ARTS BEAT NEWSLETTER - November 11 -19

Arts Journal Home Page
PublishingTheatreVisual ArtsArts IssuesPeople

SearchContact Us


Nov 19-24
Nov 11-18
Nov 4-10

Oct 28-Nov 3
Oct 21-27
Oct 15-20
Oct 7-14

Sept 30-Oct 6
Sept 23-29
Sept 16-22
Sept 9-15
Sept 3-8

Aug 26-Sept 2
Aug 19-25
Aug 12-18
Aug 5-11

July 29-Aug 4
July 22-28
July 15-21
July 8-14
July 1-7

June 24-30
June 17-23
June 10-16
June 3-9

May 27-June 2
May 20-26
May 13-19
May 6-12

April 29-May 5
April 22-28
April 15-21
April 8-14
April 1-7

March 25-31
March 18-24
March 11-17
March 4-10

Feb 25-Mar 3
Feb 18-24
Feb 11-17

Feb 4-10

Jan 28-Feb 3
Jan 21-27
Jan 14-20
Jan 7-13

2001 archives
2000 archives

News Service Home`Services
Digest Samples
Headline Samples








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


  • ARE WE DUMBING DOWN? "There simply is no clear evidence of any dumbing down except by the most crude and irrelevant criteria. The accusation is the final gasp of an upper-class male elite and their co-optees. They took it on themselves to define the distinction between high and popular culture and then police its boundaries. They were the high priests guarding the purity of the canon of cultural tradition. Even the language - high, low, low brow - demonstrates the snobbish elitism used to buttress their position of power. They've lost that, and now they've lost the debate." The Guardian (London) 11/13/00
  • MAINTAINING A GOOD IDEA: Five years ago Britain set up the lottery-supported Heritage Fund, setting forth £1.5 billion in spending on arts and cultural projects. "Who could have imagined in 1990 that so many longstanding conservation problems would be resolved or that such bold initiatives would have found funding? Without it, the world would have been a much duller place. Yet, just as the achievements of the fund are becoming clear, so are the dangers that surround it." The Telegraph (London) 11/19/00

  • HOW DO YOU CENSOR THE UNCENSORABLE? "Film censorship nowadays is a mess: it has neither legal nuance nor intellectual force, and instead it relies on a vague outrage about the unacceptable. Anyway, the new freedoms instituted and exercised right now by the internet are making a mockery of regulation." The Telegraph (London) 11/19/00

  • IS PRINT REALLY DEAD? Last week's E-book publishing conference in New York had everyone pondering the future of printed books. "Microsoft's vice president in charge of electronic books and 'tablet' computing devices, reiterated the company's prediction that the last print edition of The New York Times would appear in 2018, and you could feel the thought-wave slither through the room like an eel. 2018? Hey, I was planning to be around in 2018 - and with some time to look at the paper finally, too." The Atlantic 11/00

  • LOOKING BACK, AT A MINIMUM: In the mid-80s minimalism was a force one had to contend with - fer or a'gin. "By now, of course, 1988 seems like old times; and while these sorts of aesthetic wars are never actually won, so to speak, it's safe to say that the bells have indeed tolled for minimalism's reign over American fiction." Salon 11/16/00
  • BRINGING IN THE YOUTH VOTE: Last year "in a survey of 10 to 14-year-olds in Birmingham and Norwich, fewer than one in a hundred listed theatre as one of his or her preferred weekend activities, whereas 100 per cent of the sample were cinemagoers. Many dismissed theatres as “overpriced, stuffy and unfriendly”, offering plays that were either 'babyish or too serious'." Now an attempt to get kids into the theatre. The Times (London) 11/14/00

  • THE VALUE OF ART: "The tragedy is that American culture is increasingly Postmodernist, whether we identify ourselves as pragmatists or as persons of faith, as defenders of tradition or as progressives. To ask about the practical value of the fine arts is to trivialize them as thoroughly as the rabid academic deconstructionists who argue that standards and canons are simply tools of oppression and that all art is ultimately political. Both sides seek to subsume art to base political purposes. The Right wants to use art to 'remoralize' the society, and the Left wants to use it for social therapy, to encourage 'oppressed' groups." American Outlook 11/00


