Immersion! That describes a 10-day three-credit course that Syracuse University Goldring Arts Journalism Program students are taking this week over winter break in the city. Their whirlwind visit is jammed with workshops featuring music, film, art, architecture, dance, and theater critics, lunches with editors and writers (such as staffers from Entertainment Weekly), museum visits and meetings with arts administrators, and capped with nightly trips to theater and opera.
Johanna Keller, Goldring arts journalism program director, said the trip to New York is "a fantastic opportunity to get practical experience and see what the state of arts journalism and the arts is all about." She is leading the troupe of 16 visiting students in this, the inaugural year of the program.
Syracuse is the first school to offer an accredited master's program in arts journalism. Over twelve months, students concentrate in one of five areas of the arts: architecture, film, fine arts, music, or theater.
They gathered Tuesday night for drinks at Lubin House, the Syracuse University alumni building in the city. The Knickerbocker met Arthur Ryel-Lindsey, who holds bachelor's degrees in film and English from the Ohio State University, where he made a 12-minute short called "The Burrito Euphoria" about the joy of eating large burritos. Among his writings at Syracuse this year was an interview with filmmaker Mira Nair. Asked what career advice he learned over lunch with the Christian Science Monitor film critic David Sterritt, he said: to take the small journalism jobs and assignments as a means of eventually landing the bigger ones.
Mr. Ryel-Lindsey talked with another student, Kim Greene, a graduate of Marymount Manhattan College who holds degrees in both dance and communication arts. She has danced professionally (including on a cruise ship through the Caribbean) and is excited about seeing the New York City Ballet rehearsal of "Swan Lake" on Friday.
Steve Kobak, who interned at the Hartford Courant, is interested in music journalism. What kind? "Noise music," he said. Asked to explain the genre, he said, "Lean a guitar against an amplifier and it makes that loud blissful sound." His reviews can be seen at Tinymixtapes.com. Any tips on good bands? He said there's a fantastic band from Brooklyn called Mouthus: "They are probably better than any band that's come out of Brooklyn in the past 15 years" he said.
Nearby was clarinetist Anna Reguero, who will be interning at newmusicbox.org, which specializes in modern composition, as well as experimental and jazz music.
Architecture journalism student Erin Smith is interested in graphic and fashion design. Some magazines she enjoys are Gotham, W, and Vogue. For an end-of-year assignment, she plans to cover fashion week and examine how fashion designers choose a "muse," namely, a socialite or celebrity from whom they draw inspiration. She said she would like to work at a magazine covering what's hot in New York at night.
Speaking of nightlife, she had been to the bar Turks and Frogs the previous evening with fellow student Lauren Burger, who has worked in television development and production.
David Wilcox is interested in film and video games (one he is playing now is "Resident Evil 4"). At SUNY Geneseo he was an arts and entertainment editor for the campus newspaper the Lamron. When the Knickerbocker inquired about the name, he was informed that it was "normal" spelled backward.
Also attending was Nancy Keefe Rhodes, who reviews films for Women's Voices Radio on WAER Syracuse 88.3 FM. Another classmate was theater journalist Jennifer Polland, who saw the touring shows of "Hairspray" and "Miss Saigon." She liked the former but thought the latter was "weak."Having previously seen both on Broadway, she had a basis for comparison.
The Knickerbocker asked Lisa Barnard, who is interested in community theater, to describe something she learned in the program at Syracuse. She said, "You can use your experience in one area of the arts to understand other arts."
Nearby was Jamie Newsom, who has reviewed theater for the Anchorage Daily News. Asked about theater in Alaska, she said she loved a Tlingit production of "Macbeth," and a performance of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" that she saw at the only drag club in Anchorage.
In the room were various editors such as Sedgwick Clark of Musical America, Bill Menking of the Architect's Newspaper, and a historian of classical music, Joseph Horowitz, who in September had given an address at Syracuse on the state of arts journalism today. "It's not a very favorable account," he said. The address, which will be published with responses onArtsjournal.com, is titled "Engaging With the Arts." It argues that American arts journalism risks irrelevance by overstressing objectivity and detachment. He finds support for this in an earlier era of journalism. Mr. Horowitz suggests an arts op-ed page where distinguished practitioners could offer opinions and views.