ARTS BEAT NEWSLETTER - Last Week's Top Stories

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








Week of  May 5-11, 2001

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


  IN-COUNTRY - THE BATTLE FOR NATIONAL CULTURES: Canadian support for their own culture may seem impressive from the outside, but take away the loaded deck and what's left? Are cultural subsidies the only way to preserve national cultures? 05/09/01


PAID REVIEWS: Only about 10 percent of the some 70,000 books published annually are ever reviewed professionally. So now you can buy one. "Any publisher or author can buy a review through a website for $295. Included in the price is the right to print the review in any marketing or publicity effort, lifetime archival of the review on-site, and distribution to numerous licensees." Wired 05/09/01

WRONG TURN IN ART? Is modern art a sort of intellectual mistake? A French philosopher argues we've made a wrong turn. "In the case of modern art, one of the fundamental villains is the same as one who has been fingered - by the philosopher Karl Popper - in the matter of Marxism. The guilty man was Plato, who held that everyday, visible items such as chairs and people are merely inadequate derivatives of the 'real', abstract concepts of furniture and folks." The Telegraph (UK) 05/05/01

GOING CORPORATE: Art school graduates are finding themselves increasingly in demand, and not just in the waitering trade. "In a field once stigmatized as impractical, graduates in fine arts, communication design, photography, animation and interior design no longer have to worry about life as a 'starving artist.'" Detroit Free Press 05/09/01

PROTECTING NATIONAL CULTURES: France has asked Canada to join in "the battle against the homogenizing of national cultures. The idea is that Canada, along with other G7 nations and the countries of the European Union, will move closer to the strict rules which France has already adopted to protect its film, television and book industries against U.S. pop culture. Proud France has realized that it can't win the fight alone." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 05/05/01


THARP PULLS OUT: Choreographer Twyla Tharp had announced she would be starting a company again and taking a studio home in Brooklyn's new $560 million cultural district now under construction. But late last week Tharp abruptly pulled out of the project. The New York Times 05/09/01 (one-time registration required for access)

HOPE OF A GENERATION: Christopher Wheeldon — a British-born graduate of the Royal Ballet School in London — is considered one of the dance world's "great young hopes, an interpretive artist with a sense of both theatricality and history. 'No ballet choreographer of his generation can match his imaginative use of the classical vocabulary'." The New York Times 05/10/01 (one-time registration required for access)

WE'RE ENGLISH, WE DON'T DANCE: Why are there so few good English dancers? Is it inadequate training? "Derek Deane, the outgoing artistic director of English National Ballet, notoriously complained that British girls are 'too bummy and too titty' to make the grade with ENB. Among the company's 13 principals and senior soloists, only three are British." The Independent (UK) 05/06/01

THOROUGHLY MODERN MIKHAIL: Mikhail Baryshnikov was supposed to be the last, best hope for the future of classical ballet, and he made his mark as a master of the old form. So when he quit his post as head of the American Ballet Theater in 1989, some thought he would simply fade away. More than a decade later, however, Baryshnikov is still going strong as one of the world's foremost promoters and creators of modern dance. Philadelphia Inquirer 05/06/01


A NEW DIRECTION: In movies, the director is everything. Not so TV, where, in the early days, directors were hired "more for their ability to handle the newfangled equipment than for creativity. Interesting directors did venture into live television but... speed generally was valued over artistry." Now, things are changing, dramatically. Washington Times 05/09/01

AGAINST ALL ODDS: It's hard enough to make a movie and get it noticed when you live in a bustling film town like L.A. or Toronto. But let's say you live somewhere north of the Arctic circle in Canada, deep in Inuit territory, and you'd like the Cannes Film Festival to screen your creation. You'd better have a ten-year plan... Ottawa Citizen 05/11/01

