SF Weekly Cutting Down Theater Reviews

Chloe Veltman posts on how the recession is hurting SF Weekly, which will in turn hurt small theater companies.

SF Weekly’s Stage page generally has one big article by Chloe, followed by two “capsule reviews” by (usually) Molly Rhodes and Christopher Jensen. Those capsules are where smaller companies like Sleepwalkers Theatre and Boxcar Theatre and Impact Theatre get covered, with the larger column covering bigger companies like Magic Theatre and A.C.T. and SF Playhouse.

That’s going to shrink for the time being, as Chloe says:

Historically, January is a slow month for ad sales and the paper shrinks. The recession will likely magnify this seasonal trend. As a result, the powers that be have been forced to make some cuts to content, and, unsurprisingly, the Stage section is taking a big hit in the months ahead. The paper’s coverage of theatre will drop from three plays — my 1,000-word column plus two 200-word capsule reviews — to just my column. The publication will not be running capsules in January. The situation is likely to remain the same in February and March at least.

This is unhappy news for my great team of capsule reviewers at SF Weekly. I’m sad about it too, as making decisions about which shows to review among the hundreds to pick from each month has been hard enough in the past. Now the task is going to be even more difficult. Even more terrible though, is the impact of the falling coverage on the local theatre scene. Small companies in particular rely heavily on reviews not just for selling tickets but also for getting grants. In these tough economic times, the fall-off in media interest is particularly crippling.

The entire post is worth reading, especially since Chloe does her usual cool thing of tying a local event into a larger national/historical perspective.