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  • - Top Arts News

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  • NEW DANCE COMPANY: Cleveland San Jose Ballet company dancers vote to form a new company and relocate to San Jose. The Cleveland San Jose company was shut down last week after failing to raise enough money to continue. The new company will be called Ballet San Jose of Silcon Valley and open its new season October 12. San Francisco Examiner 09/16/00

  • BARNES COLLECTION ON VERGE OF CLOSING: Pennsylvania's Barnes Collection, which has one of the best Impressionist collections in the US, has blown through its $10 million endowment and has about six months left before it is completely out of money and has to close. "The Barnes cashed in the last of its endowment a year ago after running up a $5.3 million cash deficit in the last three years, tax filings show." Philadelphia Inquirer 09/10/00

    • CRY FOR HELP: The Barnes Collection is in trouble again. The museum has 2000 works of art valued at $6 billion. But it's broke, and museum officials have declared an emergency. "People don't believe it when I say we don't have any more money. They ask about the [$10 million] endowment and I have to tell them it's gone." The New York Times 09/17/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • FTC releases violence-in-entertainment report blasting the entertainment industry. US Senate holds hearings on violence in entertainment. For complete coverage, visit our new Culture Wars/US Election page.  

  • CHASING BETTER RATINGS: Eight prominent Hollywood directors advocate scrapping the current movie ratings system, saying that it is unworkable. In its place, they propose a ratings system that would apply to all popular culture. Washington Post 09/15/00 

  • WHITE MEN ONLY: Why are only 12 percent of the architects in the UK women? And why are there only about 100 architects from black and ethnic minority backgrounds in a profession of 27,000? That is an appalling statistic. Where, for example, are all the second-generation children of the Ugandan Asians who are making such strides in other professions such as the law, accountancy or medicine?" The Telegraph (London) 09/16/00

  • A BASE GRANT FOR ARTS: Edinburgh's summer Festival draws the best artists from around the world. Makes one critic wonder about the state of Scottish arts: "The arts have been ill-served down the years by successive governments. Over the last decade, leaving aside additional funding for the National Companies, we have seen a base grant to the arts in Scotland rise... a niggardly 1.1% a year, not only way below inflation, but less than any comparable public sector area." The Scotsman 09/15/00

  • CLOSE CALL: London’s Millennium Dome received a last-minute reprieve from demolition plans Wednesday, after its financial backers cited “grave financial consequences” if it were to close early. The Independent (London) 09/14/00

  • CENSORSHIP LIST: Harry Potter, Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings", J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye", John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" and Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" were among the most-singled-out books adults wanted removed from American library shelves in the 1990s says the American Library Association. Ottawa Citizen (AP) 09/13/00

  • DOWNLOADING DONS: Attorney General Janet Reno said Tuesday that organized crime's intellectual property infringement should be prosecuted as vigorously as other serious crimes like drug trafficking and money laundering. Recent busts (like last week’s in New York in which 35,000 counterfeit CDs were seized) have shown organized crime’s turn from drugs to software for profits. Wired 09/12/00

  • OPERA'S BEST FRIEND: High-tech investor Alberto Vilar - a friend of Placido Domingo - has given $24 million to the Los Angeles Opera, the Mariinsky Opera and Ballet of St. Petersburg, Russia to fund permanent traveling productions. Nando Times (AP) 0/12/00

    • OPERA ANGEL: Vilar's L.A. Opera donation breaks down into two parts - $6 million will go for new productions over three years, starting in 2001. One million dollars a year over the next four years will support and expand the company's training and coaching program for young singers. These donations come on the heels of a separate Vilar pledge to L.A. Opera of $2 million, announced by its new artistic director Placido Domingo on Monday. Los Angeles Times 09/13/00

    • THE PLACIDO PLAN: Domingo announced plans to transform the Los Angeles Opera with a series of initiatives, including an ongoing relationship with the Kirov. "In addition, Domingo promises to make good on his previously expressed intentions to tap the Hollywood talent pool and reach out to the Latino community, as well as to expand the company's training program for young artists." Los Angeles Times 09/12/00

  • HIGH TIMES FOR SMITHSONIAN: The Smithsonian is setting attendance fundraising records. "Overall attendance at the Washington and New York facilities for the first eight months of this year totaled 26.1 million, compared with 23.5 million for the same period in 1999." The Smithsonian raised $200 million last year and its endowment is close to a record $755 million and has grown by $100 million a year over the last two years. Washington Post 0912/00

PLUS: La Scala fans hold a candlelight vigil to protest the opera house’s recent decision to replace its popular standing-room section with seats ~ "Cats" closes on Broadway after nearly 18 years and a record 7,485 performances ~ Cleveland Orchestra hires its first-ever black woman player ~ Hong Kong Philharmonic appoints its first-ever local born music director ~ Wales is "in serious danger of being relegated to the second division of arts and culture because of lack of funding" ~ Schwann catalog, the bible of recordings releases, ceases quarterly publication to go annual with ongoing web updates ~ US Government comes out against legality of Napster ~ Boston Ballet names Maina Gielgud as the company's new artistic artistic director ~ Houston Symphony names Hans Graf to succeed Christophe Eschenbach as music director ~ Chicago Symphony musicians sign a new contract, making them the highest-paid orchestra musicians in the US. 


