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Week of  August 5-12, 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


NUMBERS GAME: To hear some museum directors talk these days, you'd think the most important part of their job was to get as many people possible through their front doors. "So museums have reached admirable attendance numbers. Now the question is, at what cost? How do museums balance education and entertainment, all the while keeping track of their admissions?" Chicago Tribune 08/12/01

GETTING BACK ON ARTS EDUCATION: "Since the 1970s, the arts have dwindled nationwide because of lack of resources. Some art teachers, unable to find employment, pursued other careers. But in the last decade, study after study has linked arts education to improved problem-solving skills and increased self-confidence. Administrators around the country started to retool their curricula accordingly." Los Angeles Times 08/09/01

ART FOR HIRE: Should artists be paid by the hour? An Australian group "comprising economists, researchers and gallery representatives, have proposed a per hour, sliding scale of earnings, dependent on the artist's seniority. Top dogs of the art world who are commissioned to place work in public foyers should receive $125 per hour, they say, while emerging artists should be paid at a rate of $30 per hour." Sydney Morning Herald 08/08/01


GRAHAM SCHOOL WINS COURT BATTLE: A judge has ruled that the Martha Graham Center can continue to use the name and teach Graham technique. Graham heir Ron Protas had contended he owned rights to all of Graham's work and was withdrawing permission for the school for access to it. But the judge found that "there was clear evidence that in 1956 Graham had sold the school and its name," and declared Protas not to be a "credible witness." The New York Times 08/08/02 (one-time registration required for access)

ONLY TWO MORE YEARS OF MISHA? Mikhail Baryshnikov is 53 and still dancing. "He has had six operations to one of his knees. Some mornings he is so stiff that he has to crawl to the bathroom and get under a hot shower before he can move easily. He is convinced he will die at 60. He says, 'All my relatives died very young. I really believe in genetics. I hope I am wrong. I will go when I am 55, when I am 60. I am prepared: at least I can speak about it. . '." The Telegraph (UK) 08/09/01

  • POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE: There was a time Mikhail Baryshnikov epitomized all that was classic in classical ballet. But in the past decade he's turned into a champion for the most forgotten corners of modern American dance. The Guardian (UK) 08/08/01

BADMOUTHING THE BOLSHOI: The Bolshoi Ballet is coming to New Zealand, but the director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet isn't impressed. "He admitted he had seen only a television advertisement for the tour but said he knew immediately that it would be mediocre. 'I've been in the profession for over 30 years and I know what's good and bad ... You can smell it'." New Zealand Herald 08/07/01

ROYAL WELCOME: Ross Stretton hasn't even taken over as the next artistic director of London's Royal Ballet yet and the dance world is already buzzing about who might take over if he doesn't work out. Former Royal Ballet star Bruce Sansom left the company last year to study arts management, and the speculation is... The Telegraph (UK) 08/07/01


STEALING MOVIES: Hackers are infiltrating the computers that are increasingly used to edit movies, and stealing copies. And, "as digital technology makes its mark on every aspect of the film industry, it becomes easier for ordinary computer users to reach into cyberspace and grab whatever goodies take their fancy." New Zealand Herald 08/09/01

  • ANYTHING YOU WANT: Top movies are now available in pirated versions over the internet within days of their theatre release. It's obvious that "the Napster file-trading phenomenon that has rocked the music industry over the past year has caught up to Hollywood with a vengeance." Toronto Star 08/08/01

NOW MAY BE THE TIME FOR HEAVENLY INTERVENTION: Despite the suggestions to the contrary posed by contemporary programming, there is a patron saint of television. She's an Italian noblewoman from the 12th century, named St. Clare. New York Post 09/09/01

THE GENERIC SOUND OF PUBLIC RADIO: "One of the biggest listener complaints with commercial radio is that the rock stations here in Washington sound just like the rock stations in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. But the same thing is happening in public radio. Further, public radio stations in the same city are increasingly starting to sound alike. And, unlike in commercial radio, your tax dollars help pay for this duplication. At least two members of Congress aren't happy about it." Washington Post 08/07/01

