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  • - Top Arts News

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  • - Of Special Note

  • - Just for Fun


  • OPERA BOOM: The number of opera production in North America has doubled in the past decade, says a report by Opera America. "The 166 professional opera companies Opera America polled — including the Metropolitan Opera, the Canadian Opera Company and the San Francisco Opera — have increased their domestic productions from 31 in the 1990–91 season to 60 in the 1999–2000 season." Sonicnet 08/24/00

    • ARTS BOOM: The arts are booming in Singapore, according to a new report. "Performance arts activities jumped from 1,500 in 1989 to 3,800 in 1999. For visual arts, the number of exhibitions went up from 212 to 406 in the same period." Singapore News 08/27/00

  • MATERIALS ARE EVERYTHING: Wednesday, the British Museum revealed it had been "duped" by a stonemason who had used cheaper stone than had been agreed upon for a new $97 million portico under construction at the British Museum. But evidently the switch was discovered a year ago and workers were allowed to continue. Now everyone is "aghast" at the mismatch in stone color as the scaffolding is being removed. The Guardian 08/25/00
    • NOW FUNDING WOES: Britain's Lottery, which is helping to fund the new British Museum portico to the tune of £15.75 million, said it will withhold £2 million because the right stone was not used. London Evening Standard 08/25/00
  • NOT THE WRITE POLICY: The government of Scotland announced its long-awaited cultural strategy. "Aimed at providing a blueprint for the future of Scotland’s culture, key promises included an additional £7 million for the arts over the next three years, a feasibility study for a national theatre, support for a film studio and an audit of the nation’s museums and galleries." But why no mention of Scottish writers? The Scotsman 08/21/00

  • ATLANTA BALLET TO REPLACE MUSICIANS: Musicians of the Atlanta Ballet orchestra have been on strike for 11 months. This week, six weeks before its season opens, the Atlanta Ballet says it will hire musicians from the Czech Republic for an October premiere and the annual holiday "Nutcracker." Atlanta Journal-Constitution 08/24/00

  • MOVIE THEATRES IN TROUBLE: Can a whole industry declare bankruptcy? Movie theatre companies are filing for court protection after building too many megaplexes in recent years. "Edwards Theatres said Wednesday it filed for Chapter 11. Carmike Cinemas did the same a few weeks ago, and Regal Cinemas, the nation's biggest chain, gave notice it may not be far behind. Meanwhile, United Artists is trying to hash out a deal with its bankers and bondholders in lieu of an outright bankruptcy filing." Variety 08/24/00

  • APRIL FOOLING: Hollywood fully expects to be hit with writers' and actors' strikes next summer - and predictions are they'll be long strikes. So production is in full bore now to complete projects before work stops. April 1 is the deadline they're racing to make. "It's not a question of if there are going to be strikes. It's a question of what are you going to do about it." Variety 08/21/00

  • NEW ARTS TELEVISION INITIATIVE: BBC chief announces major new initiative to revamp the public broadcaster. "BBC3 would target younger viewers with home-grown comedy, drama and music and BBC4 would be an "unashamedly intellectual mixture of Radio 3 and Radio 4 on television". He said that the 800,000 visitors to the Monet exhibition at the Royal Academy last summer and the huge popularity of Tate Modern proved that there was a potential audience for a channel for 'arts, ideas and in-depth discussion'." The Telegraph (London) 08/26/00

  • ART SCHOOL TO SUE VENICE BIENNALE: China's Sichuan Academy of Fine Art - one of China’s three major art schools - says it intends to sue the Venice Biennale, curator Harald Szeeman, and artist Cai Guo Qiang (who won the Biennale's 1999 International Prize) for violation of copyright. "Behind the suit are a group of elderly propaganda artists enraged at Cai’s appropriation of their work" in Cai Guo Qiang's “Venice Rent Collector’s Courtyard.” The Art Newspaper 08/25/00