  • BUYING THE MUSEUM EXPERIENCE: "Museum retailing, an emblem and essence of the thriving American art museum of the 1990s, is going through turbulent times, rocked by competition in the marketplace and from cyberspace, and changing consumer shopping habits." Boston Globe 09/15/00

  • BORING! So we're back to being offended about violence in entertainment again. But what a a paper issue. "Some of the current sanctimony is sincere. But come on: since the 1960s, if not earlier, the cultural contradictions of capitalism have been the cultural contradictions of capitalism. Our ferociously efficient free-market system, the one bubbling along so nicely just now that Al Gore will be elected president, requires revenue maximization, which means every prospective buyer of every legal, medically safe product must be targeted. 09/13/00

  • AN EYE FOR CLUTTER: Francis Bacon's studio will be reconstructed exactly the way he left it and moved to Dublin to be put on display. "The curators will re-create the studio down to the precise positions where Bacon left an old newspaper or dropped a gob of paint. Most of the walls are original, with some inscrutable handwritten notes Bacon sent to himself as reminders of how to organise his compositions." The Sunday Times (London) 09/17/00

  • SO YOU'RE GOING TO COMPOSE AND OPERA... Composer John Williams was startled to read in the press earlier this week that he is going to write an opera for Placido Domingo and the Los Angeles Opera. Williams concedes he's talked with Domingo about a project but that nothing has been agreed upon. "Better minds than mine have tried opera and not been successful - it is an art that has had difficulty renewing itself, especially in this country. Boston Globe 09/15/00

  • THE MEANING OF ART: What is it about Tracey Emin, anyway? What makes what she does "art"? "If she decides that a tent with the names of 102 people she’s slept with is art, that’s her prerogative. That unmade bed, for instance, 'illustrates the themes of loss, sickness, fertility, copulation, conception and death'." The Scotsman 09/15/00

  • ROME REBORN: According to one critic, visiting Rome is no longer the frustrating endeavor it has long been for art lovers who encountered museums covered in scaffolding and prize treasures locked away out of view. “Jubilee Year has galvanised the owners of churches, galleries and temples into cleaning their finest possessions and placing them on view. Rome has refurbished more than 700 monuments, works of arts and sites. The results are spectacular. London Times 09/13/00  

  • THE DEATH OF COPYRIGHT? "Copyright, a lot of people are saying, is obsolete. It's a concept outmoded by technology. And good riddance to it, say those who work in advertising or Web site design. The fat cats in New York who sell 'content' are gouging us already with their ridiculous fixed prices. Everyone knows a CD costs something like 35 cents to produce; why does it retail for $23.99?" The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 09/14/00

  • THE STAR ORCHESTRA ADMINISTRATOR: The New York Philharmonic lost out on its bid to hire Riccardo Muti as its next music director. But Zarin Mehta, the orchestra's new top executive has some important orchestra-building of his own he'd like to accomplish. The New York Times 09/17/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • IN NEED OF A “RADICAL RETHINK”: Ever since moving into its new home in Covent Garden last winter, the Royal Opera has been plagued by financial and management crises. “Almost everything that has gone wrong at the Dome was dry-run at the ROH. The long-running crisis is neither a matter of money (the usual excuse) nor of human frailty, but of a deep-seated structural fault that can only be remedied by a radical rethink.” The Telegraph (London) 09/13/00

  • THE REAL IRELAND: For much of the 20th Century Irish writers fastened on to the idea that the "true" Ireland was to be found in the countryside. But that idea is a cliche, and a stale one even if it once was true. Now the idea has been updated, and the new theatre is reflecting the changes. The Sunday Times (London) 09/17/00

  • FOLLOW THE LEADER: What's wrong with Australian museums? Leadership. "Appointing people because they interview well, are good publicists, claim to (or do) know the rich and famous, know more than anybody else about art (or science or history) is of little use, if not dangerous. People follow leaders because they want to, because they not only believe in the vision but can see a place for themselves in the sun, because they receive genuine support." Sydney Morning Herald 09/15/00

  • MARRIED TO THE BAND: When you marry an orchestra musician, you're marrying the whole orchestra. An orchestra wife writes about how she spent the summer. The Guardian (09/15/00

