A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Maggie Langrick At The Helm Of The Artistic Ship
Thursday, December 18, 2008

Recently the Vancouver Sun announced the hiring of Maggie Langrick as the new Arts Editor.

In July 1987 I photographed a 16-year-old Margaret Langrick (above) for a profile by John Lekich for the Georgia Straight. Lekich had already written about her two years before for the Globe & Mail when the actress had appeared in director Sandy Wilson's (below right) debut and BC smash hit film My American Cousin. I photographed Langrick in the garden of her mother's house somewhere in the Westside. For years I have been asking Lekich, "Whatever happed to Margaret Langrick. A couple of days ago I found out that the Vancouver Sun had hired a new Arts Editor called Maggie Langrick. I wondered. But this time around I didn't ask Lekich. I asked that infallible oracle of modernity, Google the question. The reply was instant:

From: WikiAnswers Q&A the wiki way
Q: What ever happened to Margaret Langrick?
In: Authors Poets and Playwrights

Margaret is now known as Maggie Sansom, and she writes for "Echo Memoirs". Here is a link, with a recent photo of her.

Echo Memoirs.

I gather that Maggie Langrick, Margaret Langrick and Margaret Sansom are all the same person. I guess that Langrick has had extensive experience in public relations. This bodes well for the Vancouver Sun as they need all the positive public relations they can get these days with the declining opinion that people over 25 have of these hard copy web pages we used to call newspapers.

In the 35 years I have lived in Vancouver I can recall two arts editors who were effective even if one of them was not, strictly speaking, and arts editor. Whenever Max Wyman was at the helm as either and arts editor or a Saturday Magazine editor things were hopping. When Charles Campbell created Queue after having had a difference of opinion with the powers at the Straight his creation was instantly called "a real magazine" by my wife Rosemary who knows everything. The rest of the arts editors are a blur in my mind. To be fair perhaps they may not have obtained the backing our authority from above or "management" as Campbell called them. The Tyee's David Beers did the same as Campbell did for Queue for the interesting, challenging and appealing Saturday Mix which disappeared as soon as Beers left via his boss's exit to the Chewing Gum Capital of the US.

Since Langrick took the helm as Arts Editor I have already noticed that a piece on Ballet BC's trouble with their roommate, the Scotia Bank, that was prominently covered by the Globe was ignored by the Vancouver Sun.

If you only stop to think and notice that organizations like:

Ballet BC, the VSO, the Vancouver Opera, the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, the Vancouver Recital Society, the Playhouse, the Arts Club Theatre Company, the Vancouver East Cultural Institute, Gateway Theatre, Theatre Conspiracy, Arts Umbrella, Kidd Pivot, Lola Dance, Karen Jamieson, the Museum of Anthropology, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Bill Reid Gallery, the Equinox Gallery, Diane Farris Gallery, Bau-Xi Gallery, the New Music Society, the Kay Meek Centre, the Turning Point Ensemble, the UBC School of Music, the Electric Theatre Company, Early Music Vancouver, Goh Ballet, EDAM, Brief Encounters/Solo Collective, Movent/Dances for the Small Stage, Bard on the Beach , Coastal Jazz & Blues Society, and many more galleries, theatre companies, musical organizations, dance companies and all sorts of yearly festivals like the Vancouver Festival or art crawls and many more that I may have forgotten all advertise in the Vancouver Sun you would think of a situation similar to that of the rhinoceros and the oxpecker or askari wa kifaru . One needs the other. If one is healthy so will the other be healthy.

The same can be said of author and book reviews. Publishers and book festivals also buy ad space. Why is it that we cannot have at least one book review per day insted of a paltry few on a Saturday?

I cannot understand why it is that our Vancouver newspapers seem to:

1. Categorize the arts with food (turkeys for newbies), fitness and style/fashion.

2. Consider reviews important in a city where the lack of real review competition makes a review close to useless particularly when the review is that of a last performance. Its been years since I would read of the rivalry between Les Bewley and Alan Fotheringham. Now that was fun!

