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Week of May 20-26, 2002

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


SENSE OF PLACE: Artists from Chicago used to call themselves "Chicago artists." But beginning in the 1980s, they began referring to themselves as "Chicago-based" artists. "The implication was that they had become an elevated kind of nomad circling the globe, making and showing art anywhere. Chicago was just the place they had chosen to bed down. That attitude now is widespread. The most contemporary visual artists in London or Paris or Rio de Janeiro or Kabul seldom want to be known as being of those cities." Yes, it's just words - but what does the change mean to how artists perceive their relationships with the places they live? Chicago Tribune 05/26/02

VIDEO GAMES AS ART (REALLY, IT'S CLASSIC): Video games already outsell movies. Pretty soon they'll outsell music as well. But do they mean anything as art? "In many ways computer games offer something that works of art have been attempting since the Renaissance. Art historians have commented that the German Romantic painter, Casper David Friedrich painted from what would appear to be an impossible perspective - as if he were floating high above the ground. And think of Picasso, wrestling with the possibilities of cubism, trying to see from all angles simultaneously. The artist wants to be all-seeing, everywhere at once. The new games let us see the world from wherever we wish. Indeed, they let us construct that world completely." London Evening Standard 05/21/02


A REAL NATIONAL DANCE? Classical ballet is struggling in Ireland in a cut-down form. "So should we still aspire to having a full-time national ballet company in Ireland? 'I don't think the audience is there to sustain that type of company. A healthy dance culture should have all forms of dance but a full-time classical company certainly wouldn't be viable." Irish Times 05/16/02

  • RESPONSE - DEFENDING THE FULL-LENGTH: Should Ballet Ireland give up traditional full-length classical ballets and think about becoming a modern company, as an Irish Times dance critic seems to have suggested? The director of Ballet Ireland argues full-lengths are just what the company's audiences want. Irish Times 05/17/02

END OF AN ERA? George Balanchine's choreography built New York City Ballet into one of America's great cultural institutions. "Now the unthinkable has happened: at the City Ballet, Balanchine ballets have become boring, pompous and passé. Since Balanchine's death, what was once so vital has become dull and "established: a lifeless orthodoxy reigns. What happened? Balanchine's ballets are not in trouble just because Balanchine died. They are in trouble because an era has ended." The New York Times 05/26/02

JUSTIFY THE LOVE: In 1997, hoping to create and encourage an alternative contemporary dance company, Australia's Victoria government put out a tender for a company it could support. A group called Chunky Move won the support, but ever since the group has been mired in controversy. "It is, perhaps, not unfair to suggest that by their excellence and versatility, the Australian Ballet and the Sydney Dance Company have unwittingly undermined the evolution of alternative groups such as Chunky Move." But now it's time for the company to prove "to the dance public and arts funding bodies that their investments and faith were not based on false judgment." The Age (Melbourne) 05/25/02

FORM OVER FLAMBOYANCE? It is the eternal question of every artistic competition, whether the subject be music, dance, or pairs figure skating: is flawless technique more important than artistic merit, or vice versa? Judges at such events, who tend to be professionals in the field, often prize technique, since they are trained to look for detail and minutiae, while critics and writers may take a broader view, preferring a passionate but flawed performance to one of careful calculation. A recent edition of one of North America's premiere dance competitions illustrates the point. The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 05/23/02

IF YOU CAN MAKE IT THERE... Is the Paris Opera ballet school the best in the world? " The school was founded by Louis XIV in 171. Of the 300 or so who apply for entry each year, some 30 are accepted; after one year, 10 survive; and of these, only a handful graduate." The New York Times 05/21/02


POLANSKI'S PIANIST WINS CANNES: Roman Polanski's film about the Holocaust wins the Palme d'or at the 55th Cannes Festival. "The film stars Adrien Brody as a brilliant Polish pianist who manages to escape the Warsaw ghetto. As boy in Poland, Polanski himself survived the Krakow ghetto but lost his mother at a Nazi camp." Nando Times (AP) 05/26/02

