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Week of December 2-8, 2002


"The Arts" - A Meaningless Banal Phrase The etymology of the phrase "the arts" is fascinating. " 'The arts' has also become one of those irritating modern pieties, like 'community', 'compassion' or ' excellence', which have people crossing themselves. All too often, 'supporting the arts' is little more than a badge of gentility. It doesn't imply a real discriminating passion for music, painting or the theatre, let alone any sense of how they might inform your life or change society. It doesn't even imply paying a fair price for the work of an artist. It is simply part of the cement in the thin wall that separates the respectable from the barbaric." The Telegraph (UK) 12/04/02


Kennedy Center Gets $100 Million Philanthropist Catherine B. Reynolds has given $100 million to the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. It's the Center's largest gift ever, and "the first donation to the center's plan for a major expansion over the next decade. One of the new buildings will be dedicated to educational programs and exhibitions on the performing arts; the other, to rehearsal space. Together they will be the focal point of a new plaza." Washington Post 12/07/02

Destination Portland While the number of 20-34 year-olds decreased in America through the 1990s, Portland, Oregon saw a gain of 45,000 young people in that demographic. The infux has helped transform the city. "The result has been a cultural flowering for the Rose City. Young visual artists, Web designers, filmmakers and animators, musicians, media specialists and entrepreneurs are starting a new generation of companies, organizations and events, not to mention clubs, lounges, coffeehouses and restaurants. What has lured this active, inventive age group to Portland?" The Oregonian 12/01/02

$86 Million In The Service Of Art Largely overlooked when Ruth Lilly gave $100 million to Poetry magazine a few weeks ago was another one of her gifts - $86 million to the arts advocacy group Americans for the Arts. There's been much speculation about what Poetry might or might not do with the money. But how about Americans for the Arts? Backstage 12/05/02

The ABC's Of Critical Writing Judges who don't read the books they're pronouncing on, movie critics who don't see the films they're writing about... it's the new form of criticism, writes Alex Beam. "I am partaking in a hot new reviewing trend: Abstinence-Based Criticism (A-BC). At the key moment of critical engagement, just say no. Resist the temptation! Why read the book, see the movie, or, for that matter, eat the food? I can do it from here!" Boston Globe 12/05/02

The Spires Of Singapore Singapore has a new $343 million performing arts complex. But more than just theatres, The Esplanade — Theaters on the Bay is an architectural statement the city hopes will define it architecturally in the manner of the Eiffel Tower or the Sydney Opera House in their respective cities. "Along with an 2,000-seat theater, the Esplanade boasts what is perhaps one of the world's most acoustically meticulous concert halls. Besides, who could forget a building that is so, well, prickly?" The New York Times 12/03/02

Projecting The Arts Outside "In an unconventional scheme to bring opera and ballet to the masses," the Royal Opera House plans to set up giant open-air screens in locations around Britain to show live ballet and opera performances direct from the Opera House. The Observer (UK) 12/01/02


NY Dance Builds Up New York dance companies are in a building boom. Alvin Ailey and Trisha Brown are both building new homes, and Mark Morris built one last year. "It speaks to their ability to reach an audience that they are stable enough to afford their own homes. There's a moment in the development of nonprofits where they institutionalize. It's wonderful to know where your next rehearsal space is and what kind of amenities—showers and lockers—you're going to have." Village Voice 12/03/02

How To Build A Company From Scratch Want to start a dance company? Former Martha Graham company principal dancer Jeanne Ruddy is doing it in Philadelphia. She's building a company, a home and a school. All for $3.5 million. And an aggressive entrepreneurial business plan... Philadelphia Inquirer 12/05/02

