Jenn McKee is creating professional local theater criticism
6
patrons
$52
per month
For twelve years (2004-2016), I worked passionately as a staff arts reporter/critic for The Ann Arbor News. Plus, during many of those years, I also filed occasional freelance theater reviews (with EncoreMichigan.com) of productions that spanned the greater Detroit area.

Eventually, though, my fate was that of nearly every professional arts critic in a print newsroom these days: I got laid off. 

And that hit me hard. But since that time, I've continued to cover the local arts scene on a freelance basis, for all kinds of publications, and launched my A2 Arts Addict blog as a kind of clearing house for all my projects.

Even so, there's been one consistent problem: theater criticism – the very work that I love and do best – is damn near impossible to place in this region. The publications that still make room for reviews, let alone pay for what is, I assure you, skilled labor, are few, leaving me and my fellow newsroom-banished critics fighting for scraps.

Regional theater criticism has thus been devalued to the point of irrelevance, but I refuse to shrug and abandon it. There's a reason I spend between three and four hours on every review I write, and then feel utterly spent, as though I've sacrificed yet another piece of my soul. It's because intellectually grappling with art is a rigorous, sometimes painful act; but it's also a sublimely rewarding one. Nothing else (short of therapy) forces us, in quite the same way, to confront and process our biases, beliefs, pain, and illusions. And ideally, when a review is well-executed, its reader instantly has a response – because criticism is about launching, not shutting down, further conversation.

And in this tumultuous time, we need more and better communication with each other, not less.

So I'm here to humbly, gratefully ask you to support my mission to keep professional theater criticism alive in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area. After wrestling with the realities of the current media landscape, I've concluded that the only way my dream can happen is by following the example of public radio (as well as subscription services like Netlfix and Hulu) and asking readers and friends to consider pledging a few dollars each month to this cause. The more funding I can secure, the more high quality local theater criticism I can offer to you all each month – something I'm so, so excited to do. Thank you so much for reading and considering my request.
Tiers
Jebidiah Atkinson Club
$10 or more per month 3 patrons
Assign me to one show or event of your choosing in the coming year, and I'll write about it!
Anton Ego Association
$20 or more per month 0 patrons
You have the power - to "assign" me to two shows or events during the course of the year!
Statler & Waldorf Coalition of the Willing
$30 or more per month 1 patron
You get to give me an "assignment" three times during the course of the year, sending me to shows of your own choosing.
Goals
$52 of $400 per month
This would allow me to post an average of four local theater reviews a month; plus, when a family-friendly show is on offer, I'll post a video "Bus Stop Review," wherein my daughters share their thoughts on a particular production.
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For twelve years (2004-2016), I worked passionately as a staff arts reporter/critic for The Ann Arbor News. Plus, during many of those years, I also filed occasional freelance theater reviews (with EncoreMichigan.com) of productions that spanned the greater Detroit area.

Eventually, though, my fate was that of nearly every professional arts critic in a print newsroom these days: I got laid off. 

And that hit me hard. But since that time, I've continued to cover the local arts scene on a freelance basis, for all kinds of publications, and launched my A2 Arts Addict blog as a kind of clearing house for all my projects.

Even so, there's been one consistent problem: theater criticism – the very work that I love and do best – is damn near impossible to place in this region. The publications that still make room for reviews, let alone pay for what is, I assure you, skilled labor, are few, leaving me and my fellow newsroom-banished critics fighting for scraps.

Regional theater criticism has thus been devalued to the point of irrelevance, but I refuse to shrug and abandon it. There's a reason I spend between three and four hours on every review I write, and then feel utterly spent, as though I've sacrificed yet another piece of my soul. It's because intellectually grappling with art is a rigorous, sometimes painful act; but it's also a sublimely rewarding one. Nothing else (short of therapy) forces us, in quite the same way, to confront and process our biases, beliefs, pain, and illusions. And ideally, when a review is well-executed, its reader instantly has a response – because criticism is about launching, not shutting down, further conversation.

And in this tumultuous time, we need more and better communication with each other, not less.

So I'm here to humbly, gratefully ask you to support my mission to keep professional theater criticism alive in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area. After wrestling with the realities of the current media landscape, I've concluded that the only way my dream can happen is by following the example of public radio (as well as subscription services like Netlfix and Hulu) and asking readers and friends to consider pledging a few dollars each month to this cause. The more funding I can secure, the more high quality local theater criticism I can offer to you all each month – something I'm so, so excited to do. Thank you so much for reading and considering my request.

Recent posts by Jenn McKee

Tiers
Jebidiah Atkinson Club
$10 or more per month 3 patrons
Assign me to one show or event of your choosing in the coming year, and I'll write about it!
Anton Ego Association
$20 or more per month 0 patrons
You have the power - to "assign" me to two shows or events during the course of the year!
Statler & Waldorf Coalition of the Willing
$30 or more per month 1 patron
You get to give me an "assignment" three times during the course of the year, sending me to shows of your own choosing.