Last week, Deadline reported that the New York Times discontinued regional coverage of the arts. Significantly, in her August 6 column, NYT Public Editor Liz Spayd asked, “Why should a newsroom that just announced lofty international ambitions spend resources covering news of no interest to readers in Beijing and London?” Below the surface of this question lies the implication that cultural events happening in smaller cities and towns—basically anything below a certain caliber of cache and sophistication—are uninteresting to those who live in the so-called centers of culture. Extending this line of thinking, we arrive at the notion that only big cities (and the people living and working in them) produce ideas that are worth talking about.
I’m dead set against that notion. Daily Serving exists because we believe that strong, thoughtful critical writing, regardless of where it is coming from or how small an area it is addressing, has the potential to be relevant to everyone. It’s the reason that my first major decision as editor was to adopt a program of “Shotgun Reviews”—anyone, anywhere in the world can publish an exhibition review with us. Instead of formulating a policy that location is what makes an artwork important, we trust our writers—and our readers—to bring their attention to projects and events that are happening in both large cities and small towns. Certainly our writers cover exhibitions in Shanghai, Los Angeles, London, and Berlin, but we also attend to what’s happening in places that aren’t signaled by large stars on a map: Wichita, Cleveland, Dhaka, Birmingham.
It’s not just a democratic impulse that drives us, but also a spirit of discovery and participation. Art is often reflective of the social and political circumstances that surround it, and an essay on artistic practices in one location brings visibility to an issue that might be of shared concern to citizens halfway around the planet; we may have as much to learn about ways of seeing and confronting the world from an artist in Jaipur as from one living in New York City. And that spirit of understanding is why, in addition to the contributions made by our own writers around the globe, we often circulate articles from other sources. Many excellent, locally focused arts blogs exist, and we amplify their work by excerpting and republishing it here. Approached from these perspectives, the regional is the very opposite of the provincial.
Whatever your opinion of the Times’ decision, this moment provides an opportunity for other publications to fill a vital role; in the ensuing vacuum, smaller journalistic entities become vastly more important. On the cusp of our 10th anniversary, it seems that the mission behind Daily Serving’s tagline—“we bring region-specific views to a global audience”—has never been more necessary or more urgent. After a long summer of assessing and analyzing our goals, tomorrow we’ll return to our regular schedule of original essays, exhibition reviews, interviews, and more. From the editorial perspective, we ask our writers to consider the exhibitions that are making the most impact in their region, and we trust implicitly that this cultural production is worthy of the attention of patrons everywhere. This year we also call for a more engaged, active readership. If you are interested in what exists outside of New York, and would prefer a multiplicity of views rather than a uniform and rigid art world, now is the time to raise your voice.
To that end, we have open-submission columns for artists and writers, and you can find more information here. For the most up-to-date alerts, like us on Facebook and follow @DailyServing on Twitter and @ds.ap on Instagram. Help maintain our community through sponsorship in ways both large and small. Let’s consider the world of art together, region by region, with integrity and thoughtfulness. Thank you for your continued support.