History of Bourgeon and the Mid Atlantic Review

From Robert Bettmann – Founder, and managing editor

In 2005, I was invited to participate in a series of discussions for artistic directors and executive directors of local dance companies. A significant foundation – longtime local dance funders – were interested in doing more than funding individual companies, and convened ten meetings over twelve months to discuss how the local dance community could be strengthened.  Ideas related to building new dance audiences were among the topics discussed. Audience education can’t really happen at performances, because attendees want to just enjoy art. How can practitioners encourage understanding and appreciation of new work? What can a community do to encourage engagement? During those conversations, I had the idea for an arts magazine that would connect artists and audiences, and in July, 2005, we published the first issue of Bourgeon.

The word Bourgeon is French for ‘bud’, as in ‘a bud on the limb of a tree.’ Bourgeon’s mission, through the publication and community initiatives, is twofold: to increase participation in the arts and to improve access to the arts. Bourgeon serves as a bridge-builder between contemporary artists and audiences.

We published seven printed issues of the magazine between 2005 and 2007. In 2008, we moved the magazine online to reduce expenses. Over the last dozen years we have published several hundred articles by artists. Most of the articles are about the art a particular artist is in that moment making. We also have published the occasional feature, and about a hundred answers to the question, “what is art?” Bourgeon is now a record of the D.C. arts community, and more broadly, the art making process.

Bourgeon was created to help fill the void left by declining traditional coverage of the arts. Bourgeon projects the voices of individual art makers, assists them in documenting their work, and encourages readers toward personal understanding of art issues and art forms.

Since the first printed issue, the magazine has included poetry. With the addition of poetry editor Jessie Wilde (2014-15), followed by Gregory Luce (2016 – present), Bourgeon‘s literary focus grew. In 2020, poets Anne Becker and Jeffrey Banks joined Gregory Luce as poetry editors, and in 2022 Regie Cabico, Serena Agusto-Cox, Dwayne Lawson-Brown, and Sarah Katz joined in the same capacity.

In 2023, Day Eight received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts allowing us to publish a print annual of the magazine. We took that opportunity to re-brand, becoming The Mid Atlantic Review in October, 2023.

– Robert Bettmann, founder and managing editor