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Week of June 3-9, 2002

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


A TOOL TO CHANGE ART: Digital filmmaking is sweeping the industry. But it is "a cause for misgivings as well as wonderment. It will kill art before it enhances it. It will aggrandise businessmen before it enriches audiences. It had to happen, just as the talkies had to, because technology dictated it, but not because any creative artist craved it." One thing is certain - it will change the art of making movies - in good ways and in bad. London Evening Standard 06/07/02

JAPAN - THE NEW CULTURE SUPERPOWER? "Critics often reduce the globalization of culture to either the McDonald's phenomenon or the 'world music' phenomenon. For the McDonald's camp, globalization is the process of large American multinationals overwhelming foreign markets and getting local consumers addicted to special sauce. In this case, culture flows from American power, and American supply creates demand. For the world music camp, globalization means that fresh, marginal culture reaches consumers in the United States through increased contact with the rest of the world. Here, too, culture flows from American power, with demand from rich Americans expanding distribution for Latin pop or Irish folk songs. But Japanese culture has transcended US demand or approval." The Guardian (UK) 06/03/02


BOLSHOI RESCUE: The Russian government has decided to allocate $180 million to fix up the badly-decaying Bolshoi Theatre. "Four and a half years of rebuilding work would start in 2003, performances would continue while work was being done, and the theatre would only be closed for a few months during the summer." BBC 06/06/02

SPEAKING UP FOR DANCE: Modern dance needs an advocate. As an artform it has a lot going against it in developing infrastructures and acceptance. Contemporary dance is often overlooked in mainstream culture. But in New York "some 400 dance companies, of every aesthetic stripe, are at work in the five boroughs. Dance/NYC aims to give them a unified voice." The New York Times 06/09/02

KEEPERS OF THE FLAME: New York is home to two of the world's great ballet companies. But "as excellent as the two companies still are on a good night, both seem to be struggling to reinvent themselves, to reach beyond powerful past identities. Ballet watchers have complained that ABT is neglecting its heritage - the profound works of Antony Tudor and the popular ones of Agnes de Mille. City Ballet's public has complained about the stewardship of the company that Peter Martins has run since the 1983 death of its cofounder, George Balanchine. Martins hasn't regularly invited key keepers of the Balanchine flame back into the fold to teach the ballets to a generation of City Ballet dancers who never knew the master. Former company luminaries are instead scattered across the country." Boston Globe 06/08/02

ABT COMING UP FOR AIR? American Ballet Theatre is one of the country's great dance companies. Also one of its most financially troubled in recent years. "After a financially trying two years in which productions were canceled, staff members quit, donors defected and the executive director was forced to resign, could Ballet Theater be heading for fiscal and spiritual health? Apparently not just yet." The New York Times 06/04/02

BACKSTAGE AT THE BALLET: Running the backstage operations of American Ballet Theatre is a complcated manouevre, a ballet of its own, composed of "scene changes, the size and positioning of the sets, the wardrobe, lighting design and electrical needs. It requires coordination with the ballet masters over rehearsal schedules and artistic changes that crop up over the course of performances. And it demands adherence to a budget that comes out of the $4 million a year allocated to production costs." The New York Times 06/09/02

REPRIEVE IN FRANKFURT? Last week it was reported that the City of Frankfurt planned to close Frankfurt Ballet and cancel director William Forsythe's contract. Now Forsythe says that "Frankfurt city officials have told him they want his acclaimed dance company, the Frankfurt Ballet, to continue working in the city after his current contract ends in 2004. But he added that a deal was not assured, as the city's finances are in dire straits." The New York Times 06/04/02


THE HOLLYWOOD FORMULA: The road to success in Hollywood goes wherever it takes to be "successful." "The latest formula for success - the 'brand movie' - is working. This summer, Hollywood will release 16 big-star, big-budget films described as brands: films that are sequels, prequels, spin-offs, franchises or based on universally recognised characters from comic books, children's books or video games." The Telegraph (UK) 06/03/02