Kennedy Center Looks To Dance Patrons To Help The Kennedy Center has been looking for ways to shore up its dance offerings ever since Michael Kaiser took over as director, and now, even as fundraising by arts organizations nationwide is suffering the effects of the stagnant economy, the Kennedy hopes that its patrons will help foot the bill. "In a letter this week, the center is asking patrons to join the Kennedy Center Ballet Circle by making contributions of $1,000 to $250,000. The money will support the annual season of ballet, and donors will receive ticket privileges as well as invitations to special receptions, rehearsals and discussions." Washington Post 12/04/02

Gotta Dance "All signs would seem to point to a revival of dance - real, tough, dramatic dance - on Broadway." But the results of new high-profile dance shows are mixed... The New Republic 12/02/02


Why Fantasy Rules Fantasy movies are the engine that drives the movie business these days. Why? Westerns have lost their appeal, war movies are too violent, and stories from ancient times look dated. Besides, the teenage boy market... The Telegraph (UK) 12/07/02

Looking For Extra Respect "Extras, those people behind the stars, who - despite appearing out of focus, without speaking and for all of a nanosecond - play as important a role in a film as the props or costumes or even musical score. In fact, extras are so necessary that they've opted for the far less marginal-sounding term of 'background performer' in hopes of getting a little more respect." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/07/02

On Behalf Of All Directors... Martin Scorcese's Gangs of New York could be the most important movie released this year. Here's why: Time was (back in the 70s) that directors were the main push behind what movies got made. Nowadays, a small number of A-list actors seems to call the shots. Scorcese's $100-million Gangs is a director-driven project, and despite its long messy birth, if it sells, directors may get back some of the influence over what gets made... The Telegraph (UK) 12/06/02

The Miracle-Of-Technology Problem "As moviemaking becomes increasingly high-tech, Hollywood film crews are finding themselves at odds with the technology that permeates everyday life. They sit on the cutting edge of a global laboratory in which millions of computer chips, hordes of wireless devices and even ordinary contraptions can wreak havoc on their productions." But it's not like the old days when if a mechanical camera broke, you got inside and fixed it... Nando Times (LAT) 12/04/02

Stories No One Wants To See Now How did a movie adaptation of a 1955 Graham Greene story go from being touted as Oscar-worthy before its planned September 2001 release to being all-but unreleaseable? September 11. "What freaked me out after the 10th was the 11th. I showed the film to some people and staff, and they said: 'Are you out of your mind? You can't release this now; it's unpatriotic. America has to be cohesive, and band together.' We were worried that nobody had the stomach for a movie about bad Americans anymore." The Age (Melbourne) 12/04/02

The Case For Deregulating Media Ownership Americans have access to so much information, some experts believe that corporate consolidation of ownership isn't a problem. "With all this in mind, the F.C.C. is considering sweeping away or greatly relaxing rules that limit how many television stations a company can own nationwide; that bar companies from owning a major television station and newspaper in the same town; and that limit the number of radio and television stations that companies can own in one market." The New York Times 12/02/02


After The Rain The damage is being toted up after the sprinklers went off during a Philadelphia Orchestra rehearsal. "A second Steinway grand piano was damaged in Tuesday morning's deluge at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, some warping has begun to appear in the floor of Verizon Hall, and 11 orchestra musicians are reporting damaged instruments." Philadelphia Inquirer 12/06/02

Orchestra Shutdowns Come To The Holyland The increased violence and tension in the Middle East may now have killed off a beloved local institution: the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra has announced that it will shut down this weekend as a result of nonpayment of promised funds from the city and the Israel Broadcast Authority. JSO officials also accuse the IBA and municipal authorities of wanting to turn the orchestra into a political pawn. Jerusalem Post 11/5/02

No Shortage Of Cash In Boston Chicago may be struggling, St. Louis and Toronto may have had near-death experiences, and Houston may be on the verge of an all-out labor war, but things are just dandy at the Boston Symphony Orchestra. As the BSO prepares to kick off its holiday pops season, it is pulling in the kind of ticket revenue which would be enough to fund some orchestras for a year without a single dollar donated. Never an organization to underestimate its own importance, the BSO's managing director brags, "There are (smaller) orchestras that for the entire 52-week year will have not even $10 million of sales, We do almost half of that in basically three weeks. We are the biggest orchestra operation in the world by a big margin." Boston Herald 12/06/02

