A letter to the editors of the Orlando Sentinel

Orlando Sentinel - Talk to us. Please. - by Elizabeth Maupin

Arts journalism is being cut back at newspapers all over the country, including the Sentinel, because somebody higher up the chain of command thinks it's not important.

Now you know and I know that that's not the case. If arts journalism were to go away, the arts would have a hard time getting their message out. And all of us would suffer.

One suggestion was for the board members and high-rollers at each arts organization to lobby the people they know who run newspapers. Tell them how important the arts are, and how much you want to read about the arts in the paper.

Now, today, the Sentinel's public editor, Manning Pynn, has made a related suggestion in his Sunday column. The Sentinel wants its readers to tell us what you're interested in, he says. We'll shape our coverage to please you.

So PLEASE. If you love theater, and you love the arts, write to Manning Pynn and tell him so. Tell him you want more arts coverage, not less, in the paper. Tell him how important it is to Orlando's arts community and to our society that the arts be encouraged to flourish.

To write him, just email public@orlandosentinel.com. Of, if you're a telephone person, call 407-650-6410.

To the editor:

Please take a moment to consider the ramifications of including less arts coverage in the local paper.

First of all, including articles from the associated press or syndicated from other papers is hardly what I'd call original and creative, so please none of that.

Second, on printed or online arts and culture coverage.

A large part of what defines the fingerprint of a community are those things that can only be found in the local area - those who grew up locally or who started working in the local industries (in our case, entertainment, engineering and military) and then branched out to do their own thing. SAK Theatre and Mad Cow are great examples of this, as well as Jester Theatre Company or the Orlando Fringe Festival. The first reason for any of these entities to exist is because of the vision of the founders and organizers - locals who are dedicated to their craft.

There are countless other examples in other areas of the arts besides theatre - take the Broken Speech Poetry Slam at Stardust or Preacher Bill's songwriter showcase at Taste. Local art at Dandelion and all the cafes in town; shows at Back Booth, Crooked Bayou, Underground Bluz, Orlando Brewing Company and the like.

As the only main stream publication in town, you have a responsibility to the community to help give Orlando's fingerprint more definition, not only to the locals but to the millions of tourists and passers-by who visit Central Florida every year.

Cutting coverage of Arts and Culture is a step in the wrong direction, and in fact encouraging the homogenization of a city desperately trying to imitate other major cities, thinking that by building some condos, allocating money to new developments and hiring designers who have worked in other distinctive cities that we can catch some of the glow created by these places in some sort of sad mirror. Mirrors, however, are not designed for looking at others, but at oneself. Help this city see the glow we have already achieved, and we may shine all the brighter.

My best wishes to you in a time of transition for the Sentinel and the Tribune Company as a whole.

Ryan Price

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