CAUGHT IN A WEB: Radio stations are evolving their websites into listener loyalty centers. "For everything from rating snippets of songs to answering trivia questions, from knowing secret codes that are given over the air to viewing ads for sponsors," listeners can "win points from the country station that she can use to enter in sweepstakes or to bid in auctions on such items as DVDs, gift cards and small appliances. Add these reward programs and e-mail blasts to dating hotlines and other gimmicks, and it becomes clear that music stations aren't just about the music nowadays (if they ever were) and that many stations are becoming comfortable with the Web. " Chicago Tribune 06/04/02

TV FOR THE VERY YOUNG - A CHANGE: For years some TV producers of kids shows for the very young believed that attention spans were so short that shows should be cut up into small segments. The approach won Sesame Street 79 Emmys over 33 years. But it turns out video viewing habits for the very young are changing along with the rest of the population, so the show has gone to longer stories. The change seems to be working - Sesame Street's ratings are up 31 percent in the 2-5 age group. The New York Times 06/09/02

MOVIES FROM THE 'AXIS OF EVIL': An internet site based in Iran has set up a nice little business streaming American movies over the internet. The site has all the latest movies, and charges less than $1.50 per view. Yes it's illegal, but "legal and technology experts said Hollywood will be hard-pressed to reel in a Web site based in a country that is not a party to international copyright treaties and that has not had diplomatic ties to the United States since 1979. In fact, tensions surged again early this year when President Bush lumped Iran in with Iraq and North Korea as part of an 'axis of evil'." SFGate 06/06/02

CANADA'S TV ACTORS WANT BETTER DEAL: "Marginalized for decades, largely impotent in negotiations, and too fearful of personal backlash to fight back, some of Canada's most distinguished thespians have recently begun to find their voice." For what? "The Canadian film-service industry has grown into a $3.5-billion annual business. But of every dollar spent, technical crews make between 18 and 22 cents, while actors under the jurisdiction of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) earn just two cents - about $600 a month on average for each working actor. Most of the rest goes to producers." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/05/02

MOVING TO CANADA: A new study "shows that the amount of money spent to produce films in the United States dropped 17% from 1998 to 2001, while the amount spent on production in Canada grew by 144%." Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (AP) 06/04/02


BRITAIN'S MUSIC MYTH: "Britain has a long and inglorious tradition of attempting to subjugate the planet by asserting its culture. This is the perceived superiority upon which an empire was built, and it should have withered away years ago when we realised foreign countries didn’t need British tastes to be fully functional. But old prejudices die hard, and it’s ironic that they persist in that supposedly rebellious establishment, the music business." The Scotsman 06/02/02

SAN JOSE SYMPHONY GOES BANKRUPT: After trying to revive itself through fundraising, the San Jose Symphony calls it quits. The orchestra had already shut down operations last winter but had hoped to regroup. "The announcement concludes months of uncertainty about the future of the 123-year-old institution. With an estimated $3.4 million in debt and just $300,000 in assets, the symphony seemed increasingly likely to fold. Concert attendance had fallen off. To make ends meet, the organizers borrowed money on credit. The symphony's status has been in limbo since it was shut down last October because of mismanagement and spiraling debt." San Jose Mercury News 06/03/02

  • PLAYERS LET LOOSE: "Symphony leaders hope to resurrect the organization in a new form, but nobody knows when that might happen. San Jose Symphony players never made a full income there. Most earned around $24,000." San Francisco Chronicle 06/05/02

TO PROTECT (NOT SERVE): "At least two Canadian record companies will begin testing copyright-protected CDs this summer, But record executives in Canada and the United States are worried about possible consumer backlash. If music-lovers conclude that the sound quality of copyright-protected discs is inferior, or the discs "gum up" the CD players in their cars or the hard drives in their computers, or they see the technology as a Big Brother-style intrusion and restriction by impersonal, profit-hungry labels, the conventions that have governed the commercial recording industry for decades could be further eroded." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/04/02

THE GENDER ORCHESTRA: Are there "girl" musical instruments and "boy" musical instruments? A new study says yes. Boys consistently prefered instruments traditionally identified as male. "Using accepted British, Australian and North American classifications, 'male' instruments in this study were deemed drums, saxophone, trumpet and trombone, as opposed to the more 'feminine' apparati of flute, violin, clarinet, cello." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/08/02

