Statewide online journal offers arts reviews, listings

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — In July 2001, aiming to fill a gap in reviews of classical music in the Triangle after Spectator Magazine in Raleigh and Independent Weekly in Durham dropped their classical coverage, local arts patrons helped launched Classical Voice of North Carolina, a Raleigh-based statewide online arts journal.

Edited and run for many years by its founder, John Lambert, who now volunteers as senior contributor, CVNC published over 500 reviews of classical music, dance, theater, jazz, world music, and visual arts in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2014.

It also published listings in that fiscal year of over 3,550 events representing over 7,230 individual performances, and since 2010 has posted listings of 15,000 events from nearly 1,000 presenters, performing groups and artists.

Writing its reviews are 40 critics from throughout the state who work as freelancers for CVNC.

“We are filling the gap that has been left by the print newspapers reducing their coverage of the arts,” says Carolyn Kohring, who began working with CVNC in 2005 as administrative manager and has served since July 2012 as executive director.

In addition to Kohring, CVNC employs two part-time editors — one for music and dance, the other for theater and the calendar listings — as well as three college interns it pairs with three of its freelance critics who serve as mentors to help the students learn how to write arts reviews.

While the Triangle accounts for the biggest share of its reviews, listing and philanthropic support, CVNC covers the arts throughout the state.

In the most recent fiscal year, CVNC posted 1,738 event listings from the central part of the state, including the Triangle; 918 from western North Carolina; 575 from the Triad; and 263 from eastern North Carolina.

In the same period, it published 275 review of events in central North Carolina; 120 in western North Carolina; 99 in the Triad; and 35 in eastern North Carolina.

Operating with an annual budget of $100,000, CVNC generates 20 percent of its funds through grants from the City of Raleigh Arts Commission, United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County, and North Carolina Arts Council; 20 percent from foundations; and most of the remainder from individual contributions.

“A very large number of our donors have been loyal donors from the beginning,” Kohring says.

In the most recent fiscal year, it also generated nearly $11,500 from advertising.

CVNC markets itself with “friendraiser” events it has held in Raleigh, Greenville and Greensboro. It also distributes bookmarks and brochures at ticket offices at symphony concerts and other events.

And it agrees to publish previews of concerts prepared by the presenters in return for advertising space in printed programs for the concerts. Kohring says CVNC works to ensure the editorial integrity of reviews through a strict separation between its editorial and administrative operations.

To increase philanthropic support, CVNC’s board two years ago created a fundraising committee, which this year plans to hold another event in Greenville.

CVNC also sends two solicitation letters each year to supporters, including a year-end appeal and another in early June that includes an invitation to an annual event at Ruggero Piano in Raleigh that features musical performances and a conversation between critics and guests about arts criticism.

“The arts represent the kind of people we are,” Kohring says. “Our residents and our visitors need to know what’s available and what the quality of that is.”

One response

  1. Thanks for this, Todd. I’ve been a regular contributor to CVNC since 2002, and still I constantly encounter folks who’ve never heard of it. As the papers who’ve cut criticism know, it costs money, and I hope your post will help bring in a little more! Criticism is a vital part of the arts ecosystem.—Kate Dobbs Ariail, The Five Points Star.

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