Comment on THE GRID

by Lynn on May 19, 2011

in The Passionate Playgoer

EYE Weekly is no more. Replacing it is The Grid. It’s now aimed at the hipster 20 and 30 year olds. From its press release:

“From beer to politics to real estate, The Grid’s roster of contributors will include the city’s most current writers taking the pulse on the news and views of Toronto’s young, urban crowd.”

Its regular writers will cover:

•politics and social issues
•cocktails and bar culture
•food and restaurants
•real estate
•style and fashion
•visual arts
•youth issues and personal advice.”

Ok folks, what’s missing? That is correct—theatre. There will be no theatre reviews at The Grid. None. The theatre activity in this city is increasing with new companies popping up all the time or existing companies increasing the number of productions in their seasons. But the media coverage of all this activity is decreasing almost everywhere except perhaps with NOW magazine.

It’s interesting that there is a double page ad in the first issue of The Grid for Luminato listing the 10 components of the festival, but only half of them could be covered according to the Grid’s roster of areas worthy of coverage. There is a half-page ad for Soulpepper listing its three current productions; a full page ad from Mirvish Productions listing all of their shows running in May; and a half page ad for Untitled, the new La La Human Steps piece that will be playing at Canadian Stage at the end of May. The Grid won’t be reviewing anything from any of these or other theatre companies. Frightening.

There is a feature article by David Sax on the dynamic culinary duo (Jen Agg and Grant Van Gameren) who run the Black Hoof and the Hoof Café. They will be closing the Hoof Café and opening The Black Hoof and Company catering to hip, urbane and apparently rich patrons. According to the article a meal would be “averaging north of $120 per person, before taxes. Drinks and tips will easily bring the final bill for two into the $400 range.”

Who are these people who would read a publication that celebrates outrageously priced restaurants; high end real estate; drink a lot of beer and wine it seems; see lots of films, if the pages of film reviews are any indication; read about parenting, but not be aware of any children’s theatre, or any other theatre it seems, because it’s not covered?

There is a section called “Arts”. That consisted of a publicity photo for the play Zadie’s Shoes, a blurb on the story and where it was playing. In this section there is a heading for Theatre with a partial list of theatres and what is playing. This is followed by similar incomplete listings for Comedy, Dance, Word, and Galleries. There is also ‘Other Stuff” with listings for Community stuff and one for Kids with an incomplete list of plays to see and other activities. In a word, dire.

I was struck by a blurb on The Grid writer covering advice to the thirtysomethings. She was asked where to get cheap eats and she wrote “Tacos El Asador on Bloor at Christie….” I know the place well. But it is at the corner of Bloor and Clinton. I e-mailed her to tell her yes the food is great but her location was off. She replied quickly that Bloor and Christie was the main intersection.


Oh. How about this. If you draw a grid of all the streets along Bloor Street from Bathurst west to Christie, you will see a street that is one block before Christie. That street is called Clinton Street. On the northeast corner of Clinton and Bloor—right on the very corner—is the wonderful Tacos El Asador. Why would anyone mention the main intersection when the exact location is easier and preferable? Is that what we can expect of The Grid? Incomplete information; misinformation; and no theatre reviews? I can hardly wait for the second issue.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 cultureshot May 19, 2011 at 2:41 pm

While it is alarming that The Grid seems to be curtailing its arts coverage, Eye Weekly was always aimed at 20 and 30-something urban dwellers. The fact that theatre is getting less and less coverage throughout print media is not surprising. The medium is undergoing significant change, and all of them are streamlining.

Also, using the major intersection to locate something is perfectly acceptable. Not everyone knows where Clinton Street is – but everyone knows the major subway station intersections. Saying “Bloor and Christie” is just to give a general idea; it’s not inaccurate.


2 Lynn May 19, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Thanks for your comment . But I said that ALL media was diminishing its theatre coverage, not just print. For example CBC Radio One’s, HERE AND NOW discontinued the theatre reviews beginning in January 2011, after having them as a regular weekly feature after almost two decades (I did them for the last 10 years). No debate–these reviews sold theatre tickets. Before January 2011 there would be one theatre review and perhaps an interview regarding another production that was also opening.

For January and February 2011 it looked like HERE AND NOW was making an effort to increase the theatre coverage when you could hear 3-4 interviews/scenes per week of productions that were opening, to make up for the canceled theatre review. That trend has not continued.

They now do one interview/scene per week on average, sometimes focusing on community theatre and ignoring productions from ‘professional’ companies known for provocative work. Not good.

Regarding the print media and streamlining, I would be happy if that was the case. But it does not appear to be. The Toronto Star for example does not cover any children’s theatre any more; no Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People, no Theatre Direct. These companies do exceptional work. These companies create future audiences. And also future newspaper readers. But The Star doesn’t seem to miss covering any opening of a Broadway musical, or the latest Celine Dion Las Vegas show.

I know EYE Weekly catered to 20 and 30 something readers. But it had theatre coverage and was often a media sponsor for some of the edgier festivals: The Fringe, SummerWorks, Next Wave–all of which catered to 20 to 30 something audiences. The word went out to its reviewers regarding The Grid–no theatre coverage. Not good.

And had it been clearly noted that Christie and Bloor was the closest main intersection to find Tacos El Asador, I would have no problem. But it wasn’t noted as that. It just looked as if that was where the restaurant was. And of course it isn’t.

Thanks again for your comment.


3 harry May 20, 2011 at 12:03 am

Hi Lynn:
Someone passed along the link to this story and I have to say I think you’ve completely missed the point of The Grid. I loathe anything that reeks of hipster, and I can tell you I don’t get any kind of hipster vibe from the paper. To me, it’s doing what Toronto Life has never done, which is to offer up a view of the city that’s accessible, fun, smart and generally positive. To focus on the Black Hoof as an example of something out of most people price ranges is really nit-picky, since there were almost 20 pages of food content about stuff that’s TOTALLY in my and my friends price ranges. Even the Hoof article stresses how risky it is for the owners to try to go upscale. And really – to nit pick again about an intersection is just stupid. Finally, you neglected to mention that the paper does just as much if not MORE arts coverage than EYE used to. Its nice that you love theatre, but not all of us give a fig and quite frankly, the arts coverage in the Grid is awesome. It seems to me like you’re a bit of a NOW lover and went into this predisposed to criticize and scold the Grid guys. Too bad. I think it’s the best thing to happen in this city for ages and if you look on Twitter you’ll see that I’m part of a vocal majority


4 Lynn May 20, 2011 at 12:35 am

Hi Harry,

Thanks for sharing.


5 GM June 11, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Careful not to step on harry’s astroturfing. It sounds like he’s studied the marketing brief.