SOMEWHERE BETWEEN SOUND AND MUSIC: It's certainly not a new idea, but using everyday sound as fodder for music is finding new fans. "A California group called Matmos makes pieces of music entirely out of the recorded sounds of plastic surgery being performed. A British technician called Matthew Herbert makes dance music entirely out of the sound of a McDonald's meal being unwrapped and consumed. They are both part of a trend sometimes known as 'glitch,' which is music made without any instruments, entirely of found sounds, which are then arranged into musical patterns. Glitch is primarily about what fun can be had with samplers and computer-editing programs, but it is also about bridging the gap between pop music and conceptual art." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/08/02

THE NEW CHOPIN: When Chopin wrote his 24 piano preludes, he experimented with a 25th in E-flat minor, but abandoned it. Now a University of Pennsylvania professor has reconstructed the piece. It "shows a degree of experimentalism we hadn't known before. At the same time, that's why it doesn't work. You've got the experimentalism in sound, but the chord progression isn't that strange." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/08/02

GENDER-TYPING: There are more and more female classical music critics writing today. It's a field traditionally dominated by males. But "isn't it funny that her increased acceptance in the ranks of critics — that is, among the shapers rather than receivers of opinion — happens to coincide with the striking decline, purely in terms of space, of classical music coverage in news outlets across the nation?" Andante 06/06/02

RESISTANT TO PROTECTION: Recording producers want to protect their music from piracy and unauthorized copying. They might be able to accomplish it by embedding codes that prevent digital copying. But there's one big problem - music consumers, the kind that actually buy music, won't buy protected discs. What to do? Wired 06/06/02

BLACK MUSICIANS M.I.A.: Coalitions of musicians have been working to change the kinds of contract deals they get from recording companies. Notably missing from the efforts? Black musians. "There is the perception of those [black] artists who do know about these movements, who do get to hear about them—and many have not—that this is a white movement, that this is something that white people are doing. And there is a distrust of white people and their intentions." Village Voice 06/04/02

SAME OLD SAME OLD: American orchestras have announced next year's seasons. So why do so many of them look alike? Same pieces, same presentation. "What makes our orchestras' schedules look so repetitive is not only that they repeat one another but also that they keep repeating a few well-tried formulas, right through their programming." The New York Times 06/02/02


HOW LEW WASSERMAN RUINED THE MOVIES: He was mourned as a legend this week. But "missing from all the gushy epitaphs is an example of a single great picture that got made because of Wasserman's vision. "If the only movies playing at your local cineplex are Spider-Man and the new Star Wars epic, Wasserman deserves much of the blame. Even during the drug-induced brilliance of 1970s Hollywood, Wasserman's taste at Universal was always conservative, middle-aged, and middlebrow: no Coppolas, no Altmans, no Scorseses." Slate 06/06/02

RATTLE IN CALIFORNIA: Star conductor Simon Rattle hasn't performed in the Bay Area since 1988. But it turns out the new Berlin Philharmonic chief is a regular visitor - his kids live there. Tonight he performs as a pianist with his son. In a rare American interview he tells Joshua Kosman that he never really considered leading an American orchestra. "I know that with any American orchestra, I would've had to spend a lot of my time fighting for existence, reminding people why we had to be there and taking much more of an educational role than I wanted to take on at this time in my life." San Francisco Chronicle 06/07/02

JANSONS TO LEAVE PITTSBURGH: Conductor Mariss Jansons is quitting as music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony after the 2003/2004 season. "Jansons' long-standing disappointment over low attendance at Heinz Hall concerts was not given as a reason for leaving, said PSO officials, nor did he mention any of his recent frustrations with orchestra musicians over artistic direction. And while he's previously expressed the feeling that the arts get too little respect in Pittsburgh, orchestra officials said Jansons made no mention of that in announcing his departure." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 06/07/02

STRITCH SOUNDS OFF: Producers of Sunday night's Tony Awards were generally ruthless about pushing winners to keep their speeches short. Most wrapped up the talking as soon as they heard the music nudge them when their two minutes were up. One who didn't, and was caught mid-sentence was Elaine Stritch. "The 76-year-old Broadway star was thanking her producers when the orchestra started playing over her speech...'Please, don't do this to me'," she pleaded as the telecast cut to commercial. "Backstage, Stritch, crying and shaking with anger, said, 'I am very, very upset. I know CBS can't let people do the Gettysburg Address at the Tonys, but they should have given me my time'." New York Post 06/03/02


