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Blood from a stone?
The local arts community reacts to the Globe buyouts

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Globe-al anxiety: The Boston Globe is going through its biggest shake-up in 30 years. What will it mean for the paper, the editor, the remaining staff, and the city itself? By Mark Jurkowitz

No one outside 135 Morrissey Boulevard watched the Globe buyouts more closely than members of Boston’s arts community, who greeted the prospect of losing so many long-time critics and writers at the region’s largest paper with a combination of concern, hope, and what could best be described as a wait-and-see attitude.

"Our commitment is not lessening by any means," asserts arts editor Scott Heller, who will be responsible for new arts hires and who has tried to reassure arts officials of the paper’s good intentions. "I think we’ll lose a little bit in institutional memory; that is inevitable. I think frankly, when all this shakes out, readers in the arts community will recognize that arts coverage in the Globe is as strong as ever."

"They’re really going out of their way ... that we can be assured the coverage is not going to change," responds Janice Mancini Del Sesto, general director of the Boston Lyric Opera. "The bigger burden is on them. They’re using fewer staff to do more.... I think we all have an attitude we’re glad to be assured, but we’ll wait to see what happens."

"I certainly hope that the Globe is restaffed with senior people. I go on the assumption that theater reporters in Boston won’t be marginalized," adds Michael Maso, managing director of the Huntington Theatre Company.

Several representatives of arts organizations say the Globe will be hard-pressed to replace some of the experienced hands and household names no longer at the paper.

"[Richard] Dyer as a music critic has standing ahead of everybody except maybe one or two guys in New York," says one arts official. "They’re not going to have what they had."

"The bottom line is we’d like to continue to have a dialogue with the Globe in making sure in the future, the arts will continue to be well represented, well covered," says Valerie Wilder, executive director of the Boston Ballet. Christine Temin, who departed before the buyouts, "was terrific in that she really knew the field and she could put it in context," Wilder adds. "She very much understood what we were trying to achieve."

"I’m really cautious," ventures another local arts leader. "I’m willing to give Scott the benefit of the doubt that he’s going to replace [Temin] with a serious critic."

Issue Date: January 13 - 19, 2006
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