  • DANCE'S ANNUAL PICK-ME-UP: It's "Nutcracker" season again. Ballet companies all over stage the classic, and it typically generates at least 40 percent of a ballet company's income from ticket sales. Dance companies also fill theatres they otherwise have a difficult time attracting audiences to. San Jose Mercury News 11/19/00

  • GOT US A DANCE COMPANY - NOW WHAT? The celebrated Jose Limón Dance Company comes to San Jose, and "only about 50 bodies filled the nearly 500-seat theater. Such a low turnout brings up the question, once again, about the status of the arts in San Jose. Is the community willing to support the best that the performing arts world has to offer? Are arts marketers willing to roll up their sleeves and promote such work? If not, why would a company like Limón bother to return?" San Jose Mercury News 11/13/00

  • PAUL TAYLOR AT 70: Paul Taylor is 70 and going strong. "The dancers call him 'Boss' and Taylor describes his company as 'family', although he adds: 'With all the dysfunctions, too'. It matters to him that dancers average 'around 10 years' with the company before they move on. It has hurt him when they have finally gone." Philadelphia Inquirer 11/15/00


  • OUR FILM BEGINNINGS: For the first time since the advent of 'talkies' in the late 1920s, almost all the surviving classics of silent film are easily available – and playing at the proper speed, too." Why care? "There is an easy answer to this – for the same reasons one cares about Aeschylus and Chaucer, Giotto and Monteverdi. The best of the silent films show both the embryonic stirrings of an art form and, however impermanent, its first perfection." Washington Post 11/19/00

  • COLORLESS CASTING: Six months after the major TV networks pledged to improve the diversity of their casting, a multiethnic coalition of media and civil rights organizations issued a "report card" on their progress. And the grades? ABC, NBC, and Fox all received D’s, while CBS got an F for a total lack of minority representation on both sides of the camera. "The major TV networks are making some progress for blacks but almost none for Latinos, Asian Americans and Native Americans. We still have a long, long way to go." Variety 11/15/00

  • THE ART OF FILM: It was a nice dream - a string of art movie houses across the US. Alas, it appears not to be. A 3-year joint venture between General Cinemas and Sundance to build arthouse theaters nationwide has gone belly up. "The joint venture still exists, but it's sort of an empty vessel." Variety 11/15/00

  • INSATIABLE APPETITE: Bertelsmann, the giant that seems to be gobbling up every media company in sight, eyes a takeover of EMI. If it happens, Bertelsmann will control 25 percent of the world's music market. Variety 11/13/00


  • DEATH IN VENICE: "Venice was once one of the great European musical capitals, a city whose leaders recognised the power of cultural prestige and took care to attract and encourage composers of the calibre of Monteverdi and Vivaldi. It became a centre whose excellence in performance at its churches and the famous foundling hospitals which trained musicians made it a site of pilgrimage. The effect of decades of mass tourism in recent years has been to diminish the quality and range of concerts." The Independent (London) 11/17/00

  • PHILADELPHIA AT 100: The Philadelphia Orchestra turns 100. "Only the orchestras of Berlin, Vienna, Cleveland and Chicago can claim to be competing on as high a level. And yet, the orchestra continues to operate in the same state of institutional uncertainty that has plagued it for the last six or seven years." Philadelphia Inquirer 11/16/00

    • PROBING THE PHILADELPHIA SOUND: What is it about the Philadelphia Orchestra that makes (made?) that distinctive sound? New York Times 11/14/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

    • SAWALISCH'S NEW INTENSITY: Wolfgang Sawallisch is on his way out the Philadelphia's music director. But as he's turned 77 the critics are noting a new intensity in his performances. While Sawallisch notes the change, he's at a loss to explain it. Philadelphia Inquirer 11/16/00

