Arts criticism has faced a huge shift in recent years with the rise of online journalism and social media, as well as budget cuts affecting arts-focused staff at media outlets.
We need new models to build a pipeline for BIPOC journalists, fund careers in arts criticism outside of struggling newspapers and magazines, engage audiences more deeply in arts critique, and create pathways for cross-disciplinary conversations about artists' work. Join us as we re-imagine arts criticism and journalism for this new era.
Meet the Speakers
Independent Writer, Editor, Strategist, Lecturer & Creative Director
Leah Baltus is an independent writer, editor, strategist, lecturer, and creative director and crafts stories that stir change and inspire human connection. From 2011 to 2018, Leah was editor in chief of City Arts, an award-winning magazine that celebrated, demystified, and bridged Seattle’s creative community in its many forms. She previously served as brand and editorial director at Pyramid Communications, producing messaging, materials and events for leading arts organizations and philanthropies in the region. She also founded and ran the national zine RIVET and is a co-founder of the artist support nonprofit Shunpike. Before arriving in Seattle in 2001, she worked for a Hollywood literary manager, helping to facilitate screen adaptations of books and magazine stories. Leah grew up in the Detroit suburbs and studied journalism and creative writing at Northwestern University, where she earned her BA.
Arts Journalist & Teacher
Misha Berson is a freelance arts journalist and teacher. From 1991-2016 she was the drama critic for The Seattle Times, after 10 years as a reviewer for the SF Bay Guardian. She has written four books on theater, including Between Worlds: Asian American Playwrights and Something's Coming, Something Good: West Side Story and the American Imagination. In addition, her work has appeared in American Theatre, crosscut.com, oregonartswatch.com, Variety, the SF Chronicle, and many other publications. She has been a Pulitzer Prize juror several times, most recently in 2019 when she was chair of the drama committee, and she is a juror for the annual Steinberg/ATCA playwriting award. She has taught arts and journalism courses at UW, Seattle University, SF State University, UC Davis, Richard Hugo House, and The Eugene O'Neill Center Theatre Critics Conference.
Writer, TeenTix Newsroom
Disha Cattamanchi (she/her) is currently a sophomore at Juanita High School. She is also a writer in the TeenTix Newsroom with articles published both on the blog and in The Seattle Times. When Disha isn’t reading a book, you’ll find her running with her dog or hanging out with her friends. She is an active member in her school’s theater department, often operating lighting boards and writing plays. Disha believes that creating an equitable space is vital to the arts and tries to initiate inclusivity with all her work.
Director, The Evergrey
Grace Madigan (she/her) is currently the Director of The Evergrey, a newsletter that aims to help people connect with Seattle and each other. She graduated from the University of Washington where she studied journalism and political science and minored in diversity. She has contributed to local publications such as Seattle Met, The Seattle Times, and Edible Seattle. She also works in audio and has contributed pieces to KNKX, KEXP’s Sound & Vision podcast, and Town Hall Seattle’s podcast.
Dramaturg, Playwright & Scholar
Roxanne Ray is a dramaturg, playwright, and scholar, whose plays have been produced in Seattle, Portland, Boston, New York, and Scotland. Her writing has been published in Hawai’i Review, Onion River Review, and Wings, and she spent a wonderful month at the Hedgebrook writer’s colony in 1994. She has written about theater, dance, and performance for the International Examiner since 2006, as well as for the Seattle Globalist and the South Seattle Emerald. Currently, she is VP of Grants & Awards for LMDA, Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas.
Marcie Sillman is an award winning journalist. Over her 40+ year career she's produced hundreds of stories for NPR, Dance Media publications, the BBC, and other national and international outlets. Her blog, And Another Thing (2009-2020), focused primarily on dance and cultural criticism. She's the author of Out There: Jonathan Porretta's Life in Dance, 2016. Marcie spent 35 years at Seattle's NPR affiliate, KUOW Public Radio, most recently in the position of Senior Arts and Culture reporter. During her KUOW tenure she worked as an editor and mentor for KUOW's Radioactive youth training program and for TeenTix. In 2019, Marcie received the Seattle Mayor's Arts Award, in recognition of her contributions to the area's cultural community. Marcie stepped down from KUOW in early 2021 to start a cultural podcast, DoubleXposure, set to debut summer, 2021.
Co-Executive Director, Young Women Empowered
Reagan Jackson is the Co-Executive Director of Young Women Empowered. She is also a multi genre writer, activist, and international educator with an abiding love of justice, spirituality, and creating community. Reagan is passionate about providing young people with the opportunity to experience something powerful, transformative, and joyful. She is an award winning journalist and has published over 100 articles and essays. Her other published works include three collections of poetry: God, Hair, Love, and America, Love and Guatemala, and Summoning Unicorns, two children’s book Coco LaSwish A Fish From A Different Rainbow and Coco LaSwish: When Rainbows Go Blue, and an anthology of essays and articles called Still Here A southend mixtape from an unexpected journalist. She is also the co-host and producer of The Deep End Friends podcast. You can find out more at: www.reaganjackson.com
Director of Arts Engagement, Seattle Rep
Nabra Nelson is a community organizer and theater creator from Egypt, Nubia, and California. She is also the Director of Arts Engagement at Seattle Rep. As an arts administrator, director, playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist, she works with theaters, universities, and community organizations to create positive change, strengthen community, and amplify under-heard voices through theater. She is a founding company member of Dunya Productions and Heard Space Arts Collective, and is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara.
(Re)Imagine Theater Panel Series
This series brings artists and community leaders together to envision a new theatrical world. Without constraints, what do we want theater to look like? Join the conversation.