So Much for Greedy American Musicians The musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra have taken an unprecedented step in an effort to help the organization stay fiscally solvent, offering up $100,000 of matching money to be applied against donations from orchestra subscribers. The musicians originally had planned to donate the money to the PSO outright, but agreed with management that a challenge grant would offer greater opportunity to involve the public. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 12/05/02

How To Stand Out In A Crowd (Maybe): "I have heard estimates that there are over 10,000 living composers in the United States today, which is ironically a number larger than most audiences for the majority of new music concerts and recordings. So, how to stand out from the crowd and be noticed? A good start is to be included in a book." The question is - which book, and where does it count? NewMusicBox 12/02

And The Survey Says... We Like Music Britons are big music consumers, says a new poll of more than 10,000 people by the digital music channel Music Choice. The average respondant in the poll spends "three hours 11 minutes and 55 seconds a day - or 48 days a year - listening to our music collections." The poll also indicates sizeable investments in music. "The average Briton owns 100 CDs, 51 records, 50 cassettes, 28 MP3 files and eight minidiscs worth more than £3,000." The Guardian (UK) 12/04/02

Classical Critical List From the Bay Area to Boston, America's opera companies orchestras and classical music presenters are facing a downturn that has many worried for their survival. Here's a scorecard of who's at risk... (AP) 12/02/02

The Nutcracker Factor Few would deny that the popularity of Pyotr Tchaikovsky's music in the US is predicated largely on the approximately 18,763,594 stagings of The Nutcracker which occur around the country every December. But even leaving Drosselmayer's brood aside, the Russian master can be counted as possibly the most listened to composer in America, even if many Americans probably couldn't tell you who he was. So what is it about Tchaikovsky that attracts the American ear? San Jose Mercury News 12/03/02

Do Dumbed-Down Audiences Require Dumbed-Down Opera? Opera audiences have grown, sure, but are they any smarter? No one would agree with that. So "does deepening musical illiteracy really affect the health of opera?" Matthew Gurewitsch talks with four of America's top opera managers about the problems of having to pay attention to audiences that may not know much about your art... Opera News 12/02

Finding A Way Through Music Matt Savage is 10 years old, and he plays the piano well enough that he turns heads in New Orleans, where he lives. He's playing jazz in concerts around the world. But he isn't just a prodigy, he's also autistic, and "when he was younger, had great difficulty communicating, did not like to be touched and - most incredibly for a musician - couldn’t stand the sound of music or of household noises like a blender or a vacuum cleaner" Jerusalem Report 11/02


Troupe Forced To Resign Quincy Troupe, who was forced out of his appointment as California's first Poet Laureate this fall after it was discovered he had misrepresented his credentials on his resume, has had to resign his teaching post at the University of California, San Diego. "I very much regret my lapse in judgment and the problems it has created for my department and the broader UCSD community," Troupe said. 12/03/02

  • Troupe Faces Reporters Troupe told a colleague last week that "he decided to step down after the university decided to suspend him for a year without pay or benefits." Troupe told reporters that he is a person who faces up to his mistakes, but while some of Troupe's supporters were angry that the university didn't stick up for the poet, others seemed relieved that the affair is over. "I am relieved he chose to do the honorable thing by resigning. He's a great poet, but he needs to be a great poet somewhere else." San Diego Union-Tribune 12/04/02

Confronting Hungary On The Nobel Stage Many writers have penned fiction based on their memories of the Holocaust. But for Hungarian-born writer Imre Kortesz, this year's Nobel Prizewinner for literature, those memories, and the healing of time passed, have led him to a different view of those horrible days than that shared by many of his contemporaries. Kortesz, who now considers Germany his home, describes the Holocaust not as an assault on Jews by Germany, but as a tragic and catastrophic failure on the part of all of Europe. Germany, says Kortesz, has come to terms with its guilt in a way that many European countries, his native Hungary in particular, have not. The New York Times 12/04/02