BUYING WHAT CANADA WATCHES: Canadian TV gets most of its programming from the US. "This week, Canada's programming executives flew down to L.A. to hole up in the city's most expensive hotels. From there, they spend several days kicking the tires, by watching pilot episodes for the forthcoming series - often at hype-filled gala screenings. Other countries also participate in the Screenings, but it is really all about Canada: No other country buys so much fresh U.S. programming, or pays as much for it." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 05/25/02

NETWORK AUDIENCE DOWN AGAIN: US TV networks had an average prime time audience of about 45 million in the just-completed season. That's down 3 percent over the previous season, and continues a move of viewers to cable channels. Los Angeles Times 05/24/02

RADIO RALLY: Radio is undergoing a resurgence in the English countryside. "The almost biblical plagues that have afflicted the countryside in the past two years — the floods of 2000 and foot-and-mouth disease in 2001 — have given local radio a new passion and sense of purpose. Radio, after all, is the perfect crisis medium. It’s democratic: you can phone in and air your views. More important still, it’s low-tech. Newspapers stop coming when transport is blocked. Television and the Internet are no good without power or phone lines. But almost nothing can stop you listening to your old battery-powered trannie." The Times 05/24/02

TRAILING EDGE: Movie trailers are a big business in themselves, and studios are spending ever more time and money on creating new ways to hook an audience. "A recent survey by Variety, the Hollywood trade paper, and Moviefone found that ticket buyers cited in-theater trailers as the biggest influence on their movie choices, followed by television, newspapers and the Internet." Chicago Tribune 05/21/02


WHAT BECOMES A GREAT CONDUCTOR? Does a conductor have to be a dictator to be great? Or should he be the friend next door? One wonders after the (apparently) dictatorial Charles Dutoit made a hard exit from the Montreal Symphony. "The ideal conductor, if such a paragon exists, would command the magnetism of a perfect father, the imagination of a poet, the memory of a historian, the patience of a saint, the intellect of a genius, the technique of a virtuoso and the ambition of a salesman. All this plus the friendly manner of the little guy next door." Unfortunately, like is a series of compromises... Andante 05/23/02

HOW CHICAGO GOT ITS SOUND: Chicago jazz has always had a different flavor than that from New Orleans or New York. "Clearly, Chicago musicians take pride in the distinctiveness of their sound, and for good reason. Removed from the commercial pressures of Manhattan and the pop-oriented recording studios of Los Angeles, the Chicagoans always have forged a rougher, harder-hitting jazz than most of their counterparts on the coasts." Chicago Tribune 05/26/02

HOW I COLLECTED 23,000 RECORDINGS: Music critic John von Rhein is wrestling with his collection of recordings. The music is "an invaluable source of reference and pleasure, and an albatross. The need to collect recorded music cannot be explained rationally. Once the process has reached a certain point, it takes on an insidious life of its own. Why on earth would I want to own 26 CD recordings and nine LPs of the Rachmaninoff Third Piano Concerto?" Chicago Tribune 05/26/02

SECOND ACTS: Itzhak Perlman is one of the great violinists of the past century. But since he turned 50 a few years ago, increasingly his interested have turned to teaching and conducting. "That means he'll make a call to a student at intermission of one of his own concerts if he remembers something he forgot to say during a lesson." As for conducting, "his stick technique is quirky, but the players can follow him; he communicates through a deep reservoir of animated expressions and gestures. He has large, strong hands, and all those years of walking on crutches have created tremendous torque in his upper body; his physical energy is commanding." Detroit Free Press 05/26/02

SING FLING: Choirs aren't just for church anymore. In the US, "over the past two decades, community choruses have sprung up everywhere, supplementing the wealth of church choirs that traditionally have formed the musical backbone of many communities. A National Endowment for the Arts study found that 1 in 10 American adults now sings weekly in some kind of chorus." Christian Science Monitor 05/24/02

THE SHAM THAT IS THE CLASSICAL BRITS: The Classical Brit Awards are a shallow exercise, writes Norman Lebrecht. There's really only one "real" classical artist up for an award. "The rest are a motley band of dabblers and distorters, rock mimics and studio-made combos who call themselves 'classical' for any number of reasons, none of them credible." London Evening Standard 05/22/02

