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  • - Top Arts News

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  • NEA INCREASE: The National Endowment for the Arts finally got a budget increase from the US Congress yesterday - an additional $7 million this year, for a total of $105 million. But the extra money comes with a catch. Washington Post 09/21/00

  • PRICE-FIXING SETTLEMENT: Sotheby's and Christie's have tentatively agreed to "pay $512 million to settle claims that the world's most powerful auction houses cheated buyers and sellers in a price-fixing scheme that dates back to 1992." New York Times 09/23/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • GORE AND LIEBERMAN GO TO HOLLYWOOD: Speaking to a Hollywood audience, the candidates tried to be reassuring about their attacks on the entertainment industry. "The industry has entertained and inspired and educated us over the years. And it's true from time to time we will have been, will be, critics, or noodges, but I promise you this: We will never never put the government in the position of telling you by law, through law, what to make." New York Times 09/20/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
    • CRITICAL MOTIVES: Joe Lieberman's "crusade against the entertainment industry has presented an otherwise boisterous campaign with a sometimes tense and sober balancing act. Is it brazen hypocrisy? Or is Lieberman simply not afraid to scold his wealthy Democratic friends when he disagrees with them even as he takes their contributions?" Los Angeles Times 09/20/00
    • REGULATING ENTERTAINMENT: The US Senate Commerce Committee passed a bill Wednesday that would ban "graphic bloodshed or gratuitous violence" on television during daylight hours. Other lawmakers expressed constitutional concerns about the measure. Orange County Register (AP) 09/21/00
    • ANTITRUST: Congress discusses giving the entertainment industry an antitrust exemption so the industry could get together to determine standards on violence. Entertainment industry isn't so sure it wants the exemption. Variety 09/21/00
  • TAKING CONTROL: New report says that music and book publishers could lose billions of dollars over the next few years because of the internet and digital copying. On the other hand, "it predicted that musicians will gain $1 billion, authors $1.3 billion, and third party service companies $2.8 billion by 2005 in 'a historic transfer of revenues'," due to artists choosing to distribute their own work. The Age (Melbourne) 09/21/00
  • SELL-OFF: It's official - Cleveland San Jose Ballet shuts down and moves to liquidate its assets to pay creditors. But not to pay season subscribers, however. Ticket-holders will be given vouchers that they can exchange for some other local arts events. The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 09/21/00
  • TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE? After two decades of underfunding, Britain’s regional theatres were promised a £37 million rescue package from the Arts Council of England (to be paid out between 2002 and ’04). But “there is a general acceptance that regional theatre must reinvent itself. [It’s] at a crossroads, a crossroads littered with signs pointing in different directions.” The Telegraph (London) 09/19/00
    • WHO ARE YOU CALLING A “PHILISTINE”? UK Culture Secretary Chris Smith responded to recent attacks by artists (David Hockney, Doris Lessing, V. S. Naipaul, among them) criticizing the “dumbing down” of British culture: Arts funding has actually increased 60% during the Labour Party’s first five years. “I don't call that the action of a philistine government.” Sydney Morning Herald 09/19/00
  • FUNDING STORIES: California developer gives the Smithsonian $80 million to refurbish the National Museum of American History. "The museum should talk about who we are. Sometimes it is easy to forget how we started, who made the country. I hope we can put something here to inspire people to chase the American dream." Washington Post 09/19/00
  • GOOD TIMES FOR BOOKS: New study says good times are ahead for the publishing industry. "The study projects that by '04 electronic books (defined as e-books, print on-demand titles and materials downloaded from the Internet) will comprise 26% of all unit sales, and that consumer spending will hit $5.4 billion, up from a projected $367 million in spending in 2000." Publishers Weekly 09/18/00
  • ATTACK OF THE KILLER MOLD! China’s famed 2,200-year-old terracotta army, one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century, is eroding due to an attack of virulent mold. Reports blame raised temperatures and humidity in the museum which houses the soldiers. China Times 09/18/00
  • THE CONTROVERSIAL WORLD WAR II MEMORIAL: "The National Capital Planning Commission meets in Washington DC Thursday to give final approval to the $100-million project's "finished" design, even though its thematic centerpiece is a complete unknown. This startling fact is a plain example of what a sham the review process for the World War II Memorial has been these past five years." Los Angeles Times 09/20/00
    • DESIGN REVIEW: "That any monument could work in such a loaded context is doubtful. But it is hard to imagine one more insensitive to the spirit of the site. Pompous and unimaginative, St. Florian's ring of towering archways and repetitive stone pillars smacks of the worst kind of authoritarian architecture. To build it would not only desecrate one of the world's great democratic forums. It would do an injustice to the memory of those it is meant to celebrate." Los Angeles Times 09/20/00