Michelangelo The Miser "Michelangelo, who painted the ceiling of the Vatican's Sistine Chapel and designed the dome of St. Peter's Basilica, passed himself off as poor but was actually too miserly to show his huge wealth... [An art historian] has unearthed two of Michelangelo's bank accounts and numerous deeds of purchase that show the prolific painter, sculptor and architect was worth about 50,000 gold ducats when he died in 1564, more than many princes and dukes of his time." Los Angeles Times (Reuters) 12/03/02

The Iron Lady Of Russian Museums Irina Antonova has been director of the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow for 41 years. "Such longevity would be remarkable anywhere — even in the United States Senate — but Russia is a particular case. Mrs. Antonova's career at the Pushkin, which began one month before the end of World War II, has survived Stalinism, democracy and everything in between, including unresolved disputes over looted and lost art." The New York Times 12/03/02

Power To The Pub Lady Sandra Esquilant's East End London pub has been a gathering place for a generation of BritArt conceptual artists. Now, "for her role as a homely mother confessor to the angry generation of British conceptual artists, has won the improbable reward of 80th place in a list of the 100 most powerful figures in contemporary art." The Telegraph (UK) 12/02/02


Lesson For The Day - Stealing's Okay If It's Educational JK Rowling and Warner Bros. have lost an expensive lawsuit in Germany. A publisher of textbooks had used the Harry Potter character in printed homework assignments, so Rowling sued. "The judge in the case agreed with the publishing house’s argument that they did not need to obtain copyright for school books because they were for educational purposes. The practice of using images on German schoolbooks is apparently commonplace. According to the publishing house, authors are happy to be targeted because it gives them free publicity and even boosts sales of the original book as it means children have to buy them so they can complete the homework." The Scotsman 12/06/02

I Just Called To Write I Luv U A love poem has been declared the winner of this year's Guardian "Text Message" Poetry Contest. The poetry is composed for mobile phones and "the text message format puts a limit of 160 characters on each poem, which tests the ingenuity and creativity of the poets. Combining poetry, one of the oldest literary forms, with texting demonstrates just how creative text messaging can be." The Guardian (UK) 12/06/02

Why Do Books Cost So Much? "Consumers are often baffled at the price tag attached to what appears to be little more than a mass of paper, cardboard and ink. A whole host of factors, including the size of the book, the quality of paper, the quantity of books printed, whether it contains illustrations, what sort of deal the publisher can make with the printer and the cost of warehouse space, all affect the production costs of a book. But, roughly speaking, only about 20 percent of a publisher's budget for each book pays for paper, printing and binding, the trinity that determines the physical cost." Salon 12/03/02

Big Publisher Settles With Upstart Internet Publisher Publishing giant Random House and online publisher RosettaBooks have settled RH's lawsuit against the upstart internet publisher. Rosetta has been selling electronic versions of books that predate the internet by authors such as Kurt Vonnegut and William Styron. Rosetta claimed its editions as new publications and made deals with the authors and not the original publishers. "But the settlement announced Wednesday leaves the issue unresolved. The two sides essentially agreed it was better to work together than to fight." Nando Times (AP) 12/04/02

You Have To Leave To Get Respect? Canadian writers are hot these days - all over the world. But why does it take international acclaim before the folks at home pay you any respect? "We parade our multiculturalism - but our posturing cannot camouflage our grudging embrace of the best our culture produces." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/03/02


