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Arts coverage takes another blow

by on Jun.26, 2017, under #MEAAEquity

The final edition of Shortlist – the Sydney Morning Herald’s weekly guide to the best entertainment in Sydney – has gone to print.

Freelance arts journalist Elissa Blake says the downsizing of Shortlist means the Sydney arts sector has lost 50 theatre stories a year in a mainstream media. “Almost all of them covering the smaller, indie theatre productions, the ones without a marketing budget. These shows are also providing the artists of the future for the larger companies, and the future audiences. If we don’t support indie theatre, the entire arts sector will be hurt. Sadly, there are more losses to the arts to come at Fairfax. Many full time arts journalists and editors are taking redundancies and leaving on June 30. The freelance writers are waiting to hear about pay rate cuts.”

In May Fairfax announced plans to axe 125 jobs, prompting a week-long strike by its journalists. Positions being abolished will include all dedicated arts, film and books writers at the Age and the Sydney Morning Herald, along with two deputy arts editor roles. Contributors will be paid a lower rate for reviews and features, expected to be less than half of what they currently receive.

Eleven former Fairfax arts editors have signed an open letter to Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood, calling on his company to save the arts coverage at the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

Australia’s major theatre companies have also called on Hywood to reverse this drastic cut. It read, in part “Arts, culture and creative thinking is core to a smart and civilised society. With the continuing erosion of independent critical analysis, specialist coverage and reviews, we believe that Australian public life will be all the poorer.”

MEAA CEO Paul Murphy says the loss of quality reporting on local theatre has a terrible and immediate impact on our live theatre and arts scenes. “It immediately impacts the financial viability of small productions and shows, as well as the livelihoods of the writers, actors, crew, artists and producers who create them.”


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