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Week of  July 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


BLOCKBUSTER 101 - THE MAKING OF... It's taken 12 years of research and planning, and more than 200 museum employees for the Art Institute of Chicago to put together its Van Gogh/Gauguin show that opens this fall. Product research, catalogs, installation details, marketing...The modern blockbuster doesn't travel cheaply. Chicago Tribune 07/22/01

LEGALLY BINDING: "Artists' rights in the U.S. are still pretty shoddy today. Artists have many more legal recourses and protections now, but mostly America's laws regarding artists continue to reflect our national attitude toward artists: These are weird, potentially dangerous people who often care less about money than is acceptable. That's true whether you're a painter, writer, cartoonist, songwriter, director, dancer, or anyone else who's trying to create something you want other people to see or hear. Business is our national art form, and business is deeply suspicious of art. So is our court system." LAWeekly 07/18/01

WHY LIBERAL ARTS MATTER: "The liberal arts have been ravaged by managers, government officials, and taxpayers looking for 'measurable' results. But all such measures in our era are inextricably linked to corporate bottom lines. And few things could be more inimical to the spirit of liberal arts than to turn education in philosophy, sociology, and history into a seamless fit for corporate career climbing." Christian Science Monitor 07/17/01

A REASON TO GIVE: "Many corporations confuse philanthropy with advertising. Until the federal government put a stop to their contributions, the most generous corporate arts patrons in Canada were the tobacco companies - because they could not advertise and regarded sponsorships as the next-best thing. It is because of that corporate confusion that we need government funding of the arts, funding that is awarded to artists on the merits of their past achievements and future proposals by knowledgeable juries set up by arms-length arts councils. No system is perfect, but that formula tends to build the arts - rather than corporate profits or political egos." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 07/19/01


ROYAL WINNIPEG LEADER RESIGNS: The chairwoman of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet resigned from the board last week, half way through her four-year term. She said she quit "on a matter of principle" but she is believed to have been at odds with Andre Lewis, the company's artistic director. National Post 07/17/01

  • GOTTA PAY THE BILLS: Lewis defends charges that his programming is too "market driven" and that he is having problems with some of his dancers. Nonetheless two of the company's most prominent dancers have said they are leaving at the end of the season. National Post 07/18/01

EXPLAINING DANCE: "Like other performing arts, dance is sharpening its marketing skills. In the meantime no dance seems to go unexplained. Are program notes or any other kind of education necessary?" The New York Times 07/16/01 (one-time registration required for access)

RUNNING BALLET: What's it take to run a successful ballet company? When Carole McPhee took over management of the English National Ballet, the company had a huge debt. She turned things around and turned the ENB into a successful touring company. After 11 years McPhee is leaving ENB and returning to Australia. The Age (Melbourne) 07/16/01

LEADERSHIP VOID: Anthony Dowell was perhaps the Royal Ballet's best dancer ever. By contrast, as head of the company for the past 15 years, he's shown his limitations as an artistic director. Now he's moving on. The Independent (UK) 07/20/01


THE MOVIE NAPSTER: The Motion Picture Association of America claims that boot-leg prints of movies are costing Hollywood $2.5 billion a year. A big chunk of that is accounted for by movies like Snatch and Shrek, which can be downloaded from the Internet. "While the means of piracy distribution has gone high-tech, the means of gaining the material has remained the same--bootleggers take video cameras into theaters." Chicago Tribune 07/16/01

THE JUNKET REVIEW: Some movie fans in Los Angeles are suing movie studios claiming that producers try to bribe critics with screenings, junkets and gifts, and that the reviews that result are frauds. Los Angeles Times 07/20/01
  • THOSE HARD-WORKING JUNKETEERS: "Junkets are to journalism as marketing is to the truth. Junket reporters are journalistically, if not ethically, challenged. At a typical junket, dozens of print and electronic journalists are flown to, say, New York or L.A., often on the studio's nickel, put up in a hotel, fed, bused to a screening and then herded to suites where they get about 20 minutes with the stars and the director and sometimes the producer of a movie. Nobody likes this arrangement, not the stars, not the press, not even the publicists, but the studios do, and it works." Los Angeles Times 07/22/01

ART OF THE GAME: Are video games art? "Gaming as an art form has gone widely unrecognized and is often dismissed by serious critics. But recently, a growing number of scholars and artists have turned their attention to video games." Wired 07/20/01