  • OLD TRADITIONS DIE: The Vienna Philharmonic is changing, despite itself. "There are now three Australians in the orchestra. There are also two Americans, a Canadian, and both harpists are French. Over the next four years, seven viola-players are due to retire and it is a safe bet that most of the newcomers will be foreign and probably female. The pressure for change has come primarily from guest conductors who, accustomed to industrial-strength precision playing in American orchestras, have complained about Viennese frailties - notably the trombones and tuba - without recognising that those wavery underpinnings were part of what audiences identified as the Vienna Philharmonic sound." The Telegraph (London) 11/15/00

  • BUILDING A HOUSE OF JAZZ: The Lincoln Center jazz program is establishing a place for itself among New York's cultural institutions. But what about those who say that institutionalizing jazz is to kill it? Wynton Marsalis: Those who say that are "closet oppressors armed with a 'fake mythology'—the kind of people who not only don’t play it, but don’t even like it. It’s like telling somebody who’s in a two-room house, ‘You’ve done OK in a two-room house—why y’all want to build a five-room house?’” Metropolis 11/00

  • THE JUKEBOX OF ALL JUKEBOXES: Recent developments in the digital music industry (like Napster’s partnering with Bertelsmann and announcements of enhanced security systems) spell disaster for some proponents of freely accessible downloadable music. But maybe "what's really at stake is not whether music will be expensively secure or freely exchangeable - but simply how soon the recording industry will assemble the music delivery system that is inevitable, the ‘celestial jukebox.’ In layman terms, a networked device that will allow you to download any song your heart desires, anytime." Salon 11/13/00

  • RETHINKING BOCELLI: Has a singer ever been trashed so thoroughly by the critics as Andrea Bocelli has? Yet his first recording of a complete opera ("La Boheme") has some critics rethinking their assessments. "Judged as a recording experience, Bocelli's Rodolfo, which he has performed onstage in Sardinia, offers a great deal. His pop-crossover background may be responsible for his unusual attention to words; try his wistful query about Mimi in the Act IV duet with Marcello, "L'hai visto?" (have you seen her?). This Rodolfo simply sounds young, a bit light in the head and endowed with the soul of a poet." San Francisco Examiner 11/16/00

Plus: Isn't pop music supposed to offend the establishment? ~ Conductor Kent Nagano is a rising star in Europe. So why aren't major American orchestras in need of new music directors clamoring after him? 



  • JAMES LEVINE, OPERA CONDUCTOR: James Levine is in his 30th year at the Metropolitan Opera. "The man is simply wedded to the job. He even speaks the way he conducts, in long, flawlessly constructed paragraphs. He pays attention to verbal detail, too, rather as he might with some orchestral point in rehearsal, pausing to find just the right word or phrase to express what he wants to communicate. And then there is also, unmistakably, a certain personal reserve, a distancing that is sometimes a feature of his performances, a sense of his own importance that is conveyed by a reluctance to talk in depth about anything except conducting." The Guardian (London) 11/17/00

  • GREENSPAN A SWINGER: Dour-looking US Fed chairman Alan Greenspan "studied music at Julliard, and long before he was tracking interest rates he was mastering music scales. Early on, in fact, he spent a year on the road playing saxophone and clarinet with the acclaimed Henry Jerome band." National Post 11/15/00

  • PINTER BY HIS PEERS: Harold Pinter’s theater-world friends discuss the man many consider to be England’s greatest living playwright. The 40th anniversary production of his play "The Caretaker" is about to open in the West End, and Pinter has four new plays under his belt in the last decade. The Telegraph (London) 11/13/00



