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I never fail to consult the Berkshire Review without being impressed by the responsiveness, sympathy, and understanding informing its contents. Perhaps above all, the Review takes the arts – from theater production to fiction, from film to music – as having values aside from those of commercial entertainment, values that have to do with what it means to be human, and what it might mean to be more human. When practised at this level, criticism, too, is one of the arts.—Paul Griffiths
New York Arts—a continually updated (2 to 5 or more times a week) online arts journal—began life in the spring of 2011 as the sister magazine of The Berkshire Review for the Arts, which itself was launched in 2007. The Berkshire Review was a response to the superb music, theater, dance, and art in North America’s oldest and finest cultural resort and the need for more acute and engaging critical voices in the region.
At the time (and today) the traditional sources for arts criticism—the major print dailies, weeklies, and monthly magazines—responded to economic pressures by either re-assigning or dismissing full-time arts writers and cutting back on freelancers. Plays, concerts, exhibitions, etc. should in fact be part of a community’s daily news, but newspapers no longer consider this a priority. Arts criticism has moved to a variety of specialized online magazines and blogs based all around the world. Given the low costs and unlimited space of online publishing, The Berkshire Review was able to make a virtue of necessity and provide serious lovers of the arts with more probing writing than traditional media, as it expanded its network of writers to several centers around the globe: Sydney, San Francisco, Boston, London, Paris, Rome, and Venice—and of course New York.
By early 2011 it was clear that New York City was becoming increasingly central to The Berkshire Review, and New York Arts was launched.
Both publications have attracted a wide international audience and a warm response among artists and audiences alike. Here are some comments:
“The Review is a major cultural resource–and one distinguished by its quality of writing; I’d hate not to receive it.”
— David Porter, President Emeritus, Skidmore College
“Your writing demonstrated passion, conceptual depth, integrity and imagination – and, above all, an eagerness to learn more and stretch your approach to theater with a brave and conscientious zeal.”
— Sasha Anawalt, Director of Arts Journalism Programs, USC Annenberg Arts Journalism Programs
“Yes, I very much enjoyed reading this piece, and I salute your publication for actually doing real criticism, just about disappeared from these parts.” — D. Kern Holoman, Professor of Music, University of California, Davis.
Last year a marvelous new source came online for reliable and well-written reviews of musical performances, as well as theater, art exhibits, and (promised for the future) books–including books on music.
It’s called The Berkshire Review for the Arts.
Note the preposition “for.” The editor, Michael Miller (who has taught courses in classics and in art history at Williams College and New York University) is absolutely devoted to the performing and visual arts. I knew him back in college days and already recognized in him one of those devoted, discerning music lovers that performers know are “out there” listening attentively.
As the “for” in its title suggests, the Berkshire Review tries to draw attention to major artistic effort and achievement, not to tear it down for the greater glory of the smug critic (as sometimes occurs in, say, concert reviews in daily newspapers).
In another respect, though, the Berkshire Review is perhaps misleadingly named. Though based in Western Massachusetts, it reports on events occurring far beyond. Michael Miller himself regularly travels to Boston and New York for events of significance (such as Alfred Brendel’s farewell concert). Various correspondents […] send in dispatches from England and even Australia.
— Ralph P. Locke, Professor of Musicology, Eastman School of Music; Senior Editor, Eastman Studies in Music, writing on Dial “M” for Musicology, July 9, 2008
My plan was to transfer our base of operations to New York, and this was finally realized just before the New Year. Beyond the central focus on New York City, there will be other changes. There will be some design improvements, especially for readers who like to use the site as a table of contents and print out individual articles for reading. We will also reactivate our preview section, emphasizing events off the main track, which might escape the notice of the more familiar sources.
it is now possible to make tax-deductible contributions through Fractured Atlas, a non-profit organization founded to support the arts. Please give generously.
There will be one further significant change in the work of New York Arts—the most important of all. It will no longer be only a critical arts journal, but a sponsor of exhibitions, concerts, and other performances. In January New York Arts presented an invitational event, combining a showing of old master drawings and a concert of baroque music (Bach, Handel, Telemann, et. al.) played by Paula Robison, Kenneth Cooper, Frederick Zlotkin, and Roza Tulyaganova in the House of the Redeemer on the Upper East Side. (We plan to return to these magnificent surroundings often.) Thanks to the efforts of many people—above all, the musicians—the concert/exhibition was a great success, and this has encouraged us to begin a regular program of diverse events, in some cases combining different arts, following the interests of the magazine: music, opera, theater, dance, art, photography, architecture and urban design, local history, and food and drink. Many of these will be interdisciplinary, combining the arts in original ways, in keeping with our broad interests. Join our mailing list or follow us on Twitter or Facebook for updates. Our second event was a reading of poems by W. B. Yeats with traditional Irish music for flute and fiddle in conjunction with an exhibition of Michael Miller’s views of the Irish landscape, monuments, and people at the Centerpoint Gallery in Chelsea.
With this double mission, we at New York Arts hope to to play a vital role in the arts community in the city, second to none in its energy, diversity, and level of achievement.
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