Dear Asheville Theater Community-
In endeavoring to its goals of raising awareness of performing arts in WNC, increasing support and patronage and keeping theater a vibrant local artistic and economic force, Asheville Theater Alliance has always contended that it would take the backing of both the local government and the local press to accomplish this. That contention still holds true.
It has recently become confirmed to us that The Asheville Citizen-Times, Asheville's most distributed and read daily news source, will no longer review local theater. This decision by their parent organization, The USA TODAY Network, based, by my understanding, on a lack of page views of the reviews in question.
Briefly, page views and other metrics used to decide what is published or not published by various news organizations is as viable as any other and, additionally, there is no blame to be placed on the Citizen-Times or its employees for such decisions. The Citizen-Times has also stated a desire to cover theater in news, features and manners that aren't actually reviews of shows. Despite all of this, it does represent a crisis on our hands.
ATA would like to ask the entire theater community (and, yes, that includes you, patrons and theater-lovers) to take action. But what to do...?
First, please contact Citizen-Times news director Katie Wadington at firstname.lastname@example.org and KINDLY express what theater and theater reviews mean to you. Whether a performer, a producer or patron, let them know that honest and prolific reviews helps establish Western North Carolina as the haven for performing arts that we know it to be.
Second, support the ENTIRE theater community. Now is not the time to foment competition. (We already have enough, anyway.) If we can come together now with the common goal of keeping theater strong in Asheville, there will plenty of patrons to fight over later.
If your company doesn't have something going on right now, encourage attendance at the shows or classes of another. Tout Asheville theater as ONE, and not just as a semblance of different companies. Encourage people within your reach to explore theater of ALL types, not just the types you perform or like.
Finally, reach out. Reach out to each other, to patrons and to future patrons. We are keen to expound on the great benefits of seeing and creating theater when it is our own. Speak more generally. All of these benefits exist no matter who does it.
We here at ATA will continue our efforts on all of these fronts. We hope you will join us.