HOLDING OUT HOPE: The head of the Screen Actors Guild isn't giving up on a strike-free summer just yet, but tough issues remain unresolved. "One of SAG's chief concerns going into the talks is the plight of the so-called 'middle-class' actor - working actors who in recent years have fallen on hard times due to a phenomena known as 'salary compression.'" 05/10/01

GUILD TO VOTE ON CONTRACT: "The heads of the Hollywood writers union agreed last Tuesday to forward a tentative contract settlement to the guild's nearly 11,000 members to vote on by June 4. The guild requires a simple majority of votes to certify the three-year pact, which negotiators recommended on Friday after a series of marathon bargaining sessions." Nando Times (AP) 05/10/01

CANNES DO: The Cannes Film Festival opens, this year with a distinctly arty non-Hollywood tone."The official selection includes 22 films in competition and 24 in the non-competitive section, Un Certain Regard, which is, this year, a roll-call of unfamiliar names." Sydney Morning Herald 05/09/01

COMING SOON, SMART AND SMARTER? It used to be that independent filmmakers could trade on the business of being smart, edgy and challenging. "But 'too smart', like 'arty', has entered the film industry lexicon as a pejorative description," and the indies have started acting like the more conservative commercially-motivated studios. But the new cult-hit smart thriller Memento is finding an audience, and making money - so.... Los Angeles Times 05/07/01

THE ARTE OF TV: America has no similar TV channel devoted to culture. But Arte, the German-French culture channel, turned 10 last week. It has risen from its initial underdog status to become a luminous figure on Europe's media landscape and now - having survived labor pains and sundry attacks on its young life - it is at another crossroads." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 05/06/01

VIRTUAL SUPERSTARS: Ever since movie technology started to become truly impressive, producers have used it primarily to distract viewers from either the lack of a coherent plot line or the inability of certain leading actors to, well, act. But a new wave of computer-animated films aims to use technology to create frighteningly accurate virtual facsimiles of the famous actors behind the characters' voices. Boston Globe 05/06/01


DEATH OF AN INSTRUMENT? "The symphony orchestra is no longer available to composers as an instrument of change. As a result, much of today's most exciting music is not being created for it. It's not that composers have lost interest in the orchestra. It's just become prohibitively expensive." NewMusicBox 05/01

WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE? The final artistic authority in virtually every modern orchestra belongs to the music director, or principal conductor. Musicians, who are likely to spend many more years in service to their ensemble than any music director, are expected to defer in every way to the man with the baton. But why? A musician and union chief explores some alternative possibilities. Harmony 04/01 (PDF file - Adobe Reader required)

THE WAR ON PIRATES: The Recording Industry Association of America says 1.7 million pirate CDs were seized in 2000 - up 79% over the year before. This is not a victory however, but more a sign of the proliferation of illegal recordings. "Don't think you're going to stop it as long as there's demand and money to be made.'' BBC 05/11/01

NOT GOOD ENOUGH: Violinist Nigel Kennedy has declared a holy war on the practices of English orchestras. They offer one rehearsal of a concerto before performance, clearly not enough to explore an interpretation in any detail. "I don't think I am going to play in London with an orchestra until I can be assured that I'm getting adequate rehearsal." The Telegraph (UK) 05/09/01

WHEN CRITICS KILL MUSIC: Has rock music died? No, but "a new class of music writers is on the rise - call them the rock curmudgeons. Call them dangerous." Thay've stopped listening to rock - and it shows. Chronicle of Higher Education 05/07/01

LIVING WITH MUSIC: Why is it that many art lovers' taste in contemporary visual art is so much more developed than their sense of contemporary music? Michale Tilson Thomas and Frank Oteri wonder if contemporary music is just a more in-your-face experience. NewMusicBox 05/01

SPEAKING OF FESTIVALS, the Times is out with its annual list of the best (and all the rest) of North America's summer classical music festivals. Organized by state. The New York Times 05/06/01 (one-time registration required for access)

