Performing arts paper PerformInk to get digital relaunch | Bleader

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Performing arts paper PerformInk to get digital relaunch

Posted By on 03.22.16 at 04:23 PM

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PerformInk covered Chicago's theater scene in analog form. Now it's getting a digital reboot. - FLICKR/MARZ K
  • Flickr/Marz K
  • PerformInk covered Chicago's theater scene in analog form. Now it's getting a digital reboot.

Spring! The season of buds and rebirth and free-floating optimism. It's the perfect time for this piece of back-from-the-dead news: PerformInk is being resurrected.

That's according to Jason Epperson, who's behind the reboot. The once-indispensable biweekly trade paper for the Chicago theater community, which went from print to digital-only in 2009 and ceased publication in 2011, will now be a rolling-news website with a weekly e-mail edition. 

Look for it to pop back to life online this week—maybe as early as Wednesday, Epperson says. 



"In a lot of ways, it'll be similar to the original," says Epperson. "We'll have solid audition and job banks, and industry news. But there'll also be features and reviews that'll be of interest to the general public."
click to enlarge Jason Epperson - PHOTO VIA TWITTER
  • Photo via Twitter
  • Jason Epperson

And it'll all be free. Epperson's new management and production company, Lotus Theatricals, worked out a licensing agreement with PerformInk's former owner, Carrie Kaufman.

Lotus consists of Epperson and his wife, actor and director Abigail Trabue Epperson. She'll be the publication's editor.

Jason Epperson, who was most recently executive director at the Greenhouse Theater Center, and prior to that was general manager and producer at the Mercury Theater for nearly a decade, counts website development among his skills.

"We had been talking for quite a while about creating a resource like this," Epperson says. "We always said, 'Wouldn't it be great to have something like PerformInk?' And when we got down to the nuts and bolts of putting it together, we said, 'Why don't we see if we can get the rights to it?' "

Kaufman bought PerformInk in 1992, from her then-employer, Act One bookstore owner Rick Levine. He'd started it as a quarterly five years earlier, but she was the one who built it into the vital performing-arts industry hub it was before the digital disruption hit.  

Now a public radio talk show host at KNPR in Las Vegas, Kaufman's moved on. But she says she's delighted that Epperson is bringing PerformInk back, and has "a lot of faith" in him.

The Eppersons plan for a "one-stop," community-written industry site that'll eventually include the old PerformInk archives, a significant repository of Chicago theater history. Submissions are invited—including news, features, blog posts, and first-person accounts from within the city's broad performing arts scene.

Just don't expect to get paid for writing, at least at first. "That’ll be a priority," Epperson says, whenever they sell enough advertising to make it possible. Right now, the two of them are the entire editorial, operations, and sales staff.

"We're treating it as if we're launching a small theater company," Epperson says. "You get together, and you do a lot of labor for a while, and you grow." 

The season's right for that.

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