by John Stoehr
Like you need more evidence that the media world is changing.
We noticed early on that the 2009 Spoleto Festival USA has been conspicuously absent from the pages and website of The New York Times. There was a piece on Wadsworth's retirement two weeks prior to the start. The only item after that came today, relaying the news of Wadsworth's successor, Geoff Nuttall. Then again, everyone knew that around 9 p.m. Sunday when the festival PR people sent out a media blast making the announcement.
Sources inside the festival say no amount of effort could get the Gray Lady to send a reporter or a critic. Not Wadsworth's retirement, not the American premiere of Don John, and not the re-staging and re-visioning of an obscure French opera, Louise. In retrospect, though, we might have seen this coming. The Times reported a loss of $75 million for the first quarter of the year. And last May, the paper sent a reporter and not a critic. The Post and Courier's Adam Parker was the only reporter from a print publication to attend the festival's annual board meeting on Memorial Day. The pressure to maintain its visibility in the media is so strong that festival officials were disappointed that City Paper didn't attend.
2009 may be the first year since Wadsworth began the chamber music series that someone from the Times has not been presence. I know it's the first time in recent memory. Such is the state of even the august Times that it can't afford to send a critic down for a few days. Evidently, it's watching every penny.