GIVING THEIR ALL (AND THEN SOME): "The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra donates its time for 12 school concerts each season. The concerts are free for the students, and orchestra volunteers even help the teachers prepare for the experience. In fact, the symphony does everything but drive the students to Heinz Hall. Until now, that is." Orchestra musicians, frustrated by the lack of inner-city students participating in the program, coughed up $5000 out of their own pockets to bus some 2,000 students to the latest round of shows. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 05/23/02

WEBCASTING FEE REJECTED: The US Librarian of Congress has rejected a "proposal by the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel which recommended that webcasters pay recording companies $.0014 per listener for each song they play." Webcasters claimed that charging the royalty fee would put them out of business. Wired 05/21/02

THE GREAT PATRON: Paul Sacher was the great patron of 20th Century music. He comissioned "more than 120 works, including masterpieces by Bartók, Britten, Honegger, Hindemith, Stravinsky, Milhaud and Tippett." But he was more personally involved as well. "Throughout his life Sacher’s palatial mansion outside Basle was a kind of upmarket soup kitchen for hard-pressed geniuses. The dying Martinu spent his last weeks there. Honegger and his family lived there, free of charge, for a year. The young Boulez and exiled Rostropovich were accommodated so often that the respective rooms became known as 'Slava’s apartment'and 'Pierre’s room'. It is hardly an exaggeration to claim that without Sacher’s money-bags some of the most scintillating musical minds of the last century might have ended up washing dishes." The Times (UK) 05/21/02

DAMAGE CONTROL: What's up with British jazz critics? "Too many of them seem to find it really rather awkward to say anything unpleasant about the artists they review. The disobliging word does not even stick in their throats, let alone spring from their lips like a dart; instead, it remains a sad little thought, quickly displaced by brighter, shinier blandishments." Are they afraid they'll hurt jazz if they write critical things about it? New Statesman 05/20/02

MUSEUM BUST? The Country Music Hall of Fame opened a handsome new $37 million museum in Nashville a year ago, amid rosy predictions of first-year admissions of 550,000. The reality is considerably less, and the museum is optimistically hoping for 330,000 visitors this year. Houston Chronicle (AP) 05/19/02

WE REALLY DON'T LIKE OUR CUSTOMERS: Sony has incorporated copy protection software into copies of Celine Dion's new album. "It can actually crash PC's, and owners of iMac computers from Apple Computer have found that they sometimes cannot eject the discs." The discs have been sold in Europe but not in the US, though Sony says that may change. The New York Times 05/20/02


STEPHEN JAY GOULD, SCIENTIST, AUTHOR: "Stephen Jay Gould - who died of lung cancer yesterday at the age of 60 - was a prize example of a very rare breed. Gould was a professor at Harvard, a longtime columnist for Natural History magazine, the author of numerous bestsellers, and a dependably feisty public intellectual. He did not suffer fools gladly; he pummeled them in print." Washington Post 05/21/02

MILLER FIRED FROM MET? Star director Jonathan Miller says he's been fired by the Metropolitan Opera "following a dispute with the Italian diva Cecilia Bartoli. In a startlingly frank interview with a respected music writer, Miller is also scathing about the acting skills of the 'Three Tenors', Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti and Jose Carreras, and savagely attacks opera audiences." The Guardian (UK) 05/20/02

NORMAN MEETS THE QUEEN: Queen Elizabeth invites in Britain's cultural elite for a meet and greet. "We were, someone said, the elite of the arts: the 600 makers and shakers of creative society. But the guest list for the party at the Royal Academy in Piccadilly was entertainingly eclectic. I met a man who runs a theatre in a North Yorkshire village of 200. Just beyond him was Sir Simon Rattle, music director of the world's premier orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic." London Evening Standard 05/23/02

ABRUPT EXIT: Giving only a week's notice, Dallas Opera General Director Mark Whitworth-Jones quits the company after two years on the job. He "acknowledged frustration with the local fund raising situation during the economic downturn and in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He said subscription revenue was down 17 percent during the 2001-02 season. The company has also found its fund raising for annual operations competing with efforts to raise money for the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, as part of the proposed Dallas Center for the Performing Arts." Dallas Morning News 05/23/02