PLUS:German government proposes to initiate a fee on computer hardware makers that would be used to pay those whose intellectual property is distributed digitally ~ 92 Botticelli drawings are reunited in Rome after more than five centuries of being dispersed throughout Europe ~ Giotto's remains are found beneath Florence's Duomo ~ Thieves who stole a Monet from the Polish National Museum replaced it with a cheap fake ~ Harvard University's plans to build two ambitious new museums draw opposition from neighbors worried about crowds and congestion ~ A proposal to consider closing streets off to cars in New York's Times Square ~ Royal Shakespeare Company hires a black actor for the first time in 125 years for the role of an English monarch ~ A plan to sell cheap classical CD's in petrol stations in England and Germany at rock-bottom prices ~ The number of pirated CD's seized in the first part of this year rose by 350 per cent over figures from this time last year. In all, more than 539,000 CDs were confiscated." ~ Brooklyn Museum unveiled a $55 million plan to transform the institution's front entrance into a major civic plaza ~ Australia's theatre companies are unenthusiastic over an extra $70 million in government ~ Egypt's lavish annual production of “Aida,” performed each autumn under Cairo’s pyramids, was abruptly cancelled by officials ~ New attempts to combat piracy by adding grating noises, lapses in volume, and spoken-word interruptions to pre-release CDs ~ Two long-lost poems by Rubén Darío -who is considered by some to be "the greatest Latin American poet of all time - are causing a big stir in Spanish literary circles ~ Movie attendance in Europe and Australia for those under the age of 25 has fallen off. Movie theatre's blame the drop on the growing popularity of computers and cell phones ~  Toronto Film Fest concludes ~ Canada Council selects a crop of young musicians to whom it will lend valuable musical instruments, including a couple of Strads ~ Humble ancient stone turns out to be the first art. "New scientific data suggests that early humans were producing representations of life 220,000 years ago, 170,000 years earlier than previously thought ~ Stolen WWII art returned to the heirs of Gustav Kirstein, a principal in an art printing firm in Leipzig.


  • FEELING SOMETHING: Something new is happening in dance. "The cool, formal abstractness of body movement of the past 30 years, American in origin, is being overtaken by a new, psychoanalytical, emotional approach from Europe, where feelings matter more than aesthetics." The Telegraph (London) 09/21/00
  • A PARADIGM SHIFT YOU CAN DANCE TO: Now that digital downloadable options like Napster have transformed the ways we can acquire and listen to new music, will consumers ever be content again with the old recording industry model of expensive, pre-packaged albums? “Never again will we think of music, or eventually any cultural creation, as produced by a label, network or imprint, packaged, purchased and sitting on a shelf in our homes.” 09/19/00
  • SIX DISTRIBUTORS IN SEARCH OF AN AUDIENCE: How to market an independent art film on a tiny distribution company’s budget and reach an audience that isn’t growing at the pace of the releases? “[Distributors] will tell you that there are too many films vying for the attention of an audience that is no larger than it was in the '70s. The pie is the same size, but it's being cut into smaller slices.” Village Voice 09/26/00
  • MENTORING & THE ART OF CHOREOGRAPHY: Where are the mentors for today's choreographers? Who helps midwife a dance and develop it into something finished, something unique? Boston Herald 09/24/00
  • AN ANONYMOUS ART: Accompanists are the music world’s unsung artists. “Twice the work, half the pay, and people invariably forget your name. What self-respecting pianist would choose such a career?” London Times 09/19/00
  • CHENEY AND THE CULTURE WARS: If George W Bush goes to the White House, Lynne Cheney may well lead a revival of those eighties culture wars. The former head of the National Endowment for the Humanities has been an arch foe of the agency she formerly headed, and she's being touted for a cabinet position if Bush wins. The Nation 10/02/00
  • ARE LIBRARIES VIABLE? In a few years, if students can get all their research online and access most books electronically, does that mean the traditional library will be obsolete? Wired 09/18/00
  • CULTURAL AUSTRALIA: "Australian culture is for the most part deeply democratic, and joyously so as well. It is no longer "provincial", a distant and nervous response to norms generated in imperial centres. It is the result of a bloodless and slow-developing social revolution conducted over 40 years as a small society grew larger and immeasurably more complex, shook off its sense of derivative Englishness and its fear of American domination, and learned to trust its own talents." The Guardian 09/18/00
  • THE SOUND OF POETRY: "Poetry readings are now a major part of our literary landscape. Most American poets reach wider audiences at readings than through publishing. In the days before poetry readings became so ubiquitious, however, some of our best poets recorded their work." Public Arts 09/18/00
  • PUZZLING WELCOME: The London Philharmonic held a day-long celebration to welcome Kurt Masur, the orchestra's new principal conductor. But the performance roster was a multi-cultural stew that had virtually nothing to do with Masur's esthetic. "What on earth is the poor man being welcomed to? An orchestra or an agenda? A concert series suited to his musical character, or a musical re-creation of the Millennium Dome?" Sunday Times (London) 09/24/00
  • ARTS CENTER OR BERMUDA TRIANGLE? Even in London's current artboom, plans for redoing Southbank's galleries and concert halls have hit yet another snag. "One famous architect after another has boldly set out to civilise its streaked concrete walkways and make sense of its flawed galleries and concert halls, only to see their schemes vanish without leaving so much as an oil slick on the Thames." The Observer 09/24/00
  • WHY VIRTUAL MUSEUMS DISAPPOINT: Even as London's Tate and New York's Museum of Modern Art get set to launch ambitious virtual museums, a big question still remains: "Why is the Virtual Museum so boring? And it is. The cyber gallery is nearly always dense, confusing, difficult to navigate, devoid of passion and, worse, of intellect. Not only are these sites a betrayal of the 'muse' function at the core of the name museum, they often demand hours of downloading special software to handle special effects that are nothing special." New York Times 09/24/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

