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  • - Top Arts News

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  • PAY-PER LISTEN: This week EMI begins selling music over the internet. As battles over copyright rage, the giant recording company decides to try offering its recordings in downloadable format. BBC 07/16/00 

  • THE RELENTLESS MARCH OF THE DOT-COMMIES: Dozens of San Francisco arts organizations and hundreds of artists have lost their leases as the city's landlords go after dot-com tenants. By one count, half the city's remaining arts organizations' leases are up for renewal this year. San Francisco Bay-Guardian 07/13/00 

    • DOT-PATRONS? "Think of the impact a handful of newly minted multimillionaires could have on the local arts scene if they pooled just a bit of their dough. I'd like to propose a new kind of Rockefeller institution: A dot-com coalition of rich citizens dedicated to giving money back to the arts community that they are (unintentionally) helping evict." Salon 07/14/00

  • GRAHAM DANCERS SPEAK OUT: The Martha Graham Company dispute has turned nasty, with the company's board and its artistic director publicly feuding. And the dancers? "Since the board voted to close shop, they have had no work, no pay and no daily classes to maintain the technique so crucial to performing Graham's dances. But they had mostly kept quiet about it. Until now. In a statement issued this week, the dancers are calling for a boycott of the same choreography that they have striven to perfect." Washington Post 07/12/00

    • DANCE SOLIDARITY: Dancers of the now-disbanded Martha Graham Company will release a letter today asking that "any dance company currently licensed to perform the choreographer's work refrain from doing so until the Graham dancers themselves have come to a workable agreement with the Martha Graham Trust and director Ron Protas and are able to resume their own performance of Graham's pieces." Chicago Sun-Times 07/10/00

  • BLOOD SPILLS AT BBC: The BBC will ax 900 jobs over the next three years. The corporation says the move will result in "a flatter, more coherent and more co-operative BBC. Overall we are now confident that these new changes...will give us a great deal more money to spend on our programmes and services over the next five or six years, something like £750 million over the period." BBC 07/10/00

  • DON'T PISS OFF THE CENSORS: "China's film censors have blackballed popular actor-director Jiang Wen because his award-winning film was judged to be unpatriotic. A well-placed source in China's cinema world said Jiang, who won this year's Grand Prix jury prize at the Cannes film festival with 'Guizi Lai Le', had been banned from acting or filming in China, or even appearing on television for seven years." China Times (Taiwan) 07/14/00

  • INSIDE JOB: At least 150 rare antiquarian books and artworks were stolen from the Japanese embassy in London by the very man employed over the last three years to organize the valuable collection. Recovery will be difficult since the discovery came months after the collection had already been sold through auctions at Christie's. Japan Times 07/11/00

  • "WORSE THAN THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION": China's booming tourist industry is threatening most of its precious cultural heritage and natural beauty, according to experts at a heritage preservation conference sponsored jointly by the government, the World Bank and UNESCO in Beijing last week. China Times (Taiwan) 07/10/00

  • ODE TO MALE: Iran holds it first big music festival, but a proposed performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony is scrubbed. "We will not perform the Ninth, because it calls for women's voices and that is banned under Islamic law." BBC Music 07/10/00

  • "ENTERTAINMENT" BAN: Canadian news and documentary crews say that for the past two years American immigration officers have made it difficult for them to get into the US. Many crews have been denied entry. "Officials in the U.S. say they are enforcing a policy which allows them to bar foreign film crews who want to shoot 'commercial entertainment' in the US But Canadians say the policy is being widely used to delay film crews working on 'information programs.' " CBC 07/16/00

PLUS: British Museum threatens to institute a £1 admission charge to compensate for taxes it loses on its operations ~ The Japan Art Association gives its Praemium Imperiale Award to two American and three European artists ~ Hirshhorn Museum picks a new chief curator ~  Archeologists have uncovered a colonial theatre at Williamsburg that counted Washington and Jefferson among its patrons ~ First satellite radio is in orbit ~ A Comic book writer is told to pay a hockey player $24 million after the writer uses the name of the hockey player as a character in a comic book ~ Canadian baritone Louis Quilico dies at age 75 after complications from surgery.


  • FAILURE TO TRANSMIT: Recent performances by the New York Philharmonic of Stephen Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd" left audiences cheering. Yet despite a lot of trying, concert organizers were unable to get a recording or public television broadcast out of the deal. Why? "The recording not happening can be chalked up to the general crisis in the industry." New York Times 07/16/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • THE JOYCE INDUSTRY: More exciting than a dotcom (and more profitable too), the cult around perpetuating James Joyce is a big and fascinating business. New Statesman 07/10/00  

  • WHEN SAID MET SARTRE: Edward Said met Jean Paul Sartre in 1979: "For my generation he [Sartre] has always been one of the great intellectual heroes of the 20th century, a man whose insight and intellectual gifts were at the service of nearly every progressive cause of our time. Yet he seemed neither infallible nor prophetic. On the contrary, one admired Sartre for the efforts he made to understand situations and, when necessary, to offer solidarity to political causes. He was never condescending or evasive, even if he was given to error and overstatement. Nearly everything he wrote is interesting for its sheer audacity, its freedom (even its freedom to be verbose) and its generosity of spirit." London Review of Books 06/00