BRING ON THE YANKS: The British literary world's upset about Americans being included in the Booker Prize is a joke. "Does anyone over there really believe that American lit'ry fiction in this Year of Our Lord 2002 is so superior to that of Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth that it would swamp the Booker competition? What have these people been reading, or smoking? What a joke! The plain fact is that in recent years serious or 'literary' fiction from Britain and the Commonwealth has broadened and deepened, in scope and quality alike, even as comparable fiction from the United States has shriveled into what is rapidly becoming self-parody." Washington Post 06/03/02

READING INTO FESTIVALS: Nothing new about literary festivals, of course. But they're getting bigger and more popular. "If the literary festival, whether played out in a windblown north-of-the-border square, in the foothills of the Black Mountains or on the Suffolk coast, represents the public face of contemporary letters, then it also doubles up as the chief agency for establishing its hierarchies and pecking orders. Far more so than best-seller charts, the literary festival is an infallible guide to who's who and what's what in the world of books, and who cuts it with the punters." The Guardian (UK) 06/08/02

ABOUT IDEAS, RIGHT? Sometimes literary festivals mutate into something other than events about books. "This year the 16th Hay Festival seems less a wholesale celebration of literature than a salute to almost every intellectual and practical pastime known to human life – archaeology, biotechnology, cookery, horseracing, art and much else too." The Independent (UK) 06/05/02

SYDNEY'S NEW LITERARY STAR: "The Sydney Writers' Festival, has, perhaps, finally found a legitimate niche in the city's increasingly crowded cultural calendar, with audiences this year expected to reach an all-time high of well over 40,000. With an increasingly high profile courtesy of a clever programing mix, the obligatory star guest names, healthy media attention and an even healthier book-buying local market, there is talk that the event may even be outgrowing its relatively new docklands home." Sydney Morning Herald 06/03/02

INSURING PROBLEMS: Add to the woes of independent booksellers the growing cost of insurance. Insurance premiums have risen sharply this year, and some independents fear this may put them out of business. Publishers Weekly 06/04/02

WEB FREE POETRY: Poetry in print is a problem - it's expensive to publish and it has a limited audience. But "on the web, distribution is no problem: it's all available 24/7, and everyone is equal, at least theoretically. There is the perfect book-buying system in Amazon, there are online poetry magazines and newsgroups. The publishers have websites so you can see what's available (bookshop poetry sections can be very patchy). Perfect in theory. How does it measure up? Google produces 7.25m pages for "poetry." The Guardian (UK) 06/06/02


BROADWAY'S OFF-YEAR: The numbers are in and they're not pretty. "A total of 10,958,432 tickets were purchased during the season, a decline of 7.9% from last year, when it reached a record-breaking 11.5 million. It was the first time the numbers fell below 11,000,000 since the 1995-1996 season. According to an in-depth analysis of the season's statistics released last week by the League of American Theatres and Producers, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the softening national economy, and 'the ensuing demographic changes of theatregoers' - meaning fewer tourists in New York City - are all to be attributed for the decline." Backstage 06/05/02

THE GOAT/MILLIE TAKE TOP TONYS: Go figure - Thoroughly Modern Millie wins Best Musical at Sunday night's Tony Awards, but "the critically acclaimed but offbeat Urinetown: The Musical won for direction, score and book of a musical." So the ingredients for Urinetown were better, but Millie still made the better salad? The New York Times 06/03/02

LEAST-WATCHED TONYS BROADCASTS STILL HELPS BOX OFFICE: Last Sunday's Tony Awards TV broadcast got its lowest ratings ever. Some blame the nationally televised Sacramento Kings/LA Lakes playoff game running opposite the awards, which attracted more than three times as many viewers. Still, plays in contention for Tonys saw box office sales double Monday after the bradcast. Baltimore Sun (AP) 06/07/02

GUTHRIE DECIDES TO GO AHEAD: Though Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura vetoed $25 million in proposed state funding for the Guthrie Theatre's new theatre, "the Guthrie Theater board has decided to continue with design and pre-construction work on its $125 million complex proposed for the Mississippi riverfront in Minneapolis." The Star-Tribune (Minneapolis) 06/04/02

