ARTS BEAT NEWSLETTER - October 16 - 22, 2000

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Week of October 16-22, 2000

1. Special Interest
2. Issues
3. Dance
4. Media
5. Music
6. People
7. Publishing
8. Theatre
9. Visual Arts
10.For Fun


  • WRITERS - WHO OWNS YOUR WORK? "The press would have you believe that the worst copyright infringement occurring on the Internet is by lone hackers sitting at their computers. However, corporate owned and controlled newspapers and television news organizations are hardly disinterested parties in this story. It may turn out that individual writers (which, potentially, could be anybody) have more to fear from people in suits trailing phalanxes of lawyers." *spark-online 10/00
  • ENGLISH AMONG MANY: The English language has spread so far around the world that many expect it to be the dominant language of the future, the international language. But will it be? It's not at all certain - just as one example, "people who expect English to triumph over all other languages are sometimes surprised to learn that the world today holds three times as many native speakers of Chinese as native speakers of English." The Atlantic 11/00
  • WHAT PHILOSOPHY SOUNDS LIKE (NOT SO PRETTY): "If Milton Babbitt and John Cage are to be believed, it is almost beside the point to talk about whether their music sounds good or sounds bad. For both composers would admit that their music does not 'sound good' in the ordinary sense: instead, they would challenge that notion, and replace it with highly philosophical views that are meant to undermine our ordinary aesthetic judgments." Boston Review 10/00
  • DANCE ABUSE: A New Zealand dance teacher conducts a survey of teaching dance in New Zealand and finds widespread abuse - "splinters of glass deliberately being placed in the shoes of a young ballerina, a mother pushing her daughter's rival down a flight of stairs, a mother giving her daughter alcohol and drugs to calm her before ballet exams, and girls forced to diet to maintain the thin ballerina's figure." New Zealand Herald 10/11/00
    • DENIAL? Most of Auckland's ballet teachers met at an emergency meeting  to discuss the survey, which attracted wide media attention this week. New Zealand Herald 10/13/00
    • PROTESTS: New Zealand's ballet world is "up in arms over the survey, which was initially based on 40 students' experiences." New Zealand Herald 10/14/00
    • DEFENSE: "It is disconcerting to realise that there are obvious parallels to be seen between the 19th-century model of a perfect female and the 21st-century model of a desirable ballet student/dancer. New Zealand Herald 10/16/00


  • ARTISTS ARE THE FIRST TO GO: With rising rents and artists being evicted from their work spaces, "San Francisco is in danger of becoming a place where art is presented but no longer created. Everybody knows what the problem is: lots of money and new development increasingly putting cutting-edge culture out on the streets. Can the city prevent further erosion of its diverse artistic heritage? Some say it may be too late." San Francisco Chronicle 10/19/00
    • MIGRATION: Where are the artists leaving San Francisco going? San Francisco Chronicle 10/19/00
    • THE HAVES GET HAVIER: While leading-edge ensembles and artists struggle to keep their heads above water financially, the good times - and the bucks - are rolling at the city's major arts organizations. San Francisco Chronicle 10/19/00
    • OTHER CITIES/SAME SCENARIO: Other cities - such as Chicago and Seattle - in the midst of economic good times are having the same problems with high rents displacing artists. San Francisco Chronicle 10/19/00

PLUS: The US Senate passes a $7 million increase in the budget for the National Endowment for the Arts ~ UK Arts Secretary Chris Smith under attack ~ Australian politicians go on rampage of tightening censorship rules ~ Singapore's arts minister asks artists to "balance artistic integrity with social responsibility.


  • FOREIGN INFLUENCE: Even critics of the way Anthony Dowell has run London's Royal Ballet, have to admit that his infusion of startlingly good foreign dancers has hade the company richer. The Telegraph (London) 10/21/00
  • SAN JOSE BALLET DEBUTS: "This may be the artistic organization that finally mobilizes the elusive community spirit in dot-com land, the one that channels all that newly acquired wealth into a legacy for the future. The South Bay will have a fully professional company to call its own. And, in an era when anybody with big bucks, a ballerina chum and a serious case of artistic amnesia can found a suburban vanity troupe, the work of Ballet San Jose's executive director Andrew Bales and his staff deserves a fanfare or two." San Francisco Examiner 10/16/00
    • THOSE LEFT BEHIND: Now that Cleveland San Jose Ballet has folded its tent in Cleveland and reinvented itself in San Jose, what's next for dance in Cleveland? The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 10/22/00
  • DANCING AWAY: Six more dancers are leaving the Australian National Ballet. "The Australian Ballet is approaching the end of the year with the resignation or retirement of 20 per cent of the dancers in its ranks." The Age (Melbourne) 10/18/00


