What ATCA is and should be: ATCA chair summarizes the many advantages of membership
Thursday, September 28, 2017 at 9:12AM
Operations Manager
We are in the middle of our membership renewal drive, andBill Hirschman while this Harold Hill spiel is, indeed, aimed at enticing those who haven’t put renewals high on their “to do” list, this is really a contemplation of what ATCA is and what it should be. Because, really, why should you renew? What do you get out of it? What should you get out of it? What does it offer someone starting out? Should you renew if you no longer have a regular outlet for your work?

Beyond the professional development and networking, ATCA’s key worth is that it can provide you with a way to have some say, some influence, some power in how the profession and the organization evolve. 

Over the past few years, ATCA has been reinventing itself to determine how to address the all too obvious challenges. Those range from the loss of publishing venues, to the eroding commitment of the venues that remain, to the changing character of what constitutes a critic, to the lack of diversity among our ranks and that of the profession, and especially how to locate, empower and develop a new generation of responsible critics and arts journalists.
How is ATCA facing these challenges?
I think it is important to acknowledge that some people are not renewing because they currently don’t have a regular writing outlet. They feel adrift and frightened about an uncertain future. However, being an arts journalist is like being a member of the Mafia or the Girl Scouts: Once in, never out. Many of your colleagues here who were in similar straits ﹣ this writer included ﹣ have found ways to reinvent themselves. We want to spread the word of how we did that and help you develop your own opportunities. We also want to solicit your advice and activism on the many subjects outlined above. 

ATCA also offers a way to stay active in the organization and the profession even if your current situation lacks a venue to provide clips. The associate membership is not a second-class membership. It has all the benefits of the traditional model ﹣ voting, attendance at conferences ﹣ with sole the exception that you cannot stand for election to the Executive Committee. We are all trying to find our footing as the model we knew shifts and evolves, but this group is an affirmation of a future that we in ATCA can forge for ourselves. Indeed, as veteran journalists, you have a larger stake than others in shaping the future of the profession you have spent your lives establishing.

Finally, if you’re a younger, emerging arts journalist wondering whether to ally yourself with a group founded before the Internet was science fiction, ATCA is morphing into a mentoring organization that can help you not just navigate these times but mold them.

End of commercial. Thanks for reading.

Bill Hirschman
chair - executive committee

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Article originally appeared on American Theatre Critics Association (http://americantheatrecritics.org/).
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