The Chicago Sun-Times is dumping its singular arts critic, Hedy Weiss.
Weiss has been informed that today is her last official day at the paper, after a remarkable 34-year-run, most of it as chief theater critic.
In recent years, Weiss has been a veritable one-person arts department, covering dance, classical music, and visual art as well as the city’s intense theater scene.
Weiss had no comment.
Sun-Times editor in chief Chris Fusco issued this statement:
“Today is Hedy Weiss’ last day as a Sun-Times employee. She’s had a remarkable 33-year career covering the theater and arts scene in Chicago, and we wish her well. The Sun-Times is excited about Chicago’s burgeoning arts community, and we look forward to rolling out new coverage plans in the future.”
Last summer Weiss weathered an attempt by an ad hoc group called the Chicago Theater Accountability Coalition (ChiTAC) to drop her from press invitation lists, effectively boycotting her. The group was responding to what members said were “racist” reviews, specifically pointing to Weiss’s review of Antoinette Nwandu’s play Pass Over at Steppenwolf Theatre. The Change.org petition calling for this effective boycott attracted more than 3,000 signatures, but the Sun-Times backed her at the time, in an editorial headlined “We stand by our critic and a vital Chicago theater scene.”
After the Sun-Times‘s suspension of any work by movie critic Richard Roeper while it investigates allegations of his having bought Twitter followers, this leaves the paper (which shares a parent company with the Reader) with a glaring vacuum on the arts front.
Correction: This post has been updated to clarify that Richard Roeper has not been suspended from the Sun-Times.
Update: The Sun-Times has announced that Richard Roeper’s work will continue to appear in the paper.