BIZET IN DA HOUSE, YO! This week, MTV is presenting Carmen in hip-hop form. Despite the network's over-stylized editing, this updated (and, truth be told, barely recognizable) retelling of Bizet's classic is the first ever attempt to draw the pop culture-saturated youth market into the world of opera, and if it achieves even a tenth of what recent Shakespeare "updates" have, the opera world may yet be grateful for the effort. Philadelphia Inquirer 05/06/01

  • OPERA MAY NOT NEED HELP: "Opera today is perceived as a luscious stew abounding in appealing ingredients. People of virtually all ages are flocking to opera houses to experience this sensory explosion... The NEA found that the largest age group was 25 to 45, while the number of 18-to-24-year-olds grew by 18 percent over the previous decade." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 05/06/01

PLUS: EARLY MUSIC MUFFLED: The biggest early music organization in New York is shutting down. The five-year-old Gotham Early Music Foundation had suffered huge financial losses even as it brought many of the world's top performers to New York venues. Andante 05/11/01CONDUCTOR OF THE YEAR: Pierre Boulez has been named "conductor of the year" at the annual Royal Philharmonic Society awards in London. BBC 05/09/01SINGING THE PRAISES OF NEW MUSIC: Getting tradition-bound classical musicians to embrace new music can be like pulling teeth. But choruses have been welcoming new works with open arms, and composers are willing to take less money in exchange for better attitudes and more artistic freedom. Philadelphia Inquirer 05/10/01



A CARFUL OF FLOWERS WILL DO THAT FOR YOU: Ismail Merchant is the salesman half of the Merchant-Ivory team, which has made such movies as Room With A View and Remains of the Day. As a boy, he once went to a movie with an actress: "We arrived at the theater surrounded by people. And they were throwing marigolds on us. And we were submerged in flowers - actually submerged. I said, 'My God, if you're making a movie, you're submerged in flowers!'" He's been hooked ever since. Nando Times 05/08/01

CALLAS, THE TEEN YEARS: Given her turbulent childhood and neurotic upbringing, it's a wonder Maria Callas ever had a career, let alone one that lasted as long as it did. A new 670-page biography traces the Diva from age 14 to 22. The Times (UK) 05/08/01

THE POET AND THE PEAT: Seamus Heaney could be a character in any one of a dozen stock Irish working-class plays. A son of the land, called to highbrow undertakings by an artistic power he cannot explain, Heaney is best known these days for winning the Pulitzer Prize last year for his new translation of Beowulf. But his own poetry has been called the most profound stuff being written in the English language today. Dallas Morning News 05/06/01

MORRIS GRAVES, 90: Artist Morris Graves, a founding member of the Northwest School of art and the last of the Northwest Mystics, has died at the age of 90 in Northern California. New Jersey Online 05/06/01



CAN'T HANG ON TO THEM: Amazon claims 32 million customers. But is it true? An analyst says the company is losing customers fast. "Amazon lost 2.3 million customers in the quarter ended March 31, while adding 3 million first-time shoppers." Bookwire (USAToday) 05/09/01

BUYOUT: So now a website is offering authors the opportunity to buy reviews. What's the point, wonders Alex Good. "Whether a book that does get a paid review will be any better off is doubtful. With all of the stigma that attaches to self-publishing and e-publishing, one can imagine an even more negative response to this kind of reviewing, with its obvious violation of canons of objectivity." And do reviews make a difference, anyway? GoodReports 05/10/01

AIM FOR THE CENTER: "A society in which literature has been relegated - like some hidden vice - to the margins of social and personal life, and transformed into something like a sectarian cult, is a society condemned to become spiritually barbaric, and even to jeopardize its freedom. I wish to offer a few arguments against the idea of literature as a luxury pastime." The New Republic 05/08/01

THE WIND IS MISERABLES? "Call it parody, plagiarism or sequelization, once-upon-a-time-one-more-time is the idea for a spate of recent books. Of course, literary borrowing isn't exactly new - Aeschylus borrowed from Homer; Shakespeare borrowed many plots." Los Angeles Times 05/07/01