THE ONLINE THEATRE: Want to avoid the movie ticket lines? Theatres are increasingly beginning to sell tickets online - so far available in Texas, Utah and New York. CNN 07/16/01

CAN'T BUY ME (VIRTUAL) LOVE: Disney came to Chicago with an ambitious high-tech virtual reality arcade. Now it's closing. "In the end, DisneyQuest proves that some principles of family entertainment are impervious to technology, even patently old-fashioned - things like variety, convenience, parking, the demands of age ranges and tastes, even good food and comfortable surroundings." Chicago Tribune 07/16/01

AN ACTOR WHO'LL NEVER NEGOTIATE HIS CONTRACT: Will computer-generators actors replace the human variety in movies? Maybe, but it's complicated. An earlier casualty would seem to be old-style cartoons. San Francisco Chronicle 07/22/01

RATED "S" FOR SMOKING? In New Zealand, anti-smoking advocates want to ban young people from movies where characters are portrayed smoking. Ottawa Citizen (AP) 07/16/01


CUTTING OUT THE MIDDLEMAN? Digital music and the internet were supposed to revolutionize the music industry. They did - but only for a short shining moment. The Economist 07/13/01

SLOW CONCERT SEASON: "This summer's concert season is starting to look like one of the weakest in years. Ticket sales are down 12 percent in the first six months of the year compared with the first half of 2000, according to Pollstar Magazine, which tracks the industry. Just 10 tours managed to gross $10 million between January and the end of June, compared with 19 last year and 16 in 1999." Washington Post 07/16/01

THE MUSIC VIDEO REVOLUTION: Next week MTV turns 20 years old. It might have been an inauspicious start, but "nowhere has MTV caused a greater seismic shift than in the music business. Originally dismissed by many record company executives as gimmicky, it has become, perhaps, the most essential tool in marketing artists." Boston Globe 07/22/01

THE MUSIC DIRECTOR PROBLEM: The Oslo Philharmonic seems to think that acquiring Andre Previn as its next music director "will bring a dash of Hollywood glamour to their strait-laced band and gain them a foothold on American soil." But "what can a former electrical-goods advertiser with five ex-wives and a hatful of vocational distractions add to its allure?" His appointment is indicative of a "selection process that is becoming too convoluted to produce the best results." The Telegraph (UK) 07/18/01

CHAMBER MUSIC RULES: Ottawa's International Chamber Music Festival has people camping out for tickets. The festival takes over the city this time of year. "Last year, the festival attracted more than 50,000 people and this year will present a staggering 106 concerts, making it the largest celebration of chamber music in the world." Ottawa Citizen 07/19/01

NEW YORK EYEING SUMMER HOME: "The New York Philharmonic is one step closer to establishing a summer home that could one day rival the Boston Symphony Orchestra's annual summer season at Tanglewood. The 4,000-seat, open shed-style venue with lawn capacity of 15,000 is to be built by the Gerry Foundation on the site of the 1969 Woodstock concert in Bethel, N.Y." Boston Herald 07/16/01

ANYONE FOR HERKY JERKY ELTON? Elton John is playing a concert at Ephesus tonight. It's to be available live on the internet, and producers have set a pay-per-view price of £7 and £10 to see it. But so few people have signed on to view the concert, the event could be a bust. The Independent (UK) 07/17/01

A BIT OF BRITNEY WITH YOUR SOCKS? Most recordings stores are loud and masculine. "HMV and Virgin tell us they are happy with that because their core customer is 18-24 and male. But we know that there is a massive market out there of women and lapsed buyers who don't go into record shops." So some producers are looking for unconventional outlets to sell to women. The Independent (UK) 07/20/01

THE MAN WHO REMADE SALZBURG: "There are those who discount the importance of arts administrators, preferring (rightly, perhaps, in the greater scheme of things) to concentrate on creators and recreators, also known as performers." But Gerard Mortier's leadership of the Salzburg Festival shows how an institutions can be remade by one person with a vision. The New York Times 07/22/01 (one-time registration required for access)

THE LANGUISHING MUSIC BIZ: Okay, so Napster's been kayoed (maybe not - see below), but recording sales are down about 3 percent and concert ticket sales are way sluggish. What's going wrong in the music business? Salon 07/19/01


ARCHER CONVICTED: Best-selling novelist and aspiring politician Jeffrey Archer has been convicted of perjury in London, and sentenced to four years in prison. The Clintonesque scandal has come as little surprise to observers in the U.K., where Archer had become something of a national joke for his tendency to self-destruct just as true power seemed within his grasp. The Times of London 07/20/01