  • STAMPING OUT LITTLE-GUY RADIO: "To most ears, low-power radio - 10- or 100-watt stations with a broadcast range of a few square miles at most - sounds like a cheap, easy and democratic way of giving communities a small but potent voice on the dial. But now, 21 months after the Federal Communications Commission first proposed creating a new brand of low-power FM radio stations, the initiative is fighting for its life." Salon 10/15/00
  • HOW LONG TIL ALL FILMS ARE "G"? Are movie studios going to continue making as many adult-oriented pictures if they can no longer market them as widely, given the restrictions imposed by the latest political controversy over ratings? Anyone who says that it won't (affect what gets a green light) is being disingenuous." 10/17/00
    • THE RATINGS LIMBO: So what harm is having a ratings system that warns parents about the content of movies? None, perhaps, but for those movies that fall in the cracks of the "R" or "NC" ratings it can mean the difference between being seen and sinking to obscurity. And, of course, it's about the money. Chicago Tribune 10/17/00

PLUS: A record 112 million Canadians bought movie tickets last year ~ Toronto's mayor finagles to build a major movie complex in his city ~ Gary Oldman's latest film: a "Goebbels-like piece of propaganda"?


  • FUROR OVER SLUR AGAINST BARENBOIM: Daniel Barenboim has been feuding with the Berlin government over funds for the Staatsoper, which he runs, and over plans to merge the opera company with the less prestigious Deutsche Oper, run by the rising 41-year-old star of German music, Christian Thielemann. "Enter Klaus Landowsky, a leading Berlin politician from the Christian Democratic party, to sum up the situation in these terms to the Berliner Morgenpost: 'On the one hand, you have the young von Karajan in Thielemann, on the other you have the Jew Barenboim'." The New York Times 10/21/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • WHEN FLATTERY GETS YOU NOWHERE: A regularly outspoken critic of the Royal Opera House's former management, Raymond Gubbay has applied to run the institution after Michael Kaiser's departure. In his application Gubbay called the Opera House "the preserve of the rich, the influential and those concerned with corporate entertainment." London Times 10/18/00
    • I CAN FIX THIS: Gubbay "calls for a higher status for the Executive Director which would put him or her above the Music Director and the Artistic Director of the Royal Ballet. He also wants more performances, longer production runs and cheaper seats." London Evening Standard 10/18/00
  • RECONSIDERING AARON: On the 100th anniversary of Aaron Copland's birth, the man and his music are being reconsidered. "Copland's avuncular image as a doyen of American music is avowed by the voluminous testimony of all who knew him as to his generosity, kindly nature and wry sense of humour. However, this image implies a certain blandness which characterised neither his life nor his music." The Economist 10/20/00
  • FAMILY FUGUE: JS Bach had 20 children, and it's natural to ask how he managed to find time to fit composing in amongst his parenting duties? "For him, children were not an unwelcome distraction from other responsibilities. On the contrary, his role as a parent was a central part of his life and was intimately entwined in his aesthetic outlook. Indeed, understanding Bach's attitude towards parenting can in turn help us understand his musical attitudes in general." The Idler 10/18/00
  • BEETHOVEN'S DEATH: How did Beethoven die so young (he was 56)? Why did he go deaf? New analysis of hair trimmed from his head moments after his death may reveal the reasons...or so claims a newly published book released this week.  Discovery 10/16/00

PLUS: Psychedelic Bach: the late organist Virgil Fox and his quest to bring organ music to the masses ~ Vienna's new interactive music museum: the classical past meets the techno-modern future ~ Will the Canadian Opera Company's anonymous benefactor come through with a $20 million gift? ~ The new "Tristan" at Covent Garden: ugly, off-pitch, misguided and uninspired ~ A roundup of opera highlights for this season from around the country ~ All-female string quartet Bond banned from the classical music record charts in Britain and prevented by their recording company from using a picture of themselves naked on the cover of their latest album ~ Orchestras take on the nearly impossible task of educating audiences.