FLORIDA BUSH PLAYS HARDBALL: The State of Florida and Miami's Coconut Grove Playhouse are in a dispute about money. The governor is threatening to veto $500,000 allocated to the theatre if the theatre's board doesn't release the state from responsibility for $15 million in maintenance for the Playhouse. "On Friday afternoon, Gov. Jeb Bush's office faxed the Playhouse an 18-line memo, which caught managers there by surprise. The state, which purchased the Playhouse property in 1980, leases it back to the board for $1 a year. But as the landlord, the state remains obligated to provide maintenance, according to the lease, which runs through 2063." Miami Herald 06/03/02

SUCCESS BOMB: Sweet Smell of Success was once one of the highest-touted projects coming to Broadway. And yes, it was nominated for big Tony awards. But it wasn't enough to stave off closing the show next week. Backers will have lost their entire $10 million investment. "Instead of running five years, Sweet Smell of Success barely limped its way through three months. What happened?" Washington Post 06/09/02

END OF AN ERA IN BOSTON: Robert Brustein has ended 22 years running American Repertory Theatre, and, in critic Ed Siegel's opinion, "the Boston area loses its most important cultural leader." His aesthetic changed the way theatre is done in Boston. Not that everything was a success - Brustein's championing of new and experimental theatre and his willingness to take chances led to a lot of duds. But "to put the best light on it, when you swing for the fences, as ART usually does, you are bound to strike out more. The hits and misses are all a function of the ART's aesthetic, one that at its most adventurous is uncompromisingly postmodernist." Boston Globe 06/09/02

WHAT AILS THE TONYS: Frank Rizzo is fed up with the Tony Awards broadcast. "Last week's show on CBS was simply awful, registering the lowest ratings ever. Even the one-hour show on PBS - traditionally the smarter segment - suffered from sameness and self-importance. It doesn't have to be that way. Remember Rob Lowe dancing with Snow White in a hideous musical number at the Oscars years back? Following that humiliation, the Oscars changed. Why can't the Tonys?" Rizzo offers a list of suggestions to fix the Tonys. Hartford Courant 06/09/02


CUBAN CLAIMS FOR ART: Many Cuban refugees fleeing Cuba had to leave artwork behind. "Over the last decade, a growing number of these works have surfaced outside Cuba and been put up for sale. Some left the island via diplomatic channels, others were exported privately and illegally, and some, particularly in the early 1990's, were put on the international market by Cuba itself as it sought hard currency." Increasingly, the original owners are making claims for the art. The New York Times 06/06/02

MET DOWN: The Metropolitan Museum in New York has seen a big dip in visitors this year. "The museum has lost about 1 million visitors this year, down from about 5 million in each of the two years before." That translates to a drop of 20-25 percent. Museum officials say the biggest decline is visitors from Asia and Europe. New York Post 06/04/02

GROVELING TO BE LIKED? The newly reopened Manchester Art Gallery is doubled in size. It's a handsome new building. But "the displays are presented with a frantically jovial emphasis on accessibility. The room containing the most recent items, for example, is labelled 'Modern Art - You Cannot Be Serious', which is more suitable for a tabloid headline on the Turner Prize than a serious museum." The Telegraph (UK) 06/05/02

MISSING IN ACTION: A more complete list of valuable art items lost in the World Trade Center collapse is being put together. Among them: "first editions of Helen Keller's books. Sculptures by Auguste Rodin. Artifacts from the African Burial Ground, a centuries-old Manhattan cemetery. Thousands of photographs of Broadway, off-Broadway and even off-off-Broadway shows." Los Angeles Times (AP) 06/05/02

A LITTLE ART SCANDAL: A British internet firm offers exclusive reproductions of "never before published" Old Master drawings from the British Museum. But of course this isn't right. "The talk of unpublished, rarely seen material is nonsense. But the most misleading thing of all is the omission, in this quasi-official joint-venture parasitic commercial- wheeze website, of the fact that any member of the public, at any time during opening hours, can ask to see any drawing or print in the museum's collection, and that this access is free." The Guardian (UK) 06/06/02

