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Week of  June 16-22, 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


MUSEUM CRASH? The growth in the number and interest in museums in the past decade has been unprecedented. But the growth is unsustainable, and beneath the boom is the unsettling fact that many museums are seriously undercapitalized. One expert says it will be a difficult next decade as museums try to stabilize. The Art Newspaper 06/15/01

THE SCIENCE OF POPULAR MUSIC: Scientists have analyzed thousands of songs trying to identify the popular "DNA" that makes them appealing. "The Music Genome Project is a computer assisted method of identifying songs that will appeal to particular tastes, regardless of conventional ideas of genre or style." New Scientist 06/18/01


DANCING THROUGH LIFE: For all the unfavorable press the dance world gets for its habit of pushing children to (and past) their physical and emotional limits in pursuit of a career on stage, schools like the National Dance Institute, which turns 25 this year, have a profound impact on the lives of their young recruits. A recent documentary examines how the school's teachings changed the lives of its students, even those who hung up their dance shoes in favor of business suits. The New York Times 06/19/01 (one-time registration required for access)

GRAND PLANS: "The Grand Canyon will serve as the panoramic backdrop for a single performance combining music, dance and theater in one of six huge-scale projects announced Monday by the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts." Nando Times (AP) 06/19/01

DANCE TO THE BALL: British rugby players are turning to ballet classes to help with their game. "The gentle training methods come as a shock to squads used to heaving and sweating in a gym before a run around the touchline. Sports exercises tend to concentrate on building the muscles in limbs, while dance techniques strengthen the trunk so that the body's power can be transferred more precisely to the area it is required." Sunday Times 06/17/01

RECOVERING FROM CLEVELAND: What happened to the 40 dancers of Cleveland San Jose Ballet last year after the company folded? Many went to San Jose to be part of the new company forming there. "Stunned by the cost of living in one of America's most expensive cities, some dancers dropped out of the new company midseason to return to Cleveland or pursue new careers elsewhere. But most completed the 25-week contract, and many have signed on for the 2001-2002 season." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 06/17/01

CELEBRATING AFRICAN AMERICAN DANCE: Is modern dance a creation of white choreographers? A new documentary disputes the conventional wisdom, showing "how black dance artists honor their heritage and transform their responses to society into glorious dancing." The New York Times 06/17/01 (one-time registration required for access)




SORT-OF FREE SPEECH? The US Congress will consider legislation that will sic the Federal Trade Commission on entertainment producers who are accused of marketing adult entertainment to children. Meanwhile a watchdog group is calling for a common rating system for TV and movies. Washington Post 06/21/01

INDIA WANTS TO GO GLOBAL: India's Bollywood film industry is by far the largest in the world, producing about 800 feature movies a year (compared to the 100 or so made in Hollywood). But Indian filmmakers "desperately want to increase their market share of $3.5 billion in a $300 billion global industry. There are just 12 cinemas per million people in Indian compared to 116 per million in America." BBC 06/21/01

WAITING FOR DIGITAL: One in three U.K. households now has digital television, with at least five years to go before analog signals are switched off permanently. But although Britons appear to be ahead of (ahem) certain other countries in preparing for the transition to digital, concerns remain about how to get the entire country switched over in time. BBC 06/22/01

CBC CUTS JOBS: Canada's public broadcaster CBC yesterday announced the elimination of 50 jobs, "mostly in the arts and entertainment production section of CBC TV." Ottawa Citizen 06/20/01

  • CBC WANTS MORE: Over the past decade the Canadian government has slashed the budget of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation by $400 million. This year it restored $60 million of those cuts in a one-time programming boost. Now CBC president Robert Rabinovich says the increase should be permanently renewed. "Iif tomorrow the money disappeared, we'd be in a deep hole. We'd be in a very serious programming problem." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/20/01

IGNORING DIVERSITY: Apparently, the six major U.S. broadcast TV networks are not frightened of the NAACP and it's influential head man, Kweisi Mfume. A few short months after promising Mfume and his organization that they would do everything possible to increase diversity on network television, all six networks have unveiled fall lineups that are as white as a poodle in a snowstorm, seemingly challenging the NAACP to make good on its boycott threats. The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 06/19/01

