To support the Arts Fuse: An online magazine that nurtures serious and
innovative commentary, reviews, and features about the arts and humanities in New England. The publication plays a vital part of the cultural eco-system -- generating serious (but not solemn) dialogue about the arts -- small as well as large, marginal as well as mainstream -- along with news. Quality arts reviewing is rapidly disappearing from newspapers and magazines. We are dedicated to preserving this important service, for those who love the arts and those who create them.
The Arts Fuse began to dream
about what an ideal arts and culture website might look like in the 21st century.
First of all, we decided that it should provide serious,
informed criticism and opinion about the arts, not just random blog
posts or “Tweets.” It should be literate, not wasting its
readers’ time with rambling, poorly written copy. It should be
thought-provoking. It should inspire a conversation among critics,
producers, and consumers of the arts.
It should be local. A website in Seattle or
Washington, DC, might provide good national political commentary, or
useful garden tips, or even movie reviews, but it probably is not going
to engage very directly in local theatre or the Boston jazz scene.
Finally, it should be independent and self-sustaining, not
relying on free “user generated content,” hand-outs from interested
parties (like the arts organizations themselves), or on hidden sugar
daddies with motives of their own.
Another thing we thought is that a good cultural website
should not be entirely virtual. After all, the arts are still
mostly a real-life, face-to-face activity. We don’t go to see theatre or
art exhibitions on-line and chat rooms are no substitute for a good
conversation after dinner. Early on in our existence, with the help of a Mass Humanities grant, a judicial
reviewing paradigm, a fresh approach that combines editorial integrity
with the community-making power of interactivity. Arts events are
evaluated by local panels of “judges” who will post majority and
dissenting opinions in the form of written reviews or via video- or
The panel was made up of a combination of professional critics
and non-professional observers. Our aim is to introduce a supervised
space for educational, passionate, and incisive conversation about the
arts that draws on the strengths of various levels of expertise.
Arts organizations, artists, and readers were invited to file
dissenting opinions or “friend of the court” briefs. Also, in individual
blogs judges will address important issues raised by the arts in ways
that encourage discussion.
We are working toward organizing a series of public forums and events on the state of arts criticism -- and its importance to the cultural ecosystem.
Over the past year, the magazine has posted over 700 features, reviews and commentaries on the arts, providing expert coverage by veteran and budding critics of a number of events, performances, and books, etc that are overlooked in the mainstream media. Also, we hosted the first annual Fusical Awards -- a fundraising evening in which the magazine's first prizes for accomplishment in the arts - given to marginalized artists and institutions. Also, completed a grant to the MCC for our Mentorship program -- a project that will connect our critics with young, want-to-be critics in neighborhoods around Boston.
As for our goals -- we plan to grow our budget -- through fundraisers and developing our board -- so the magazine can post more material, hire a copyeditor, freshen up web design, and get the word out about our good work.
Five needs -- not necessarily in order of importance
1) Funding to increase coverage, both in terms of payment to writers but to the arts events we can cover in Boston and beyond. The goal is to give groups small and large serious coverage in order to generate interest and dialogue.
2) Funding for marketing and social media help. We need to get the word out about our excellent arts coverage in a busy web world.
3) Need to hire copyeditor and editorial assistants
4) Funding for web site redesign and backend help -- necessary software, etc
5) Funding for operating expenses -- need to explore strategies for sustainability as well as creating some public forums that will talk about the value of arts criticism.
Board Chair Statement
The Arts Fuse is the only online arts magazine in the Boston area dedicated to covering a wide variety of the arts -- dance, film, books, theater, music, etc. It is not a blog, but an edited arts section in which knowledgeable critics evaluate, debate, and invite comment. It is independent and pledged to covering local arts off the beaten path. The challenges at a time of shrinking or decaying arts coverage in newspapers and magazine are formidable.
I have spent my life reviewing the arts in the Boston area for NPR, the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine and many other publications. The Arts Fuse represents a labor of love and of faith. I deeply believe that there is a need in audiences to read and talk about the arts -- as a way to articulate their value. The arts must be more than consumerism -- they reflect who we are, what we think, and what we dream.
Arts coverage is a vital part of putting the impact -- emotional and intellectual -- of the arts into words. If arts coverage turns into advertising and marketing then the place of the arts in our lives will be diminished. The Arts Fuse is about keeping the language of evaluation, provocation, and admiration alive.