White Like Me British theatre is an overwhelmingly white experience. "The facts are scandalous. Of 2,009 permanent staff in regional theatres, only 80 are from black and Asian communities; of 463 board members, only 20 are from what we term "ethnic minorities". And Leicester Haymarket is the only producing theatre with a black artistic director, Kully Thiarai." The Arts Council is working on some initiatives to help, but "the key question is whether these initiatives are enough to combat the racism - more, I suspect, a result of indifference than malice - that has become an entrenched part of British theatre." The Guardian (UK) 12/05/02

Different? You Did Wanted Different, Didn't You? Wasn't it just yesterday the press was beating up on Trevor Nunn and his choices running London's National Theatre? Well, his successor hasn't wasted any time signaling his split from the past. Jerry Springer - The Opera, a cheeky, irreverent, and joyously filthy musical theatre satire on the TV chat show no one likes to admit to watching, will be Nicholas Hytner's first big production when his reign begins in April. As a first choice it sends an unmistakable message that the years ahead are likely not only to be risky and exciting but revolutionary in a way that Sir Trevor Nunn's were not." The Guardian (UK) 12/05/02

Theatre Drain Is it just coincidence or is something deeper going on here? Many of Scotland's best theatre and artistic directors are leaving their jobs. "Within the next few months, every rep theatre in Scotland save the Byre in St Andrews will have a new artistic director." The Herald (Glasgow) 12/04/02

The Royal Shakespeare Company's Dire Straits The Royal Shakespeare Company reports that it lost £1 million last year, "bringing its cumulative loses to £2.4 million. The company's experimental season at London's Roundhouse was "a financial disaster even though artistically it had its moments." And this is the company with ambitious reorganization plans. "for the first time the staggering costs of the company's reorganisation have become clear. Its administrators are budgeting on spending at least £9.2 million." The Guardian (UK) 12/04/02

You Don't Exist Outside Of London Do London editors and critics ignore the rest of the country's theatre endeavors? At least one director thinks so. "In other European countries, places like Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow and Edinburgh would be all considered to be centres of endeavour. We are not really given that credit, and it makes people resentful; we do not need these divisions." The Guardian (UK) 12/04/02

My Fair Box Office London's National Theatre began the year with a £626,000 debt, which it hoped to eliminate by next March. But thanks to the commercial box office success of My Fair Lady, the theatre popped into the black last March, about a year early. But, the theatre warns, financial prospects for the next season look less certain than usual. BBC 12/02/02

Exit Smiling Trevor Nunn leaves the National with a record of success As director, he introduced many new plays, generated lots of buzz and even...gasp.. made some money with high-profile commercial productions...Still, there were those pesky critics who refused to leave him alone. The Guardian (UK) 12/02/02

Needless Waste Why aren't more theatre performances recorded? Especially the really good ones, the historic ones? "We have the technological means to record a show without huge financial outlay and with a fair degree of style. It's called video. We do commit theatre to tape in this country but we do so so sparingly, so shamefacedly, that it ought to be a national scandal." The Telegraph (UK) 12/01/02


Thieves Steal Van Goghs Thieves broke into Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum overnight and stole two of the artist's drawings. "Police were studying video tapes recorded by security cameras, while curators rearranged the paintings to cover the blank spaces on the walls before opening the museum to the public." Yahoo! (AP) 12/07/02

The Ruin Of Angkor Wat "It was a year ago that a high-ranking Cambodian official said the time had come to rev up the old ruin with things like sound-and-light shows, zigzag escalators and hot-air balloons. 'Angkor is asleep. We will wake it up'. Since a rough-edged peace came to this battered country in 1997, tourist visits to the Angkor temples have risen from almost zero toward a projected one million in 2005. The temples are already swarming." The New York Times 12/07/02

Hi, I'm Phil From Devon...I Carved The Parthenon... The Belgian newspaper De Morgen printed a blockbuster scoop last week - the Parthenon Marbles weren't really made by a Greek but by a "wandering stonemason from Devon called Phil Davies who changed his name to Pheidias to ingratiate himself with his ancient Athenian patrons." That means that the English would have a stronger claim to retaining the Marbles in the British Museum. The story included denials from the Greeks and quotes from the gloating Brits. Of course the story was a hoax, and the newspaper later printed a sheepish retraction. "It was a stupid mistake. It all happened on a Sunday when we had a skeletal staff. We noticed it ourselves the next day and ran a correction. What can you say." The Guardian (UK) 12/07/02