  • NATIONAL GALLERY CANCELS SHOWS: The National Gallery of Canada has canceled two big shows planned for next year. The reason? Money. "The deficit for the 1998-99 fiscal year was $5.4 million, almost half of which can be attributed to a drop in funds from Parliament. Gallery officials earlier this year had predicted the 1999-2000 fiscal year deficit would be lower, but the figures have yet to be made public." And to make it worse, the current "blockbuster" impressionist show only brought in 74 percent of expected attendance. Ottawa Citizen 08/25/00

  • KENNEDY CENTER AWARDS are announced: dance Mikhail Baryshnikov, tenor Plácido Domingo, actress Angela Lansbury, rock 'n' roller Chuck Berry, and the actor/director Clint Eastwood. New York Times 08/23/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • MY RICH UNCLE IN MANHATTAN: British cultural institutions are increasingly looking to donors in the US for funding. "London’s Royal Academy was the first to break ground in the US in 1983. Since then they have received close to $32 million in donations. The Tate has followed, formally opening an office in Manhattan last September. The fact that their parent bodies are 3,000 miles away seems no impediment to raising millions of dollars in record time." The Art Newspaper 08/25/00

PLUS: The European Union adopts the use of simplified German in business ~  New WWII monument to be built on Lincoln Memorial grounds in Washington DC. ~ Damien Hirst's newest work: "Contemplating a Self Portrait (as a Pharmacist)" ~ Professional golfer Tiger Woods sues Alabama artist over painting from 1997 Master's tournament ~ American movies steamroll national films at French summer box office ~ Devoted Stephen King fans send in extra cash to cover download readers not abiding by honor system ~ Boston artists form coalition to fight development of their district ~ Miss Saigon to close after ten years on Broadway



  • HI TO HIGH CULTURE: "High" culture is wildly popular right now, and isn't that what artists have been fighting for? "Public enthusiasm for art, music, theater, and dance is raising some highbrow eyebrows, however. Academics, connoisseurs, and critics maintain that as arts organizations market themselves to draw new audiences, the quality of their offerings has been 'dumbed down'. 'Popularity is not necessarily a measure of success in the arts."  Too many institutions are compromising their standards as they scramble to respond to 'bottom-line pressures that reared their ugly heads in the 1990s'.'' Boston Globe 08/27/00

  • SHOCK OF THE NEW: What is it about being shocked that artists and viewers find so...invigorating? "Notoriously, ever since the dawn of Impressionism, modern art has delivered the shock of the new. Whether you find it a bracing blast of novelty or a dastardly attack on everything sacred is partly a matter of temperament - and taste." The Telegraph (London) 08/26/00

  • FORGOTTEN BIRTHDAY: This week is the 100th anniversary of the birth of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. He easily makes the Top Ten list of philosophers, and even has a degree of name recognition among the general public. "So where are the Nietzsche symposiums, the exhibitions, the 900-page reassessments? Where are the T-shirts?" The Globe and Mail 08/24/00

  • THE MAKING OF MAHLER: "Is there a case to be made against Mahler's legend, if not his music? How has his entry into Valhalla changed the way we listen and the way composers think? With his monumentalism, his fanaticism, his unstinting idealism, and his unstinting egotism, he has not always been what school counsellors call 'a good influence'. He left in his wake a series of inimitable, much-imitated masterpieces and a great deal of confusion about what a composer is supposed to do." London Review of Books 08/21/00

  • WRITERLY RETIREMENT: Dancers, athletes and musicians retire. But what about writers? "Computer keyboards are not retired. Career best-seller records do not lead to teary stadium send-offs. The creative force that drives writing may still burn, but the energy to promote a book fades like the pitching arm of a middle-aged hurler. In some ways, mulling a writerly finale seems a bit morbid.  New York Times 08/23/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • DAMAGES FROM RESTORATION: Scientists tell the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society that "collectors and curators have been unknowingly using risky techniques that cause the polymers forming their paints to fall apart. Poor preservation techniques, including the cleaning of paintings using harsh chemicals, could soften and deform the paint." Ananova 08/24/00

