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Lack of Coverage of Local Companies

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I was perplexed this weekend to see absolutley no coverage or reviews of the Inland Pacific Ballet's performances of "Coppelia" in the Los Angeles Times. There were several lengthy articles about the Paris Opera Ballet's "La Bayedere" in Orange County, but nothing at all about the only major local company in Los Angeles. Is this common in other cities? I've felt the LA Times reviewers are skeptics at best, but to ignore your biggest local comany altogether?

Did anyone else in Los Angeles notice this? Does this happen elsewhere? :confused:

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Inland Pacific Ballet danced Coppelia in Claremont a couple of weeks ago (see Recent Performances). No review in the L.A. Times though they advertised the performances. I must admit I was unaware that Inland Pacific Ballet was the only major local company in Los Angeles; until now I had never heard of them. Can you tell us more about them?

Giannina

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The IPB was formed in 1994 and is based in the Claremont area. I believe the affiliation with the Luckman fine arts complex at Cal State LA is a new development. The artisitc director is Victoria Koenig, formerly of the Feld Ballet. The IPB also operates the IPB Academy year round and offers summer intensives.

Oddly enough, their sponsor for this show was the Los Angeles Times. You'd think being a sponsor, they'd at least write a review and attempt to help boost attendance.

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Many newspapers in the past few years have cut down their coverage of smaller companies considerably -- their reader surveys show that there is virtually no interest. I don't know if this policy is still in effect, but a few years ago, the L.A. Times stopped covering anything that was there for only one or two nights. This nearly eradicated coverage of local modern dance companies, and probably smaller ballet companies as well. The logic is that by the time the review is printed, the company will be gone, so there's no point in a review (which, IMO, ignores one of the great responsibilities of a newspaper, i.e., to chronicle the artistic life of the community it serves). Yet they'll turn around and say they aren't in the business of being a booster and selling tickets -- which, I think, contradicts that logic.

Another problem shared by the L.A.Times and Washington Post (which I know a bit more about as I've written for them for more than 20 years) is that they see themselves as national and not local newspapers, and therefore have more stringent standards for what is reviewed. What was once called a "civic" company, or a paraprofessional (half student, half professional) company will not be reviewed. The question is, "is this worth our attention" -- it's the same question a nightly newscast editor might ask. If it's of interest to the local community only, it won't make the cut.

While in a smaller city, a small company may get coverage because it's of civic interest -- everybody's kids dance in it -- and so a tour to anywhere out of town is Big News, that's not the case in larger cities.

It's a problem. But the only way things are going to change is if readers WRITE THE NEWSPAPERS AND TELL THEM THEY WANT TO READ ABOUT DANCE!!!!! Be specific. Complain. "So and so was not covered." "Why did you cover only opening night and none of the cast changes?" "Why didn't you write about Our Local Ballet Company's First Trip Abroad?"

Call. Call the newspaper and ask for the Style or Calendar or whatever section the arts coverage is in. You'll get a copy aid whose job includes handling phone calls. (Or call the critic him or herself; they'll transfer you to that line.) I think talking to the phone answerer may be better, because often the critic wants to cover the event, but isn't given the space.

Write letters, not to The Editor, but the editor of Style, Calendar, etc. Then it's in writing. Try to get your friends to do it too -- everyone in your studio, or your child's school.

With all respect to Frederick Douglas, who gave this advice in a far different cause, "Agitate, agitate, agitate!" :)

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I second all Alexandra's suggestions and add a few more. Before you lift your phone or pen, take a few minutes to think about the kinds of fine arts coverage -- opera, symphony, etc -- your paper already offers. Do they focus the story less on the specific performance and more as a feature on the personalities, financies, artistic import, experimentalism, "news" of what the artists are doing? You may be much more successful if you don't seek reviews so much as look for story opportunities. Say the local company has a very famous guest artist coming in to perform and to, incidently, give master classes. That's a great opportunity to get attention for the local company/school with a newsy link and invite the arts reporter to come to the master class, do an interview etc. for a feature that runs BEFORE the performance. It's not athe same as a review, of course, but ... sometimes that's a mercy.

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Nevada has only one major dance company (NBT) and their home is right here in Las Vegas, and even the local based newspapers don't review their performances, and they're only mentioned in advertisements. Even the one 'alternative' newspaper which covers a lot of artsy stuff doesn't mention them. Grrr!

Brittany

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