Dead Woman Mistaken For Art Visitors to a Berlin art space mistook a dead woman for a performance art piece. "Authorities said the 24-year-old woman, who apparently leapt from a window, discussed suicide in a videotaped interview with a group of artists the day before." Yahoo! (Reuters) 12/05/02

From Obscurity To Greatness When the new $60 million Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth opens this weekend, it will be the second-largest modern art museum in the US. "This museum has changed identities, names and directors more times than most people can count. Its meteoric rise of late is all the more remarkable given its checkered history and inauspicious beginnings. A museum that started as an adjunct to the public library, with volunteers footing the bills and guiding its fate, now stands poised to be one of the most influential institutions of its type." Dallas Morning News 12/07/02

Basel In Miami For the first time, Art Basel, which is one of the world's top contemporary art fairs, is putting on a show outside its hometown. Where? Miami. And it's being called America's hottest art fair of the season. "While the most cutting-edge art raised some eyebrows, connoisseurs were keenly eyeing the more mainstream offerings, which include some of the best-known artists from the 20th and 21st centuries, including Keith Haring, Fernand Leger, René Magritte, Joan Miro, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/07/02

The Rise And Fall Of The Guggenheim Thomas Krens cut the figure of museum director as all big ideas and fearlessness - redefining the modern museum in an age of global branding. But he's also a polarizing figure, an easy target for those who lament his big-business approach to art. With a pursestrings-attached gift to Krens's Guggenheim Museum, the era of the Guggenheim as lavish spender and worldwide art brand seems to be at an end. "Global culture sounded inevitable a few years ago — all those plane-hopping travelers and multinational collaborations. But Sept. 11 put an end to that. The world became more divided, people less willing to travel, the American public poorer, more attuned to protecting itself and what it has." The New York Times 12/06/02

Auction Houses Or Discount Bins? As the American economy continues to tank mightily, art auction houses are finding themselves in the uncomfortable position of putting masterpieces on the block for far less than they are worth, at least according to the inflated price scales of the 1990s. Case in point: a mature Rubens painting set to be auctioned soon for $4-$6 million, down from its original asking price of $25 million. In other tough news for the industry, Sotheby's New York is facing another round of layoffs, less than a year after the company let go 375 employees. The New York Times 12/06/02

It's Our Award And We're Going Home The American Institute of Architects has chosen not to award it's annual Gold Medal for the 36th time in the 95-year history of the prize. The decision doesn't necessarily mean that no new building was deserving of the honor, merely that 3/4 of the judges could not agree on a single winner. And since the list of nominees is kept confidential, we can all do our own speculation on whether 2001 architecture was a disappointment, or whether two or more worthy finalists managed to split the vote. Washington Post 12/06/02

Digital Art Accepted - Now What? Digital art is finally gaining acceptance and finding its way into museums. But "the very existence of a market for digital work, with pieces priced as high as $150,000, is creating conflict among practitioners in a medium that was, until recently, a proud part of the artistic fringe. The ability to 'objectify' digital art and make it as palpable, and salable, as a sculpture or painting is raising questions as to whether a genre based on the community-focused ethics of open-source computer programmers has lost the edge that made it exciting in the first place." ArtNews 12/02

Royal Art Replacement (Are They Fakes?) Is a senior member of England's royal family selling off art masterpieces and replacing them with fakes? A report claims that "the female royal, who was not named, is said to have sold two watercolours by Thomas Gainsborough to an antique dealer for £100,000. The paintings were said to have been replaced in their original frames by photographs of the watercolours, specially aged to look like old masterpieces." Edinburgh News 12/04/02