DOING THE DIVA: Divas are a proud tradition in America. But in London? "Can one really be a diva in Britain, a country that privileges self-effacement at the expense of naked ambition?" A number of female stars are descending on London stages eager to test divadom. The Times (UK) 07/18/01

PORTRAIT OF AN (AMERICAN) CONDUCTOR: Robert Spano is considered by some to be the leading conductor of his generation. His innovative programming of the Brooklyn Philharmonic is widely admired, and he's begun recording with his new orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony. Boston Globe 07/22/01

ESCAPING MOTHER? NO, SMUGGLING ARMS: In 1866, James McNeil Whistler sailed from Britain to South America. The conventional story is that he wanted a break from his mother, who had come to live with him (and with his model). Seems that wasn't it at all. Jimmy was running munitions to Chile, to be used against Spain. Chicago Sun-Times 07/17/01

THE TALE OF TINA AND HARRY: It's not long ago that Tina Brown and Harry Evans were the power literary couple in New York, she running The New Yorker, he steering the fates of Random House. A new book that hit bookshelves this weekend chronicles the couple's rise to power: "they emerge from the book as a couple so consumed by the naked ambition of the American arriviste, and so willing to consume others as fuel for their flight, that their crash from the heights of the sun became inevitable." National Post (Canada) 07/16/01


CS LEWIS - MASTER FRAUD? A new book about C.S. Lewis "contends that several literary and theological works attributed to the British author are, in fact, the product of systematic forgery. Her arguments are well-known in Lewisian circles, where they have provoked intense scholarly discussion, not to mention a certain amount of litigation." Chronicle of Higher Education 07/16/01

  • THE THREE FACES OF CS: Lewis was a prolific author, publishing 40 books. "Indeed, his published output sometimes appears to be the work of at least three different authors." Chronicle of Higher Education 07/16/01

LOOKING GOOD: "Are an author's looks alone worthy of a half-million dollar advance? Do people really buy books — or magazines — because the authors are young and skinny and resemble movie stars? Well, they may get what they pay for if they do...MobyLives 07/16/01

THE BANISHING BOOKS: The San Francisco Chronicle, The Seattle Times, the San Jose Mercury News, the Chicago Tribune, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Boston Globe "have all put their papers on a diet by cutting back on book reviews. Even the nation's most influential Sunday book supplement, the New York Times Book Review, killed two pages." Do the papers think no one cares about reading about books? Salon 07/19/01

FOR THE LOVE OF LEARNING: It's assumed today that the great working class masses have little use for literature and intellectual pursuits. A new book suggests that wasn't always the case. A century ago "the working-class pursuit of education was not an accommodation to middle-class values, a capitulation to bourgeois cultural hegemony. Instead, it represented the return of the repressed in a society where the slogan 'knowledge is power' was passionately embraced by generations of working-class radicals who were denied both." The Telegraph (UK) 07/16/01

IT'LL BE A BEST-SELLER. NO, MAYBE IT WON'T. BUT ON THE OTHER HAND... One of the mystic joys, and constant frustrations, of book publishing is that "it's a business used to operating in the dark. It's the only business I know of in which market research is virtually nonexistent. Every newspaper reader knows that A.I. sold $30 million in tickets the weekend it opened. Magazines are audited; television shows get Nielsen ratings. Why not put the book business on a realistic footing?" The New York Times 07/17/01 (one-time registration required for access)

THE PEN MAY NOT BE MIGHTIER THAN MEMORY OF THE SWORD: The new book Ghost Soldiers, about the rescue of US prisoners being tortured by Japanese during WW2, is a best seller in the US. In Japan, the book is a pawn in "the tug-of-war between intellectuals and internationalists who want Japan to own up to savage incidents by its army, and nationalists and bureaucrats who seek to protect the national psyche." Japan Today 07/19/01


WHERE IS THEATRE THAT MATTERS? "Theater is the only form of art or entertainment that people who consider themselves culturally sophisticated aren't embarrassed to boast about ignoring. So the question is: How might theater, which was at the center of the culture for at least half of the last century, start to find its way back there?" The New York Times 07/22/01 (one-time registration required for access)

DIRECTIONLESS: In England, "new theatre directors are rapidly becoming an endangered species. “There’s now a generation of directors in their late twenties and early thirties who have never had the chance to work on a main stage, and there’s no question that they are being lost to TV, radio and film instead.” The Times (UK) 07/17/01

