Here's what you need to know about writing for BSR.
Broad Street Review (founded in 2005) is an online arts and culture journal serving the greater Philadelphia area. We welcome writers of all identities, and especially encourage disabled, LGBTQ+, and BIPOC writers to pitch us.
Most of what we publish is assigned in advance. Reviews use the cultural event (including plays, exhibitions, literature, film, and performances) as a jumping-off point, typically connecting broader issues or ideas to the work. There’s more to it than summarizing experiences and writing an opinion on the work’s merit. When pitching BSR, ask yourself what’s missing from Philly’s art scene or what social impact an experience may have. We actively seek a diverse range of culturally specific perspectives, artists, organizations, and experiences. This means supporting smaller organizations and artists who may not have large audiences—our readers care about the folks who may not be able to get coverage from larger media outlets.
What does BSR cover?
We run a variety of reviews, features, previews, profiles, and essays.
We accept pitches in theater, music, visual art, exhibitions (not limited to museum exhibits), dance, books, film, television, and design. We accept personal essay pitches, especially those with a tie to life in the Philadelphia area. We also accept pitches that are relevant to grassroots social and political efforts (like activist profiles), the creative economy, and public spaces. We do not publish fiction or poetry, but do occasionally accept Philly-centric humor and satire.
How do I pitch to BSR?
You can pitch reviews and essays to editor-in-chief Alaina Johns or associate editor Kyle V. Hiller by email (see below) with a descriptive subject line (e.g. “PITCH: Review of X”) and a brief explanation of what you’re pitching in the body of the email and why it’s valuable to our readers.
We occasionally accept essays on spec; all other articles are assigned in advance.
Email review, feature, and essay pitches to Alaina; email preview and profile pitches to Kyle. Do not send any pitches or materials for review by mail. Alaina reviews each week’s pitches on Wednesday; Kyle reviews pitches on Thursday.
Leave a few weeks between your pitch and the event in question—we’re rarely able to accommodate pitches with a lead time of a week or less.
What’s the word count?
Reviews should be between 500 and 850 words. Essays range from 750 to 1,000 words. Previews and profiles fall between 300 and 500 words. These are not hard rules, but we prefer brevity and we discourage padding your work. It’s more about ensuring your points are clear, focused, and fully expressed.
How should I format and deliver my work?
Create a Word document (.doc or .docx) and name the file with your last name, a word or two on the subject, and the date submitted (e.g., Smith King Lear 07_02_21). Please include the following in the document as well:
A suggested headline and blurb (a two- or three-sentence summary) to run with the piece
Please provide the information for the “what, when, and where” segment (see example below), including contact information for ticket-buyers.
Accessibility is important to us. Please be sure to request information on accessibility where it’s relevant. This includes wheelchair access, ASL interpretation, sensory-friendly performances, captioning, audio description, etc. Note this alongside your what, when, where segment.
Here’s an example of what all that information looks like in an article:
What, when, where segment: “The Robert L. McNeil Jr. Galleries of early American art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 2500 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia. 215-763-8100 or philamuseum.org.”
Covid safety: Currently, tickets must be reserved in advance online for timed entry to control the number of visitors. All staff and all visitors over age 2 must wear a face mask and practice social distancing. Hand sanitizer units are available throughout the building, and high-touch surfaces are cleaned throughout the day. Detailed information is available on the museum's website.
The PMA is a wheelchair-accessible building. Complete accessibility information is available here [hyperlink]
This information is typically available upon request from event organizers, PR folks, or the artists themselves. Be sure to ask when getting in touch with contacts, and get as much information as you can. The intro blurb; what, when, where segment; and accessibility info do not affect your word count.
Do I need to provide images?
Yes! Your point of contact should have high-resolution images handy for you. Some organizations have “press rooms” that have images and content ready for permissible use. Please do not send images and photos that were retrieved without permission—we may not have the rights to use them. If you’re having trouble securing images or photos, contact Alaina or Kyle before the deadline and we’ll work with you.
Please provide credit for the images used (name of photographer/illustrator or source, e.g., Photo by Veronica Mars or Image courtesy of Mural Arts Philadelphia.). Suggested captions are encouraged. Sometimes captions are provided by contacts.
Please send images as separate files rather than inserting them into your document. JPG and PNG are okay. Please do not send images as TIFFs or PDFs.
Editing, publication, and payment
During our editing process, we’ll be in touch with you if revisions are needed. Most pieces are published on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.
You’ll receive an email advising you to look it over once it’s up.
Payment for contributions arrives at the beginning of the following month. For instance, an article published in June will receive payment within the first few business days of July. Fees range from $50 for previews, profiles, and reviews; with essays and some longer profiles and features paying $100. This compensation includes first publication rights for BSR and the non-exclusive right to store pieces in our archive.
You’re free to sell your piece elsewhere, or post your piece to your personal platform or to any other nonprofit website, 30 days after we’ve posted it, as long as the publication provides 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.
A word on ethics
Be honest. Let readers know who you are and where you’re coming from. That means no pseudonyms—for you or your subjects—and full disclosure: If you’re writing about your son-in-law’s dance company, your partner’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.
It’s bad journalistic form to send a review or commentary to the subject prior to its publication.
We encourage you to request press passes or tickets when reviewing a show. Previews occur before the event or performance, so you won’t need passes (but some organizations will appreciate your coverage and may be willing to offer you passes). Reputable writers do not abuse this tool of the job. Request passes only if you intend to do the work; otherwise, you’re painting BSR in a negative light, which impacts our community and our ability to represent and cover it. This will also impact your ability to work with us and other outlets. Repeated ticket requests that do not inform your coverage now or in the future (or unprofessional behavior to PR staffers) won’t be tolerated.
When you accept press 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.
If you’re interested in writing for us, please peruse the site for a sense of our coverage and style; follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (where we promote all of our published pieces); and sign up for our weekly newsletters to our readers. If the BSR vision appeals to you and you’d like to make a pitch, let’s hear from you.
For contributors looking to get involved beyond their first piece, we also send a periodic email newsletter to our regular writers that lists coming events, performances, and profile subjects. If you'd like to receive that, email Alaina or Kyle.
Thanks for visiting our guidelines.
Alaina Johns, Editor in Chief
Kyle V. Hiller, Associate Editor