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  • - Top Arts News

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  • SETTLEMENT AIDS SOTHEBY'S: "Shares of Sotheby's Holdings rose more than 15 percent yesterday after the board of the beleaguered auction house agreed to pay $256 million to settle a class-action claim that it colluded with Christie's to fix commissions charged to buyers and sellers." New York Times 09/26/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • PROTECTING DIVERSITY: Delegates to an international cultural conference in Greece have decided to form the International Network for Cultural Diversity. The organization will endeavor to protect local cultures. "We want this to be a legal and enforceable agreement that will give countries the ability to support culture and diversity and to stand up to trade measures that are infringing on their cultural sovereignty." CBC 09/29/00

  • ITALIANS ON TOP: Time was when the Russians used to dominate international piano competitions. But this year's Leeds International was dominated by the Italians - three of the top six finalists were Italian. The Telegraph (London) 09/25/00
    • ITALIAN WINS LEEDS: Alessio Bax, at 22 the youngest of three finalists, is the first Italian ever to win at Leeds. The Times 09/25/00
  • BUT IT'S OUR MUSEUM: Daniel Terra's jingoistic promotion of American art was difficult to take. And the reputation of his small museum of American art suffered in the museum world for his antics and boasts. But now that his widow wants to take the museum out of town (Chicagoans don't appreciate it enough, she says) a feeling of community pride wells up in those who want it to stay. Chicago Tribune 10/01/00
  • PATERNITY SUIT: Giotto has been considered the father of modern painting But anewly discovered fresco by Pietro Cavallini in Rome could rewrite the arts history books. "The crucial thing is to determine whether it was done before 1288, when work began in Assisi on the Cycle of St Francis, or after. If it was before, it means that it was Cavallini who was the master, and thus the father of modern painting. If it was painted afterwards, then it will still go down as a beautiful and very important work of art to be discovered - but nothing more." The Telegraph (London) 09/28/00
  • EXPANDING ART SALES: Worldwide art auction sales increased 16 percent in the 1999-2000 season. "The US sold $922 million worth of art and the UK sold £578 million; closest behind them were France with £93 million ($130.8 million) and Germany at £46 million ($64.7 million). Italy came fifth with £26 million ($36.6 million)." The Art Newspaper 09/27/00
  • WOMEN'S MUSEUM OPENS: Museum dedicated to the history and accomplishments of women opens in Dallas. "The heart of the Women's Museum is its exhibits, two dozen in all, ranging from an elaborate time line of women's achievements to a short film about female comedians and portraits of female artists and athletes." Dallas Morning News 09/25/00

    • WHY A WOMEN'S MUSEUM? "Fewer than 5 percent of the nation's historic landmarks focus on women's achievements, the organizers point out. Fewer than 2 percent of textbooks are about women's history. In cities known for their veneration of the past, such as Boston and Washington, few monuments to women exist." Washington Post 09/28/00
  • "YOU'VE GOT OUR ATTENTION": Hollywood studio execs appear before Congressional hearings on violence and the entertainment industry. "All eight studio executives who attended the hearing agreed to follow a set of 12 voluntary guidelines issued the day before by the Motion Picture Association of America. Those rules include not showing previews for R-rated movies before a G-rated film; not 'knowingly' including children under 17 in audiences for research screenings unless they are accompanied by a parent; and seeking ways to include the reasons for a movie's rating in advertisements and packaging, such as noting excessive violence or sexuality. Washington Post 09/28/00