THE DOWNSIDE OF THE e-SLUSH PILE? Electronic publishing has held out the promise that authors can more easily get their work out to an audience. But "there has been a surprising backlash against writers being able to make their work so readily available. Many voices have been raised, saying that all this is a bad thing. A very bad thing." Is it? Complete Review 05/01

THE RETURN OF SHORT STORIES? Why aren't more short stories published? Publishers are convinced that short fiction, like poetry, is a refined form that is, "essentially, too snooty to attract a large audience, and they're not going to publish any more of the stuff than is absolutely necessary to give one of their writers — or themselves — the faintest of literary veneers." Nonetheless, are there are signs of a possible revival? 05/07/01

LITTLE THINGS MATTER: Why are newspapers cutting their books sections? "Information about books is hard to come by. If one knows exactly what one is looking for, then of course it is fairly easy. But one of the great things about book review sections and magazines is that one comes across information about titles one never knew existed, or titles one had not considered in the proper light." The Complete Review 05/01

A BOOK IS A BOOK OF COURSE OF COURSE: Random House is suing e-publisher RosettaBooks for publishing electronic versions of books Random had previously published. The original contracts assigned "book rights" to Random. So do electrons constitute a book? Some heavy definitions are in order... 05/09/01


ALL DC's A STAGE: Time was (and not all that long ago) that Washington DC was a cultural backwater. Then came the fabulous museums and the Kennedy Center. But somewhere along the way, a thriving theatre scene got going. The city now boasts 80 theaters staging 300-plus productions a year. Christian Science Monitor 05/11/01

LETTING IT ALL HANG OUT: Nudity is so often used on stage these days, one wonders if it makes any impact. "Nudity, like any other element of theater, can be used well or badly, or even perniciously. If it’s used boldly, creatively and sensitively, it can make us think and feel, as well as look. Otherwise it will prove merely meretricious, sleazy or boring." LA Weekly 05/11/01

THE LIVING THEATRE: Audiences and tastes keep changing, why not theatres? Seriously - why must a theatre built for one purpose stay the same even when time has passed? Shouldn't the interiors of theatres be made to change with the times? The Guardian (UK) 05/09/01

RUNAWAY HIT: The Producers wins 15 Tony nominations, tying the record for most nominations for a single show. Here's the list of nominees. 05/08/01

  • RESISTANCE IS FUTILE: "[T]his year The Producers is going to sweep just about every Tony Award in sight. No clever ad campaign is going to change that... Instead, smart theater people say, the producers of the also-rans should use their ad dollars to target mainstream theatergoers, not Tony voters." New York Post 05/08/01

THE NEW MUSICALS: Is it a new era for American musicals? There are lots of new projects and the new genre has become a hit. "But does quantity also indicate quality? Or are we simply witnessing a rat race toward the lowest common commercial denominator? Does the new work stack up against the great American classics of the 20th century?" Backstage 05/07/01

THEATRE THAT PAYS: Why shouldn't London's National Theatre produce popular musicals? And if they have a commercial afterlife, so much the better, says producer Cameron Mackintosh. As for the some £600,000 a year National director Trevor Nunn stands to make for directing My Fair Lady - "Why Not? He's done an incredibly talented piece of work." The Telegraph (UK) 05/08/01



TATE IS TOPS: The Tate Modern is celebrating its first birthday, and the attendance numbers tell quite a success story. Some 5.25 million visitors crammed into the fledgling museum in the last year, nearly twice the number officials expected. The blockbuster year makes the Tate the most popular modern art museum in the world. BBC 05/11/01

LET IT ALL HANG OUT: The typical museum only has a fraction of its collection on display at any one time. That's changing though - "In the last decade the idea of letting the public roam freely through what a library would call open stacks, and what some museums have called open study centers, has been winning converts among major museums." The New York Times 05/08/01 (one-time registration required for access)

