Pioneer Press theater critic Papatola leaving for Bremer Foundation

For now, I’m just going to blast out the memo — one of the big questions going forward is how/whether the Pioneer Press will cover theater. In recent months, the PiPress has not been allowed to replace staffers who quit.

[Update: Arts and Entertainment editor Heidi Raschke, who authored the memo below, says the PiPress won’t be hiring. The paper will still cover theater, “but we haven’t yet worked out how.” Papatola tells the Strib’s Graydon Royce he’ll “periodically” contribute reviews on a freelance basis.] 

Dominic has been quite the ambassador for the theater scene, as anyone who has heard his regular MPR morning gigs can attest. Here’s the memo:

Dominic Papatola is leaving the Pioneer Press to take a position as a program officer at the Otto Bremer Foundation. His last day at the paper will be Jan. 15.

Dominic came to the Pioneer Press in May 1999. After covering the entertainment scene for the Duluth News Tribune (“from ballet to tractor pulls,” as he puts it) and theater at the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Dominic relished his role as the Twin Cities theater critic. He quickly earned the respect of folks in the theater community by writing incisive reviews that showed his passion for and deep knowledge of his beat. They expressed their esteem with a Fringe Festival show titled “Bring Me the Head of Dominic Papatola.”

Of course, Dominic also earned the respect of colleagues and readers by producing consistent high quality journalism. He broke news, wrote columns, did features, reviewed shows and chose weekly best bets. He covered the Republican National Convention as theater, he was first with Theatre de la Jeune Lune’s Tony win, he wrote about taking kids to the theater —  2,365 stories in all. He did podcasts and blog posts. He appeared on local TV and radio.

Dominic also represented the Pioneer Press on the national scene. He served as a juror and panel chair for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, taught theater criticism at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, served as associate director of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Institute in Theatre and Musical Theatre, and chaired the executive committee of the American Theatre Critics Association.

We’ll miss his professionalism, his knowledge of the national and local arts scenes and his booming laugh. 

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Ross Willits on 11/24/2009 - 02:53 pm.

    This is a sad day for the theatre community in the Twin Cities. Not simply losing Dominic as a critic and advocate, but losing the concept that for an arts scene to thrive, there must be a strong journalistic presence to keep the public informed, and the artists honest.

    For the Pioneer Press to give short shrift to such an important part of what makes the Twin Cities (and Saint Paul!) great, is a travesty, and will hasten their decline.

  2. Submitted by Meir Chris Bargeron on 11/24/2009 - 03:36 pm.

    Yes, this is definitely a loss to the PiPress and to the theatre community. I am hoping that he will continue his commentary on MPR, but am not optimistic about that. On the bright side, however, Dominic will be able to support the community through grant-making. Does this move mean that the Bremer Foundation is moving into arts funding? One can only hope!

  3. Submitted by Susan Gainen on 11/25/2009 - 09:44 am.

    Dominic Papatola represents the best kind of journalism and criticism and his departure from the Pioneer Press is a huge loss. I will miss his writing and his work on MPR.

  4. Submitted by karl karlson on 11/25/2009 - 09:31 pm.

    And it was Domonic’s birthday today.

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