Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers

The Critics: firing Tobi Tobias


Recommended Posts

  • Replies 85
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • Alexandra

    36

  • dirac

    8

  • Farrell Fan

    2

Thanks for that tidbit, Patricia. I'm sure many more people ARE interested in Heather McC than Mark Morris or the Diamond Project, just as there are more people who buy McCartney's CD's than Beethoven's. But music is still covered!

Link to post

I just received an email forwarded to me from someone who's on the Dance/USA mailing list, that included the following paragraphs:

 

As you may have heard, New York Magazine announced last week that it fired its dance critic, Tobi Tobias, and will no longer review dance. Dance/NYC has organized a national letter-writing campaign to the magazine protesting this most ill-considered move.  New York Magazine has a very large  nationwide subscription base, so this is an issue affecting not just New York City, but cultural coverage and criticism across the country, sending an unfortunate message about the value of dance criticism to periodicals and newspapers everywhere.  

 

In addition to individuals and dance organizations in New York City, those taking part in the campaign thus far are: The Field; Dance Theater Workshop; Alliance of Resident Theaters/NY (theater); Theater Communications Group (theater-national);  The Arts & Business Council; the New York Coalition for the Arts; New York Foundation for the Arts; New England Foundation for the Arts; Career Transitions for Dancers; IATSE (stagehands); AGMA; and SSDC (Directors & Choreographers), among others.

 

 

So if you hear that this is an issue of interest to only a handful of people, that's a good list to cite :)

Link to post

I don't think Heather M., or the Hot Argentine Polo Players also featured, are taking up the space previously occupied by Tobias. NY has always run those. More likely, the space will be used for more ads, puff items, and color spreads of cheese.

Link to post
Guest Nanatchka

I don't think that there is a block of space being traded--one thing for another, although that can happen. I think there is a block of space that vanished, which also happens. It's very unsettling. For instance, the dance paragraphs (larger and longer than listings) in the New Yorker got disappeared. The Performing Arts Preview of the Atlantic Monthly disappeared. Stagebill disappeared. It's very depressing.

Link to post

Yes, it is depressing, and I think this is why the New York mag case has caused such an uproar. Always before, dance was cut back. But not cut out.

 

I don't think it's a lack of space. It's that They don't think dance matters. And that's why all the dance organizations have jumped on this one.

 

Repeating part of a prior post, since it's now on page 3 of this thread, and those clicking on now may not go back and see it, according to Dance/USA, the following have joined in an email/letter writing campaign to New York Magazine re the cutting of dance reviews: "The Field; Dance Theater Workshop; Alliance of Resident Theaters/NY (theater); Theater Communications Group (theater-national); The Arts & Business Council; the New York Coalition for the Arts; New York Foundation for the Arts; New England Foundation for the Arts; Career Transitions for Dancers; IATSE (stagehands); AGMA; and SSDC (Directors & Choreographers), among others."

Link to post

The news has also been posted on a message board devoted to theater by someone who read it on this site (she linked to this thread). I posted a reply giving Caroline Miller's e-mail address, so there will be additional protests from people whose interest in dance is show-oriented. There seemed to be interest, based on the responses to the initial post.

Link to post
Guest casloan

This is the response I just received from Ms. Miller to my e-mail letter of protest (which was along the lines of others already present on this thread):

 

Dear Ms. Sloan,

 

Despite what you have heard going around the dance world, we are not

discontinuing our dance coverage. It's true that we did decide not to renew

Tobi Tobias's contract. We felt it was time for a change. But we will be

looking for a new voice, and in the meantime will make sure the bases are

covered in previews, listings and features by other writers. Like all

magazines-and all arts organizations-we're facing a tighter budget, and must

husband our resources carefully. But we are not abandoning the dance

community or any other of the arts communities in New York.

 

Caroline Miller

Link to post

New York Magazine isn't the only thing that's evolving. Here's the form responses I know of, in order. Changes in bold.

 

Form Response #1: Thanks for your letter about our dance coverage. It's true that I decided not to renew Tobi's contract. In these difficult times, every publication in America has had to make painful choices, focusing limited resources on work that best serves its readers. While I have valued Tobi's contribution to the magazine, I believe that, for the time being, the best way we can provide ongoing coverage of dance is in other parts of the magazine. This doesn't mean we don't consider dance worthy of coverage, or that we are going to abandon the dance community. We will continue to cover dance in previews, listings, and features by other staff members. Dance will be included in the upcoming Fall Preview issue, as usual, and we have a feature on Mark Morris coming up later in the fall.

