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  • DIRECTING OUR RESOURCES: "The issue is not whether classical ballet is a great art form; let's postulate that it is. The question is about the role of art in the community. Should public money be used to help perfect an elitist exercise so that all may benefit by watching it, or should it be used to promote sundry inclusive art forms (Make-A-Circus, as one example) so that all may benefit by participating in them?" San Francisco Chronicle 12/14/00
  • SPOTTING FAKES: A new book has the European auction world in an uproar. "The book, published in France, has attracted attention because of the author’s ability to explain how fake paintings and furniture are produced. Experts say the methods are authentic." The Times (London) 12/11/00
  • THE REAL PROBLEM: What was wrong with art in the last 15 years of the 20th Century? "For a number of reasons, art had given up the ghost under the weight of theory. The breakdown of distinctions between high and popular culture led to all manner of cultural produce and effluent being sifted and read as text. We were top heavy with theorists (not to mention curators), who needed scant visual stimulus to write the work into the flat ergo of post-modernist irony." The Guardian (London) 12/12/00
  • EARNING IN THE ARTS: What are graduates of Australia's universities earning? First-year dentists get $50,000. "At the other end of the scale, visual arts graduates and linguists remain in the doldrums. Between 30 and 40 per cent of those graduates looking for work are still unable to find full-time work four months after leaving university. Assuming they got work, graduates working in art and design could expect to earn $28,000, well below the national average." Sydney Morning Herald 12/14/00
  • ACTORS IN POVERTY: The Equity actors' union takes a poll of 408 of its members and finds that the majority of actors (72 percent) earn less than £10,000 a year from their profession. "Performers felt they were seen either as glamorous, arrogant, overpaid slackers or laughable luvvies and that acting is not a proper job". BBC 12/13/00

  • CLEAN FOR WHAT? To have their music sold in stores like Walmart, artists whose work contains profanity or controversial lyrics often record cleaned up versions. "You might think that these edited-for-content discs would be a popular alternative in an age of edgy music. Wrong. Young fans and artists hate them, many merchants disdain them, parents are confused by them, and even industry honchos find them wanting in quality." Los Angeles Times 12/12/00



  • DANCING FOR PROFIT: Since the South African government has discontinued funding for dance a new for-profit company has stepped in to see if dance can be commercially viable. The obvious first choice? "Nutcracker" of course. The Daily Mail & Guardian 12/12/00
  • INSIDE THE AUSTRALIAN BALLET: It appears from the outside that the Australian Ballet is in trouble. "Yet, as dancers leave the company in what look like droves, the board and management react, as they usually do at times of looming crisis, by appearing not to notice that something is wrong." So maybe it isn't. The Age (Melbourne) 12/16/00
  • CULTIVATING THE NEXT GENERATION: Juilliard works at training a new generation of choreographers. New York Times 12/17/00 (one-trime registration required for access)
  • FIRING UP THE NATIONAL BALLET: The National Ballet of Canada has had a rough time in the past year with the public relations fiasco surrounding the dismissal of dancer Kimberly Glasco. The company is hoping to relight its image with an extravagant new production of "Firebird." CBC 12/10/00



  • NEW ARTS CHANNEL: Last week a new all-arts TV channel debuted in the UK. "The importance of Artsworld succeeding, however, is hard to overstate. But to survive, Artsworld will have to be more than good; as a brand, it will have to be as tough as old boots." New Statesman 12/11/00
  • IS THE NEW YORKER'S ANTHONY LANE REALLY A BAD CRITIC? "What’s at issue here has nothing to do with 'opinion', or whether one likes or dislikes 'Crouching Tiger'. It has to do with the critic’s basic grasp of his subject. He’s not really a film critic but a quip-minded belletrist who happened into a lucrative gig and appears to have no inclination, now, to patch up the gaping holes in his knowledge of film." New York Press 12/12/00
  • ART REBORN: There has been concern for much of this year that art films had died. But "driven by a handful of recent hits, the fourth quarter of 2000 is on track to become the most lucrative period for art films in nearly two years." 12/12/00
  • CLASSIC WEB TV: The Museum of Radio and Television says it will make available on the internet "almost every radio and TV broadcast ever aired. The massive assortment includes Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon, Yankee Don Larsen's perfect World Series game in 1956, the first few hours of MTV and thousands of television shows, including the pilot episode of 'Seinfeld', and once-thought-to-be-lost episodes of 'The Honeymooners'." New York Post 12/13/00
  • A HUGE GREEN LIGHT: After weeks of delay, the Federal Trade Commission approved the proposed merger of America Online and Time Warner, clearing the way for the creation of the largest media company in history. New York Times 12/15/00 (one-time registration required for access)