PLUS: Why is it that great stage musicals rarely translate well to film? ~ Publications are selling original photos from their archives but critics protest that pieces of history are disappearing in such sales ~ Textbook publishers have been slow to hit the internet, but that's all changing ~ Hollywood actors are overruning London stages, but is the star search wrecking the West End? ~ Mahler's redo of Beethoven's symphonies "restored" lines that are lost, thoughts that get buried, details that are implicit but suppressed." ~ Succession battles at Germany's Bayreuth Festival are killing it ~ First reviews of the Royal Academy's followup to "Sensation" paint "a rather sad little show, even a pathetic one. This was obviously not the intention."



  • NEW HARVARD STUDY ON ARTS EDUCATION: "After a comprehensive review of 50 years of arts education research and nearly 200 existing studies, researchers concluded that spatial-temporal reasoning improves for children when they learn to make music and improves temporarily for adults when they listen to certain kinds of music. However, researchers uncovered no generalizable, causal links between studying the arts and improvement in SAT scores, grades or reading scores, challenging a popular argument that the arts can and should be used to buttress other types of learning." Washington Post 09/21/00
  • COMPUTERS MAY HURT, NOT HELP: A growing number of educators, child development experts, and doctors are beginning to speak out against early computer use, especially when coupled with regular television watching. Too much 'screen time' at a young age, they say, may actually undermine the development of the critical skills that kids need to become successful, diminishing creativity and imagination, motivation, attention spans, and the desire to persevere. US News 09/25/00
  • JOB DESCRIPTION: The artist's job is to "experience (mostly emotions), to mould it into a the grammar, syntax and vocabulary of a universal language in order to communicate the echo of their idiosyncratic language. They are forever mediating between us and their experience. Rightly so, the quality of an artist is measured by his ability to loyally represent his unique language to us. The smaller the distance between the original experience (the emotion of the artist) and its external representation - the more prominent the artist." The Idler 09/20/00



  • PRAYING TO THE SOUND OF PORN: A broadcaster mixes up the soundtracks of a Catholic broadcast and a porn channel. "For two hours, millions of Roman Catholics watched video of cardinals singing hymns and praying, set to the orgasmic moaning and caterwauling of porn stars like Shyla Foxxx, Kaitlyn Ashley and Caressa Savage. Conversely, male viewers of the Fantasy Channel, sitting on sofas with their pants to their ankles, were treated to porn that featured holy incantations." Salon 09/20/00

  • AUSTRALIAN OPERA COMPETITION GOES WRONG: Opera Foundation Australia staged its competition recently, but participants are crying foul. "Earlier this week, finalists received a letter from the Opera Foundation informing them that the $40,000 prize had been awarded to another singer who had not taken part in the competition." Sydney Morning Herald 09/21/00

  • FIRST IT WAS THE FRENCH... Now Italian authorities are getting upset about the corruption of their language by English. "Critics complain that not enough effort was being made to coin new Italian words instead of borrowing foreign ones." BBC 09/20/00
  • MR. GRUMPY PARTY POOPER: I hate clapping along at concerts. "I don't think the clapping has yet been brought forward as an issue, and in this time of Olympic-level whingeing and control, I think it's time we looked at legislation to contain it. Of course, being in a crowd of rhythmless hand-bashers does have its spiritual upside. I now truly understand what the Buddhists mean when they talk about the beauty of the sound of one hand clapping." Sydney Morning Herald 09/18/00