reviews from across the web and creates an overall rating. Theatre blogger Alison Croggon praised the internet’s ability to allow everyone to be a critic but also saw the sheer mass of content as a problem. She said “What is awful is just being drowned by sludge.”

Age writer Marcus Westbury continues the conversation today with his editorial. He believes that the future of arts criticism lies in better understanding your audience. Westbury concludes “It’s becoming less about being an expert to a mass audience and more about becoming the reconnaissance party for a niche one.”

The Wheeler Centre is presenting Critical Failure, a series of events on the state of arts criticism in Australia.

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