PlusDoing Shakespeare on the screen - a leap in updating ~ Hollywood Boulevard gets a major cleanup ~ Jackson Pollock movie a hit with critics ~ Australian Broadcasting Corporation expected to cut its budget for FM programming by 34% ~ China's efforts to crack down on CD and video bootleggers is ineffective. 



  • TAKING A CHANCE ON SOMETHING NEW: "Most orchestras are still wedded to the time-honored image of a paternalistic European music director steeped in the Romantic tradition. And as luck would have it, right now there simply aren't enough of those guys to go around." So how about a new approach? How about some moxie and inventiveness? San Francisco Chronicle 12/17/00
  • A SEASON FOR VERDI: La Scala, just down the road from the hotel where the composer died in January 1901, is dedicating its season to him, and the city has mounted a magnificent and comprehensive Verdi exhibition in the Palazzo Reale. The Times (London) 12/11/00
    • VERDI CELEBRATIONS: "It will be 100 years ago next month that Giuseppe Verdi died, and Italy has been yearning ever since for his unifying genius. But while Italy is playing up the Verdi year for all it is worth in tourist dollars and Rome-promoted national cohesion, the uncomfortable questions are not being asked. Verdi represents an end, not a renewal." The Telegraph (London) 12/13/00
  • DUTCH OPERA CANCELED: "An opera about a strong-minded wife of the prophet Muhammad has been canceled in the Netherlands after the Moroccan cast and composer were pressured into withdrawing by Muslim clerics. The intimidation of the cast has caused a stir in Dutch cultural circles because it is seen as reminiscent of the censorship and the threats against Salman Rushdie and other Muslim writers who have touched on subjects involving the Koran." New York Times 12/10/00 (one-time registration required for access)
  • HIP HOP PROFILING? "The usual argument in support of the rappers-are-criminals theory boils down to this: If an artist boasts on record about beating people, shooting people, taking or selling drugs or abusing women, why shouldn't the police consider them to be prime suspects? The answer is we should expect people, especially police, to distinguish between fantasy and reality." Boston Herald 12/12/00
  • MAKING MUSIC: "While our word processors, spreadsheets, and graphic applications share the same basic conventions as their predecessors from the early nineties, the software employed by actual musicians to create and edit their sounds on the PC has undergone a dramatic transformation. Indeed, today's audio-production software features some of the most radical interface design anywhere. The funny thing about that transformation, though, is how backward-looking it turns out to be." Feed 12/11/00
  • BAYREUTH STALEMATE: The culture secretary for the state of Bavaria says the state "cannot continue to devote taxpayers' money to the Bayreuth festival, given the uncertainty of its future. He has made no secret of the fact that he would like the 81-year-old Wolfgang Wagner to step down by the end of 2002. Despite the fact that all the festival performances are heavily sold out, Wagner is not prepared to give up the job or state subsidies, and pressure over the financial situation is growing." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 12/15/00
  • COMMITMENT TO CLASSICAL? Chicago's mom-and-pop classical music station WNIB was a labor of love - a low-budget affair that survived decades of buy-out offers on the strength of its owners' commitment. But $165 million is too much money to turn down... Also too much money for the new owners to continue the classical format. Chicago Tribune 12/13/00

Plus: The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has accumulated its largest debt in its 78 year history ~ Mariss Jansons not likely to be next New York Philharmonic director ~ John Eliot Gardiner loses his Deutsche Grammophon recording contract ~ London's Royal Opera House to name BBC's Tony Hall as new director ~ Lincoln Center Jazz director resigns suddenly, sparking questions. 