    • SENATOR TO MOVIE EXECS: "If the industry doesn't take additional steps to keep violent films away from young children, "you're going to see some kind of legislation," said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas Republican. "I'm sending a signal across the bow." Washington Times 09/28/00
    • MCCAIN TO EXECS: After studios promise to try harder on ratings Senate panel chairman John McCain remained unconvinced: ''My friends, that language is not good enough because it leaves a subjective judgment and some very bad subjective decisions were made in the past.'' 09/28/00
  • STEPPING INTO THE VOID: Government funding for the arts in Canada has declined precipitously in recent years - down by $41 million a year in Toronto alone. But Canada doesn't have a tradition of individual giving to the arts. "Canadians donated $4.44-billion to charitable and non-profit organizations between 1996 and 1997, but only 3 per cent went to arts and culture." The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 09/27/00
  • QUESTION OF CONTROL: Canada's Ontario government decides to turn control of the disputed McMichael Gallery back to the gallery's founders. The decision could have a wide impact. "The spectre of government intrusion into the direction of a gallery robs curators of other galleries of the ability to assure potential donors that their artworks will be held securely in the future, said Richard Darroch of the Canadian Museums Association." The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 09/27/00
  • ODD COUPLE: Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ben Elton's collaborative musical opens in London's West End. "Sadly, hopes that The Beautiful Game might prove a Northern Irish West Side Story are hardly realised. Indeed, at worst the piece comes over like Grease-meets-Riverdance with the odd bit of earnest Eltonesque moralising thrown in. Working with Elton has certainly loosened Lloyd Webber up as both composer and producer." The Telegraph (London) 09/28/00
    • UNLIKELY PARTNERS: "Well, they don't come together quite as successfully as they clearly hope that peace-loving Ulster Catholics will come together both with Protestants and with their own more bellicose elements." The Times (London) 09/28/00
    • More reviews

PLUS: Ireland's censor has revoked a ban on a 1967 movie version of Joyce's "Ulysses." ~ Berlin's Brandenburg Gate to get $5 million cleaning ~ For nine successive weeks US movie admissions have been down compared to a year ago. So far in September, ticket sales are down 22 percent ~ Barnes Collection considers selling some objects ~ Digital music company launched its "million e-mail march" lobbying to change copyright law ~ Art critic Robert Hughes will have to face a retrial of his dangerous driving charges from a May 1999 accident ~ Cooper-Hewitt Museum hires new director ~ Soaring art auction prices last summer have gallery owners complaining.



