LA Weekly cutting back on theater coverage

Thumbnail image for marin-ireland-parallelogram8.jpgDon Shirley at LA Stage Times has the toll: Capsule theater reviews will drop from the current seven or eight per week to about two, and commentaries by Steven Leigh Morris will appear every other week, instead of weekly. They also will be shorter: 800 words instead of 1,200. From Shirley's piece:

Morris called the cutbacks “disheartening,” but he said he believed that the local Weekly management “has done everything in its power to keep that section vibrant for a long time. Those days are over.”

[Deputy editor for arts and culture Zachary] Pincus-Roth, however, denied that the decision was made solely by the Weekly’s corporate overseers — Denver-based Voice Media Group, which in September 2012 was spun off from the Weekly’s previous owner, Village Voice Media Holdings.

“It was a local decision, basically,” ultimately made by the Weekly’s editor Sarah Fenske, Pincus-Roth said. “This decision was hers, based on the budget.”

The cuts are “obviously disappointing,” Pincus-Roth said, but he emphasized that the theater free-lance budget has been much larger than the free-lance budget for most other coverage areas. “We will take this opportunity to think about what we’re doing to cover other areas” such as comedy, dance, and classical music in the hopes of making the total coverage of the arts “more comprehensive.”

Shirley says the plans are to continue the annual LA Weekly awards for achievement in theaters with fewer than 100 seats, and that the cutbacks "are not expected to affect the next LA Weekly awards, scheduled for April." By the way, he has been critical before of LA Times coverage of local theater, so he notes that in November the Times ran 17 LA-area theater reviews.

Marin Ireland in "A Parallelogram" at the Mark Taper Forum earlier this year.

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