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Journalism lecturer writes essential guide to arts reviewing

Interviews with leading arts critics from The Guardian, The Times, BBC, Daily Telegraph and the New York Times all feature in a new guide to arts reviewing written by a journalism lecturer from De Montfort University Leicester.

Andy Plaice, senior lecturer in journalism, interviewed them all for his book Arts Reviewing: A Practical Guide  which covers writing, ethics, and the impact of reviews as well as a debate on challenges facing reviewers such as the internet.

picture - andy p
Andy, who writes reviews and features for The Stage, The Times, Arts Desk and The Express, said the idea for the book came from his DMU students.

He said: “The book came about as a solution for students – an up-to-date text that tackled these subjects just didn’t seem to exist. At De Montfort University, as well as teaching general news and features, I specialise in arts and entertainment journalism.

“Leading academic publisher Routledge was very keen to pursue it. But its beginnings can be traced to my late teens and early 20s, firstly as a drama student because of a life-long love of theatre and secondly as a junior reporter.

“Touring shows, amateur dramatics and panto starring someone from Emmerdale all needed covering, and nobody else particularly wanted to do it. The quality ranged from Ian McKellen in Richard III to shockingly bad church hall plays where they served weak orange squash in the interval.”

The book features 20 interviews with among others, Mark Lawson, Neil McCormick, Lyn Gardner, Nina Myskow and Ben Brantley, chief theatre critic at the New York Times who offer insights into life as a critic and the best and worst moments of their careers.

Andy added: “Chapters explore what a critic actually does, how she prepares and what his responsibilities are. Then of course how to write one and what the impact of that criticism might be – who benefits, who doesn’t, and does it actually matter anyway?”

“Other chapters focus on how free and instant online journalism has changed the playing field of criticism forever with case studies including Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in the West End along with the notion of North American embedded critics – critics and journalists paid by orchestras, art galleries and theatres.”

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Andy is a former editor of the Melton Times and Rutland Times. He began his career on the Grantham Journal in 1988 but is also a published playwright and studied drama at university.

The book has already received rave reviews of its own. Guardian music critic Dave Simpson said it was “a comprehensive and insightful analysis of the critic’s art and impact, which confronts the various challenges facing critical journalism in a rapidly changing world. A must read for anyone interested in the past, present and future (yes, there is one) of arts reviewing."  

Posted on Wednesday 27th December 2017

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