  • HOW SYDNEY GOT HER OPERA HOUSE: "Some think of the Opera House as a superb example of Goethe's frozen music; others imagine a beached white whale, a galleon sailing off to Elfland, nine ears cocked to hear some heavenly aria, nine nuns playing football. 'A bunch of toenails clipped from a large albino dog', the Sydney journalist Ron Saw once wrote." London Review of Books 10/05/00
  • THE NEW LIT CRIT: "Run mostly by thirtysomething writers and editors, this latest generation of New York literary journals are stylishly packaged, serving up a mix of prominent names, undiscovered aspirants, and lost treasures from the vaults. Each has staked out a different aesthetic territory, but between them they cover a wide swath of contemporary literature." Village Voice 09/00
  • I, STAR: Finding ways to "brand" your artistic director goes a long way towards defining the success of your arts organization. The Canadian Opera Comapny's Richard Bradshaw has remade "one of the fustiest cultural institutions in the land into one of the hippest". Conversely, the Toronto Symphony tried to position Jukka-Pekka Sarasate as a stud and turned off the orchestra's traditional supporters. The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 09/28/00
  • AGAINST THE WALL: Canada's museums and galleries are having a rough time. "The rapid shift in funding patterns has caused tremendous stresses within the traditional values and structures of the art museum. In Canada, where in the past such institutions were majorly funded through government support, the new environment presents special challenges and opportunities. But institutions are slow to change, and in my opinion there is evidence that all is not well and happy in our galleries - at least not in my experience." CBC 09/25/00
  • TO PROFIT OR NOT TO PROFIT: The line between non-profit and commercial theatre has all but disappeared. Non-profits are trying to be more entrepreneurial in hopes of generating more income, while commercial theatre looks to mitigate its risks. Hartford Courant 09/24/00
  • THE FAME GAME: Artists are a hot commodity in London right now. Newspapers vie to put artists in their columns, and he or she who makes something outrageous is sure to get plenty of attention. But it's all so very predictable... New York Times 09/25/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • RUMORS OF ITS DEATH… Even before the British Arts Council promised £37 million in additional funding, there were plenty of signs that regional theater is already thriving. Audiences are growing, communities are showing support, and theaters are discovering that their power is in numbers. “If one regional theatre thrives, so will others. If one closes, it threatens others. If you've got leprosy and your hand drops off, it doesn't benefit the rest of the body. It's still dying.” The Guardian (London) 09/27/00
  • THE ARTS MAYOR? Chicago's Mayor Daly doesn't just pay lip service to the arts. "He has realized that good arts and entertainment is good for the city, and, in a non-artsy way, he has given the arts of Chicago a public and accessible forum." Better yet, his attentions are resulting in things happening for the arts. Chicago Tribune 10/01/00
  • ORCHESTRAS ARE NOT DYING: A music critic who wrote about the "dysfunctionality" of the modern symphony orchestra hears plenty of dissent from readers. National Post (Canada) 09/26/00
  • HEAVY LIFTING: It's not so easy being a male dancer, writes one of Canada's most famous male dancers. "Working for four hours at a stretch, without a break, trying to get it perfect, is fine if you are the one being lifted. For the lifter, it is not so fine. It is gruelling. Perfection, in this instance, can go hand in hand with abuse of another human being. It is so very easy for the man in classical ballet to feel resentful, depressed, discouraged, even vindictive, as he fights to be a worthy partner, dancing behind the ballerina, trying to display her at her best." Ottawa Citizen 09/26/00
  • DOMINGO'S PLAY FOR THE BIG TIME: Admittedly, there have been skeptics of Placido Domingo's ability to take Los Angeles Opera into the big time. "History has not been kind to superstar performers recast in management roles, in opera and in other fields as well. But Domingo’s first major moves here since taking office, as noted in not one but two press conferences a couple of weeks ago, have been particularly shrewd in addressing some of the most-discussed company weaknesses. LA Weekly 09/29/00
  • SAUSAGE MAKER TO SAVE BOLSHOI? "Last month, in a shocking putsch on the eve of the fall season, the Kremlin announced it had fired the Bolshoi's director, the legendary ballet dancer Vladimir Vasilyev, and replaced him with a team of business-oriented managers. The coup was planned with such secrecy that Russian journalists compared it with a KGB operation." But can the company be saved? The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 09/26/00
  • PIANO POLITICS: If the winner of a major international competition feels it necessary to later enter another big competition, what does that say about the first competition that it wasn't able to properly launch the career of its winner. "As this all suggests, the piano competition circuit is rather more of a lottery than most competition organisers would like the public to realise." Irish Times 09/27/00
  • PLAY BY PLAY: A look at one New York repertory company’s play-selection process: "A nonprofit theater's season planning is a craft all its own, one of mundane logistical maneuvering as well as lofty creative ambition; of sleepless-night angst and pride-swelling triumph; of big-picture matters like building audiences and details as precise as choosing a hat." New York Times 09/28/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • LET'S PUT ON A SHOW: Big theatre producers get together to talk about the realities of producing musical theatre. "Comments on Saturday from representatives of the biggest L.A.-based commercial theater producers - Disney, Warner Bros. and Universal - were considered by many in the audience to be so discouraging that Indonesia might look even more inviting." Los Angeles Times 09/26/00

PLUS: Author Jay McInerney's regrets about the Brat Pack ~ Why did Canada's CBC take serious classical music programming off its Radio Two network? ~ New productions signify a new era for serious American opera ~ Fibreglass public cow art fuels debate on public art ~ Jean-Michel Basquiat's artwork is the top-selling of the 1980s. "Does the artist's work live up to the market's hype? ~ Americans are big players/funders in London's current cultural boom. ~ Napster inventor Shawn Fanning is the very model of the at-home innovator ~ San Jose Symphony recently gave its musicians a 7 percent pay increase. But the orchestras has a growing deficit, and the budget is on a collision course with reality ~ San Francisco Opera premieres Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally's new opera "Dead Man Walking" this week ~ Music piracy is flourishing in China, in part to get around the censors ~ The movie-makers' conflict between art and money.