A TICKET BY ANY OTHER NAME: New York's discount theatre ticket booth TKTS has filed suit in London to prevent a discount service their from using the TKTS name. The New York Times 07/17/01 (one-time registration required for access)

GAMBLING ON ENTERTAINMENT: Toronto's casinos are paying enormous fees for entertainers and presenting easily digestible programs. The city's legit theatres and concert venues are crying foul as they find their patrons going elsewhere. "The casino people are not making sense of the economic realities of the promotions business. They're running loss leaders to finance their gambling, food and beverage operations, and they don't have to pay attention to the bottom line of their promotions business." Toronto Star 07/16/01

HIP-HOP TO THE RESCUE: "There's plenty of reason to think that hip-hop could do for theater what it has already done for music, fashion, language, and the rest of the culture — that is, shape it through the infusion of new sounds, styles, and energy." Before that can happen, though, hip-hop plays will have to be about something more than hip-hop. The New Republic 07/18/01

FROM BUZZ TO BOMB: Seussical was last year's most anticipated musical on Broadway. Yet it closed after losing $10 million "Why did Seussical fail to live up to its powerful promise? How did a show with arguably the best buzz in years end up bombing on Broadway?" The New York Times 07/19/01 (one-time registration required for access)

END OF AN ERA? Half a century ago, the Royal Shakespeare Company ushered in what would be a Golden Age of Shakespeare on the British stage. But the company is in the midst of some fundamental changes that threaten to bring the era to an end. Sunday Times (UK) 07/22/01

MACKINTOSH HEADS FOR THE SHOWERS: With some of his long-running shows closing, and new shows failing to settle in to extended runs, mega-producer Cameron MackIntosh says he will no longer produce new shows. Backstage 07/12/01



WHAT'S WRONG WITH CANADA: "Because of the way the tax system works here, and the low levels of funding, Canadian museums are not the best places to see the best Canadian art. The very best Canadian art is not affordable to us. The question is, why isn't this the big glittering Paris of Canada? Because it's treated as a way station. Real culture, real life happens somewhere else. We are still so colonized compared to the Americans. That is a huge disappointment." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 07/22/01

SHOCK OF THE ME TOO: Shock art is in, but why? "Who decides what is art in an age when torture, necrophilia, and self-mutilation all pass for creative human endeavour? Is it up to the individual who creates the piece to declare it as art, or should society decide whether the work has any validity?" The Globe & Mail (Canada) 07/22/01

ISRAELI MUSEUM SUSPECTED OF "STEALING BACK" HOLOCAUST ART: Bruno Schulz was a Polish-Jewish artist who was forced to paint murals on the walls of a Nazi leader's home. In 1942, he was shot. The murals were painted over and forgotten until six months ago. Now, the murals have vanished. Who took them? "In an ironic twist the Yad Vashem Museum in Israel, a guardian of the memory of the Holocaust, stands accused." Time 07/16/01

THE ALLURE OF OLD MASTERS: London's Old Masters auctions racked up £46 million in sales last week. "The Old Masters market is becoming increasingly selective and polarised, with dealers and collectors fighting for the best pictures and rejecting anything sub-standard." The Telegraph (UK) 07/16/01

PHOTOGRAPHIC DEEP FREEZE: Corbis, which owns the Bettman archive of 17 million historic photographs, is preparing to seal them up 200 feet underground in a deep freeze, after having them digitized. "But once they are interred more than 200 feet below ground, they will be out of reach, to the disgust of historians." New Statesman 07/16/01

NO. 3 IN THE PASSING LANE? Louis Vuiton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) confirmed it will merge the world's number three auction house, Phillips with Bonhams & Brooks, the world's number four. Phillips has been expanding, trying to compete with the top two auction houses. The Art Newspaper 07/16/01

EXPORT BAN: The Australian government imposed an export ban on seven Aboriginal paintings last week before their auction at Sotheby's. The ban resulted in lower sales prices as foreign collectors avoided the work. "The law prohibits the export of artefacts considered of national importance. Yet of the 950 applications over the past 13 years to take objects of significant cultural heritage out of Australia, only 29 have been rejected. Of these, 10 were Aboriginal paintings seven in the past two weeks." The Age (Melbourne) 07/17/01

