Hopefully, the increased attention in the blogosphere will help convince the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to save their arts reviews.
See Jonathan Bellman and Elaine Fine's blogs for more.
Arts criticism (good arts criticism, that is) has always had a symbiotic relationship with the arts themselves. Critics are important for feedback, yes, but they also represent something even more important: critical thinking. This is a mode of mental operation that is becoming outdated in American classrooms. Many children are fed through a system that rewards them for memorizing state capitals rather than creative problem-solving. If our society begins to throw away the best examples of criticism, we condone the spoon-feeding model of education. Indeed, the arts are emblems of individual expression and criticism too, so one might wonder if we are not headed toward disaster here. If an orchestra is no longer worth writing about...why is it worth paying for a ticket? My point isn't to formulate great apocalyptic scenarious, but to offer that this is a very slippery slope.