STOLEN GIACOMETTI: A Giacometti sculpture was stolen from the Kunsthalle in Hamburg. "Thieves had used the crowd of about 16,000 visitors on the center's extra 'Long Night' with opening hours extended until 3:00 a.m. to swap the original bronze for a painted wooden figure." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 06/03/02

WHOSE HISTORY? Britain has always had a reverence for its history, and the country is full of historic markers. But "is today's historic environment - the stately homes, museums, religious edifices, tourist attractions, heritage centres, preservation areas - adequately serving the complex intellectual requirements of a multi-cultural, multi-layered Britain? Not according to a recent report by the Historic Environment Steering Group. This commission of great and good heritage experts worryingly concluded that, 'People are interested in the historic environment.But many people feel powerless and excluded'." The Guardian (UK) 06/07/02

THE FRIDA FAD: "Never has a woman with a mustache been so revered - or so marketed - as Frida Kahlo. Like a female Che Guevara, she has become a cottage industry. In the past year, Volvo has used her self-portraits to sell cars to Hispanics, the U.S. Postal Service put her on a stamp, and Time magazine put her on its cover. There have been Frida look-alike contests, Frida operas, plays, documentaries, novels, a cookbook, and now, an English-language movie. But, like a game of telephone, the more Kahlo's story has been told, the more it has been distorted, omitting uncomfortable details that show her to be a far more complex and flawed figure than the movies and cookbooks suggest." Washington Monthly 06/02

RETURN TO REALISM (DID IT EVER GO AWAY?): Painters and sculptors who have eschewed abstraction in rendering their particular take on the visible world have proliferated and thrived, occasionally even generating a movement—photorealism, for example. Now, emerging from the last decade’s polymorphous stew of postmodernism, realist artists are moving back into the foreground. But there’s just one puzzle: no one seems able to define what realism actually is." ArtNews 06/02

THE BRITISH MUSEUM'S LITTLE PROBLEM: "The British Museum has the collections to make it, with the Met in New York and the Louvre in Paris, one of the three great museums in the world. It is also visited by three million tourists a year, a quarter of all visitors to London, which makes it a showpiece for the capital and for the country. If it is dim and dusty and closed for business, it makes the whole nation look bad." So how, with all the lottery money put aside for culture in the past decade, does the BM find itself in such precarious financial condition? London Evening Standard 05/031/02

BRITISH MUSEUM STRIKE PROTEST: Staff at the British Museum have voted to strike to protest plans by the museum to cut 150 workers. The financially-challenged museum is trying to close a £5m budget shortfall. "National treasures will be hidden away from the public, galleries will be closed off and less school children will be educated in the British Museum if the government does not accept that world-class museums cannot be funded by gift shops and cafes alone." The Guardian (UK) 06/08/02


ENTERTAINMENT BOOM: The worldwide entertainment industry faced some big challenges last year - the dotcom bust, an economic slowdown, September 11. But despite all that, "the worldwide entertainment and media sector saw spending rise 1.5 per cent in 2001, surpassing the $1-trillion (U.S.) mark for the first time ever. A new survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers says this is just the start of a rally that will see spending of $1.4-trillion by 2006." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/06/02

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE CULTURAL FLOWERING? Fifty years ago, when Elizabeth took to England's throne, many predicted a flowering of English culture, a second Elizabethan era. There have been successes. But "alongside its cultural ascendance, England has cultivated the highest illiteracy rates in western Europe, as well as the ugliest cities. Children leave our schools never having heard of Bach or Leonardo, their fertile minds stuffed with three-bar tunes and electronic games. Many will reach the end of their lives never having set foot in the National Gallery or Royal National Theatre, never having glimpsed the opportunity to transcend the ordinary." London Evening Standard 06/05/02

HOLLYWOOD TO SECEDE? Los Angeles voters will vote this fall on whether to carve ut Hollywood as its own city, distinct from LA. "Hollywood secessionists have argued that a smaller city, of 160,000 people, would be better able to attack crime, spruce up the area's famous boulevards and restore Hollywood to its former glory." Los Angeles Times 06/06/02