  • WHY SO WILDE ABOUT OSCAR? London's Barbican is devoting an exhibition to Oscar Wilde. But at least one critic isn't happy about it: "In fact he was a second-rate poseur and plagiarist, and his influence on the visual arts in this country was almost wholly destructive. His apologists call him a populariser, but forget to mention the devastating effect that his popularising had on the course of British art." The Telegraph (London) 10/18/00
  • PICASSO'S RED PERIOD: Pablo Picasso was famously a member of the Communist Party, which considered him one of its most important members. He got a lot of attention for his political views (and a thick FBI file). But then came that portrait of Stalin, and... The Guardian (London) 10/21/00

PLUS: Theatre and movie critic Vincent Canby dies of cancer at the age of 76 ~ Merce Cunningham wins the $250,000 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize for choreographers ~ New photography exhibition portrays Samuel Beckett in vivid color ~ Bass-baritone Bryn Terfel cancels next four months of performances to be with his wife for the birth of their third child.


  • A LONG WAY TO MAINSTREAM: The e-book publishing community thought it was finally going to receive some overdue recognition at the first annual International eBooks Awards ceremony last week in Frankfurt. That is, until the list of finalists was announced. "Almost all of the books on the shortlist were by acclaimed print authors from big publishing houses The controversy highlights some pressing issues for e-publishing - Will e-books offer a way for writers who've been snubbed by the big houses to find success marketing their books directly to readers? Or will e-publishing simply present the same books and authors currently found in bookstores, only in a different, less tangible form?" Salon 10/19/00
  • THE MORE THINGS CHANGE... E-books are poised to transform the infrastructures and revenue structures of the publishing industry, but can the developments really be called a "revolution?" "These new technologies will alter the way books are transmitted, but the author's task will remain essentially the same as when Homer sang the Odyssey and Dickens presented his novels, chapter by chapter, before enchanted listeners." New York Review of Books 11/02/00
  • BRAVO BOOKER JUDGES: "One of the complaints often levelled against Britain's premier literary prize is that it functions as a kind of club, nominating a certain kind of 'literary fiction' chosen from a limited pool of potential 'Booker' writers. Deliberately or not, this millennial short list has turned its back on a number of established writers, any one of whom might, in another year, deserve a place on some other ideal Booker shortlist. Daily Mail & Guardian (South Africa) 10/18/00

PLUS: Forty German writers talk about the "renaissance of narration" ~ Author Steven King doubles the price of downloading a chapter of his novel from the web ~ Why the world of publishing has gone to hell (clue: corporate domination).


  • WHEN COMMERCIAL/NON-PROFIT VENTURES GO BAD: The commercial failure of "The Wild Party" on Broadway last season "raised broad questions both about the Public Theatre and about Broadway's capacity to handle unorthodox fare. An examination of the musical's short, troubled life highlights those issues and the problems that can arise in the increasingly frequent partnerships between nonprofit theaters and commercial producers." New York Times 10/19/00 (one-time registration required for access)
  • THEATRE'S COLOR LINE: When asked if there is a crisis in black theatre in Britain, Nicolas Kent, director of north London's Tricycle Theatre, has more than a little to say. "I could go on and on listing the problems. The fact that there is no theatre building run by a black or Asian director, that there is no black children's company and that theatre staffs and boards are overwhelmingly white." And what about so-called "color-blind casting?" "We don't just need to be told that the RSC is to have a black Henry VI. What we need is enough money to support black companies to do black-generated work." The Guardian (London) 10/18/00

PLUS: Corporate executives learn management lessons from Shakespeare plays ~ Why the board of New York's Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival has backed director George C. Wolfe on another risky Broadway venture ~ Changing Ireland: big themes encompass this year's Dublin Theatre Festival.


