Bridging the arts and media

By James Keller

The media is a double-edged sword. While they can provide up-and-coming performances with much needed exposure, they can also be exclusive, intimidating and down right nasty.

Diane Dakers, senior arts specialist at New VI television in Victoria, hoped to shed some light on this topic during her discussion on arts and the media on Feb. 11 in the University Theatre. Her presentation, open to the general public but addressed specifically to dance students, addressed how arts
are represented by the media and how performers can help themselves get exposure.

"I think the arts aren’t as respected as they should be," said Dakers. "They are considered frivolous by society."

This negative perception, according to Dakers, seriously limits the amount and quality of exposure the general public receives about
the local arts community and reinforces other preconceptions they might have.

"It’s seen as very high brow-above everybody," she explained. "People think they can’t relate."

Dakers began her career in journalism on the advice of a friend, after a career in dance seemed impractical. After attending the journalism program at Grant MacEwan Community College in Edmonton, Dakers had a stint writing arts for the Edmonton Sun and then with the Victoria Times-Colonist. From here, Dakers appeared on CHEK-TV in Victoria until moving to New VI Television where she currently works.

"I started in dance but it wasn’t practical," Dakers recalls. "In the end my passion won out."

However, Dakers’ presentation wasn’t just about the media’s role within the arts world. She also tried to offer advice to new performers who aren’t familiar with the media relations game. From creating press kits to calling editors, Dakers emphasized that it is up to the performers to get themselves exposed.

"The media’s first responsibility is to serve the viewer or reader so keep them in mind."

Although not many questions were asked of Daker, most in attendance seemed to gain a lot from the experience.

"I learned that dance could be in the media and it should be in Calgary," said Venysa Bedard, a first-year dance student at U of C. "There’s a big arts world in Calgary."

However, Dakers also issued warnings to students seeking careers in arts writing. She describes a time when she tried to cover a performance by her current dance instructor-it was a sleight against honest reporting.

"It’s difficult to report on [the arts] and convey to people that when I’m in the audience and reviewing a show, that I’m a reporter," Dakers said of her position. "You have to know where the lines are, I have had to take myself out of situations before."


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