Performing arts

Breaking: LA Stage Times suspends publication*

la-stage-time-grab.jpgLA Stage Times is going on hiatus, effective immediately. Editor in chief Deborah Behrens has posted a note thanking everyone at the site. Key backer Terence McFarland is expected to post a note later.

A news note: Don Shirley, the columnist for LA Stage Times who is a respected long-time presence on the Los Angeles theater scene, will now be posting regularly for LA Observed. More on that in the near future.

Excerpt from Behrens' note:

I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished since the print version went online in mid-2009. Visits to the site quintupled and unique visitors sextupled. Each story gained national exposure via our RSS feed to aggregate site In the past two years, outstanding work from our writers garnered nine nominations from the Los Angeles Press Club in both the 5th and 6th National Entertainment Journalism Awards plus the 55th Southern California Journalism Awards. We took home two first place awards and one second place in categories populated by national media outlets. No small feat for a non-profit arts journalism site.

Our stories were both noted and respected. Emerging artists to theatrical legends thanked us for our research and knowledge base. A-list celebrities tweeted links to their followers while intimate theaters mounted poster-size features in their lobbies. Occasionally we even scooped our major media brethren.

None of which would have been possible without the dedicated contributors I’ve had the pleasure to work with these many months. From seasoned pros to recent graduates of the Arts Journalism Master’s Program led by Sasha Anawalt at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, each drove all over LA county (and sometimes Ventura, Riverside and Orange as well), conducting in-person interviews and crafting in-depth stories about LA’s vast theater community. I can’t thank you enough for your commitment and friendship. And thanks also to countless other artists who wrote about their personal creative journeys via our First Person columns.

I want to acknowledge our longtime columnists Don Shirley, Julio Martinez and Connie Danese, plus recent additions, Dani Oliver and Steven Leigh Morris. Julio’s LA STAGE Insider became a must-read destination for breaking news and historical LA theater tales while Connie’s opening night dispatches earned a devoted following. Don’s deep legacy covering LA’s theater scene makes him one of the most respected voices in our community as well as a wicked fact checker and copy editor (just ask the writers.) His contribution to the journalistic integrity of this site cannot be praised highly enough. He taught me so much and I will miss our lively debates.

Founding editor Lee Melville died last year.

* Evening update: LA Stage Alliance CEO Terence McFarland says it came down to money.

For over twelve years, we’ve championed arts journalism with a paid, professional staff at LA STAGE Alliance. In fact, it was a point of pride that we paid our feature writers and our editors. Yet, as strongly as the program delivered on mission, it never delivered on revenue or financial support. Until such time that we can create a self-sustaining model for this program, we will pause publication.

We’ve had offers of pro-bono support to keep the site running, but feel strongly about compensating our artists and don’t want to exploit the work of our colleagues. We thank Deborah Behrens for her tireless efforts as Editor-in-Chief, Don Shirley for his analytical column and dogged editing of his fellow writers, Julio Martinez for his historical insight and breaking news, Connie Danese for her opening night coverage, Steven Leigh Morris for his insight and all of our contributors for their efforts to help us achieve our mission of building awareness, appreciation and support for the performing arts of Greater Los Angeles.

During this hiatus, LA STAGE Times will remain live and searchable, so readers may still access the wealth of in-depth theatre coverage we’ve assembled over the years.

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