  • DONOR X: An anonymous French art collector has donated an astonishing collection of more than 100 masterworks - by Cezanne, Manet, Picasso, and others - to France. Although the mystery donor insisted on remaining nameless, rumors abound that its actually a well-known and wildly generous Parisian medical researcher. "I can think of no comparable donation in the recent history of this country's museums." BBC 10/19/00
  • AFTER THE PO-MO IS GONE: "As we enter an era that could well be post-post-modern, questions are increasingly being asked about just what Modernism was or even whether it was really anything at all. It is almost as if Modernism were now being recast in the image of pomo. Modernism, in these reinterpretations, is gnomic, ironic, wavering. The New York Times 10/21/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • HOW WE SEE ART: Over the next few months scientists will be tracking the eye movements of thousands of visitors to an exhibition at the National Gallery in London. "It will be the biggest investigation ever carried out into how humans absorb images and how artists' use of colour and texture affects the way a painting 'works'." The Independent (London) 10/15/00
  • POLITICS OF IMPERMANENCE: Museums generally take great pains to protect and care for the artwork that comes to them. But what is their responsibility toward conceptual art in which the artist often intends its decay or obliteration to be part of the work? Chicago Tribune 10/22/00
  • TATE TURNER DEAL: The Tate Museum has struck a deal with insurers over the 1994 theft of two of its Turner paintings. The insurers had paid out £24 million on the loss. But the museum was afraid to spend the money lest the paintings turn up and the insurance had to be paid back... The Art Newspaper 10/20/00
  • THE V&A CONSIDERS OFFLOADING ART: London's Victoria & Albert Musem is suffering from falling attendence and aconfused mission. Now a suggestion that the V&A offload some of its artwork to other museums. ďWe have marvellous pictures, but people donít come to see them here and they donít immediately think of Constables at the V&A. Even when they come for the paintings, it is hard to find them. Either we should rehang the paintings in the galleries where they were originally shown or offer them on long-term loan to other museums." The Art Newspaper 10/20/00
  • PHILANTHROPIST DEMANDS ARTWORK BACK: Ottawa's National Gallery of Canada recently landed a $20 million private collection of Chinese and Mid-Eastern antiquities, and the donation was seen as quite a coup. But now, after giving the some 1,800 objects to the museum, the donor has abruptly demanded them back. "They couldn't meet the conditions that I imposed. They weren't able to meet it, so we said, screw it." The museum has been under ongoing financial difficulties. Ottawa Citizen 10/17/00
  • IS COLLECTING ELITIST? Some British museums are having difficulty convincing their governing boards that adding to their collections is an important thing to do. "A fashionable theory that objects are less important than visitors' experiences, and that collecting is little more than elitist hoarding, is now in vogue among some museum governing bodies." The Telegraph (London) 10/16/00

PLUS: Boston's Museum of Fine Art makes a deal with the heirs of a painting sold under court order in Nazi-occupied Paris during World War II ~Guggenheim Las Vegas will feature 20 works from the Russian museum and 20 from Guggenheim that will rotate every six months ~ Enormous Etruscan city dating from the 5th Century BC unearthed under a plain in Tuscany ~ New large archeological finds in Central America help solve the riddle of why Mayan culture collapsed ~ New York's Museum of Modern Art unveils site for its temporary home in Queens ~ Retired New York teacher who defaced a painting at last year's controversial "Sensation" show at the Brooklyn Museum says it was his constitutional right to do so. 

10.  FOR FUN 

  • GLOWWORM: A genetically-altered French bunny named Alba that glows green in the dark is at the center of an international controversy." Eduardo Kac--an intense, cutting-edge artist at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago--claims he conceived of Alba and spurred scientists to create her for the sake of art. He wanted to use her living being as a canvas, if you will, to generate debate about the future of genetic engineering. Art?! you exclaim. Greening a living thing as art?!" Washington Post 10/18/00
  • MOZRT AS HE RELLY WAS: New translation of Mozart's letters restores the coarse grammer and broken spellings. "Some modern analysts have suggested that his verbal incontinence may have been a symptom of Tourette's syndrome, but Mozart lived in an earthy, unbuttoned age and he shared what Spaethling politely calls his "bathroom" humor not only with his naughty cousin, but also with his parents and sister. In their letters they are always encouraging each other to 's--- in your bed with all your might'." Chicago Sun-Times (Times) 10/22/00
  • POP CRITIC PONDERS THE HONESTY OF REVIEWS: The world of popular culture is filled with profanity. But you'll never read any of that included in newspapers' accounts of pop music events. Isn't the absence of same leaving out a part of the story? "Do readers really think that the sight of an f- over their morning coffee will have them unwillingly rubbing shoulders with Satan? Will an s- send them spiraling downward into a sweeping, swirling eddy of moral despair?" San Jose Mercury News 10/18/00
  • THE END OF THE VEGAS LOUNGE LIZARD? The Las Vegas lounge lizard is slithering away. More and more of the Vegas lounges are closing, and the lounge singer - as true a symbol of Vegas as any - is being replaced (mostly by magicians and illusionists). Chicago Tribune (AP) 10/20/00