 

Form Response #2: Thanks for your letter. It's true that we're not going to continue running Tobi's reviews, but, believe me, we are not abandoning dance coverage. We'll continue to run previews, listings and features, and are committed to making sure dance gets the attention it deserves, in every way we can. I know you're aware that every publication in America, like all arts organizations, has had to make painful descisions on how to deploy limited resources to give readers what they value most. This is something we feel we have to do at this point; nonetheless, as we go forward we'll continue to look for ways to support the dance community in the city.

 

Form Response #3: It's true that we're not going to continue running Tobi's reviews, but, believe me, we are not abandoning dance coverage. We'll continue to run previews, listings and features, and are committed to making sure dance gets the attention it deserves, in every way we can. As you have observed, every publication in America, like every arts organization, has had to make painful decisions on how to deploy limited resources to give readers what they value most. This is something we feel we have to do at this point; it doesn't mean that we're not serious about dance and other arts in the city. Like all organisms, magazines need to keep evolving, developing new voices and new approaches.

 

A response received over the past weekend #4: Despite what seems to be going around the dance world, we are not discontinuing dance coverage in New York magazine. It's true that we decided not to renew Tobi Tobias's contract. We felt we needed a change, a new voice or critical approach that would broaden the audience for our dance coverage, which is at this point a tiny percentage of our readers. (If you want to attract new audiences to dance, rather than just talk to veterans and insiders, you have to innovate.) In the short term, until we find the right voice, we'll continue to run previews, listings and features by other writers.

 

Response #5: Despite what you have heard going around the dance world, we are not discontinuing our dance coverage. It's true that we did decide not to renew Tobi Tobias's contract. We felt it was time for a change. But we will be looking for a new voice, and in the meantime will make sure the bases are covered in previews, listings and features by other writers. Like all magazines-and all arts organizations-we're facing a tighter budget, and must husband our resources carefully. But we are not abandoning the dance community or any other of the arts communities in New York

Link to post

Hmm. This could mean that she's backing down, but trying to save face by refusing to rehire Tobias. Or it could mean that she's trying to get people off her back by promising to look for "a new voice," a search that, theoretically,could go on indefinitely until people forget about the whole thing.

 

 

 

I'm very sorry for Tobias. First, she's cut loose as financial deadweight; then the story changes and she's getting dumped for a "new voice." Either way, Miller is making it clear that she's not getting her job back.

Link to post

I agree, dirac. I'd vote for the indefinite search for a new voice -- surely they'll all forget about this by spring, won't they?

 

I did speak with Tobi Tobias when this started and the first thing I asked her was, do you think they're replacing you. She had asked the same thing and was told no.

 

Replacing Tobias at this stage would make Miller seem either unbelievably petty -- bad bad writer for daring to go public with being fired! -- or fuel the rumors (which I personally do not believe, but which keep surfacing) that certain organizations put pressure on the magazine to get rid of Tobias because of her negative reviews.

 

Either way, everyone loses in this.

Link to post
Guest Calliope

In a fit of protest. I ripped out the crossword puzzle and sent the rest of the magazine back to Ms. Miller with a letter asking her where was the work that "best served" me was.

 

I doubt I'll get a response, but....

Link to post

Err, am I missing something, or are the answers #1 and #2 similar?

 

Ms Miller's answers really aren't consistent: first it was about "painful choices" and "limited resources", and then about "time for a change", "new voice" and "broadening their audience". What next: "I heard some voices in my sleep telling me to fire Tobi Tobias?" "some men in black with big guns told me to do so?" "In order to broaden our audience, we've decided to hire Britney Spears as a dance critic, and to publish photographs of naked dancers?" It sounds as if she considers the readers who complained as a bit stupid... (and the paragraph about "having to innovate" really made me quite angry).

 

It's a pity that there aren't other similar magazines willing to broaden the audience for their dance coverage by *hiring* Ms Tobias...

Link to post

Thanks, Estelle. I posted something that had been sent to me without checking it, and have changed the posts a bit now.

 

I like your suggestions for further responses!

 

If dance were anything else, another magazine *would* have hired Tobias instantly. But it's not, and it's not because the people who run publishing do not have dance on their radar screens. It's not important to them, and they assume it's not important to anyone else.

Link to post

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.


×
×
  • Create New...