  • THREAT OF VIOLENCE: The winner of this year's Governor General's Award for Fiction apparently wrote of his elaborate plans to slaughter professors at McGill University over a dispute about his thesis. He evidently went so far as to drive to Detroit to purchase weapons for the job. University officials are investigating. National Post (Canada) 12/11/00
  • WORKING THROUGH THE ILLNESS: Nobel literature laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez says being diagnosed with lymphatic cancer last year was an impetus to get him to write his memoirs. "More than a year ago I was put under treatment for three months for lymphoma, and today I am surprised at the enormous stroke of luck this stumbling block has been in my life." Dallas Morning News 12/11/00
  • FRANK RICH, CRITIC: "Although to this day he modestly maintains he did not have the influence others attributed to him (he says that bad shows were the problem, not his reviews) the fact remains that the reputation of Frank Rich, the critic, will be as one of the most-feared and most powerful journalistic voices in the history of New York. Today's reviewers don't have even the shadow of the impact Frank Rich could command." The Idler 12/13/00



  • REALITY AND E-PUBLISHING: Stephen King's decision to pull the plug on his online serial novel because not enough readers were paying for it, has publishers lowering their expectations for online publishing. The Age (Melbourne) (AP) 12/11/00
  • NARROWLY DEFINING POETRY: The editor of The Spectator recently announced he would start publishing poetry in the magazine again."But then he named his terms: the poems should rhyme and scan. No modern poetry is 'any bloody good', he said, and wagered that none of the verse rattling around our heads was written in the past 30 years." The Telegraph (London) 12/16/00
  • STAR-STRUCK: Britain's richest prize for writing, the Whitbread, went ga-ga for celebrities this year when it chose its judges. "For the first time in the 30 years of the awards, half the judges are showbiz, television or sporting faces rather than authors or critics. Last year Whitbread drew criticism over the choice of one judge, the actress and model Jerry Hall." The Guardian (London) 12/15/00
  • RECORD FOR JOYCE: "An autographed and hand-written chapter of James Joyce's novel Ulysses has raised a record $1.5 million at auction - and is going back to Ireland. It was bought by the National Library of Ireland, in Dublin." BBC 12/15/00
  • ONLINE PROMOTION: Websites have become a step beyond the chat show - writers' websites try to make friends with readers, all in an effort to sell more books. If the efforts are somewhat clumsy... The New York Times 12/14/00 (one-time registration required for access)
  • WHAT I LEARNED FROM THE INTERNET: Stephen King says he learned a lot about the internet with his failed serialized novel. "First, many Internet users have the attention span of a grasshopper. Second, users believe that everything on the Web should be free or almost free of charge. And third, book-readers don't regard electronic books as real books. They're like people saying, 'I love corn on the cob but creamed corn makes me gag'.” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 12/15/00

PLUS: Two of America's biggest publishers - HarperCollins and St. Martin's Press, had their best run in years ~ Spanish writer Francisco Umbral has won the Cervantes Prize - the Spanish-speaking world's highest literary honor.



  • WHY IS BROADWAY SO STAR STRUCK? Broadway grossed a record $603 million in the 1999-2000 season. "We're talking about the average cost of a musical being $8 (million) to $10 million, and the average cost of a play being $1,250,000 or a million and a half. So it's no surprise that many producers are now saying that unless they can identify some component that will give them a broad popular audience, they're not going to take a chance." USA Today 12/15/00
  • THE CIRQUE IN LONDON: Cirque du Soleil is expected to announce an ambitious plan today for a 2,000-seat circus theatre and a "revolutionary entertainment hotel" as part of a £500-million redevelopment of London's historic Battersea Power Station. The plan is to create "an international entertainment village" along the Thames River. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/11/00
    • THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT: Cirque du Soleil, the Canadian troupe that reinvented circuses a decade-and-a-half ago, says it plans to reinvent the entertainment center idea. Announcing an ambitious new project for the bank of the Thames, Cirque says it will also develop "multifaceted entertainment centres in New York, Hong Kong, Las Vegas and London over the next decade." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/12/00
  • THEATRE OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS: Some are bemoaning the rise of what one newspaper has called "popcorn theatre" in London's West End. "That scenario frets about serious fare being shunted aside as London becomes a playground for famous names wanting to refuel their careers. Or, as The Guardian's Michael Billington called it in a cautionary turn of phrase, "box-office bait for unwary tourists." Sydney Morning Herald (AP) 12/11/00
  • BETTER BLACK? The Guardian's theatre critic wrote that Stephen Jeffreys new play would have been better if he was black. The playwright disagrees: "One of the basic requirements for being a playwright is to be able to inhabit other people's skins. But why, when no one has ever questioned my right to create roles for women, old people and gays, am I supposed to baulk at the barrier of race?" The Guardian (London) 12/13/00
  • CLEANING UP TIMES SQUARE: When the cleanup of Times Square was begun ten years ago, the street's dilapidated theatres were seen as a liability. But in fact they became the key to the project. "Restoration of the theaters would be tied to construction of new buildings; every time a new tower went up, another theater would be saved. New York Times 12/10/00 (one-time registration required for access)