WHAT HAPPENED TO GOOD MOVIES? "Today mainstream cinema looks stupider than it has for a long time. This is real middlebrow moronism of the kind we haven't seen since Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep got their parcels mixed up in Falling In Love in 1984. We have become used to expecting more of cinema. We're going to suffer now." Where to turn for good art films? The Guardian (UK) 08/08/01

WAITING FOR DIGITAL RADIO: With all the hoopla surrounding the coming of digital television, radio's digital potential has been largely ignored by press and public alike. But radio is mostly about music these days, and the benefits of a full digital conversion would likely be far greater than any television will realize. Still, there may not be enough interest to get the change done in the near term. Washington Post 08/05/01


CLASSIC DILEMMA: Classical recording sales are down; jazz now outsells classical. Tower Records (a major classical outlet) may be on the verge of oblivion. And new recording projects are getting scarcer. Why is business so bad? Dallas Morning News 08/11/01

  • IN THE PARALLEL UNIVERSE: "Nonesuch, which began as a boutique classical label in 1964, has generated a profit for the Warner Music Group every year for a decade. Relying on instinct rather than focus groups, Nonesuch manages an increasingly rare trick: Its recordings receive glowing critical notices and, at the same time, sell enough to sustain the enterprise. Without benefit of radio hits or colossal budgets, the tiny New York outfit has blossomed into one of the last creative havens within the major-label system, a place where the deep thinkers of new music sit cheek by jowl with the glorious voices of 1950s Havana, and genre distinctions such as classical and jazz are gleefully trampled." Philadelphia Inquirer 08/12/01
  • HOW TO SAVE THE CLASSICAL RECORDING BUSINESS: It's not easy to market yet another recording of, say, Beethoven's Fifth. One solution is to fall back on thematic programming. "You present music organized around an enticing notion people will be more likely to shell out for. When it's properly done, it can refresh an overfamiliar work or draw attention to a neglected one." Caveat: "Some of these albums reek so badly of desperation you don't need to know anything about music to know to stay away from them." Slate 08/08/01

MENOTTI AT 90: Gian-Carlo Menotti is turning 90. "So much fuss. All of a sudden I'm famous not because I write good music but because I'm old and still here. My advice to composers is, try to reach 90, and everyone will love you." But though he is beloved in Italy and still has some champions, elsewhere his music has been passed by. The New York Times 08/12/01 (one-time registration required for access)

PAINT CHICAGO RED: For the first time in 14 years the Chicago Symphony, is running in the red. The CSO has an operating budget of $55 million, and expects an upper-six-figure deficit for the 2001-2002 season. Gramophone 08/08/01

OPERA IN THE LAND OF ITS BIRTH: "While there is indeed a great deal of opera in Italy - almost every city or large town mounts its own annual season - little of it is any good. Unions that down tools at the blink of an eye make planning or rehearsal almost impossible. The quality of orchestral playing is generally execrable, and the sector has been riddled with corruption and clientismo." The Telegraph (UK) 08/08/01

LEAVING SAN FRANCISCO: So what did Lofti Mansouri accomplish in his 13 years leading the San Francisco Opera? "Pretty much every success and every failure of Mansouri's regime - and there have been plenty of each - can be traced back to his view of opera as a popular art form, different in its particulars but not in its essential nature from the theatrical sideshow." San Francisco Chronicle 08/05/01

  • MANSOURI'S LEGACY: "He saved the company during one of the more agonizing crises in its history, yet he never restored the institution artistically to its vaunted reputation of the 1960s and 1970s, wonderfully heady decades when this really was the most innovative and respected opera company in the land." San Francisco Chronicle 08/05/01

MAAZEL'S STAYING POWER: Ever since he was named as the New York Philharmonic's next music director, Loren Maazel has endured a barrage of criticism from the Big Apple's notoriously catty critics. He's too old, they say, and too set in his unadventurous ways. But it cannot be denied that Maazel has enjoyed tremendous success in building the orchestras under his command into some of the world's top ensembles. Recent triumphs with his Bavarian Radio Orchestra underscore the point. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 08/07/01

BUYING AMERICAN: "As Americans complain that their orchestras look only to Europe when searching for new conductors, it is worth noting that Munich's orchestras, like many others in Germany, have looked to America. Certainly, there is an American prejudice in favor of all things European. But there is also a widespread German belief that Americans are better trained and easier to work with." The New York Times 08/06/01 (one-time registration required for access)