REALITY IS BORING: For as long as filmmakers have been making movies about classical music, musicologists have been complaining about the lack of historical accuracy. But now, a historically perfect film about music has arrived, and it is so boring that no one cares how truthful it is. Is there a middle ground, or are these musical biopics doomed to be exercises in either fantasy or monotony? Minneapolis Star Tribune 06/24/01

NOT MUCH LEFT OVER AFTER $20 MILLION: One of the big issues in current negotiations between actors and producers is pay for mid-tier actors. "With $20-million paydays for major box office stars, the working men and women of the film and television industry, those actors not always in the spotlight, are being squeezed." The New York Times 06/18/01 (one-time registration required for access)

PSYCHOANALYZING THE MOVIES: Psychoanalysis and the movies are closely linked - those images you see up on the screen play on our subconscious. "At least since the Seventies, film theorists have used psychoanalysis to interpret movies, applying its tools to both content and form. The First European Psychoanalytic Film Festival will bring together psychoanalysts, filmmakers and film historians from different countries." The Observer (UK) 06/17/01



THE GREAT VIOLINS: By the time he died in 1992 Gerald Segelman had collected one of the great troves of precious violins. His "is a tale of the violin trade at its most excessive, with large sums hanging on whether a violin was made in one year or another. And it is the latest chapter in the biography of the most enduring icon of Western musical culture, the violin, with some of the most coveted instruments increasing in value 300 times since Segelman began collecting them." Chicago Tribune 06/17/01

NEW HOPE FOR ELITISM: "Scientists believe they may be closer to understanding why some people like pop music and others like classical. Psychiatric consultant Dr Raj Persaud of Maudsley Hospital in London believes his studies of dementia patients show a link between taste and 'hard-nosed intellectual function' - in other words, appreciation of classical music may require more brain power." BBC 06/24/01

HOW TO MAKE AN AMERICAN MAESTRO: The dearth of top-quality conductors of American extraction is a favorite subject of U.S. critics, particularly at a time when many of the nation's top orchestras have been appointing new music directors. But while the press complains, the National Conducting Institute quietly continues its quest to train, encourage, and give exposure to America's top conducting talents. The New York Times 06/24/01 (one-time registration required for access)

ON THE DISABLED LIST: Most audience members never think of the performers in a symphony orchestra as athletes, but every year, countless musicians see their careers threatened, or even ended, by severe muscle strains, crippling tendonitis, and other afflictions. The fact is, the physical strain of performance is often as taxing as the mental component. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 06/24/01

TENORS AND TRUNCHEONS: The Three Tenors performed in Beijing's Forbidden City this weekend, and Chinese officials hoped that the huge event would demonstrate to the International Olympic Committee that Beijing is capable enough to host the 2008 Summer Games. Of course, the IOC may have a few questions about China's crowd control methods: at least one concertgoer was beaten and dragged away by police, who also assaulted a news photographer. Nando Times (AP) 06/23/01

LESSONS NEEDING LEARNING: Last week the Bolshoi lost its director, while Simon Rattle warned the Berlin Philharmonic he might not be its next music director unless the orchestra reinvented. "Both the Bolshoi and Berlin should have learnt from the unravelling of Covent Garden that, in modern times, it is not enough for an elite ensemble to have traditions and vision. It needs to nurture its roots in a fast-changing society, to be conscious of its responsibilities to those who do not share its privileges." The Telegraph (UK) 06/20/01

WOLFGANG WINS: Eighty-one-year-old Wolfgang Wagner has won the latest power struggle for control of the Bayreuth Festival. "This obtuse and power-hungry patriarch is still insisting that his contract for life be honored to the letter, no matter how many derisive write-ups his own productions may reap or how much damage his autocratic regime is likely to cause. Unbending to the last, he has made it clear that he will not go of his own free will. And as bizarre as it may sound, his behavior is not without moments of grandeur." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 06/19/01

DEFINING PLAGIARISM: When composer Tristan Foison was recently caught trying to pass off someone else's Requiem as his own, his response was breathtakingly audacious: he simply denied the charge outright. Even more shocking is that no one has yet been able to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Foison is lying. The fact is that music's tradition of "borrowing" and its overall abstract nature make it extremely difficult to catch composers who cheat. Philadelphia Inquirer 06/19/01