  • WRITING BEHIND BARS: "For almost as long as there have been prisons, prisoners have turned author for diversion, creative expression, solace, penance, vindication, vengeance and release (physically and metaphysically). But their works have rarely been examined as a genre, and for what they reveal about the literary impulse behind bars." New York Times 08/26/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • BORN TO LEAD: Where are all the great conductors? "Why has the field become so mundane? Perhaps the cult of the conductor is essentially a 19th-century phenomenon; perhaps post-war Western society, no longer able to believe in benevolent political dictatorship, has become wary of its musical counterpart, too." National Post (Canada) 08/22/00

  • ANOTHER WAY: Dave Eggers' McSweeney's Books intends to cut out the middlemen between writer and reader. It's traditional hardback publishing, not e-books, although the writer doesn't get an advance, he gets "whatever remains after printing costs and incidentals, not to mention foreign sales, film sales, etc. Eggers isn't taking a dime." 08/21/00

  • ODE TO PIERRE BOULEZ: "To those who whine, who doubt his importance to our times and to the future - a warning. To Boulez we owe the most influential musical changes of our lifetime - as a conductor, composer, educator, programme planner and superior being, he has embraced an international state of artistic achievement, and wrestled, built and triumphed on all our behalfs. He has educated a whole generation of musicians - and happily, ecstatically even, it was mine - evangelising for rhythm and form over mere miasma of sound or texture, and has been bold for all who would be creative, insisting on rigour in intellect, opinion, art and its practice." The Scotsman 08/23/00

  • THE FUTURE OF MUSIC: "Within the music industry it is widely believed that much of the physical infrastructure of music - compact discs, automobile cassette-tape players, shopping-mall megastores - is rapidly being replaced by the Internet and a new generation of devices with no moving parts. By 2003, according to the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Investment Research Group, listeners will rarely if ever drive to Tower Records for their music. Instead they will tap into a vast cloud of music on the Net. This heavenly jukebox, as it is sometimes called, will hold the contents of every record store in the world, all of it instantly accessible from any desktop." The Atlantic 08/00

PLUS: Alec Guinness's all-encompassing humanity ~ The local theatre critic who went beyond just giving bad reviews ~ Who is the greatest actor in the English-speaking world? ~ The power of low budget, art house Japanese mini-theaters ~ Beckett on the big screen: making movies of all 19 of Beckett’s dramas ~ Rudy Giuliani and the re-implementation of New York's cabaret law ~ The Shaw Festival's feisty, foul-mouthed and empassioned director 



  • JUDGING WORK: "Readers and writers of the past - not just the geniuses, either; the intelligent, alert ones who kept current as we all like to think we do - remind us how culture and taste change. And why. What aesthetic, social and intellectual needs do beliefs serve in their time? Which ones serve us now, and why?" New York Times 08/21/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • CYBER-ACTING: The technology is here to allow producers to use digital actors instead of live ones. Does that mean real actors will be out of work? "Producers and directors who think virtual actors will be easier to work with than their human counterparts are also deluding themselves. The truth is that instead of one creative temperament or sensibility to deal with, you have 50. It's simply better and cheaper to use a real actor." Backstage 08/23/00



  • DRESS CODES FOR FAT FIDDLERS: Leonard Slatkin spoke up about the proper attire for women violinists in his orchestra: "I tend to favour covered arms, especially among the violinists. You don't want to see too much flapping about. Then there's the problem of women in trousers. If you're slightly heavy in the rear end department, it does not look too good. Of course, not everyone acknowledges that and no one's going to tell them, which is why we need an across-the-board rule."  The Times (London) 08/23/00

    • STAND AND DELIVER: Conductor Leonard Slatkin took his lumps from female musicians after making sexist comments about the proper concert attire for women. The Guardian (London) 08/25/00
    • Slatkin's remarks "prove is that in the orchestra pit, as in every other walk of life, it is always open season on women. Men, by contrast, tend to be mutually protective of one another. We will know we have achieved true equality when they congregate anxiously at social events, sucking in their stomachs and asking: 'Does my belly look big in this?' " The Guardian (London) 08/25/00
  • PAVAROTTI SPEAKS: About taxes, about his new young companion, about his weight - "I am very chubby. I make a competition for very young singers. If someone comes out who is chubby like me, he must sing like a god." New York Times Magazine 08/21/00