  • SUSAN SONTAG WINS NATIONAL BOOK AWARD for her novel "In America." The nonfiction award went to Nathaniel Philbrick for "In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex;" the poetry prize went to Lucille Clifton. New York Times 11/16/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • THE BIG DEAL ABOUT LIT PRIZES: "A shiny medallion-shaped sticker, stamped with the word 'winner,' affixed to the otherwise enigmatic cover of a new novel, has a formidable power to sell books - sometimes thousands of them. But what do these prizes really mean? How are they chosen, and which of them, if any, is the most reliable?" A look at the prizes and their processes. Salon 11/16/00
  • CANADIAN PUBLISHING'S NEW STAR: She is 34, the youngest ever to be appointed to such a senior position in the Canadian publishing industry. Maya Mavjee is the lead editor behind the Giller Prize-winning "Mercy Among the Children" by David Adams Richards and the newly appointed publisher of Doubleday Canada, which makes her a star just beginning her ascent. Globe & Mail (Toronto) 11/16/00
  • ROWLING ROUTED: The shortlist for the Whitbread Book of the Year Award (which, unlike the more revered Booker, proudly honors what’s popular, not just literary) was announced yesterday, and J K Rowling was noticeably absent. "The judges have thought the almost unthinkable by overlooking J K Rowling, author of the Harry Potter children's books, while including the former drug addict and ‘gonzo’ journalist Will Self, who has declared: ‘My books are crap.’" The Telegraph (London) 11/15/00
  • E-BOOKS: MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS: Is the electronic book really going to democratize publishing, as its proponents hope? Or simply flood the market with content, without a filter for quality or a universal format for downloading and reading? "Last week's e-Book World Conference showed an industry riven by as much schizophrenia as the presidential elections. For now, anyway, the e-book industry is more rumpus than reality." Village Voice 11/21/00

Plus: A group of Chinese poets was arrested in China and charged with "illegal assembly" at a literary symposium on the future of Chinese poetry ~ The manuscript of a key chapter of James Joyce's novel Ulysses, expected to fetch up to £1 million ($2.7 million) at auction next month, reveals how the author agonised over the epic work.



  • RIGHTING WRONGS SELDOM WORKS: "Within my memory, there has not been a successful major revival with a revamped book of a problematic show. Yet the lure of going back in time to make things rights persists. Composers sometimes yearn to solve the problems that weren't addressed when the show was in try-outs in Boston, Philadelphia or New Haven. If only they had just a little more time, a little more money, a little more luck." Hartford Courant 11/19/00

  • ANOTHER DAY AT THE OFFICE: David Shiner, the star of the troubled musical "Seussical," apparaently can't sing, dance or act. In trying to fix the show before it opens for real on Broadway November 30, the producers decide to replace him with Andrea Martin. But the show's creative team fights the move. New York Post 11/17/00

  • THE UNION LABEL: The Screen Actors Guild may have recently settled the strike with Hollywood's commercial producers, but an internal report says the union is fractured and lacking focus. "SAG lacks a clear, shared mission and strategy, which is the foundation of an effective organization," the report says. "There is no consensus regarding SAG's mission, which is essential for establishing a shared consensus about SAG's goals." Backstage 11/16/00

  • BOW WOW: "London's West End, after a recent extraordinary period of revitalisation, has gone to the dogs. That's the worry voiced by many London critics in the last couple of months." And it's not just star casting that's to blame. The Independent (London) 11/12/00

  • WORLD REFERENCE: It was a project that was supposed to take a year or so. But the six-volume World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre, just released, ended up as a 15 year project that always seemed to be about a year behind in its funding. National Post (Canada) 11/14/00

Plus: New York's Public Theatre, under fire recently for some of the artistic and business decisions that have been made, gets some expert help ~ Is there a place for supertitles in the non-opera theatre? The Royal Shakespeare Company experiments.



