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Critical questions follow reviewer's departure from Indy Star

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Will the Indianapolis Star continue to offer reviews of classical music, theater and dance?

That’s the question arts professionals around the city are wondering in the wake of the resignation of Jay Harvey, who covered classical music, theater and other arts for the newspaper and online. His last day of work at the Star is Friday.

Harvey, 67, has filled a number of roles since joining the paper in 1986. At the time, both the Star and the city's evening paper, The Indianapolis News, had multiple critics assigned to theater, film, music and dance. Harvey initially covered classical music and served as back-up for theater. He also spent more than a decade working on the Star copy desk and writing occasional jazz reviews.

Since 2008, he has been the primary critic covering all of the performing arts except pop music. At peak, he was reviewing three to four events per week.

But as the Star put greater emphyasis in developing its online presence, reviews were marginalized, Harvey said.

“They count [online] page views, and reviews didn’t seem to come up high," he said. "My whole idea, in four decades of work, was that you write what’s interesting. But now you can’t just say, ‘This person is interesting.’ You really have to say, ‘Will our readers care?’”

“I want to emphasize, though, that I’m not bitter toward the Star,” he added. “This whole thing has to do with following a business model that they think is sustainable. More power to them.”

Harvey will continue to cover classical music and other arts on his personal blog, jayharveyupstage.blogspot.com.

So what’s next for the Star’s cultural coverage?

“We haven’t heard anything formally,” said Jessica Di Santo, director of communications for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Harvey reviewed nearly all of the ISO's classical concerts during his recent tenure.

“The Star did reach out and say it is still committed to the performing arts. But they didn’t say anything about critical coverage,” Di Santo said.

Asked if performing arts reviews would continue in the Star, Jeff Taylor, editor and vice president/news, offered a statement via e-mail: “The only comment I have is that the Star will continue its longstanding commitment to coverage of the arts in Central Indiana. We value the important role that the arts play in making Indianapolis a vibrant place to live.”

Taylor declined to comment on whether or not Harvey would be replaced, or if fine arts reviews would continue.

Performing arts groups see great value in reviews, positive or negative.

“Reviews can give audiences insights they missed and sometimes persuade new people to check out a specific show or group," said Paul Hansen, marketing director for Dance Kaleidoscope. "Reviews are also used by not-for-profits to help get grants and touring opportunities.”

“As things change at the Star,” Hansen added, “we're all hopeful that it will continue covering the arts in new and exciting ways. 

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  • Whose fault?
    This to Quixmundi
  • Whose fault?
    You seem to be blaming the readers for not caring about reviews that weren't written because they weren't going to be printed and hence were not available to be read. Have I misread you?
    • Pathetic
      The Star's coverage of the live local performing arts has been completely pathetic for decades (other than accepting paid ads or any news release by a truck and bus hit and run Broadway show coming to town for a week). Then they blame everyone but themselves for readers' alleged lack of interest in the arts.
    • Why Not Kravitz
      With Kravitz's huge ego I'm sure he would be confident in his ability to lower the quality of arts coverage to the mediocre level to which the STAR aspires overall. Besides, coverage of the arts is largely nonideological and requires that opinion be based on knowledge, which would disqualify the vast majority of the dwindling staff.
    • Indy Star Arts Coverage
      The Star has no purpose if it doesn't cover local events.
    • Star Arts coverage lacking in recent years
      Two of the greatest living opera divas - Renee Fleming and Kathleen Battle - performed at the Carmel Palladium this year and neither performance was covered by the Star (Mr. Harvey). I wondered at the time if Mr. Harvey's tenure was soon to end. Sorry to read I was right as his reviews were always balanced and informative to those considering attending a cultural arts event. Guess not enough readers cared. Sad to read of this voice lost for our cultural community.
      • Jay and Lou
        Jay Harvey has brought clarity, wit, and insight to the region's art scene for as long as I've lived in Indianapolis, and I will miss his excellent reviews (even when I didn't agree with them). Glad to know he'll keep writing in his blog. Jay knows the city, knows the arts organizations, and will remain a voice for all things arts. My advice to Lou Harry: keep up the already great work, for you have large shoes to fill!
      • Irrelevant
        The Indy Star's time has passed. It's hard to believe anyone still thinks it's a good source for news.
      • What arts coverage?
        Does anyone reading the Star really think Jay Harvey was assigned to cover much of anything in the last few years? Online Star is awful.
      • Reviews
        Sounds like you should polish up your resume Lou!

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