CRITIC FROM AFAR: Peter Plagens "parachutes" into Dublin to hold forth on the Irish Museum of Modern Art and its recent directorship controversy: "In short, IMMA seemed to me a nice combination of connoisseurship and openness, of pride and intelligent modesty, a jewel of a place to contemplate art that's on a par with (to name a couple of my favourites) the Kunsthalle in Bregenz, Austria, and the Kimbell Museum (of Impressionists and Old Masters) in Texas." Irish Times 06/25/01

MUMMY TROUBLE: A New York art dealer has been charged with illegally selling an Egyptian mummy's head. "The 2,400-year-old skull of Amenhotep III was sold by Frederick Schultz several years ago to a London dealer for $1.2 million, according to court papers." New York Post 07/17/01

DÜRER NUDES, LOST AND FOUND, LOST AND FOUND: "Women's Bathhouse," by Albrecht Dürer is worth probably $10 million. It was part of an art collection that went somehow from a castle in Nazi Germany to Soviet troops to the KGB to a museum in Azerbaijan to a Japanese wrestler... it's all very complicated. Anyway, the works now are going back to the Bremen Museum. The New York Times 07/19/01 (one-time registration required for access)

A REAL MICHELANGELO: Experts in Rome Tuesday declared that a 53-inch tall colored wood crucifix was made by Michelangelo, settling a decades-old debate. The crucifix would have been made in 1493 when the artist was 18 years old. USAToday 07/18/01


SECOND SALES: European governments have agreed to give artists a share of subsequent sales of their work. "Authors of works of art will receive a royalty of up to 4% every time their original paintings, sculptures, or other artistic treasures are sold on by agents or at auction in Britain or anywhere else in the EU." But the provision won't kick in until 2012. BBC 07/20/01

THE GM SMITHSONIAN? The Smithsonian, criticized recently for giving large donors major influence over projects they have funded, is in negotiations with General Motors for a $10 million contribution to "expedite a major exhibition called America on the Move and allow the museum to redo its sprawling transportation hall, which hasn't been refurbished since the museum opened in 1964." Washington Post 07/19/01

MORE CENTRALIZED ARTS: The British government is restructuring the Arts Council of England. "The new body will combine the Arts Council and the ten Regional Arts Boards, saving up to £10 million a year from the £36 million operating costs." The savings will be distributed directly to artists, but some critics worry that a centralized organization will diminish regional flavor. The Times (UK) 07/17/01

PROMOTING GERMAN CULTURE: Germany's Goethe Institute is 50 years old. "With some 3,000 staff members, 2,350 of whom work abroad, the 126 affiliates scattered throughout 76 different countries not only teach German, but also endeavor to export at least some sense of what intellectual and cultural life in Germany is all about." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 07/16/01


GREAT HANDEL'S GHOST! Workers preparing to turn a house where Handel once lived into a museum say they have seen ghosts in the house. So they've ordered up an exorcism. "We weren't sure whether having a ghost would attract or deter customers, but with all the valuable objects we have coming into the house we felt it might be safer to get rid of it." Sydney Morning Herald 07/18/01

PICTURE THIS: The talk of the Glyndebourne Festival this year isn't the music but the portraits of the composers featured in the festival. They're "grim, uneasy, unapplauding. They look weakly insecure - especially the Britten portrait, which looks (it has to be said) like a child molester under police cross-examination." The artist? He's a Birtwistle - one of the featured composers' sons. The Telegraph (UK) 07/19/01

SO THERE'S THIS KID IN MONTREAL, and she's playing the bagpipes out on the city streets, when some cop with nothing better to do collars her and invokes some law about street musicians needing permits, and permit applicants needing to be at least 14 years old. (The kid is 11.) Tough break, but a couple news stories later, the kid has the last laugh: she opened for mock rock legends Spinal Tap at a festival on Wednesday. Ottawa Citizen (CP) 07/20/01

MAJOR HOAX: A major musical said to be based on the life of former British Prime Minister John Major has been revealed as a hoax. "The show was said to chart the politician's rise from a school drop-out to the corridors of power and was hoped to arrive in London's West End early next year." BBC 07/20/01

DOODLING FOR STALIN: A new Top Secret Soviet file has been uncovered - it contains cartoons and doodles done by senior Politburo staff made during their meetings with Stalin. "Not only did Soviet leaders often doodle during their meetings, they also passed their drawings around the room for each other's comments. Stalin joined in the game too." The Telegraph (UK) 07/20/01