THE NEW PUBLISHING: Each year, about 3,500 novels are published. "While the main advantage to being published by a big press is the distribution, marketing, promotion, and visibility it can offer, all too often that kind of attention is only bestowed upon the clearly commercial novel that is already earmarked to be a winner, usually because of the author's previous performance. Sessalee Hensley, fiction buyer for all 582 Barnes & Noble superstores, says the sad truth is that only 10 percent of books get any serious marketing or PR support." Now a new publishing model is taking hold. Poets & Writers 05/02

BLASTING THE BOOKER: The expected protests over plans to open the Booker Prize to Americans have begun. "The chairwoman of this year's Booker judging panel, Lisa Jardine, raged that 'the Booker will become as British an institution as English muffins in US supermarkets ... more blandly generic as opposed to specifically British. This will completely change the character of the prize'." Why is it happening? " The Man Group, a new sponsor, has more than doubled the value of the prize this year to £50,000 ($A131,189) but, seeking greater international prominence and book sales, has insisted that US writers should be eligible by 2004." The Age (Melbourne) 05/23/02

TALKING ABOUT BOOKS: The rise of the literary festival to the point where it plays a significant part in publishing economics is a fairly recent phenomenon. If the literary festival represents the public face of contemporary letters, then it also doubles up as the chief agency for establishing its hierarchies and pecking orders." The Guardian (UK) 05/25/02

TOP HEAVY: A critic takes issue with the notion of ranking the top 100 books of all time. "We live in a time of lists. That's why we like awards so much: They tell us who the best writers are. That's what we want to know: Who has the highest score. Never mind that a list of favourite books of the year, arrived at by much compromise after a discussion among three or four entirely human judges, has about as much historical significance as a list of My Favourite X-Box Games." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 05/25/02

ACCLAIM BUT NO SALES: Sylvia Ann Hewlett's book Creating a Life: Professional Women and the Quest for Children has got all the promotional and critical boosts an author could want. Yet "data from the research marketing firm Bookscan suggest Creating a Life has sold fewer than 8,000 copies. The peculiar fate is the publishing world's mystery of the year. How could a book with such exposure — on the hot-button topic of reconciling motherhood and career — sell so abysmally?" The New York Times 05/21/02

JUST SAY NO (TO WRITING SCHOOLS): Are writing schools a good way to teach writing? Probably not. What they do is provide a group that the solitary writer can belong to. But there are downsides. "The short story, I'd hazard, has been much diminished in Canada, where it has been subsumed to the purposes of the MFA schools. Too often, what we're getting these days are short pieces of fiction and not short stories. Professional samples, really." National Post 05/24/02

KEEPING TABS: One of a librarian's biggest chores is keeping track of where books are. Now a new radio tag might help solve the problem. "Unlike bar codes, which need to be scanned manually and read individually, radio ID tags do not require line-of-site for reading. Multiple tags can be read simultaneously, through packaging or book covers. With radio ID tags, librarians can automate check-ins and returns. Patrons can speed through self-checkout without any assistance or ever even opening a book." Wired 05/21/02

READING IN DARK IS BAD: Your parents were right - reading in the dark is bad for your eyes. A researcher reports that "the way we use our eyes when young can affect the way the eyes develop." He salso says that rates of myopia are increasing. BBC 05/21/02

READERS DESERT UK LIBRARIES: A new study reports that use of British libraries is shrinking. The report says that "since 1992 visits to libraries have fallen by 17%. In the same period spending on books has fallen by a third, and 9% fewer libraries are open for 30 or more hours a week - although the national library budget has remained stable, at £770 million a year." Why - readers complain of shabby building and limited selection." The Guardian (UK) 05/17/02

ART OF REDIRECTION: You go to the Amazon website, type in the name of the book you're looking for, and when your book comes up, it's accompanied by a suggestion to try another book instead. "Two weeks ago, Amazon's Web site added a feature that lets users suggest that shoppers buy a different book than the one being perused." The New York Times 05/20/02


A GOVERNOR PILEDRIVES ARTS FUNDING: Governor Jesse Ventura of Minnesota, he of the pro wrestling background and snarling visage, has used his veto pen to wipe out tens of millions of dollars of arts funding from this year's state budget. Hardest hit is the nationally renowned Guthrie Theater, which had been scheduled to receive $24 million for a new theater on the Mississippi riverfront, and will now receive nothing at all. Ventura claims that government funding of the arts is a slippery slope (though he just signed a bill funding a $330 million ballpark for the local baseball team,) while the Guthrie's artistic director calls the governor destructive and dictatorial. Minneapolis Star Tribune 05/23/02

