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New Publication ‘Substrate Arts’ to Launch

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Among the key industries that seem to always be suffering both in San Francisco and nationwide, journalism and the arts are definitely strong contenders. Quality journalism about the arts? Almost nonexistent, until now. Starting with a soft launch in October 2022 and moving towards a full launch in 2023, seven Bay Area artists and writers have come together to form Substrate Arts. 

The online publication will provide in-depth, long-form, and experimental coverage of the San Francisco Bay Area’s arts and cultural scenes—focusing on the untold or underground stories uncovered by other local news sources. Take a moment to imagine what this could mean for the Bay Area’s arts scene, where the fate of a theater show, for example, is often in the hands of a tiny handful of reviewers. By expanding coverage to a larger and more diverse group of writers, it could be a game changer for talented up-and-coming groups of artists who need to get the word out about their work.

Journalist David J. Chavez is one of seven Bay Area artists launching Substrate Arts.

“With publications dwindling and legacy publications focusing their attention on the biggest, metric driven artistic adventure, Substrate Arts fills a void,” nationally published writer and theatre critic David J. Chávez says. “It is a place where one can receive high caliber writing with a team of accomplished and seasoned journalists who look past the next big touring show or nationally focused regional premiere.” Often, the only thing that separates popular or prestigious theater shows from underground ones is not the level of talent or imagination– it’s the show’s marketing budget. More local arts coverage can help bring smaller companies to the forefront, allowing them to be seen in a way they never have before.

Co-founder Julius Rea is a local writer, performer and producer.

Substrate Arts is cooperatively owned and managed by Nicole Gluckstern, J. Elliott Mendez, Alejandro Ramos, Julius Rea, Hiya Swanhuyser, Benjamin Wachs and David J. Chávez. Substrate Arts welcomes new writers to become members or co-owners and to take charge of their own future—financially and professionally. In the absence of a corporate-style hierarchy, the collective approach creates more of a balanced system as opposed to a closed-circuit in-crowd of communication. “As an arts writer, what I am is the connecting organism between audience and maker: a simple and necessary element of a functioning cultural ecosystem,” Swanhuyser says. 

Co-founder Nicole Gluckstern has worked variously as a performer, lighting designer/technician, stage manager, producer, publicist, tour support, dramaturg, and critic. She is also an award-winning arts journalist.

Substrate Arts is developing a fundraising campaign to sponsor its first year of coverage and content. I cannot stress enough how important it is to support local journalism (such as the publication you are reading right now). Quality local coverage unites us as a community in the ongoing struggle to keep SF weird! Please consider contributing to Substrate Arts’ kickstarter here! There are some very attractive perks and they only have until February 7th to reach their goal.

To learn more, visit

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Genie Cartier is a San Francisco native. She graduated from UCLA with a BA in English/ Creative Writing and earned an MFA in Creative Writing/ Poetry from SFSU. Check out her novella Fog City Summer on this website. When not writing, she is also a professional circus performer of 24 years and will be directing Dark Side of the Circus, a circus choreographed to Pink Floyd, in April 2020. Find out more at