Plus: Rosie O'Donnell will play the Cat in the Hat in "Seussical" ~ English town prohibits  actors from dressing up in black face ~  Goodman Theatre opens in Chicago ~ Mass commercial appeal overshadows creativity  on Broadway ~ Melbourne's commercial theatres  are complaining about life in the city.



  • WHAT MUSEUMS SHOULD BE? "If the first idea informing much cultural planning is a version of technological determinism, then the second is a belief in the increasing convergence of commerce and culture. In this version of futurology, shops are becoming more like museums - places for visual and aesthetic display - while museums are becoming more like shops." The Telegraph (London) 12/16/00
  • RIGHT OF SALE: The UK is strongly resisting a European proposal to give all EU artists a share of the resale value of their work. The British government has warned that its art auction businesses could suffer greatly if the law is passed and sellers begin to take their work elsewhere to avoid handing over a cut of every sale. BBC 12/14/00
  • GET YOUR GOLDEN AGES STRAIGHT: It's quite easy to pick on the follies of Post-Modernism. But to harken back to some "Golden Age in the 1960s, as a new critique of po-mo does, is just wrong-headed. The book appears "fixated on some late 19th century concept of order on the art scene - the artist in his (yes, his) studio, the work displayed in its correct place in the museum, the audience properly intimidated by Masterpieces, the moral value of Art interpreted by beady-eyed critics - perhaps the unhappy author of this book. But much has changed since the 19th century, not all for the worse." The Idler 12/14/00
  • DESTROYING TIBET: According to recent reports from Lhasa, capital of Tibet, "much of the area around Barkhor Square, the centre of the Tibetan city, has been fenced off, apparently but unconfirmably for demolition. Such destruction has already happened in much of the old town, although it is unclear whether this is due to corruption or official policy." The Art Newspaper 12/12/00
  • NO SALE: A small Quebec auction house thought it had scored a coup when it got a Renoir to sell and touted it as potentially "one of the most important art sales in Canada." But the painting "went as high as $1.45-million, but stalled before the auctioneer pulled the painting off the block because it did not meet the minimum price set by the owner. It had been estimated at $1.5-million to $2-million." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/13/00
  • FAILURE TO KEEP TRACK: Did the Pompidou lose a sculpture? A nine-foot tall one at that? The museum's director admits it was probably destroyed. The New York Times 12/12/00 (one-time registration required for access)
  • OLD MASTERS AND EUROPEAN BIDDERS: An interesting trend emerged at Christie’s successful old master auction this week (during which a Rembrandt portrait sold for $28.6 million): "British and European bidders accounted for 82.5 percent of the buyers, while Americans made up only 15 percent. For a while now, we've been hearing that New York was becoming the center of the old master market, but this is not the case." New York Times 12/15/00 (one-time registration required for access)
  • THE ART-LOVING SPY: The National Gallery of Canada is investigating the provenance of some of its artworks after it was revealed that they were purchased on the advice of a British art connoisseur who was later unmasked as a Soviet spy. "Anthony Blunt drew on a network of fellow spies who acted as art dealers in Europe to make some of his acquisitions for the National Gallery." National Post (Canada) 12/14/00
  • POPULARITY KILLED THE MUSEUM? "Are museums going to hell in a touring exhibition of hand baskets? Is buzz a thing to be feared in a place of high culture?" Directors of Boston's Museum of Fine Arts and the Harvard Museums debate buzz and bang-for-the-buck. Boston Herald 12/15/00