MUSIC ON THE BRAIN: "If the ability to appreciate music is ingrained in the human brain, could music making have evolved to help us survive and reproduce? Is it akin to language and the ability to solve complicated problems, attributes that have enhanced human survival? Or is it just 'auditory cheesecake,' a phenomenon that pushes pleasure buttons without truly filling an evolutionary need?" Discovery 08/01

WILL ANYTHING LAST? Hundreds of new American operas were written in the 20th Century. But will any of them find any real staying power? "It seems not to matter whether an American opera received praise or blame at its premiere; few entered the repertory. Of the more than one hundred new operas produced during the 1990s, only thirty-three received more than one production." Opera News 08/01

CAN'T WIN FOR PRODUCERS: The music recording industry seems to be winning its court battles against digital copiers. But it's an illusion. The copy/download battle has been lost. And as the record producers prepare to unleash their for-pay services, the courts are frowning... The Economist 08/09/01

THE MUSIC CURE: Music makes you smarter, cures cancer, and takes away back pain. At least, that's what studies claim... Why the rush to try to prove music has all sorts of non-musical benefits? "Much as I would love music to cure cancer, foot and mouth, senile dementia and car accidents, I dread the day when it does - for that will be the day music loses its spiritual mystery and becomes a functional power tool in the hands of the ever more intrusive masters of the universe." The Telegraph (UK) 08/09/01


LIFE AFTER VIRGINIA: What was Leonard Woolf's influence and contribution to Virginia Woolf's work? A set of letters, written by Leonard after his wife's suicide to a woman he had a prolonged afair with, shed some light on Virginia's creative life. Irish Times 08/10/01

POETRY CON: Ravi Desai pledged millions of dollars for poetry programs at major American universities. But after fanfare over the gifts died down, Desai failed to come through with the money. "Most business cons are for riches. This was a con whose payoff was to rub shoulders with poets. What did he gain, except for an engraved ax?" Poets & Writers 08/01/01

BIG BUCKS, BIG THANKS (EXPECTED): Alberto Vilar has given more than $200 million to the cause of opera. "The magnitude of his giving would guarantee his fame; the conditions often attached to those gifts, however, have given him a quirky notoriety. Vilar persuaded the Met to give the names of major underwriters greater prominence in its programs; this took some effort." Opera News 08/01

WHOLE LOTTA CONTEMPT GOIN ON: Writer Arundhati Roy has been protesting a court decision in India not to stop work on construction of a dam. The court charged her with contempt of court for her characterization of the decision. And now the court is deciding whether her response to the contempt charges is further contempt. The Times of India 08/04/01



20 YEARS OF THE USUAL SUSPECTS: Sure, Martin Amis and Salman Rushdie are important writers. So are Ian McEwan Julian Barnes. But those four have dominated the British literary scene since the seventies. Are there no new voices coming along, or are readers - and editors - too lazy to find them? The Guardian (UK) 08/06/01

NO OLD WORDS: Is it more difficult for older writers to get published? Even long-established writers are having difficulty. “I think it is virtually impossible now for any novelist over the age of 30 to get published. Publishers are not interested because their editors are all aged about 12 and they only want books by girls in their twenties, particularly if they are pretty." The Times (UK) 08/07/01

READING NATION: Australia's book publishers sold 126 million books worth $1.2 billion last year. That total was a 13 percent increase over 1997/98. The Age (Melbourne) 08/10/01

NEXT HARRY: JK Rowling denies writer's block. "There is no writer's block; on the contrary, I am writing away very happily. I made it clear last summer that I wanted to take the time to make sure that book five was not dashed off to meet a deadline, but was completed to my full satisfaction as its predecessors have been." New Zealand Herald 08/08/01

POETRY AND THE SEX SCANDAL: England's poet laureate is usually a pretty safe choice, a feel-good appointment to promote poetry and not meant to push boundaries or provoke controversy. But then a student accused the current poet laureate of sexual harassment and - "oh dear. A sex scandal. Well, nearly a sex scandal. All right, a scandal about sex but with no sex. Certainly no Blue Dress. Please." Salon 08/07/01

