Discover great things to watch, hear or attend – and fight for your independents!

Welcome to Poor Stuart’s Guide.

This is a site for passionate spectators of the arts — in person at cinemas, museums, performance halls and festivals, in the streets and parks of vibrant arts cities, and in virtual formats via the internet.

Fight for your Independents
T-shirt from Ivy’s Books, a favorite New York City bookstore, now defunct.

I’m Stu Rohrer, curator of Poor Stuart’s Guide. I started this site to share my passion for thought-provoking and sublimely entertaining movies, plays, festivals and museum shows.

In this dark pandemic moment for artists and arts venues, Poor Stuart’s Guide embraces the theme “Fight for Your Independents,” hoping to renew your appreciation for arts organizations that make things happen in your community. We need them, and they need our support, now more than ever.

What you’ll find in Poor Stuart’s Guide

This notion of “passionate spectator” is borrowed from the 19th-century French poet Charles Baudelaire, who described a worldly traveler who is “a lover of life … a dazzling soul … blessed with deep and joyful curiousity.”

This site is for you if …

  • You treasure and support the work of creative artists and independent thinkers in the arts, whether in physical space, on screen or online
  • You love joining live audiences in theaters to see movies, concerts and plays
  • You seek out cultural experiences when you travel and leave time to be a passionate spectator in new places
  • You appreciate the rare and magic arts occasions where popular appeal and critical acclaim overlap

I try to help you discover “something great” to watch, listen to, read, or experience in person. I hope to bring you closer to the artists, creators and change-makers who bring those great things to life.

Part of this mission is to curate the deluge of choices that beg for your attention — 700 new movies, 400 scripted TV series, 60,000 podcasts and countless other entertainments and artworks every year. Netflix offers, at last count, more than 1500 TV series and 5,000 movies. Amazon offers more than 20,000 movies and TV series. A new video streaming service seems to launch every week

You can’t see everything, but you don’t want to miss the best.

During Academy Awards season, I host a novel Oscar movie challenge, Can You Beat the Crowd?, which gives you a personal stake in the glitz and glory. The Academy Awards TV ceremony may be waning in popularity, but “winning an Oscar” still gives a prominent boost to quality creative work seeking an audience in movie theaters and in the home.

I have expanded the Festival Calendar section to list destination festivals for films, theater, classical music, rock and blues, fine art and ideas. Each entry includes information about when tickets go on sale, so you can plan ahead and not get shut out.

Poor Stuart’s Guide highlights these standout performances in frequent posts on this website and in a free Passionate Spectator newsletter.

If you like your information in physical formats, I also publish Poor Stuart’s Passionate Spectator, a paperback companion to this website. The book compiles a full year’s worth of critical and commercial successes, and monitors theaters, bookstores and creative centers in cities across America.

Behind the scenes, I am at work on another initiative to forge closer connections between audiences and creator — a culture-messaging service to remind you of upcoming shows in live theater and performances. Stay tuned.

Part of the mission of Poor Stuart’s Guide is to contribute financial support to arts initiatives: Recently this included the rebuilding of the Sag Harbor Cinema in Sag Harbor, NY, a favorite arthouse recovering from a devastating fire; Atlantic Theater Company in New York City, breeding ground for new plays, and New York City’s Public Theater, a civic arts institution that wrestles with important ideas and social issues.

Poor Stuart’s Guide springs from a shared conviction that the arts nourish the roots of our culture, as President John F. Kennedy reminded America in his 1963 tribute to Robert Frost.

Thank you for joining me. I hope you will browse the Guide regularly, sign up for the free newsletter, and discover something great. I welcome your comments and suggestions.

–stu rohrer, curator
Stu Rohrer Passionate Spectator Poor Stuart's Guide

Thank you…

Bootstrapping a publication like this can be a daunting and and lonely enterprise, so I am most grateful to friends and colleagues who have offered advice and counsel, especially John O’Donnell and Mike Tedesco. Special thanks to Lisa Powers, who designed the logos for Poor Stuart’s Guide and Can You Beat the Crowd?, and to my late friend Harriet Fier for her wise and patient advice.

Can You Beat the Crowd Oscar prediction contest
“The Party” ©2016 Susan Dorf

“The Party,” the colorful portrait of a crowd that appears in Can You Beat the Crowd, was composed spontaneously at a live event by painter Susan Dorf, who kindly granted permission to include it. See more of her work on the web and on Facebook.