DCPA CEO Scott Shiller: How to respond to declining arts coverage?

DCPA President and CEO Scott Shiller, right with his wife, Kerry. Photo by John Moore.
DCPA President and CEO Scott Shiller, right, attended a recent performance of ‘Oliver’ at Denver School of the Arts with his wife, Kerry. Photo by John Moore.

The definition of “news” is changing. That’s no secret, right? It used to be the time-honored Fourth Estate, printing and broadcasting the narrative of our collective experience. Now it can be an anonymous tweet, a viral video, a sound bite or a leaked document, all of which have steadily drawn our eyes away from traditional news sources and toward our personal circles of influence. A new study, conducted by Pew Research Center in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, finds that 42 percent of the U.S. population now say Facebook and Twitter serve as a source for news about events and issues outside the realm of friends and family.

John MooreOne of the biggest changes in news, especially for theatre, is the decline of dedicated arts coverage from the major print and broadcast sources. As established news organizations have struggled to balance modern profitability with journalistic tradition, they’ve had to make tough choices. I understand that’s not easy, and never will be. But I also don’t like it. We in the arts invest so much in telling stories that reflect the social issues facing our community that it hurts to know that fewer people are hearing about these plays and musicals from mainstream sources. Once we could rely on a minimum of coverage. Now we have to hope for it.

I’m certainly not blaming the news organizations themselves or the wonderful people who work with us every day to keep us in the news. We have amazing fans in our news partners and appreciate everything they do for us. Truly. This isn’t about blame at all; it’s about behavior. People get their news differently now. So we have to do things differently, too, if we want the same level of attention.

That’s why, in addition to our ongoing use of Twitter and Facebook, we’ve built our own online NewsCenter at MyDenverCenter.Org with former Denver Post theatre critic John Moore at the helm. (Pictured above right). Every day, we’re publishing theatre news from across the entire state with no agenda other than the news itself. Obviously, we hope it helps promote our work and Colorado’s theatre community as a whole. Eventually, though, we want it to be a resource for anyone interested in arts reporting, in our talented community and in Denver’s unique place in the national arts scene.

Until then, where do you get your arts and entertainment news? Which matters more to you — a review by an established theatre critic, or a recommendation from a friend or family member?

Scott Shiller quote

Talk to us: What are your thoughts on the changing world of arts journalism?
Let’s keep the conversation going. Your feedback is important. Please leave your comments at the end of this story. Follow Scott Shiller on Twitter @ScottShiller and the DCPA @denvercenter

About our Guest Columnist:
Scott Shiller, a nationally recognized Producer, Presenter and Entertainment Executive, was named President and Chief Executive Officer of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts in February, 2015. As President & CEO, Shiller has overall responsibility for the DCPA’s programmatic, operating, revenue, marketing, development and administrative functions. He comes to the DCPA from the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, where he served as Executive Vice President from 2007 to 2015. With direct oversight of programming and marketing initiatives, Shiller’s first season at the Center resulted in a $3.3 million turnaround, more than 100 sold-out performances, and a 76 percent increase in attendance. Shiller began his career working with Tony Award-winning producer Jon B. Platt on productions including Wicked (Idina Menzel, Kristin Chenoweth, Joel Grey), Man of La Mancha (Brian Stokes Mitchell), Sly Fox (Richard Dreyfuss), The Graduate (Kathleen Turner, Alicia Silverstone, Jason Biggs), Blue Man Group: Tubes, Cabaret (Teri Hatcher, Norbert Leo Butz), Master Class (Faye Dunaway), Wait Until Dark (Quentin Tarantino, Marisa Tomei), Taller than a Dwarf (Matthew Broderick, Parker Posey), Macbeth (Kelsey Grammer), The Diary of Anne Frank (Natalie Portman), and The Vagina Monologues (Eve Ensler).

Our previous conversation: Social media in the theatre 

Previously, Scott Shiller posed this question for NewsCenter readers: How will we, as theatre professionals and audiences, find common ground for mobile devices in theatres? To read his essay – and reader responses, please visit our NewsCenter here

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