DC Metro Theater Arts (DCMTA) is a long-standing and well-known online news publication for the theatre community in the Washington Metropolitan area that many look to for guidance on shows to see and for criticism of their work. However, with the untimely passing of its beloved founder Joel Markowitz in 2017, the future of the online platform came into question. This is where Nicole Hertvik steps in.
Hertvik joined the DCMTA only a few years ago when she reviewed the First Stage production of Floyd Collins as a Junior Partner, but was catapulted into her current role as Editor-in-Chief and Publisher almost immediately after the loss of Markowitz.
“I really need to take the time to know learn about who we serve and how we can serve them before making any drastic changes,” Hertvik said.
DCMTA presented a behemoth of coverage from DC and New York City to Philadelphia with an Atlanta expansion possibly in talks, but now most of that is rescinded. According to Hertvik, there will be a major shift back to making the site an excellent resource in Washington first and foremost.
Hertvik also wants to make significant change to DCMTA’s reviewing reputation. While the site was known for being very positive in its feedback, she wants to pivot into a slightly more honest style of criticism.
“Joel always had a policy of being critical, not cruel, but I want us to be less ‘pie in the sky,’ less ‘everything is fabulous’ to help get readers a legitimate sense of whether to see a specific show or what needs work,” Hertvik added.
One of her early decisions was not to publish the annual “Best Of” list, and while she did receive push back, Hertvik said the goal is to revise how the honors are given to bring back a sense of higher merit to the judgements.
She also wants to make it a point to recruit and send reviewers from different backgrounds to shows that apply to their personal experiences as much as possible. This way DCMTA will gather and spread accurate opinions of the work viewed starting with their coverage of the Women’s Voices Theatre Festival. Additionally, she wants to open up coverage to the music community as well.
Finally, she and Marketing Associate Darby DeJarnette are working to make DCMTA’s social media presence greater including a new Instagram page to follow, a YouTube Channel, and a weekly update email with high quality content for readers to interact with. Of course, you can always still follow them on Facebook and Twitter too.
It’s a new day for DCMTA, and while Joel’s work and memory will be a part of the site and its culture forever, Hertvik will make waves to build upon it to make it an even stronger voice and influence in the DC theatre community.