A selective guide to arts commentaries in print and websites elsewhere.
Introduction to Broad Street Review, plus biographies and contact points for our editors and contributors.
See a list of coming appearances by BSR's writers.
From Editor Dan Rottenberg, everything you need to know about contributing articles to Broad Street Review.
Thoughts for contributors to Broad Street Review
by Dan Rottenberg, editor
Broad Street Review, launched in December 2005, is conceived as an arts and culture forum where knowledgeable people can engage in intelligent discourse about the arts. It’s a bit like a blog, but without the anarchy: I function as gatekeeper and editor, sifting out material so as not to waste the reader’s time. On the other hand, I’m entirely at the mercy of my contributors for material and subject matter. I make no assignments; everything we post is unsolicited.
Mostly, I’m looking for people who burn with something to say and have no place else to say it. If you have a compelling or original insight, that should work for me. If your piece is likely to provoke responses from readers, that will work too.
Ours is a very intimate and personal kind of communication. Think of yourself as sitting in my living room with a group of friends. Better still, write as if you’re sending me a personal letter. That means you should convey some candid sense of who you are and where you’re coming from. It also means you should convey some sense of who I am and where I’m coming from. Reading BSR regularly will help you get into the conversation.
We welcome essays and reviews alike. Ideally, reviews will follow the model of the New York Review of Books— that is, you’ll use the play, concert, opera or event as a jumping-off point to expound on some broader issue. Pieces that simply opine whether an event was good or bad don’t cut it. Remember: You can get opinions from any cab driver. What counts is the insight you bring to me (and, by extension, to others).
Subject matter: Right now we have five basic categories: Music & Opera, Art & Architecture, Theater, Dance and Books & Movies, plus a catchall category called Cross-Cultural. But nothing is written in stone, and our definition of “art” is very flexible. Some of our contributors like to write about food, politics and basketball. If it appeals to me, I’ll find some excuse to post it. We rarely publish fiction or poetry, but do occasionally post humor and satire.
How to submit an article or query. Contact me by e-mail at . If you submit an article, you should receive an acknowledgment from me within one to three days. If you don’t, please submit it again. (Sometimes e-mail messages fall through the cracks.)
Type style. Preferred font is 16-point Times, single-spaced.
Other points. If you’re writing about a specific event, please provide the basic information— what, when, where, plus a contact phone number and URL address. Also, provide a proposed headline and blurb (a one-paragraph summary). We may not use your headline or blurb, but it’s a good exercise to get you to think about the point of your piece. Digital images are always welcome too, although not necessary.
Editing process. We post twice a week— usually on Tuesdays and Saturdays. If I accept your piece, I’ll edit and post it , then send you an e-mail advising you to look it over. If you want me to make changes, just e-mail me and I’ll try to accommodate you. Once we send out our weekly e-mail newsletter on Wednesday mornings, we try not to tamper further with a piece. But of course we can always make corrections or changes even weeks or months after it’s been posted.
Ethical issues. We have one basic ethical rule for writers: Be honest. You can say whatever you like here as long as you let people know who you are and where you’re coming from. That means no pseudonyms— for you or your subjects— (unless it’s a matter of life and death) and full disclosure: If you’re writing about your son-in-law’s dance company or your husband’s theater troupe or your friend’s paintings, disclose the relationship. Ditto if you’re employed by a place that you’re writing about, or if you have a financial interest in it or sit on its board. If you have any sort of hidden agenda, stop hiding it. And so on.
It’s bad journalistic form to send a review or commentary to the subject prior to its publication. Such a practice tends, however subconsciously, to inhibit the writer from speaking candidly. Remember: Your first obligation is to me and to our readers— not to the artists you’re writing about.
In most cases I’m not interested in reviews of rehearsals, preview performances or other forms of works-in-progress, unless there’s some really compelling reason to write about one. If you do write about a preview or rehearsal, you should say so up front.
We also send a weekly newsletter to our regular that lists coming events for which press tickets are available, with contact information.
When you accept comp tickets to any event, make it clear to the hosts that they’re simply exposing you to their production— you make no promise to write a good review, bad review or any review at all, unless you feel afterward that you have something to say. Presumably the hosts will feel it’s to their benefit to get you in the house; even if you don’t write a review, your presence keeps you abreast of what the company is up to and provides insight that may be useful to our readers (as well as the company) at some point in the future.
Compensation. We usually pay $50 for a review and $100 for a full-length essay, for first publication rights plus the non-exclusive right to store the pieces in our archives. But in most cases we pay writers a maximum monthly stipend of $100, no matter how great the output. Some regulars get more. But no one writes for us for the money. They write for the freedom, the sophisticated showcase and the professional editing that we offer.
We also promote your work through social media (we have active presences on both Facebook and Twitter), as well as by providing links to your biography, résumé, blog or personal website from your author profile.
You’re free to peddle your piece elsewhere 90 days after we’ve posted it. You’re also free to post your piece immediately to your own blog or to any other nonprofit website, as long as you provide a functioning link back to the story’s original full URL at broadstreetreview.com. You must also post at the top of the page: “This article has been republished with permission from Broad Street Review,” with Broad Street Review hyperlinked to http://www.broadstreetreview.com.
If writing for BSR isn’t fun, you should cut your losses immediately and invest your time and energy elsewhere. But if this vision appeals to you and you’re interested in writing about the arts, either regularly or irregularly, let me hear from you.