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A Letter from the Editor and Publisher, Michael Miller

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Williams College in Advent. Photo Michael Miller, 2007.

To our readers:

I’ll break all the rules of marketing and confess that I have written this letter with mixed feelings.

It has been a terrific pleasure, since the launch of the Berkshire Review on September 24, 2007, to provide you with a steady flow of commentary on all the arts all around the world, wherever one of our writers happens to be, without concern for the financial underpinnings of the initiative. I have been supporting our ongoing work with my own funds, and our contributors write as volunteers. It has been a pleasure to watch our readership grow—in the immediate way only online stats can provide—to receive your words of appreciation, and to discover talented, expert writers of all ages, sometimes among friends and colleagues I have known for years and sometimes in unexpected, even somewhat surreal, ways. I hope you have enjoyed the Berkshire Review and its sister publication, New York Arts, as much as I have enjoyed making them.

It is painful to have to end free access to our reviews, articles, interviews, and previews of events in the arts, but it is essential, if they are to continue. Many of you have grown accustomed getting “content” gratis on the Internet, whether it is good, bad, or indifferent, and the ideas of openness and free access have become closely associated with electronic communication. This is a precious capability modern technology has brought us, as we have recently witnessed in Egypt, Libya, and elsewhere. It has even redefined our notions of free speech and the press—and new kinds of enterprises, which are intended to operate under free speech protections, as they exist or do not exist in myriad forms in all the countries of the world, but without the professional conventions—compromises, many might say—observed by journalists. Along with this, there has been the conundrum of established newspapers and magazines providing the reporting, commentary, and creative work of their professional staff for free on the Internet (work which they have supplied printed on paper in exchange for money since their beginnings) at first because it was originally considered as no more than a form of advertising, and later, because their online readers refused to pay for it. Over the past year, as you all know, this has changed.

The Berkshire Review and New York Arts owe their existence to the free access provided by the Internet and the low costs and flexibility of electronic publishing. We would otherwise never have been able to get started with the vigor and concentration on our mission that were possible in this way, and free access enabled us to reach between 17,000 and 22,000 unique readers per month, who make between 28,500 and 36,500 visits to the Berkshire Review each month, to read the between fifteen and more than thirty articles we post each month—which we create without a paid staff, above all, without sorely needed administrative support. Since our launch we have published 816 articles, amounting to over 1.4 million words. One of our writers has recently won the new, but important Architect’s Journal (UK) Writing Prize. Although we receive complimentary tickets and review copies like every other professional publication, our work incurs significant expenses from beginning to end, and we have no choice but to pass this on to our readers, who enjoy and benefit from the particular kind of reporting and commentary we provide.

And what is this? Our writers, working without editorial interference, relying on their own expertise as arts professionals or academics, focus on the art itself, the artists who create it and their goals. We avoid gossip and speculation about institutional matters, whether financial or political. We keep national politics in the background, since other publications do that better than we can, even some that formerly concentrated on the intellect and the arts. We have adopted an international perspective, independent of the systems that prevail in any single country or city. We are especially partial to young artists and work that has been overlooked by other publications. We keep our eyes, ears, and minds open. We hope to expand and to refine our work, but this requires funding. If you wish to support this kind of criticism, which has long been disappearing from traditional media, I hope you will consider subscribing to the Berkshire Review, an International Journal for the Arts.

For more discussion read the last commentary.

A year’s subscription costs $34.95, less than most tickets to the events you read about on the Review. A quarterly subscription is $14.95, and one month costs $6.95. Please subscribe now! And what better holiday gift for your art-loving friends than a subscription to the Berkshire Review? Give a subscription now!

Our “About” page and all other pages relating to the publication itself, most previews, and a selection of articles remain free. Excerpts from the latest articles are available, listed by topic on our Home Page, and in chronological order on “The Latest on the Berkshire Review.” New York Arts will remain free for the time being.

We offer free updates via periodic e-mails, Twitter, or RSS feed, and whether you subscribe to the Review or not, I encourage you to enroll in one of these.

Sincerely,

 

 

Michael Miller
Editor/Pubisher
The Berkshire Review, an International Journal for the Arts
New York Arts


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