THE ASIAN MOZART? Andrew Lloyd Webber believes he's found the composer who could rejuvenate musical theatre. A R Rahman is a sensation in his native India. "His scores have been composed for some of India's most successful films, including Dil Se and Lagaan, which was nominated for best foreign film in this year's Oscars. With sales of more than 100 million, his albums have sold more than Britney Spears and Madonna combined." Now Lloyd Webber has asked him to write a musical and is producing it in London's West End. The Telegraph (UK) 05/25/02

IN SEARCH OF FAME: There is an increasingly popular strain of show that exists as much for its ever-changing cast of famous players as for the show itself. "These shows exist on regular injections of famous names. They change their casts like a drag act changes frocks - each one just as fabulous, just as glittery as the one before - and interest is as much in what the next change will be as in the show itself." The Scotsman 05/20/02

IF HARTFORD'S TOO CLOSE... why not Seattle for that out-of-town big-budget Broadway-bound musical? Producers of Hairspray have brought the show for a tryout before heading to New York. "The fact that Seattle is auditioning for this role now attests to the changing nature of Broadway production and to the city's burgeoning cultural profile." Seattle Times 05/26/02

ONLY BROADWAY: Broadway has rebounded in a big way since the dark days after September 11. The help Broadway got from the city in the form of ticket purchases and financial assistance was welcomed. But Off-Broadway and other performing groups were not included in the bailout, and hard feelings remain. The New York Times 05/22/02

WHAT'S WRONG WITH BRITISH THEATRE: Director Declan Donnellan is back in London to stage Tony Kushner's new play, but he's got some misgivings about the local arts scene. "People involved in theatre in Britain are mistreated and misunderstood. 'We are quite cruel to artists. Even the way we call them 'luvvies' is a put-down. There is an envy of the artist that is dressed up as anger in this country. Look at the way that the theatre only makes the front news when it's bad news or something goes wrong at the RSC. I still think of Britain as home, but it is quite hard for it to be'." The Guardian (UK) 05/22/02

SELLOUT: An Australian critic is tired of the kind of theatre he's been seeing lately. "Authenticity in the theatre is up for grabs these days. Commercialism and homogeny, not passion and difference, are turning some sections of the mainstream theatre into a sterile playground, if there can be such a thing. So many productions are predictable and lacking in nerve." Sydney Morning Herald 05/21/02


THIEF - I DID IT FOR THE LOVE OF ART: "In the latest twist to a case that has left the art world reeling, Stephane Breitwieser, who was arrested in the Swiss city of Lucerne last November after stealing a bugle from a museum, told police his six-year spree was driven by a love of art rather than a desire to make money. Many of the 60-odd 16th, 17th and 18th century canvases stolen, including works by Boucher, Watteau and Breughel, are thought to have been destroyed by his mother Mireille, who told French police that soon after her son was arrested she cut them up into small pieces and threw them out with the rubbish 'because the house absolutely had to be wiped clean'." The Guardian (UK) 05/23/02

MEIER WAY NOT THE HIGH WAY: When Atlanta's High Museum decided to double in size with a $130 million addition, officials didn't even consider asking Richard Meier, the High's original architect, for a plan. Instead, without a competition, it hired Renzo Piano. "It seems very strange not to have consulted or hired the original architect. It's the best building in Atlanta and Meier's first big commission. It would have been interesting to see what he would have done now that he's done a lot of other museums." The New York Times 05/23/02

VIRTUAL BUDDHAS: "It was an act of cultural desecration that shocked the world. The age-old Buddhas at Bamiyan in northern Afghanistan, which had withstood the ravages of Genghis Khan and centuries of invasions and wars, proved powerless against the destructive zealotry of the Taliban regime. Now the Buddhas are making a comeback of sorts, thanks to the efforts of a Swiss entrepreneur and a team of researchers at a Swiss university." The twist is that the comeback is of the digital variety, and employs the very latest in 3D imaging technology. Wired 05/22/02

