Arts critics to be axed at Independent on Sunday

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All arts critics at the Independent on Sunday are to be axed from this September as part of cuts to the newspaper’s workforce.

It is thought that a total of seven journalists are affected, including theatre critic Kate Bassett and music critic Anna Picard.

Bassett confirmed on her Twitter feed that the writers would be cut from the start of September.

Meanwhile, Tom Sutcliffe, who was the first arts editor of the Independent in 1986 and is now its TV reviewer, has also lost his job.

He said via his Twitter account that he was “not entirely sure what the plan is at the moment” when asked if there would be no arts coverage at the papers in the future.

It has been claimed that the Independent on Sunday will include arts coverage from now on by using a digest of other publications’ reviews. However, it has been reported that editor Lisa Markwell has denied this.

Simon Tait, president of the Critics’ Circle, described the job losses as “inexplicable”.

He said: “Our artists have never been as high profile as they are now, the arts have never been more popular with audiences, and audiences have never wanted informed and objective review of performances more than they do today.

“Yet in a crass assessment of a newspaper’s role, and with no consultation with his own journalists or readers, the proprietor - not, it seems, the editor - has wiped the slate of arts writers. This is a blow to arts criticism, but even more to newspapers and the journalism that leads the world.”

The National Union of Journalists has criticised the paper’s decision, saying it is concerned about the lack of consultation with staff and the “arbitrary” nature of implementation.

The union has written to the House of Lords communications committee, which meets this morning, to request an inquiry into the future of the Independent.

Laura Davison, NUJ assistant organiser, said: "It's disappointing that management at the Independent are failing to engage in proper consultation with their journalists. These cuts are being pushed through, loyal contributors axed without warning and staff are not being given the opportunity to discuss alternatives and address their concerns over the impact on quality content. It's time for the company to listen to their staff and engage properly in a genuine consultation process."

The Independent on Sunday declined to comment.