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  • - Top Arts News

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Week of July 23-30


  • BACH BIRTHDAY BASHES: "[July 28th] is the 250th anniversary of Bach's death. The classical music business treats big, round-number anniversaries of births and deaths as pretty much equivalent. And because Bach is Bach and because this anniversary coincides with the year 2000, it is likely to be the biggest classical music anniversary that any of us will live to experience. Indeed, the celebration has long begun." Los Angeles Times 07/23/00
    • ODE TO BACH: "He has been, in popular estimation, both the great avatar of conservative polyphony and one of the foundational geniuses of modernity. Those he influenced make the strangest of bedfellows: Mendelssohn and Schoenberg, Mozart and Chopin, Glenn Gould and Keith Jarrett." Washington Post 07/23/00
  • NAPSTER STAYS: A Big week for the website company the music industry fears.The music-sharing site was granted a reprieve at the last minute as a US judge stays the order to shut down. Toronto Globe and Mail 07/29/00
    • NAPSTER ORDERED PUT TO SLEEP: "In a scathing decision Wednesday afternoon, U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Patel granted the recording industry a temporary injunction to pull the service, effective Friday at 12 a.m. PDT." Wired 07/26/00
    • OUR COMPLETE NAPSTER ARCHIVE with all the developments of the past week (12 stories) 
  • CHAPTERS IN ARREARS: HarperCollins cuts off deliveries of books to Chapters, Canada's largest bookstore chain Chapters owes as much as $11- million in unpaid bills dating back to 1999, and there are fears the superstore bookseller may be in deep financial distress. National Post (Canada) 07/29/00
    • SO MUCH FOR THE EVIL EMPIRE: "The bankruptcy of Chapters would be a calamity that might set publishing back two decades. One publisher told me this week that about four out of five Canadian publishing houses will go under if Chapters goes bankrupt." National Post (Canada) 07/29/00
  • THE BIG BUSINESS OF NON-PROFIT: New York's Roundabout Theatre was almost bankrupt a few years ago. Tonight it moves into a new $25 million home and has money in the bank. "To some extent, the journey of this one nonprofit theater - from basement to Broadway, from bankruptcy to becoming the country's second-largest nonprofit theater with an annual budget of $20 million - stands as a powerful example of how much the world of nonprofit theater has changed." New York Times 07/27/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

    • DO WE HAVE TO MENTION THE SPONSOR? The Roundabout Theatre sold its name to American Airlines. The Wintergarden almost had "Cadillac" above the marquee. The arts love those corporate dollars. But at what price? Newsday 07/23/00 

  • COMBATING LOOTED ART: A committee of MPs in the English Parliament proposed laws yesterday to make it a criminal offense to trade in looted artifacts and stolen artwork. The move is to combat the growing illicit market for illegally exported objects, estimated at between £150 million and £2 billion a year. Suggested measures included setting up a national database of stolen art, expediting legislation to facilitate the return of Nazi-looted art, and allowing museum trustees to return human remains on display in British museums. The Guardian (London) 07/26/00

    • NEED HELP: "At present, there are no import controls on cultural property entering Britain unless they are subject to other controls, for example in relation to firearms – a position that many in the museums trade find untenable." The Independent (London) 07/26/00

  • JUST IN TIME: Stanley Kunitz will be named America's new Poet Laureate. What a birthday present - he turns 95 today. The nonagenarian is the 10th laureate in an impressive succession. He follows in the wake of Robert Penn Warren, Howard Nemerov, Mona Van Duyn, Rita Dove and Robert Hass. Robert Pinsky has been poet laureate for the last three years. Washington Post 07/30/00

  • WHO OWNS DANCE: The board of the beleaguered Martha Graham company wonders if Graham's work is really protected by copyright. They may go to court to find out. "The implications of such a ruling would be huge. Choreography was not explicitly protected by copyright law until 1978, so most works created before then would be affected. A ruling that there is no copyright protection would mean that anyone could perform such early Graham works as her 1944 masterpiece, 'Appalachian Spring.' " Washington Post 07/28/00

  • IS STEPHEN KING LEADING A REVOLUTION in book publishing, as he’d have us believe, or “just exploring the power of celebrity in the digital age?" After the success of his earlier e-tale, King releases his next e-novel - this time available in installments over the net. "The launch has touched off a debate over whether the Web can liberate authors from their dependence on publishers, or just make it easier for truly famous people to rally their fans.” New York Times 07/24/00 (one-time registration required for entry) 

    • 41,000 DOWNLOADS LATER, Stephen King has confirmed his faith in the popularity of internet publishing. Fans flocked to his website Monday as soon as the first installment of his new novel “The Plant” was posted. An amazing 78% abided by the honor system and actually paid the $1 download fee. 07/24/00 

    • THE HORROR: "King is one of about 25 fiction writers capable of pulling off this sort of thing: He has a substantial, loyal fan base; he has developed a solid relationship with his readers through his Web site and various fan organs; and he writes the kind of fiction that's really, really hard to stop reading once you start." Salon 07/25/00