WHERE ARE THE CANADIAN CONDUCTORS? American orchestras aren't quick to hire home-grown conductors, but in Canada the situation is even worse. To look at the rosters of Canadian orchestras, you'd think that the species of Canadian had yet to make an appearance on the earth. Why? "We would still rather hire a third-rate European than a second-rate Canadian." Montreal Gazette 06/16/01

RATTLE MIGHT PASS ON BERLIN: Superstar conductor Simon Rattle says he may not take over the Berlin Philharmonic after all if the German government doesn't agree to a series of changes he wants to make in the way the orchestra runs. These include an extra $1.5 million to bring players' salaries up to par with other top orchestras, and a measure of self-governance for the orchestra. The Guardian (UK) 06/16/01

GETTING PAST THE CONTEXT: Is music the ultimate chameleon art form? Should we not listen to Carmina Burana because someone suggests it might have been conceived in a Nazi context? "Words and visual images are, by nature, specific, particularly when representing or expressing an idea. Not so music. It's a splendid vehicle for emotion but fares badly with the specificity that ideas require." Philadelphia Inquirer 06/17/01

SUMMING UP THE CLIBURN: What does the recent Van Cliburn competition tell us about the current state of piano playing? "All told, the 11th Cliburn Competition suggested that the technology of piano-playing – the speed and power – may have reached unprecedented heights. What I often missed was a sense of style and scale. And charm was in seriously short supply." Dallas Morning News 06/17/01



A POET LAUREATE FOR THE MASSES: The U.S. has a new poet laureate, and if you were hoping for a seriously high-minded, no-nonsense craftsman, you're going to be disappointed. Billy Collins, who teaches at Lehman College in upstate New York, believes that humor "is a door into the serious," and his irreverent style has made him a favorite of magazines like The New Yorker and radio programs like A Prairie Home Companion. Dallas Morning News 06/22/01

A HISTORIAN WHO MAKES UP HIS OWN HISTORY? Joseph Ellis is a Pulitzer Prize–winning biographer and professor of history at prestigious Mt. Holyoke College. Make that beloved professor of history. With an incredible resume and loads of talent, why did he make up some crucial parts of his past? MobyLives 06/21/01

  • ELLIS GONE: Holyoke College has removed Ellis from teaching his class on Vietnamese and American culture for lying about his past. "Ellis's biography of Thomas Jefferson, American Sphinx, won the 1997 National Book Award, and he won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize in history for his book Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation." Washington Post 06/21/01

NUNN'S HABITS: Trevor Nunn has come under almost continuous fire since taking over the helm of Britain's National Theatre, yet, under his leadership, the National has achieved near-unprecedented success. This contradiction doesn't surprise one critic: "Nunn is a hard man to warm to - there is something defensive in his manner, and a touch of the martyr about him. But it seems to me that his first three-and-a-half years at the NT, though troubled at times by flops and disappearing directors, have produced an often outstanding body of work in which quality has been mixed with the best kind of populism." The Telegraph (London) 06/23/01



THE PERVERSION OF COPYRIGHT: "Try to talk to any normal American about how this country’s copyright law has gone off the rails, and you’ll likely witness a new speed record for how quickly his eyes glaze over. That’s why, when I want to communicate the horror of modern copyright law, I use the example of horror writer Stephen King, who (at least in theory) is a potential victim of the current state of the law." Reason 06/18/01

COPYWRECK: Proposed changes to Australian copyright law will allow European and American publishers free access to Australia. "The effect will be that new Australian writers will find no financially viable local publishers able to pick up their work and nurse and carry their first few relatively unprofitable books during the time that it takes for a writer to mature and find a substantial readership." Sydney Morning Herald 06/21/01

E-BOOKS ARE COMING. SLOWLY, BUT THEY'RE COMING: "To expect a practical business plan for unmediated electronic publishing to arise full blown from the existing industry would be to disregard the waywardness of human endeavor, the complexity of the emerging digital future... the wish of today’s publishers to enter the digital future in approximately their present form. But to assume... that a reasonable business plan may not sooner or later emerge would be to ignore the persistence and ingenuity with which human beings have invented their world so far." New York Review of Books 07/05/01

