The Return of the Clyde Fitch Report (a New Beginning)

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Dear Readers:

Some of you may remember my last post on this site. The date was March 28, 2011. In it, I announced that I had accepted an offer to become director of the Cultural Institutions Unit at the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. I am still in that job, so you may now be asking, “What’s going on?”

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Well, after a 15-month hiatus, after a reorganization and redesign, plus some re-imagination, luck and reaping the benefits of some phenomenal friendships and relationships (oh, and 875,000 emails), the Clyde Fitch Report is back!

The first thing you need to know is I will not be running the site. As I described a year ago March, conflicts-of-interest guidelines are such that I cannot create content on arts or politics while in government — at least in my current work in local government. As I also noted last year, a New York State corporation owns the CFR and guards my legal and fiduciary interests in it. (The disclaimer part of this post is now concluded.)

So, you may now be asking, “Who will run the site?” You may now also be asking “Who will create the arts and politics content that intrigues and pleases people and drives folks to the edge of neuroses, fury and despair?” Well, I am pleased to announce that the CFR will be much the same blog you knew in the past — but something different, too. We have opted to explore a new content model, one that represents more of a community of voices than a single voice; more of a meeting place and a marketplace driven by, and supported by, that community.

Let me explain this a bit further.

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The CFR will not have an editor. Instead, CFR management and content will be under the auspices of curators — Beck Feibelman and Roger Armbrust. You may remember them from their CFR columns: Beck wrote The Lorgnette (on visual arts, pop culture and plenty in between); and Roger wrote Peculiar Progressive (a beautifully self-described platform for formidable political journalism). Beck will be the point person for arts content and Roger will be the point person for political content, although some overlap may occur.

Beck and Roger will oversee, in terms of scheduling and administrative tasks, a passel of invited contributors — columnists with greater access to the site and therefore the opportunity to post more frequently. Beck and Roger, of course, will maintain their own fine columns, and there will be internally-generated “CFR Staff” bylines, too. My role is historical: I’m Founder and Editor Emeritus. This means I’m not dead, Lord knows, but not managing the site.

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We believe a multiplicity of voices, leavened by Beck and Roger’s curatorial skills, is the best way to burnish and engage our community.

The CFR also remains a proudly commercial venture, although our mission statement would not be unthinkable in a nonprofit setting. It is similar to our previous one, only that this one is more — well, poetic? You be the judge:

Arts and politics are wedded ideas indispensable to the fabric and soul of society. For this reason, The Clyde Fitch Report will act as the nexus of arts and politics. It will serve as a marketplace to challenge and to debate; to interweave openness with obstreperousness; to be a forum where representatives of artistic disciplines and a range of political beliefs may engage and argue, teach and learn, discover their commonalities, and, if possible, demolish their differences.

So it’s the same irascible and infuriating CFR: the nexus of arts and politics.

If you’ll briefly indulge me, I’d like to publicly thank certain people for their contributions to this, the third iteration of the CFR.

Director of Technology Marc Stutzel has been with the blog from the start. His time, patience and devotion to this crazy idea is so deeply appreciated that, short of plying him with founder shares that make Facebook look like Enron, I don’t know how I can repay him. Thank you, Marc.

Beck Feibelman was the first content contributor I spoke to about rejoining the CFR — when I mention the qualities of patience and devotion, you should know that Beck embodies them, and then some. The process of redesign-to-relaunch was a year, and I cannot convey how honored I am that someone as smart as Beck is, and as conscientious as Beck is, has elected to make this blog such a priority in his life. Thank you, Beck.

Roger Armbrust was news editor at Back Stage for the first five years I worked there, and he was in many ways my mentor. He writes the most spotless and alluring political articles I have ever read, and as an editor, he taught me all about economy and decency in reporting. (Some of you may wonder whether I learned anything.) One of the CFR’s goals is to publish views from across the political spectrum; Roger is so steeped in the virtue of objective journalism that he will have no problem shouldering the burden. Thank you, Roger.

Jai Sen has joined the CFR as strategic advisor. Jai is a published author and a renowned communications and technology consultant with nearly 20 years experience in digital and interactive media and an impressive roster of clients from the nonprofit and commercial worlds. Jai’s dedication to the vision of the CFR 3.0 has been unflagging; his friendship remains a blessing. Thank you, Jai.

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I would also like to offer thanks to the previous contributors returning to the CFR: Elizabeth Burke (Burke’s Law), Stefanie Schappert (Lipstick Conservative) and Matt Shorr and C.M. Tomlin (Brown Tweed). And a very warm welcome to Jesse and Jeremy Veverka, globe-trotting documentarian brothers who will author the CFR’s first column on film. (They’re also my cousins, and I find that awesome.)

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Finally, none of this would be possible without the love and support of my far better half, my partner in life and crime, Ken Koranyi. We have a longstanding policy that I don’t write of my personal life on the site and I generally honor it. But I’ve no way to fully convey what Ken’s support has meant to me. I suppose he could have had a different kind of life with a different kind of soul; certainly he would have had less tsuris to endure. Thank you, Ken. You are my star.

Fifteen months ago I declared: “You are the community.” Today, on behalf of Beck, Roger and the whole CFR, I invite you to rejoin us on the next phase of our journey. Give feedback. Rant away. Critique us and celebrate us, mourn us and moan us. Add your comments, object to our views (if you do), note any of those pesky tech glitches and don’t, please, be evil.

I leave you with the words I concluded with a year ago March:

For today — and tomorrow and forever — I wish you art. And I wish you love.