UNCOMFORTABLE WITH THE "V" WORD: The Birmingham News in Alabama, has refused to carry ads for a production of The Vagina Monologues. The paper also won't write about the show, saying that "our first responsibility is to our paid readers. We do not want to take the chance of offending anyone." The paper evidently objects to the name of the show, and is the only newspaper in North America so far to refuse ads for it. Says one of the show's promoters: "They told us we could not use the name of the show in our ad. It's hard to imagine why we'd pay thousands of dollars for a highly censored ad that doesn't even mention the name of the show." Black & White City Paper (Birmingham) 06/06/02

9/11 ON THE FRINGE: This year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival will have a strong current of 9/11 art running through it. "The attack resonates throughout the programme. We have been receiving applications since April and it was obvious this was going to be a big thing. It is fascinating, it has really shaken the imagination. The thread seems to be dealing with the emotional response to the events. This year's fringe is the biggest yet with almost 1,500 shows from 11,700 artists. A quarter of the shows are world premieres and 24% are performed by overseas groups, half of them from the US." The Guardian (UK) 06/07/02

WHY THE WORLD DOESN'T TAKE ARTS JOURNALISM SERIOUSLY? Why is arts journalism marginalized in so many publications? Literary critic Carlin Romano believes that "until arts journalists and their supporters examine the intellectual issues of their trade as seriously as investigative reporters probe their own dilemmas over protecting sources or going undercover - marching onto op-ed pages as controversies break, demanding the same attention as American media dopily devote to sports - they'll continue to be enablers of their own marginalization." Chronicle of Higher Education 06/03/02

CAMPAIGN TO REOPEN ITALIAN THEATRES: There's a campaign in Italy to reopen some 361 unused theatres and opera houses. "Italy has still many unused halls, a result of the country's long history of political polycentrism, which since the early 18th century has encouraged theater and opera to percolate through society in a manner unparalleled elsewhere. In countless small cities, a religious festival or a change of governor could be enough to bring into being a short operatic season, even if this was limited to a few performances of a single work. As one writer has remarked, in the 19th century, opera houses 'were as numerous as cinemas [are] today'." For one reason or another many theatres were closed even though they're fit to be used. Andante 06/04/02

SUPERFUND: After much political wrangling, various levels of government finally got their acts together in Toronto Friday and announced long-awaited funding of $232 million for cultural projects in Ontario. "Some people appear to have swapped scripts. Now the rhetoric arts lobbyists have used for years has been co-opted by the politicians. They confidently promise that museum expansions and concert halls will create an economic boom, lure millions of tourists and improve everyone's quality of life. They've become converts to the faith, based on the notion that an arts boom is the vehicle to transport all of us to a future of prosperity." Toronto Star 06/02/02

ABOUT NAMES OR ABOUT ART? When Avery Fisher gave $10.5 million in 1973 to Lincoln Center to rebuild Philharmonic Hall, the deal stipulated that the building would forever carry his name. Now the hall needs another massive overhaul and Lincoln Center wants to maybe resell naming rights. "Fisher's heirs are prepared to go to court to protect the name, although the two sides say they will meet this week to try to work out an understanding. The outcome, analysts say, could set a precedent for how philanthropists and cultural organizations negotiate naming rights." Nando Times (AP) 06/02/02

10. FOR FUN 

THE QUEEN'S PARTY: Britain's Queen Elizabeth threw a big party to celebrate her 50 years on the throne. How big? More than a million people attended the pop/rock concert at Buckingham Palace, far surpassing expectations. The concert "was followed by a display of fireworks and water fountains in a dazzling 15-minute son et lumiere that enveloped the Buckingham Palace in a brilliant kaleidoscope of colour." And the Queen? "The Queen, wearing ear plugs, and Prince Philip - neither of them natural lovers of rock and pop - planned to attend only the last half hour, arriving to huge cheers at 9.55 pm." The Telegraph (UK) 06/04/02

GOT THEIR GOAT: Producers of The Goat are protesting a color ad that mistakenly got printed in this upcoming Sunday's New York Times Arts & Leisure section that proclaims that the play Metamorphoses won a Best Play Tony last weekend. But it was The Goat, the Edward Albee play that won the award. "It wasn't clear how the mix-up occurred. The section's entire run is printed Wednesday for distribution on Saturday and Sunday." Nando Times (AP) 06/06/02