  • DEBATING ART PRIZES: Is the Turner Prize good for art? Is it valuable because it "gets people talking about creativity and ideas" or is is bad because it steers art in the directions championed by a select elite few?" The Observer 11/19/00

  • WHEN DESIGN ENTERS THE MUSEUM: "Leading curators all over are bringing design into their art galleries, in an effort to expand the scope of their programming, and of their audience." But, as in the Guggenheim's Armani show, why do it if all you end up doing is making an expensive commercial for a designer? The Globe & Mail 11/19/00

    • THE LINE BETWEEN ART AND COMMERCE: More and more museums are showing commercial work sponsored by corporations. Commercial work as in motorcycles or clothes or advertising. The shows have proven popular both with audiences and corporate interests. But to what extent are museums selling their souls for such shows? Chronicle of Higher Education 11/13/00

  • THE HUMAN BODY: "Though nudes are one of the most coherent traditions in photography of the last century, a serious public discussion about the motif of the human body, which has been used extensively in all forms of communication and especially in advertising, could not take place in such a codified area." But in the last century, medical-technical photography, which goes from X-ray images and video probes to the screening and scanning of single cellsit has delivered increasingly spectacular and at the same time abstract views of the human body. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 11/17/00

  • A DEALER'S MEMOIR: Chicago art dealer Richard Feigen sees art endangered everywhere — "by a misplaced egalitarianism, by a trendy, superheated market in contemporary art, by the fads that museums do not always have the willpower to resist, by trustees who wrest control from more knowledgeable museum directors and curators, and by opportunists who use collections for their own aggrandizement. Indeed, he provides plenty of scandalous examples of exactly these problems as they have affected major collections." Book Magazine 11/00

  • MOVE OVER, GIOTTO: Recently discovered Roman frescoes by Pietro Cavallini have thrown into question the entire history of Western art, beginning with who actually painted the Assisi basilica, long considered Giotto’s masterwork. "Even in Italy, a country where it seems a priceless work of art is uncovered every other week, Dr Strinati's discovery was something of a surprise. The fragments found so far have been enough to cause the first tremors of what could turn out to be an earthquake in the history of art, dethroning Giotto from his time-honoured position as the creator of the realistic tradition of painting in Western art and replacing him with an obscure Roman artist." The Telegraph (London) 11/15/00

  • A DAMNING REPORT: The British Museum is reportedly holding on to a report about the fiasco surrounding the use of the wrong stone for the museum's new portico. "Although it was supposed to provide transparency and soothe anxieties over the portico affair, informed sources say its disclosures are so embarrassing to the museum that the museum's chairman will not countenance its appearance until well after the Queen opens the Great Court on 6 December." London Evening Standard 11/15/00

  • THE OLD SUPPLY AND DEMAND PROBELM: Last week’s big auction sales in New York starkly reflect the problems of an almost overly robust art market: There are now so many wealthy buyers ready to throw their disposable income onto their walls that the auction houses are having trouble meeting demand with high-quality works. "Rich collectors are under no financial pressure to sell, and when they decide to do so they often have hopelessly unrealistic, some would say greedy, expectations of the prices they will get. This problem is compounded by the fact that three auction houses are now fishing in a pool where once only two cast their bait." The Telegraph (London) 11/13/00

  • BUILD ON THIS: Promoting a movement called the "second modernity" Holland is considered to be Europe's top nation for architecture. Is it? The Independent 11/13/00

Plus: The Barnes Collection gets expert help from the Getty Trust ~ Norman Foster's £18 million Millennium Footbridge across the Thames will require £5 million and take six months to fix ~ Vandal who defaced a Chris Ofili painting in last year's "Sensation" show at the Brooklyn Museum, gets a $250 fine for the act ~ French courts order the seizure of a Cézanne painting currently on show in the Musée du Luxembourg to sort out claims it was stolen during World War II ~ Christie's and Sotheby's express growing concerns over the problem of war loot ~ Las Vegas' Venetian Hotel is spending $20 million on its share of the new Guggenheim project that brings the museum to the hotel ~ Turkish police recover a fifth stolen Picasso in Turkey.