A FRENCH BOOK INSTITUTION: Bernard Pivot is a literary institution in France, where, for 28 years, he's hosted a TV program on books. Times have changed since the program started, though, and as Pivot retires this summer, many fear the French government television network will not replace Pivot and continue the show. The New York Times 06/18/01 (one-time registration required for access)

UNIVERSITY E-PRESS: While e-publishing bedevils most commercial publishers, university presses are forging ahead with e-projects. The advantages are many for academic books, and since university presses tend to be collegial with one another rather than competitive... Publishers Weekly 06/18/01

TRACKING BOOKS: Accurate statistics on book sales have always been difficult to come by. Now Bookscan, a unit of Soundscan, the company that brought order to recording sales stats, hopes to tame the book industry; it has signed up major chains and booksellers. The New York Times 06/18/01 (one-time registration required for access)


IRRATIONAL NATIONALISM: British theatre critics have made a habit (and, some would say, a crusade) of beating mercilessly any London production that has enjoyed previous success in America. "Having a hit in New York seems to be the best way to ensure that your play is panned in London, so why do so many American dramatists persist in casting their pearls before swinish British critics?" The Observer (UK) 06/24/01

THE POLITICS OF BUILDING: Dublin's Abbey Theatre has a long and glorious history. But its building is decrepit and hardly worthy of a national institution, and there are plans to replace it. But how to do it? Controversy dogs all the options. The New York Times 06/21/01 (one-time registration required for access)

MERCHANT OF STEREOTYPING: Canada's Stratford Theatre has made changes in its production of Merchant of Venice after Canadian Muslims protested the production's stereotyping of a minor character. "Apparently, [the director] inhabits some cultural bubble where anti-Semitic jokes have been banished but anti-Islamic ones are still hilarious." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/21/01

MIDDLE AGE BLUES: Last week's abrupt resignation of Doug Hughes as director of Connecticut's Long Wharf Theatre "raises larger questions facing regional theaters as they move from an era based on the vision of its founding fathers (and mothers) to one based on new generations of artistic leaders dealing with boards more willing to shape the institution. One thing is clear. This matter has nothing to do with art but rather the art of getting along." Hartford Courant 06/17/01



THEFT EVERYWHERE: A new report on looted art in Europe is alarming. "New research shows that in Italy alone more than 88,000 objects have been stolen from religious institutions over the past 20 years, while the Czech Republic has lost 40,000 objects since 1986." The Times (UK) 06/21/01

  • THE HEART OF RICHNESS: "Africa, already plundered of its people by slavers, its animals by big-game hunters and poachers and its mineral wealth by miners, is now yielding up its cultural heritage. Across the continent, art and artifacts are being looted from museums, universities and straight from the ground. Most of the objects end up in Europe or the United States." Time 06/18/01

VIRUS ART: Conceived and compiled for the invitation to the 49th Venice Biennale, '' is the product of the collaboration of two entities, 0100101110101101.ORG and epidemiC, already known for other shocking actions, often bordering with crime. '' is both a work of art and a computer virus. Exquisite Corpse 06/18/01

LEAVING THE TATE: The head of the Tate Modern, Lars Nittve, has announced he is quitting the museum to become director of Stockholm's Moderna Museet, the country's national museum of modern art. "Friends said that he was partly influenced by homesickness and denied that the complicated management structure at the Tate, which effectively made him Number Two at the gallery, played a part in his decision to leave." The Telegraph (UK) 06/21/01

  • WHAT SEROTA MEANS TO THE TATE: Figurative artists criticize Tate director Nicholas Serota for his taste in collecting. And true, you're not likely to see figurative work at the Tate under his regime. But at mid-20th Century the Tate missed out on some of the most compelling art of its time by being too conservative. Serota, by contrast, is building one of the most important collections of late-20th/early-21st Century art. The Telegraph (UK) 06/22/01
  • TATE WATCH: The Tate has been completely transformed from what it was a few years ago - good and bad. With Tate Modern director Lars Nittve leaving, where should the Tate go from here? And who are the main contenders for the job? The Times (UK) 06/22/01
  • GREAT EXPECTATIONS: "As the intelligentsia speculates on who will be Tate Modern’s new director — the glamorous Julia Peyton-Jones, director of the Serpentine, is this country’s most obvious candidate — the role is starting to emerge as something of a mixed blessing. Success may breed success, but Tate Modern’s start is intimidating — even the lavatory paper budget has had to be multiplied as the building creaks with an unforeseen quantity of visitors." The Times (UK) 06/22/01