  • BAD REVIEWS CAN RUIN YOU: "It has long been known that writers suffer from a much higher incidence of mood disorders, including depression and mania, than other people. The precise medical reason for this has never been adequately explained. But [an anthropologist] believes it is because writing is less a true expression of the artist's life (except in the case of the daily diarist) than it is a form of compensation and redress for denied satisfactions." National Post (Canada) 07/13/00

  • MAKING OVER THE MAKEOVER: London's Royal Opera House has finished its first season after a £200 million makeover. Was it worth it? Well, "the ROH is, first of all, seen as the home of the toffs and fat cats, whose lush, velvet pleasures are paid for by the sweat of the working man. Second, it is technically incompetent, with shows routinely being cancelled. And third, it is a gilded cage full of bitching queens and grandes dames, all of whom regularly flounce out of meetings and lock themselves, sobbing, in the loo." The Sunday Times (London) 07/16/00

  • RESTORATION FOR THE REAL WORLD: The former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan is restoring Bukhara, a stop on the ancient 'Silk Road' trading route that became an Islamic center of learning. "Restorers desperately want to maintain the city's vitality and avoid the mistakes that turned the historic center of Samarkand, a Silk Road city 150 miles to the east, into a gleaming, but lifeless museum piece." CNN 07/10/00

  • RADIO FOR ONE:  Internet radio is music to the ears of many listeners tired of the predictable hit-list programming of mainstream radio. But whereas traditional radio is an inherently mass medium uniting listeners on common musical ground, "the very multiplicity that makes Net radio so appealing also makes it somewhat depressing. If Net radio delivers us from everything banal and venal about analog radio, it also endangers what's vital about old-fashioned broadcasting." The New Republic 07/17/00

  • WHY DOES ART COST WHAT IT COSTS? "Art has always been a cyclical market. This is hardly surprising: the products may be beautiful, but can rarely be considered essential and are often driven by fickle taste. According to, the value of paintings sold peaked in 1990 at $4.5 billion dollars. From there, economies around Europe and America shrank by less than one percent, but art sales collapsed to less than $1.5 billion in less than two years." So what's driving today's prices? The Art Newspaper 07/14/00

  • FROM PAPER TO THE REAL WORLD: He's one of the world's most celebrated architects, but so far he hasn't had much built to show for it. Now Rem Koolhaas's buildings are starting to pop up everywhere and he's at the forefront of what has become "arguably the most exciting branch of culture." New York Times Magazine 07/09/00

  • REMEMBERING RUSKIN: What was it that made John Ruskin the greatest art and social critic of the Victorian age? A new book is great at exploring his life; less successful at capturing his rhetorical lightning. Boston Globe 07/16/00

  • IN RAY CARVER'S MEMORY: "The role of the famous writer's widow is an awkward one. She is the custodian of the work. She is responsible for the placement of archives, the decision about what remaining material should or should not be released to the world; the keeper of the flame. Tess Gallagher says it was never her intention to become simply 'a function of Ray's absence'. As much as she was Carver's spouse, she is also a writer herself." The Telegraph (London) 07/16/00

PLUS:  Why has Britain produced a couple of generations of excellent cellists? ~ New generation of performance artists definitely shifted toward entertainment—or, at least, the proscenium ~ America's top libraries Photography becomes art in Russia ~ Maria Callas' duds will be auctioned in Paris in December ~ One of Soho's venerable art buildings goes dark.


  • UNTANGLING THE AURALS: Some of the more complicated scores of the 20th Century are difficult to understand by just hearing them. Now an attempt to add multi-media to untangle the aurals. "When you look at a string quartet score you can see what each instrument is playing. That allows you to look at the structure of the piece in more detail. We're trying to create a modern score, a score that can communicate very quickly to people what's happening in the piece." New York Times 07/14/00 (one-time registration required for entry) 

  • SQUATTERS' RIGHTS? In the 1960s a group of artists took over an abandoned ruined hill town in Italy and over the next 40 years made it into something of an artists colony/tourist attraction. Now the Italian wants to evict the artists and restore the town to a ruin. The Independent (London) 07/16/00



  • ODE TO GEEKS: Geeks are getting a lot of attention these days. "Some constants emerge from geek studies. Geeks are almost always depicted as deficient in traditional social skills but as possessing some special gift or talent in recompense. Writers tend to be divided over which side of this equation should be emphasized (usually to the exclusion of the other). Some fear that the spread of geekdom means an irreparable hole is being torn in the social fabric; others see geekdom as a less hidebound and authoritarian society in the making." The Atlantic Unbound 07/00

  • HOW CAN YOU IMAGINE I WROTE THAT? A story in an Italian magazine purporting to be by Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez on how he is dying of cancer, moved a publisher to contact Marquez's agent to get reprint rights. The note back was incisive: "García Márquez is ashamed that this rubbish might be considered as a text written by him. It has gone around the world and I have no means of righting this usurpation of his name. It seems to proceed from a Colombian actor whom I hope I will never run into or I will insult him as he deserves." Sydney Morning Herald 07/14/00

  • THE ART OF COLLECTING: Collecting art for a museum is an "exhilarating, suspenseful, satisfying and frustrating" game. Some of the more interesting acquisitions come through unlikely means... Chicago Tribune 07/16/00