  • USING THE ARTS FOR COMMUNITY REGENERATION: In Britain's "vast, scorched, abandoned" industrial outposts, traditional industries are in full retreat. "What can save these places? Enter the good fairy of the arts with her magic wand and her bag of enchanted lottery dust. Hey presto - cultural regeneration!" But wait just a minute..." The Sunday Times (London) 11/19/00

  • SAVING THE NEA: NEA chairman Bill Ivey on the NEA's travails in the past decade: "Our supporters in Congress, in the administration, and around the country in state arts agencies and arts organizations have become a lot more sophisticated and organized around their advocacy efforts. Some of that came from the need to protect the agency when it was under attack a few years ago. In the long run, I think we'll look back and say [those] attacks were actually beneficial to the Endowment." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 11/18/00

  • LEGISLATING TASTE: It's election time in Canada, so of course silly season is in full flower. An Alliance Party member says the party believes that the federal government ought to only fund art that at least one-third of Canadians can be proud of. "There certainly is no censorship implied. I would just like to think the money was going to be wisely spent and would benefit the majority of the population." CBC 11/15/00

  • CRITICIZING FROM WITHIN: Last month the director of London's Barbican criticized his fellow arts institutions for the manner in which they were run. Now another arts leader has turned on his colleagues. "It used to be unknown for subsidised institutions to condemn each other." But now, "with the attacks now coming from within, the pressure will be on the notoriously non-interventionist Culture Secretary Chris Smith to take a closer interest in the performance of national institutions." The Independent 11/12/00

  • ART MEETS VEGAS: Art museums aren't the only higher artform to discover Las Vegas. The performance offerings are changing too, and serious artists are beginning to see a new market (and one backed with plenty of cash). Orange County Register 11/19/00

  • PARIS OF THE EAST: Shanghai’s artists are vying to recapture the city’s pre-Communist reputation as a thriving international art center - the "Paris of the East," as it was internationally known before the Cultural Revolution. One problem: government authorities would rather showcase high-budget imports like the recent 3000-cast member "Aida" rather than allow exhibits of the controversial art of China's politically conscious youth. The Age (Melbourne) (AFP) 11/13/00



  • THE ACROPOLIS SUBWAY STRATEGY: In their latest attempt to get Britain to return the Elgin marbles to Greece, the Greeks have come up with a new tactic - a subway station at the base of the Acropolis. "The Greeks have chosen this subway station to send a message to thousands of people every day: The marble sculptures that once adorned the Parthenon should come home from London. To make the point, the inside of Akropoli station has been decorated with replicas of the Parthenon Marbles." Washington Post 11/19/00
  • TRUMPING PAVAROTTI: Last Saturday night Donald Trump flew some friends to Atlantic City to hear Pavarotti at the Taj Mahal hotel. But Pavarotti was not in good voice and the show was not very good. "So outraged was Trump that, after the show, he made his way backstage and demanded that the singer refund him at least half his money." Pavarotti refused but apologized and offered to do another show soon. National Post 11/17/00
  • THE ERRANT E-MAIL: Canada's Governor General prize for literature was set to be announced this week. But late last week an e-mail with the names of the winners mistakenly went out to media outlets, and reporters being who reporters are... Anyway, here are the winners. CBC 11/12/00
  • RABBIT, HIDE: He’s already won two Pulitzer Prizes, but John Updike may soon have another, altogether stranger, honor to his name: the 2000 award for the worst sex in fiction. "To make the shortlist, an author must be deemed to have written the worst or the most embarrassing sex scene in a book published this year." CBC 11/15/00
  • HONORING OURSELVES: What's the point of literary awards? They're such an exercise in self-pleasuring. "Good evening. We are here to honour writers who have already been honoured yet must be honoured and will need honouring again, shortly. We do so because they are our ghastly, yet glorious, companions from the legion of Toronto Lit-Elite." Globe and Mail (Toronto) 11/14/00
  • PYRAMID PUZZLE REVEALED: The ancient Egyptians lined up the pyramids according to the position of the stars at the time. Their ability to do that allows scientists now to pinpoint exactly when the structures were built. "These stars were important for religious reasons. The king hoped to join them for eternity after his death. It was their alignment in the sky that enabled the architects to align the pyramids with true north with the amazing accuracy that has been puzzling scientists ever since." Discovery 11/16/00