ARE YOU NOW OR HAVE YOU EVER BEEN? Postmodernism in architecture is dead isn't it? At the least, no one wants to admit to being a postmodernist. "We must offer respect for the dead, but I’m not sure to whom the condolences should go if no one admits to really being a postmodernist, and if most of those presumed to have been such are still thriving, and, in some cases, are designing in more or less the same style." Architecture Magazine 05/01

THE TWO FACES OF... As the US government investigation of auction houses Christie's and Sotheby's for collusion wound up, Christie's negotiated an amnesty agreement. But secret internal documents recently obtained show that what the company was saying to investigators and what it was actually doing were two different things. The New York Times 06/17/01 (one-time registration required for access)

VERMEER/NOT VERMEER: Is it a 36th Vermeer or not? London's National Gallery plans to display the disputed painting thought to be a Vermeer next to two verified originals and let the public judge. The Telegraph (UK) 06/17/01

CLEANING BILBAO: About a third of the 42,000 titanium sheets cladding the outside of the Guggenheim Bilbao are discolored with red stains. Earlier this year architect Frank Gehry criticized the museum for not maintaining the building; now the sheets will be cleaned at a rate of about 150 a day. CBC 06/15/01

PISA REOPENS: After 11 years of working to stabilize it, the leaning tower of Pisa reopened this week. "The $30 million project to stabilize the 12th century tower and return it to the sustainable tilt of 163 years ago is being hailed as one of the great engineering feats of all time." San Francisco Chronicle (Boston Globe) 06/17/01


NEA SCORES EXTRA $10 MIL: "The National Endowment for the Arts survived an attempt in the House of Representatives last night to eliminate a $10 million increase agreed to just hours before. The federal arts agency has struggled since the mid-1990s to rebuild its appropriation after a severe cut by the Republican-led Congress. Last year, under a Senate initiative, the NEA gained $7 million, its first increase in nine years." Washington Post 06/22/01

INVESTING IN CANADA: The Canadian government is investing a half-billion dollars in a new initiative for the arts. This week the government announced $100 million of that will be spent on new media. CBC 06/21/01

CULTURAL DOMINATION WORKS BOTH WAYS: It might seem that American culture is taking over the world, aided by digital technology. Then again... "The lower production costs and smaller shelf-space requirements of CDs have dramatically expanded the diversity of today's music store... contemporary college students now sample the once-exotic sounds of African pennywhistle, Tuvian throat singing or Scandinavian mandolin as casually as they choose between tacos, pizza and sushi." Technology Review July/August/01


ONE WAY TO STEAL ART... Then there was that day in 1995 when a visitor to the Museum of Modern Art in New York walked up to Duchamp's famous bicycle wheel, pulled it off its pedestal, walked through the galleries, down the escalator and out the front door, escaping in a cab. The next day the artwork mysteriously reappeared, thrown over the museum's fence... 06/21/01

DANCERS MAKE BETTER LEADERS? Ex-Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau once did a pirouette behind the Queen's back. Trudeau, it turns out, had taken six months of ballet lessons. He and a friend quit when their teacher "proposed to include us in the spring show that Pierre and I looked at each other. We told her, 'Well dear, I'm sorry, but we're going to be very busy.' So that ended that." Ottawa Citizen 06/16/01

ONE WAY TO GET A CONDUCTOR: Want to conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic? Some guy named "esa-pekka" has an item on eBay you might be interested in - a chance to conduct the Star Spangled Banner at the opening night gala at the Hollywood Bowl next week. It's valued at $8000, but though it's been up for auction since June 15, there's not yet one bid . Only four days left. eBay 06/15/01

BESTSELLING WHAT? Few Americans read. Those that do...well, a look at the bestseller lists is not encouraging. "This is not progress. This is not reading. These are not books. They're feel-happy lists clotting pages." Philadelphia Inquirer 06/17/01