The new site, modeled after Playbill On-Line, features daily news, information about upcoming CD and DVD releases, features drawn from the pages of Playbill magazine, and a database of performance schedules for U.S. and overseas venues, as well as job listings and an instrument exchange.
"PlaybillArts.com is a place for people who love the performing arts," said Philip S. Birsh, president of Playbill, Inc. "If you never miss the ballet, if you listen to classical music in the car, if you cry at the opera, you will arrive at PlaybillArts.com and say, 'I'm home!'"
The new site grew out of Playbill's Classic Arts Division, which was launched in 1998 and publishes programs for New York's Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.
"Just as Playbill Classic Arts programs are an essential part of the performing arts experience, PlaybillArts.com delivers enlightenment and joy throughout the full spectrum of classic arts," said Clifford S. Tinder, publisher of Playbill Classic Arts. "Whether your passion is Balanchine, Beethoven or Ellington, you will find them — and much more — all in one place on the web at PlaybillArts.com."
The news section of PlaybillArts.com follows developments on stage and behind the scenes. "We'll let you know what opera premieres are coming up and what jazz groups are on tour — and we'll also tell you when a dance company picks a new artistic director and when budget cuts affect your local orchestra," said Ben Mattison, editor of the new site. Among the hundreds of feature articles already on the site are interviews, profiles of performers, and examinations of opera and dance history. "Some of my favorite pieces are by the artists themselves," Mattison said. "Conductor Patrick Summers on Toscanini, or violinist Mark O'Connor interviewing fellow fiddlers Sarah Chang and Joshua Bell."
The site's performance listings can be searched by venue, performer, composer, work, or date. "It's easy to see who's playing chamber music in New York on a particular weekend," Mattison pointed out. "Or you can search for pianist Emanuel Ax and see when and where he is making guest appearances across the country."
PlaybillArts.com also includes online job listings, linking up job seekers and performing arts organizations, and an Instrument Exchange, allowing amateur and professional musicians to buy and sell instruments and sound equipment over the web.
"Ultimately, we want to bring people closer to the performances," Birsh said, "whether it's getting ticket information for a jazz show or reading about a symphony before you leave for the concert. We want the site to say, 'We love the performing arts as much as you do.'"
PlaybillArts.com editor Ben Mattison was most recently the managing editor of the classical music web site Andante.com, and previously served in the same position at Stagebill magazine.