  • SOLVING THE SPACE CRUNCH: More and more, museums and the trustees who love them seem to be concerned about the amount of artwork locked away in storage. So now come calls in Edinburgh to build a new museum to house some of the 90 percent of objects in storage at the National Museum. The Scotsman 05/10/01

DEFINING MODERNISM: "The definition of modernism seems to be inseparable from its genealogy: Where and how did it originate? Who were its progenitors and who are its legitimate heirs? The formation of early collections of modern art in the United States helped to validate and thereby shape the historical perspective through which American modernism has been assessed." American Art 05/01

BETWEEN LAW AND DIPLOMACY: Germany has yet to fully untangle its responsibilities and claims for art looted by the Nazis. But resolving conflicting claims will take something between the law and good diplomacy. So why'd it take so long? Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 05/09/01

SORTING OUT THE DESIGNS: Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art is choosing a design for its new building. The finalists' designs are controversial, and now the museum has released details of the designs it rejected. Sydney Morning Herald 05/08/01

  • WHAT WENT WRONG: So what's wrong with the designs that didn't make the cut? Sydney Morning Herald 05/08/01

WAR RESTORATIONS: Negotiations between Russia and Germany for the return of artwork the Soviets took from Germany during their occupation after World War II have become more heated and difficult. One old-style Russian diplomat says: "the atrocities committed by German aggressors on Russian soil automatically disqualified Germany from any form of legal redress." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 05/06/01

THE POLITICS OF INDICTMENTS: It took a long time for prosecutors to finally indict execs at Christie's and Sotheby's in the price fixing investigations. “I think that prosecutors generally felt that art was a corrupt business, that there were a lot of things going on that were not appropriate: tax evasion schemes, smuggling, all kinds of stuff. Now they have made it a price-fixing case.” The Art Newspaper 05/04/01

MORE PROBLEMS AT THE V&A: "The architect behind the Victoria and Albert Museum's controversial spiral extension, costing £80m, has been asked to reduce the cost of the project. German architect Daniel Libeskind has been told the extension is not top priority, and that it may be delayed while other work is done." BBC 05/06/01



BEIJING CRACKDOWN: China has issued new regulations governing what is and is not permissible for the republic's artists. Any work deemed "bloody, violent, or erotic" by Chinese censors could result in a lengthy jail term for the artist who creates it. BBC 05/10/01

POLITICAL PUZZLE: Hollywood loved Bill Clinton and Al Gore and gave Gore much money for his campaign. In return Gore attacked Hollywood for its portrayal of violence. By contrast, though Hollywood doesn't like Bush and doesn't support him, Bush has refrained from taking up a moralistic tone against the entertainment industry, even when his staunchest supporters would like him to. Los Angeles Times 05/06/01

FRANCHISING FOR FUN AND PROFIT: From the Guggenheim to the Bolshoi, arts groups are cloning or "franchising" their brands to grow their influence (and get cash). The Age (Melbourne) 04/09/

SMITHSONIAN FUROR ABATES, SOMEWHAT: The new head of the Smithsonian provoked a flurry of complaints when he announced plans to shut down some parts of the vast institution. Those complaints - from his staff, from independent scientists, and from the public - worked. The shut-down plans have been scrapped, at least for now. Washington Post 05/07/01



A DIFFERENT DANCE: Two weeks ago they were stars of Macedonia's National Ballet. But the company's dancers have been drafted into the country's war effort, helping to sell arms. "They find themselves clutching 9mm handguns, dressed in jumpsuits and camouflage paint as they encourage buyers at the Skopje arms fair." The Telegraph (UK) 05/11/01

STUNG: It was supposed to be a concert by Sting in front of the Great Pyramids. Add an Egyptian opening act, and it could have been one of those "occasion" events. Instead, it turned into a fiasco, a national incident, with wounded Egyptian pride and angry accusations all around. Los Angeles Times 05/06/01