Facebook Twitter pinterest.png  Google Plus

Omphaloskepsis Blog

The need for robust critical discourse in the arts

Feb 8, 2017

Jen Graves, one of the last full-time paid art critics in the US resigned on February 8th.



Regardless of how you felt about her views, she has been extremely important to the health of this city and losing that well-informed critical voice is not good for Seattle.

We need more, not less, critical discourse. Let me explain the obvious. One of the markers of a healthy and thriving community/city is the health of its arts. Seattle Foundation reports that health in eight key areas are required for a thriving community. Those elements are: Arts & Culture, Education, Basic Needs, Health and Wellness, Neighborhoods & Communities, Global Giving, Environment, Economy. You can read the report here (I would argue that Transportation surely is one of the key elements as well)

The arts in the PNW are incredibly robust! Still I think they're struggling to survive. That's a conundrum. One thing that's missing is greater critical discourse in the arts. Is Seattle too polite? It's polite but I don't think that's really the problem. It's an expensive place to live and people need to earn a living. Art criticism doesn't pay. We need published, informed, critical thinking across all the arts both in print and online. How do we find this? How many of the educational institutions in the greater Seattle area offer this combination of writing course, one that combines art history with journalism with writing journalistic criticism? If we create incentives for that coursework, and they're offered, then the students will have assignments to complete and publish, they will graduate and a very few may continue to write in the arts and a very few of those may actually stay in the area to write in the arts. Over time, we may get those qualified writers and thinkers publishing this important critical discourse.

In the plus column, today I received this press release: ###

Encore Media Group Announces New Strategic Direction, Hires Chief Strategy Officer
Newly hired Chief Strategy Officer, Andy Fife, will lead the 45-year-old company’s move towards a stronger leadership role within local business and the arts.

February 8, 2017 (Seattle, WA) — Longtime arts publisher Encore Media Group (EMG) has announced a bold new direction that includes more civic leadership across sectors, creative partnership within the arts and a growing commitment to creative digital media.  Local consultant and arts advocate Andy Fife joined Encore as Chief Strategy Officer in December to help engage the greater community and guide the new developments.

“Encore is uniquely positioned to become a primary hub for developing new arts-oriented solutions in the markets we serve,” says Andy Fife. “Our vision for this company is bold and I’m eager to work with all of Encore’s clients and partners to succeed.”

Fife, a veteran in organizational strategy and development for arts, culture and other non-profit organizations, is now part of Encore’s organization as Chief Strategy Officer. As CSO, Fife is responsible for developing, communicating, executing and sustaining Encore’s strategic initiatives.

As Executive Director, Fife led the development of Shunpike, a regional non-profit arts service organization that helps artists and small arts groups with the business of the arts.  He has also served as  Executive Director of The Vera Project, Advocacy Chair for the Washington State Arts Commission, and advisor, facilitator and trainer for dozens of local organizations as the owner and principal of Fife Consulting. In the new role of Chief Strategy Officer for EMG, Fife will focus on developing Encore’s strategies to better serve our clients and the cultural sector at large.

Encore Media Group is best known as the publisher of City Arts magazine and Encore Arts Programs at arts organizations in Seattle and the Bay Area. Additionally, Encore Media Group’s Specialty Publishing arm produces various periodicals including the Official Seattle Pride Guide and the SIFF Festival Guide and Catalog.  Finally, the company also produces a series of special events featuring local artists, brands, audiences and venues. 

EMG has established a new strategic plan to guide the organization in its planning, activities, and initiatives. The strategic plan, developed with internal and external stakeholders over the past year, includes the business’s mission, strategic priorities, goals, and key objectives.  It also introduces Encore Media Group’s new vision statement:

Encore envisions a time of heightened cultural engagement, when arts offerings will be more relevant and accessible. Artists and other creatives will be properly valued and integrated into civic life. The region and Encore itself will be a home for creativity and dynamism, with the company serving as a champion and convener for the creative sectors. Encore will be recognized as a leader in media regionally and nationally.

Central to the strategic plan is Encore’s goal to leverage and elevate its position by advancing civic dialogue and providing leadership within the local creative community.

“I am excited and confident about not only the future of our company, but of future of the arts and culture sectors in the regions we serve,” says Encore Media Group president, Paul Heppner. “Both of our markets, Seattle and the Bay Area, are centers of immense creativity and growth with rich arts and culture communities. I look forward to Encore playing a major role in the future of our regions.” 


About Encore Media Group:
Encore Media Group is the regional, family-owned publisher of Encore Arts Programs in Seattle and the Bay Area and Seattle’s City Arts magazine in print and online. Encore produces events in conjunction with their publishing brands. Additionally, Encore Media Group’s Specialty Publishing arm produces the Official Seattle Pride Guide and the SIFF Festival Guide and Catalog. Learn more at encoremediagroup.com


Category: Arts & Culture
blog comments powered by Disqus
blog comments powered by Disqus