RESEARCHING THE OBVIOUS:As publishers have poured more and more money into the development of what everyone hopes will eventually be the lucrative e-book market, the public has reacted with marked indifference. Publishers, naturally, would like to know why this is. So far, the evidence seems to point to the good old-fashioned comfort factor of holding a real, bound, pages-and-glue book in one's hands, and knowing that it will never require a call to technical support. Boston Globe 08/06/01

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR: The city of Chicago is launching a program designed to get everyone in the city to read the same book at the same time, in an effort to promote reading and literacy. Mayor Richard Daley has selected his favorite book, Harper Lee's classic To Kill A Mockingbird, for the program. Trouble is, Mockingbird is not the sweet, syrupy days-of-yesteryear tome that many adults choose to remember, and in today's ultra-charged climate of racial politics, some are worried that the book's language and style may offend. Chicago Tribune 08/06/01


THE PURITY FACTOR: Directors reinterpreting plays in their own conception (and sometimes contrary to a playwright's expressed wishes) has become common on today's stages. Is a purist approach better? Or does a play need to adapt to stay vital? Philadelphia Inquirer 08/12/01

THE LEADING MAN PROBLEM: "Finding charismatic, vocally secure leading men for musicals is one of the toughest jobs in show business. Just ask the Broadway casting directors who have to scour the earth for candidates. 'The problem is that when you're dealing with leading men in their 30's and 40's who are talented, they can work in television and film all the time. Why should they commit to a year on Broadway'?" The New York Times 08/12/01 (one-time registration required for access)

CAN'T GET PAST THE P WORD: The Australian show Puppetry of the Penis is attracting enthusiastic crowds in Toronto, and the show has sold so many tickets its run has been extended. But there are no corporate sponsors for the show - perhaps because of the subject? Toronto Star 08/09/01

THE DOWNSIDE OF STARS: A famous Hollywood name on the marquee can draw crowds to Broadway. However, "adding movie stars tends to be a recipe for mediocre theater. Even with microphones, which compensate for a lack of vocal training, and an audience that may not know real stage acting when it sees it, movie stars on stage rarely rise above the gently damning reviews they tend to receive, which often say that they 'acquit' themselves or are 'credible'." Slate 08/07/01


CAN'T RESTRICT ART: A US federal judge has ruled that New York mayor Rudy Giuliani's administration can't force street artists to get permits to show their work on city streets. City attorneys say they will appeal. The New York Times 08/11/01 (one-time registration required for access)

SELLING GERMAN TREASURES: The sale of a rare map, made in 1507, to the American Library of Congress for $10 million, violated German laws on the export of national treasures. The map "was the first to map the continent of America, erroneously naming it after the Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci," and the German government okayed the sale as a "token of friendship." But what does this say about the state of German culture? Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 08/10/01

LAS VEGAS - CITY OF CULTURE? “The Venetian Guggenheim and Hermitage represent a quantum leap forward in the development of Las Vegas as a place that has redefined the meaning of entertainment.” The Economist 08/09/01

WHAT ROLE MUSEUMS? The wave of new museums featuring splashy architecture misunderstands the environment in which art wants to be. "Museums should not be built. They should be places which already exist, established by proclamation, chosen by acclamation." The Art Newspaper 08/08/01

FRANCE ON THE RISE: Reforms in French auction law should propel the country to the top of the auction world. "It [France] sits on a hoard of works of art that, unlike Britain's, has notbeen bled dry. It retains a vast constituency of passionate collectors in every field, at every financial level, who represent a force as essential to the successful outcome of an auction as a supportive public is to a football team's victory." International Herald Tribune 08/11/01

TEAMWORK OR COMPETITION? Baltimore has two large museums - the Walters and the Baltimore Museum of Art. But the city is shrinking - fewer people, less resources. So there's a proposal to combine operations of both in an attempt to give them both greater prominence. But is the city better served by the "genteel rivalry that traditionally has existed between the two museums?" Baltimore Sun 08/12/01