PLUS: Chicago museums consider getting into the higher-education business ~ Some movie theatres are installing technology to help blind and deaf people enjoy movies ~ Royal Academy is banking on a Big Bang followup to controversial "Sensation" show ~ Archeologist posits that the first musical instrument wasn't a flute, but a blade being hit by another piece of flint ~ Overbuilding of movie theatres has resulted in some theatre chains going out of business


  • NO MORE HIGH AND LOW? "There is a rooted assumption that popular culture is easy, especially popular music. But millions who try and fail to create it find out the hard way that it is just that - hard. And that's why the Spice Girls - so denigrated by the toffee-nosed culture snobs - have managed to notch up a remarkable 500 million sales worldwide, whereas a posh, pampered 'hard-to-work-out-what-they're-saying' writer like Henry James has yet to make any mark on the pop charts." The Guardian 09/15/00

    • WHAT MEANING ART? Divisions between high and low culture (or "art-" and "popular-" culture) are increasingly irrelevant. "How are we to judge what more powerfully influences us and, hence, what is stronger or better? See Schoenberg's 'Moses and Aaron', 'Madam Butterfly', 'Phantom of the Opera' or Elvis Presley at Las Vegas, and how do we set about judging differences? The cultural diktat of our day still tells us that Schoenberg is superior to Presley; many people go along with that. But is this any more than obedience to hierarchies laid down before popular culture gave itself a true chance to be compared? The Guardian (London) 09/12/00

  • IS THEATRE DYING? "What we are seeing these days is, more precisely, the theatrical version of the hostile takeover. 'Englut and devour' - the name that Mel Brooks once invented for a Hollywood studio - is becoming the motto of the American stage. The triumph of American commercialism is hardly a novelty of the millennium. What is different today is the lack of any indignation about it. It seems almost quixotic these days to criticize the relationship between art and commerce, and a little nostalgic even to try to evoke any interest in the question." The New Republic 09/08/00

  • LEAVING SOMETHING TO THE IMAGINATION: Often arts education gives too much information at the expense of too little imagination. But "imagination is the fuel of art, the engine of growth and the frank pleasure of life. No less a brainiac than Einstein insisted that imagination is more important than knowledge, yet most folks -  education bureaucrats or not - seem to shudder at the thought. In our modern Information Age, imagination regularly withers from neglect." Los Angeles Times 09/15/00

  • WHO SHOCKS ANYMORE? For some time now, the definition of modern art was to shock us in some way, take us aback a little. "Lately, newness—changeable by nature—has transformed itself into something harder to see, especially at first sight. Now, when people aren't hit with a shock of the new, they think they haven't been hit at all. When they don't find the Next Big Thing, or find it fast enough—and this may be a contemporary definition of complacency—they blame art." Village Voice 09/13/00


  • SHERLOCK HOLMES, KILLER? Did Sir Arthur Conan Doyle conspire to deny Fletcher Robinson recognition for devising the plot and supplying much of the local detail for "Hound of the Baskervilles," one of Sherlock Holmes' greatest adventures? A new book makes the charge and also "claims to have found circumstantial evidence that Conan Doyle may have murdered his former friend when he became worried that the deception might be exposed." Sunday Times (London) 09/10/00

  • CUSTOMS AGENTS AS CRITICS: Why did British Customs agents seize the Beatles' gold records when the discs were being shipped to the UK back in 1967? And why does Customs still have them? "On 10 March 1967, a Customs officer, B Lampert, wrote to a manager, saying: 'If it is considered that sale of these plaques will not embarrass the department, then sale would have to be of a specific nature with advertisements in the 'music papers'. I have no idea of the price we could expect to realise but I understand the Beatles are on their 'way out' (result of quick market research on teenage neighbours!)'." The Independent (London) 09/14/00

  • FINALLY - A USE FOR THE ACCORDION: A new British study finds that the kind of music played in stores greatly influences what consumers buy. "When French music was played, French wine outsold German varieties by five bottles to one. When German music was played, it outsold French by two bottles to one." The Age (Melbourne) 09/15/00

  • SHIFTING SANDS: Tibetan monks spent days making a sand painting at a Connecticut hospital in an attempt to aid the forces of healing there. But a couple of kids, mistaking the painting for a sandbox, destroyed it a couple of minutes. "The monks said it was good for them if the children were happy playing in the sand. They plan to start the project again." 09/15/00

  • MORT? NO! A pair of Finnish scholars have scored success with a weekly worldwide radio newscast broadcast in Latin. "Based on the 15 to 20 letters the program receives every week from listeners, the producers say Nuntii Latini listeners also include Latin scholars and students around the world as well as the residents of various monasteries, who almost all, naturally, keenly scrutinize the show's word usage and grammar." The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 09/12/00

  • JONI MITCHELL, ART QUEEN: By the time it closes this week, singer/artist Joni Mitchell's first-ever painting retrospective will have drawn some 80,000 visitors to a small gallery in Saskatoon, Canada. This "in a city of 210,000 people." The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 09/14/00