Plus: Record price for a Rembrandt "Portrait of a Lady" - $28.7 million ~ Art dealers are against taking thumb prints of customer to help track stolen art ~ The National Gallery of Australia chooses Melbourne businessman and philanthropist as its new chairman ~ Impressionist exhibition draws big crowds in Connecticut ~ German government has decided to buy the Berggruen collection containing more than 170 works ranging from Cézanne to Matisse ~ Dresden museums recorded an enormous increase in attendance this year, even as other German museums were scrounging for visitors ~  Pew Charitable Trusts gives the financially-strapped Barnes Foundation $500,000 ~ Vancouver Art Gallery appoints Kathleen Bartels, currently assistant director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, as its new director ~ National Gallery of Canada adds two Spanish paintings to a list of suspected Nazi art booty ~ Seventeen paintings, including works by Renoir and Chagall, are discovered missing from a Japanese department store. 



  • WHAT DOES EUROPE KNOW ABOUT ART? "Cultural protectionism is in vogue throughout Europe, evidence of a growing fear that the continent's old national cultures are under threat. The EU's role is significant. Although it claims to act benignly, serving as a mere facilitator of culture, its policies display somewhat different, culturally integrationist aims. It believes in the propagation of an official European culture." The Telegraph (London) 12/16/00
  • CULTURE COST: So how are kids supposed to be exposed to the arts when it costs so much? "Two adults taking two children to a big show won't see much change from $250. To put that in perspective, most people earn less than $800 a week. After tax, groceries, mortgage and car costs, it's hard to see where the 'Annie' tickets are going to come from." Sydney Morning Herald 12/13/00
  • CENSORSHIP TO LEARN FROM: In Singapore artists announce a new website on which they will post work censored by the government. Surprisingly, the government does not object: "The archive hopes to 'compile case studies, so we know what were the reasons for the censorship, and to learn from it. We hope that it will promote understanding and meaningful dialogue on artistic freedom and responsibility." The Straits-Times (Singapore) 12/10/00
  • WATCHING HOME-GROWN: A new law in Korea mandating that a percentage of the films theatres show should be Korean seems to be working. Screening of Korean films has soared. Korea Times 12/11/00
  • IT'S JUST AS EASY TO DATE A RICH ONE: Earlier this week the National Gallery of Australia appointed Melbourne multi-millionaire Harold Mitchell as its new chairman. Yesterday Mitchell launched a $10 million arts and health foundation, which will distribute a minimum of $500,000 in grants a year for arts and health projects in the first five years. Sydney Morning Herald 12/13/00 

Plus:  US National Medal of Arts winners include Maya Angelou, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Itzhak Perlman, and National Public Radio’s Cultural Programming Division ~  Australian artists win the right to "stop their work being mistreated or wrongly attributed under laws passed last week ~  Los Angeles unveils plans for a cultural corridor to link its cultural institutions ~ Hollywood welcomes Bush administration ~ Canada's popular culture minister hints she wants to change jobs.



  • BETTER READING THROUGH PSYCHOANALYSIS? A psychological assessment of A.A. Milne's children's books suggests Winnie the Pooh's seemingly tranquil forest is full of characters afflicted by obsessive compulsion behaviour, anxiety, dyslexia and severe depression. "It is clear to our group of modern neuro-developmentalists that these are, in fact, stories of Seriously Troubled Individuals, many of whom meet [medically standard] criteria for significant disorders." National Post (Canada) 12/12/00
  • STILL JUST A KID: Charlotte Church may be selling a ton of recordings and making a fortune, but she's still a kid:" I suppose, yeah. I'm not evil. I'm not that much of a devil. (Turning to mother) Am I acting a little more devilish as I get older, Mum? She says sometimes. There's a lot she doesn't know." San Francisco Chronicle 12/17/00
  • THE COW IN BARBARA HENDRICKS' POOL: "The intruder, either hungry for better grazing or charmed by the American diva's voice, had broken through a series of fences before ending up in the water." Ninemsn (AAP) 12/12/00
  • FAKE FRIENDSHIP: A book and letter that seemed to reveal a warm friendship between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Sinclair Lewis have been proven fake. Nando Times 12/13/00
  • NEXT TIME SEND A CARD: An Oslo art student glued labels on about 20 soft-drink bottles filled with chocolate milk or his homemade beer and mailed them as invitations to his art exhibition. But beer in one of the bottles sent to someone in the Norwegian parliamnent continued to ferment and it exploded in the parliament building. New Jersey Online (AP) 12/14/00