  • RALPH'S/FOOD 4 LESS CONCERT HALL? Big donors are essential to financing art these days, particularly arts buildings and big opera productions. But the largesse as often as not comes with strings. Slapping a picture of your most prominent donor in the program is one thing. But renaming your home or producing art because a donor wants to fund it is something else. Los Angeles Times 10/01/00
  • SOMEBODY TO BLAME: The Gore/Lieberman attacks on Hollywood miss the mark. "The premise behind the argument once made by Cheney and Robert Bork, and now by Lieberman and Gore, is that the marketing of violence and sex to children leads to higher levels of teenage violence, sex, drug use, illegitimacy, social breakdown, and so on. But even a cursory glance at reality shows that the opposite is true. The era that has seen the popular culture ratchet up its drug-addled, bigoted, violent messages to new levels of depravity has also seen one of the sharpest declines in teen violence, sex, and drug use ever. If corporate America is out to poison our children's minds, it's failing in spectacular fashion." The New Republic 09/26/00

  • STORIES TO TELL: Is the short story an endangered artform? A conference debates the question: "Society's view of literature's importance has shifted. It is no longer shameful to be ignorant of it. Teachers of literature apparently believe that one book cannot be judged as better than another, that evaluation is an impossibility - the sort of people rug dealers dream of having as merchants." National Post (Canada) 09/25/00


  • DUCKING THE COST: London theatre dresses an actor up as duck rather than use the real thing. Why? "Thespian ducks cost £250 a day, while the union minimum for an actor is £292.84 for a week's work in the West End. If you're thinking of putting your daughter on the stage, train her to be a duck, or at least a duck handler." The Telegraph (London) 09/26/00

  • MY LIFE'S A STAGE: Jeffrey Archer's new play opened in London last week. But its convoluted plot was "no stranger than real-life on the day that the former Conservative deputy chairman was charged with perverting the course of justice, perjury and 'using a false instrument', he was also making his (official) world debut as an actor." Sunday Times (London) 10/01/00

  • MAKE IT SO: The handwriting of the ancient queen Cleopatra has been discovered on papyrus stored in a mummy in Berlin. "Cleopatra's signature can be found in just one word: 'genestho,' which means 'Make it so!' It is the formula for the royal authorization, and had to be added by the ruler's own hand." Discovery 09/29/00
  • WHAT A DRAG: A male percussionist/composer with the New Zealand Orchestra has a thing for dressing up in drag. When he appeared onstage for a concert dressed as a women, orchestra management "read him the riot act." But the act turned into a gig writing a piece for the orchestra for percussionist-in-drag. Sydney Morning Herald 09/26/00
  • SHOW ME THE MONEY: In India, where the average income is about $215 a year, the Indian version of "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire" has become a wild hit. "Streets are half deserted when 'KBC' comes on, suddenly it's easy to get a seat at late evening movies, pubs in some cities say business has been hit, and bookshops are packed with books to guide you through the quiz programme." The Times of India 09/26/00
  • DRINK UP: German Chancellor Gerhard Shroeder is about to become a pop star. "Earlier this year Mr Schroeder joked to an autograph hunter 'Get me a beer or I'll go on strike!' as he toured eastern Germany to rally support for his centre-left Social Democrats. But his remark was recorded, and comedian Stefan Raab mixed it into a drinking song called Get Me A Beer!" BBC 09/27/00
  • A MATTER OF MANNERS: New York Magazine critic John Simon goes for director Atom Egoyan's jugular at a press conference about Egoyan's project filming all of the Beckett plays. "I have seen at least 12 productions of this play," he began, "all more touching than yours. Was this deliberate or just incompetence on your part?" Salon 09/26/00