  • ARTS WINDFALL: Britain’s Culture Secretary Chris Smith unveiled a huge funding package for the arts Tuesday to rejuvenate the country’s arts infrastructures - regional theatres in particular - that have suffered tremendously during more than twenty years of lackluster government support. The Arts Council of England will receive an extra £100m a year from 2003, the biggest increase in funding in its 44-year history. “What it says is that access to arts and creativity is a basic, like health and education.” The Guardian (London) 07/26/00

    • AND THE SQUEAKY WHEEL… Arts Council Chairman Gerry Robinson has been lobbying the government for an extra £100 million in arts funding for months - and yesterday’s announcement proves they heard him loud and clear. “He badgered the Prime Minister and Chancellor to the point where, he believes, "I seriously p***ed people off. At the end of the day, someone like Blair or Brown will say, 'Oh, for Chrissakes just give them the money.' " The Telegraph (London) 07/26/00

PLUS: American internet investor and opera lover Alberto Vilar donates record $2 million to La Scala ~ High rents drive Santa Monica artists out of their spaces ~ Plans underway to restore 350 year-old garden at Taj Mahal ~ Actor Kevin Spacey starts new company to raise funds for UK theatres ~ Pavarotti makes $17 million settlement with Italian tax collectors ~ Deadly West Nile virus scare forces cancellation of New York Philharmonic concert in Central Park ~ Boston teamsters accused of pressuring Massachusetts movie producers to  use union crews on locations ~ The World Trade Organization rules small stores and bars in the US must pay royalties to musicians if they use music in their businesses ~ Two board members at Fort Worth's Kimbell Museum pocket a large share of the museum's money, paying themselves about $1.5 million a year for board services ~  French director Claude Sautet dies at age 76 ~ Star violinist Oscar Shumsky dies in New York at age 83



  • BODY BEAUTIFUL: Artists have been grappling with issues of beauty since there were first artists. "Who defines the body beautiful, and how has this definition been affected by feminism, multiculturalism, mass media and new technologies? If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, what kinds of images still have the power to produce such sensory experience?" New York Times 07/23/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • THE "POPE OF LITERATURE": "Marcel Reich-Ranicki is not merely the most influential literary critic in Germany - the country which created modern criticism - he is also an educator and an impresario of literature; the man who has made housewives read serious novels and poetry. By exploiting the postmodern media, he has enabled millions of ordinary Germans to rediscover the pre-modern pleasures of the literary imagination." Prospect 07/25/00
  • OUTSIDE THE BOOM: London's museums are booming these days. But outside the capital it's quite a different story. "It is no secret that many of our large regional museums - Bristol, Exeter, Cheltenham, Leeds, Leicester and, most important of all, Glasgow - are in serious financial difficulties, as indeed are many university museums." The Telegraph (London) 07/30/00
  • A HISTORY OF LOOKING AT SCULPTURE: "Most modern sculpture - and its sidekick, installation - occupies space in a quite aggressive way." Historically, sculpture didn't always do that. "From the Renaissance until the 19th century, statues tended to be placed flat against walls or in niches that neatly framed them. Viewers were expected to contemplate them from a relatively fixed position, as if they were pictures." New Statesman 07/24/00
  • ALL ROADS LEAD TO THE BLOB? "Computer technology is rapidly changing the environment for architects as well as for businesses and nations. How are they adapting to it? In what form will architecture survive?" New York Times 07/23/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • FATHER OF MODERN DANCE: This year marks the 50th anniversary of Nijinsky's death. His choreography is a study in grace and brutality, in his "madness" he invented modern dance, he was 50 years ahead of his time, his life was an erotic spectacle - narcissistic, instinctive, free - and his work captured the emerging rhythm of mind for a generation that was heading into the fearsome carnival of the Great War. But Nijinsky was a sleek gazelle trotting round the edge of a precipice; he was a primitive: how did he come to be the patron saint of modern art? The Telegraph (London) 07/30/00
  • THE CULTURE WARS: "There is a direct connection between the ethics of a society and its architecture and art. Today's culture of ugliness and 'geography of nowhere' need to be replaced by a physical and cultural environment that enchants life, inspires faith, and encourages learning. The spiritual and evangelical communion more and more Americans seek requires a cultural language that artists and poets alone can provide." The Idler 07/27/00
  • WHO OWNS A DANCE? Increasing sophistication about preserving the legacy of dance is creating a welter of problems for dance companies wishing to revive older choreography. “There was a time when the chief impediment to reviving dances was that the work was out of fashion. Now, death and the notion of ownership have seemingly created even more insurmountable problems.” New York Times 07/26/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • A RESURGENCE IN BRITISH ART: "Despite the dreary, outdated prejudices of some of our burnt-out critics, tabloid hacks and politicians from all parties, it is clear that the arts, including museums and galleries, have never been more interesting or more popular and have never played such a significant role in national life as they do today. Recent MORI research for the Arts Council showed huge public support for the arts, with 78 per cent believing that the arts play a valuable role in the life of the nation, and 95 per cent believing that children should have more opportunities to experience the arts at school." New Statesman 07/24/00
    • ON THE OTHER HAND: "The first task is to shift spending away from institutions and into individuals and art itself. What is the point of having some of the most well-appointed theatres and galleries in Europe if there is nothing to put on in them? Throughout the Thatcher years arts bureaucracy grew while the work withered. That has to change." The Guardian 07/24/00
  • TELLING STORIES: Saul Bellow, Arthur Miller, Philip Rother, John Updike - they're all old and they're all American. "But they have two further features in common. First, they are all prophetic; they map, analyse and judge the condition of their nation and they consider its future. Second, they are, in this, completely unlike any British writers. We simply do not have a single writer of stature who feels obliged to tell our national story. Sunday Times 07/30/00
  • WE ARE THE WORLD: "The one discipline you might expect to be free of such internecine squabbling is the big tent of World Music, a generic term used to describe just about anything outside the mainstream. But even here the canvas is being rent, as rival interests - from different continents to distinct countries to particular regions (or, if you're part of Morocco's notoriously fractious Master Musicians of Jajouka, individuals) - fight for the right to partake in what is, following the success of Buena Vista Social Club, a veritable pot of gold." Sunday Times (London) 07/30/00
  • THE "MIGHTY HANDBAG"? London's Victoria and Albert Museum has seen a dramatic fall-off in attendance in recent decades and it's been overshadowed by the city's other museums. Now it's being criticized for its plans for a dramatic £80 million extension designed by Daniel Libeskind. One critic likens Libeskind's revolutionary design to "the Guggenheim in Bilbao turned on its side and then beaten senseless with a hammer" (it is nothing of the sort)" Other "stick-in-the-muds will feel all the more justified in their belief that the V&A will be, as Dorment puts it, 'visually raped'." The Guardian (London) 07/27/00