HERITAGE SELLING: "Today's Aboriginal art has little to do with the ethnological image of atavistic tribal culture. Besides representing the creation myth of the Australian natives, the so-called 'Dreamings,' it has begun to rewrite colonial and postcolonial history." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 08/12/01

SPANISH THIEVES MAKE A MAJOR HAUL: More than 20 important works of art have been reported stolen from a home in Madrid. The works include "The Donkey's Fall" and "The Swing" by Goya, "Eragny Landscape" by Pisarro, and "St. Anthony's Temptations" by Brueghel. BBC 09/09/01

BUILDING BIND: Critics might be raving about the new Gehry-designed Disney concert hall in Los Angeles, but the workers building it hate it. "Forget about that construction site standard, the blueprint. Forget about anything that covers a trifling two dimensions - the way construction documents do in more standard buildings. In Frank Gehry's world, everything is 3-D, and the construction workers are swept along - or left behind." Los Angeles Times 08/07/01

A "FOR-PROFIT" PRADO? The Spanish parliament is considering whether to turn over control of the Prado - one of the world's great museums - to a commercial company, following the recommendation of an American consulting group. "Virtually every curator in the Prado has signed a letter objecting to the Boston Consulting Group's report, the basis of the proposed law." The Art Newspaper 08/06/01

ART SEIZURE: The French government has seized the archives of the Giacometti Foundation (the collection is worth £90 million). The seizure is the latest move in a legal dispute between the government and Giacometti heirs about whether the foundation was set up for the purpose of avoiding taxes. The Art Newspaper 08/06/01

PILING ON THE TATE: As Britain's Tate Modern continues to search for someone to take on the increasingly thankless task of "recommending" new works for its collection, critics of the museum's reliance on "conceptual" arts are becoming louder. "Allegations of cronyism and insider dealing abound. At stake is nothing less than the future of art in 21st-century Britain, and the war has become most focused in the power struggle between figurative and conceptual art." The Herald (Glasgow) 08/04/01


BRIDGING THE GAP: Art and science would appear to require totally different mindsets, the one being fairly abstract and subjective, and the other being concrete and fairly absolute. "But now, more than 500 years after da Vinci combined artistic and scientific thought in a creative relationship, a group of Canadian academics, artists and scientists are saying it's time to follow his example. They want to encourage Canadian da Vincis to spread their wings by tearing down the artificial boundaries that separate science and art." The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 08/07/01

NEW SUPPORT FOR ARTISTS: The Australian government proposes new taxes on entertainment products to benefit less commercially viable artists. The government also proposes enacting a resale royalty for artists and extending copyright on artwork from 50 to 70 years after the creator's death. Sydney Morning Herald 08/07/01

ADELAIDE TURMOIL: The Adelaide Festival is in disarray after its chief executive and several senior managers resigned. Last month it was revealed that the festival's managers had considered dumping artistic director Peter Sellars' programming after the most recent festival lost $1.2 million. Sydney Morning Herald 08/07/01

THE COST OF FREEBIES: It's opening night - a scene of the hip, the famous, and the free. Arts organizations give away thousands of dollars worth of free tickets to encourage high-profile people to come. After-performance parties can be lavish. Just what do the arts groups get out of such freebies? The Age (Melbourne) 08/09/01

ANGRY INVESTORS: Two hundred Australian investors in theatre, film and entertainment projects are taking the promoters of those projects to court after the government ruled that investing in the projects was a tax ruse designed to avoid taxes. Sydney Morning Herald 08/09/01

THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY: The "Year of the Artist" just came to an end in the UK. Never heard of it? Hmnnn. A project of numerous arts boards and the Arts Council, it cost millions of pounds and "its premise was to increase support for individual artists, which meant sending out a lot of expensive blue-and-green press releases, flinging some cash around and encouraging companies to employ jugglers to keep the staff amused." Sunday Times (UK) 08/12/01


TAKING IT PERSONALLY: Wall Street Journal Pulitzer Prize-winning opera critic Manuela Hoelterhoff is every bit as outspoken in her personal life as she is in her reviews. Now she's in court defending herself from a lawsuit brought by one of her most powerful New York suburban neighbors. Seems she made a cutting remark about part of his anatomy and he took it personally... New York Magazine 08/07/01