Finding Out What's In The Hermitage The Hermitage Museum "reportedly has three-million paintings, sculptures, drawings and decorative objects on its six-block site. But it's not entirely sure of that number or precisely where among its 400-plus rooms all that stuff is located, since it's never done a complete inventory in its 250-year history." Now a consortium of foundations is helping the museum to audit its holdings and bring the Hermitage into the modern age, more or less, and on a footing equal, more or less, to that of the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the British Museum." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/05/02

Guggenheim Gift With Big Strings Attached "Peter B. Lewis, the philanthropist who recently stunned Cleveland, his hometown, by announcing a boycott of charitable contributions there, this week gave the beleaguered Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum a $12 million gift, but only after forcing the institution's ambitious director to accept a pared-down budget. Mr. Lewis, who is chairman of the museum's board of trustees and its largest benefactor, said he had presented Thomas Krens, the museum's flamboyant and controversial director, with a 'tough love' choice: he could either bring the museum's tangled financial affairs in order, or start looking for another job." The New York Times 12/04/02

English Heritage In Peril "According to some of our top art conservators, Britain’s heritage is slowly deteriorating, mouldering away in museums, stately homes and churches. Some of the nation’s treasures will be lost within a couple of years unless they are properly treated. Britain’s heritage is being exposed to the ravages of time, humidity and pollution because public institutions simply cannot afford to pay for its proper upkeep." The Times 12/04/02

Trying To Save What's Left of the Bamiyan Buddhas Efforts are underway to preserve what's left of the giant Bamiyan Buddhas, destroyed by the Taliban last year in Afghanistan. "Scaffolding will be erected to prevent the final collapse of the caves in which the giant statues stood for centuries. Local guards are on duty to combat further looting. And several countries are offering money and assistance to the international venture." According to UNESCO, "damage extends beyond the statues and artwork in the niches that housed them. In about 25 of 700 nearby caves, are remnants of Buddhist murals - but only an estimated 15 percent to 20 percent of what existed in the 1970s." Atlanta Journal-Constitution 11/29/02

Most Powerful List Short On Artists Who are the most powerful people in the artworld? ArtReview Magazine names them, but there are very few artists on the list. So who makes it? Mostly "collectors, businessmen, a pub landlady... The top 10 "list includes just one artist, German painter Gerhard Richter, with the rest mainly coming from the business sector. Advertising tycoon Charles Saatchi heads the list, which is chosen by critics, dealers and other experts, for his contribution to the British art scene." BBC 12/02/02

Italy On Sale? So the Italian government wants to 'lease or even sell off some of the national treasures"' in its care. Will the private sector do any better at managing them? The government "strongly denies that Italy’s world-famous culture is under threat," while critics fear that is. "At issue is a law passed in June, setting up an agency to make an inventory of state-owned monuments and 'artistic and cultural assets', with a view to selling them, leasing them or using them as security for loans. The measure was hotly contested by the centre left opposition." The Times (UK) 12/03/02

  • Never In England Could the British government try to sell its way out of financial hardship by doing an Italy, selling off assets? Couldn't happen. "The British genius, during nearly two centuries, has been in hiving off various parts of the cultural patrimony and placing them under the control of a motley crew of quangos, boards of trustees and other bodies that have the reputation of independence without, necessarily, the joy of it." The Times (UK) 12/03/02

A Distinct Pleasure (Not) "In the era of customized consumer capitalism, distinction is mass-produced, and connoisseurship has been democratized. The wide availability of a variety of beautiful, unusual things - at Pottery Barn, on eBay, at stores that turn the junk of earlier eras into today's collectibles - increases the pressure, the sense of responsibility, that attends every purchase. Like the food revolution, the design revolution is built on the lovely paradox that what is special should be available for everyone's enjoyment and that good taste can at last shed its residue of invidious social differences. Which means that indifference is unacceptable." New York Times Magazine 12/01/02