Nominated for: providing a promising outlet for artists and audiences.
Torontoist is reflecting on 2016 by naming our Heroes and Villains—the people, places, things, and ideas that have had the most positive and negative impacts on the city over the past 12 months. Cast your ballot until 11:59 p.m. on January 5. At noon on January 6, we’ll reveal your choices for Toronto’s Superhero and Supervillain of the year.
With the media industry in an economic tailspin, publications are cutting costs wherever possible—and the first thing on the chopping block is often arts coverage. It’s possible nowadays, for instance, to pick up a copy of the National Post, flip to the Arts and Life section, and find nothing but recipes.
A Globe & Mail op-ed by theatre critic Stephen Hunt, whose position at the Calgary Herald was eliminated this year, asked: “if there isn’t anyone critiquing, how is a nation’s art affected?” It’s a concern for Canada’s creative classes, and entertainment companies worry: if journalists aren’t writing about their shows, how will they promote them?
Enter Intermission Magazine. Founded by The Company Theatre and supported by The Metcalf Foundation, it’s an online arts magazine “about and by people who create theatre”. Instead of overwhelming the few remaining arts writers at media outlets with pitches, Intermission gives artists a platform to create online content about theatre themselves. As publisher Philip Ricco said at the launch party, “our strength as theatre creators is our storytelling abilities. Why are we outsourcing that?”
Since it launched in March, Intermission‘s contributors, aided by co-editors-in-chief May Antaki and Maija Kappler, have told stories like Christine Horne on appearing on the cover of Now Magazine while being unable to pay her rent; Vivien Endicott-Douglas on playing a genderfluid Romeo; Rick Roberts, about dedicated patron Barbara Fingerote. Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster has an ongoing series on juggling artistic work and parenting, and Intermission even has its first star columnist: Tony Nappo, brusque veteran of Canadian screens and stages.
Another benefit of Intermission‘s wide pool of contributors is diverse authorship; a common criticism of Toronto’s critics is the lack of female and racialized voices. Chala Hunter has written about female hero myths; Kaleb Alexander about his identity as a Torontonian; non-actor Asha Jain about collaborating with her son Ravi.
Intermission hasn’t yet addressed the decline of critical discourse; most contributors are understandably loath to publicly criticize their colleagues. But Intermission is helping readers understand theatre artists’ process, providing insight into what shows are about, and hopefully, connecting audiences with shows they want to see. That’s a valuable and increasingly rare service for both patrons and producing companies.