3. There is rarely that in depth preview explaining for example that if Ballet BC wants to mount a ballet by the famous American choreographer William Forsythe (something Ballet BC did many years ago when cutting edge Forsythe wasn't so famous but our very own John Alleyne knew what was good for us as he indeed did) a sum of upwards of $85,000 in royalty fees has to be paid plus an assistant choreographer has to be brought to Vancouver for supervision (air fare, hotel, etc!). A good pre-view prepares a performance for a viewer. It can inform, educate, inspire and even sometimes persuade a person to turn off the TV and purchase a ticket for a performance.

On a lark I went to a Turning Point Ensemble concert featuring Olivier Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time. I had not liked Messianen's choral works in the past and even though this was not one I was reluctant. The performance was one of the most satisfying of the year for me. Like Vancouver Opera's recent production of Eugene Onegin this sort of stuff does not happen often in Vancouver. I talked with Vancouver Sun's musical critic Lloyd Dykk today about the Messiaen and his one word comment was, "Sublime." Dykk did not go to the concert. Perhaps he did not know about it. Probably the reason is that one critic cannot go to everything. It is my feeling that in a "one newspaper town" the newspaper should have more than one music critic, several dance critics and theatre critics and at least one critic who specializes in painting and sculpture.

One solution to the lack of sufficient critics and reviewers is to hire freelancers. The newspaper does not have to spend on health plans, dental plans, etc. In a city where architecture plays such a large part of our life I believe that the only architecture writer is The Tyee's Adele Weder. If true, that is an outstandingly embarrassing fact.

I wish Maggie Langrick all the best in what is going to be a tough job. It is my hope that she will help make our city newspaper into a viable one that promotes, explains, educates and reports on its rich artistic milieu. If the newspaper fails, both it and our art organizations will flounder and perhap sink. Sandy Wilson's floating deck chair will not help the sinking of the cultural ship.

What would be the first priority on a possible arts agenda? I would convene a meeting/party with all the publicists and marketing directors of the arts organizations of our city and suburbs (consider that excellent Surrey Art Gallery and North Vancouver's Presentation House) to discuss ways of promoting the arts. The Vancouver Sun could stipulate deadlines for press releases and requirements for handed in images and art. The Sun should consider that if several newspapers in town use the same images to promote the opera (as an example) this will diminish interest. Original art, while more expensive can be more effective. I would also invite all the public, city, provincial and private funding organizations that give money to the arts to also discuss possible strategy.

In the time of Brooks Joyner at the Vancouver Art Gallery and Jim Delgado at the Maritime Museum I remember that they had lunch every month (sometimes with the then director of the Museum of Anthropology) to discuss joint shows. It was not too long ago that the Presentation House had a show of the photographs of Robert Frank (The Americans) while the Pacific Cinemateque projected Franks avant-garde films. With the cross referencing boon of computers, arts organizations have to organize and work together.

We still don't have a detailed schedule or plan as to what local talent the Vancouver Olympic Committe is planning for 2010. I saw a fabulous Chinese fan dance at the Goh Ballet. I am thinking that the Vancouver Opera's Native Canadian slant on Mozart's The Magic Flute would be an obvious pick. Anosh Irani's Indian plays shown at the Arts Club, the Playhouse production of Kevin Loring's Blood Mixes Inside My Heart should be a must. Many of the brief but funny and interesting dance sketches of Brief Encounters or Dances for the Small Stage would be economical to perform and they would be popular to children, too. BC based plays like the Ruby Slippers production of Trout Stanley would show how good theatre is here. Another option would be the Electric Theatre Company's play Studies in Motion: The Hauntings of Eadweard Muybridge by our young playwright Kevin Kerr.

We have an active new music society and performers like Peggy Lee that get recognition in the NY Times but are all but invisible in Vancouver. We have the Pacific Baroque Orchestra and the Vancouver Symphony that comission work to local and Canadian contemporary composers.

Is VANOC considering these options? Is the Vancouver Sun investigating this?


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