    • VISITING DANIEL LIBESKIND: Libeskind's proposal of a crumpled spiral addition between the thoroughly Victorian buildings of London's Victoria and Albert Museum was something of a scandal when it was unveiled in 1996. Now it looks like it may compete with the Bilbao Guggenheim for attention." The Telegraph (London) 07/23/00

PLUS: Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri on the elusive nature of identity politics ~ Why do embassies seem to bring out the worst in architects?  ~ Jerusalem's greatest 19th century forger ~ How Russian theatre has survived and thrived ~ Has beauty really descended into ugliness?  



  • FOND REMEMBRANCES: Van Cliburn is 66 and making still another comeback, with a concert at Tanglewood. "Mr. Cliburn gives the impression of being utterly content now and not too inclined to excavate the past afresh. He lets on at one point, as if revealing a deep family secret, that he's thinking about performing Bach again, the E minor Partita, maybe, and he floats a program for a scheduled Chopin recital in Boston that is so preposterously long that it sounds like a fantasy of a young pianist in the first flush of success - as if, no matter how stressful the stage may have been all those years, it is still the locus of his imagination." New York Times 07/30/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • RIGHT TO ALTER: When Charles M. Schulz retired from drawing "Peanuts" he said no one else would ever draw the cartoon. But some recent repeats of the strip have been altered adding current events references. So when is it okay to change the work of a deceased artist? Intellectual Capital 07/20/00

  • EXHIBITION ETHICS: “Do you cancel a play if it provokes violence on the streets? Do you accept an exhibition of paintings collected by a businessman jailed for defrauding shareholders?” Such ethical dilemmas were discussed Monday at 'Turn up the Heat', an ethics conference of arts administrators in Sydney. Sydney Morning Herald 07/26/00



  • GETTING BOOZED FOR BEETHOVEN: "Alcohol and creativity have always staggered along together. We are never surprised when we hear tales of pissed pop stars, inebriated artists, wasted writers. For many, though, it comes as a surprise that classical musicians carry a similar collection of tales and troubles. Set against the rough excess of pop, classical music is seen as a pure and civilising experience." The Guardian (London) 07/28/00

  • THE "CONCEPT CAR" PIANO: "At $250,000 (or £170,000), Yamaha's Disklavier Pro 2000 is not merely the most stylistically radical and technologically advanced piano in the world, it is easily the most expensive, too." Yamaha makes it to celebrate 100 years in the biz. The Sunday Times 07/30/00

  • A LITTLE-KNOWN PICASSO MUSEUM north of Madrid has sixty of the master’s artworks - all of which were donated by Eugenio Arias, the Spanish barber who cut Picasso’s hair for 26 years while both men lived in the south of France. It pays to barter - Arias always took his payments in trade. The Age (Melbourne) 07/24/00 (AP)