WE DON'T CARE WHO BUILDS 'EM: Here's a blow to architects' egos. A new poll by an architecture organization reports that "81% of respondents claimed that they were interested in the look and feel of the buildings they use" Good news, yes. But only 16% could name a living architect. Oddly, asked to name a living architect, five percent identified 17th-Century master Christopher Wren. The Guardian (UK) 05/20/02

GOING BEYOND 'WASH ME': The winner of a £10,000 contemporary drawing prize in the U.K. may have won the cash, but another finalist appears to have captured the hearts and minds of both public and press. Ben Long creates incredibly intricate drawings in the dust and grime caked to the side of vans and cars, and was named a finalist after submitting videos of himself creating the works. He didn't win, but the publicity being heaped upon him is a pretty good consolation prize. BBC 05/22/02

THE PROBLEM WITH SPIFFING UP: The new Manchester Art Gallery reopens after a major project to double its size and dress it up with all sorts of new enhancements. "Why are museums convinced that the art itself, well presented and well explained, isn't magical or marvellous or interesting enough? Why does art have to be tarted-up and given all this spin? Unless it is done as well as an arcade or console game, the family are going to be convinced that the stuff in the rest of the gallery is second-rate too. They will expect entertainment on every level, and generally they are not going to find it. I believe this kind of thing actually reaffirms the notion that art is dull, dry, dusty and dead. This isn't dumbing down - it is just patronising, and no substitute for good teaching elsewhere." The Guardian (UK) 05/21/02

DIGITAL DIFFICULTY: Why does the artworld seem to have difficulty accepting digital art? "Computers have been seen for the past 50 years as tools of business and science, and more recently, expensive typewriters. Because much of the digital art out there is native to the computer, that's where it is best displayed. People are unaccustomed to writing emails on a platform of artistic expression. Perhaps they are in denial." *spark-online 05/02

ONLINE GALLERY GOES BUST: They were going to change the way people bought art. They were going to put traditional galleries out of business. Actually no. The online artsellers have been going out of business, and Eyestorm, one of the most prominent, is being liquidated. "Art lovers are reluctant to buy works they have not experienced first-hand. To compensate, Eyestorm opened galleries in London and New York — a seeming contradiction to its original premise of allowing buyers to avoid the gallery scene." The New York Times 05/20/02

SELLING OFF NATIONAL HERITAGE: As old German families sell off their collections to raise money, German governments at various levels attempt to buy them so the artwork stays in Germany. Trouble is, cash-strapped German governments can barely afford essential services, let alone art... Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 05/23/02

SECOND-RATE MASTERS? In Australia an exhibition of Italian master paintings, called by the Italian culture minister "the most important exhibition ever to leave Italy," has been blasted in a front page review in a national paper. "Benjamin Genocchio, a Sydney-based critic and art historian who is a citizen of both Australia and Italy, called the show 'a resoundingly average exhibition of minor pictures by second- and third-division artists'. His review on the front page of The Australian, a national daily broadsheet, also charged that The Italians, as the show is popularly billed, was marred by restoration errors and attribution questions." The New York Times 05/23/02

GENUINE FAKE MASTERPIECES FOR SALE: The Supreme Court in Australia has cleared the way for the sale of a massive collection of fake artwork owned by a deceased art dealer, who appears to have been passing them off to her clients as works by real masters. The dealer's husband had been seeking to have the sale blocked, but the executor of the estate won the right to go ahead with it. Oh, and one more twist: the executor just happens to be the same man who executed the fakes in the first place. Sydney Morning Herald 05/23/02

EARNING ITS KEEP: For many arts organizations, fundraising is a constant balancing act between selling the notion that the arts are something worth paying for, and trying not to sound like a charity case. Boston's Museum of the Fine Arts, however, has gone the traditional route one better, commissioning a study which indicates that the MFA is a cash cow for the region, creating new jobs and new businesses, and pumping hundreds of millions into the local economy every year. Why bother with the study? Well, MFA is expanding, and needs something in the neighborhood of $425 million to accomplish it. Boston Globe 05/23/02


CUTTING THE ARTS: Across the US states are trying to balance their budgets. And typically, one of the first things to be cut is funding for the arts. "After years of steady expansion, public financing for the arts has begun to drop substantially as a long economic boom ends." Some of the cuts are as much as 60 percent. The New York Times 05/24/02

  • SYMBOLIC CUTS HURT: California governor Gray Davis has been a friend to the arts, substantially increasing arts funding in the state over his time in office. But his arts budget got whacked in half last week when he submitted his proposal for the state budget. The cuts have arts officials perplexed - arts funding is still a tiny part of the state budget. "Any cut to arts funding is primarily symbolic. It's not enough money to solve this budget crisis or any budget problem. There's no point pretending that it does. It's meaningless fiscally." LA Weekly 05/23/02
  • GERMAN CITIES CUT BACK CULTURE: Frankfurt, like many German cities, is reducing how much it spends on culture, as a way with trying to deal with public budget deficits. "A number of German cities have long been unable to afford themselves, the most striking example being that of Berlin. Frankfurt now seems no longer able to afford itself either. Or willing to do so." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 05/20/02
  • GEORGIA CUTS ARTS SPENDING: The state of Georgia ranks 47th among US states in per capita public spending on the arts. But that doesn't stop the state from cutting this year's arts budget. "The Georgia Council for the Arts has announced awards totaling $2.5 million to 177 nonprofit organizations around the state for the new fiscal year, beginning July 1. That's down from $2.7 million to 181 groups last year. It's the state's smallest arts grants budget since 1989." Atlanta Journal-Constitution 05/20/02

ARTS MAKE BETTER STUDENTS: A new report that looks at "all the arts and make comparisons with academic achievement, performance on standardized tests, improvements in social skills and student motivation," says that "schoolchildren exposed to drama, music and dance may do a better job at mastering reading, writing and math than those who focus solely on academics." USAToday 05/23/02

INTO THE BOG: So London's South Bank has a new leader, plucked from Down Under. Good luck. South Bank is London's cultural swamp, a bog where ideas drown and finding your way to solid ground a mystery known to few. "It is the place of perpetual crisis, the place of lost cultural vision, and the place on which the arts press loves to dump. It has become the emblematic arts crisis of the era." So a few tips for the new head man... The Guardian (UK) 05/25/02

UNIVERSITY CRISIS: A new government audit of British universities says they are "at least £1 billion a year short of the money needed to keep buildings and equipment in working order. The audit suggests institutions either need to scale down their activities at a time when they are supposed to be expanding to meet government targets - or receive a massive injection of extra money to avert disaster." The Guardian (UK) 05/20/02

AFTER 23 YEARS, MIAMI'S LINCOLN CENTER? Miami's new performing arts center will cost $334 million - the largest public/private project in Miami history. It is "designed to rival the Lincoln Center in New York and scheduled to open in the fall of 2004." The project's new director says he sees the center being a "point of contact" between cultures and that he hopes "to be the only white guy" on the new center's team. Miami Herald 05/19/02

10. FOR FUN 

TONYS DIRTY TRICKS: Someone has been writing nasty letters to Tony Awards judges, pretending to be Tony-nominated actor Gregg Edelman. "Last week, at least four prominent Tony voters, including Into the Woods composer Stephen Sondheim, received nasty letters, ostensibly written by Edelman, accusing them of failing to appreciate the actor's talents and of bad-mouthing him behind his back. The letters were printed on stationery with Edelman's name in capital letters at the top and were signed 'G.E.'." Edelman says he didn't write them. New York Post 05/24/02

HOW TO REJECT FREE PUBLICITY AND ALIENATE FANS: The Bellevue Philharmonic Orchestra may not be the most prestigious orchestra in Washington state, but it has apparently mastered the art of acting like a big-dog organization. The BPO is taking legal action against a classical music fan who has registered the domain name "" and set up an unofficial web site meant to drum up support for the ensemble. The orchestra claims the site is diverting traffic from its official site. Eastside Journal (Bellevue) 05/20/02

BANNING AMERICA'S QUINTESSENTIAL AMBASSADOR? Iran has banned Barbie from stores. "Agents have been confiscating Barbie from toy stores since a vague proclamation earlier this month denouncing the un-Islamic sensibilities of the idol of girls worldwide." The Age (AP) (Melbourne) 05/22/02