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Week of September 16-21, 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


PERSONAL SEAT LICENSES, ANYONE? Sports franchises long ago learned that ticket sales are simply not dependable enough to serve as your organization's major source of income, and moved towards sponsorship deals, 'seat licenses,' and luxury box rentals as primary revenue streams. But arts groups continue to struggle annually with the problem of how to get enough butts in the seats to keep the bottom line at bay. Worse, there seems to be a dramatic nationwide move towards spur-of-the-moment ticket buying which is eroding subscription sales and putting tremendous pressure on marketing departments. Accordingly, many arts organizations are reinventing the way they sell tickets, with shorter subscriptions and deeper discounts for patrons. Boston Globe 09/22/02

HOW/WHY/WHAT WE LEARN: What do we expect of our universities? "Up to the middle of the last century, we asked higher education to provide basic and professional education for young people, to discover and preserve the knowledge of the past, and, especially in the sciences, to create new knowledge. We thought of knowledge, however, in a unitary fashion, and did not distinguish as sharply as we do today between the practical and useless kinds Knowledge grew slowly and incrementally, and we were mostly content to leave its creation to university academics and industrial laboratories. But all of that has changed." Chronicle of Higher Education 09/16/02


DIABLO SAVED: The Bay Area's Diablo Ballet has escaped oblivion after benefactors came through at the last minute and the company raised the $150,000 it needed to continue. "We have no operating funds and the dancers are waiting in the wings. We're all on unemployment here. It would have been the end of the company, because I would have had to get a full-time job, as would the staff and the dancers." Contra Costa Times 09/19/02

UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT: "In the most anticipated event in Boston dance in the last decade, Boston Ballet opened its 39th season last night - the first season with new artistic director Mikko Nissinen in charge." It didn't take Nissinen long to break with local tradition, scrapping the customary season-opening "story ballet" for a series of modern shorts. Time will tell if he can take the company past its recent history of infighting and high-profile flops, but his debut is awfully promising. Boston Globe 09/20/02


RADIO CONSOLIDATION - GOOD? BAD? Has massive consolidation of the radio industry in recent years led to "more opportunity for radio industry employees, more diversity of programming and better radio for smaller markets? Or has it meant a "loss of jobs, the elimination of local content, less access by the public to the airwaves and a narrowing of the music and opinion heard on radio?" Both views are being heard as the radio business is transformed. Seattle Post-Intelligencer 09/19/02

NO SANITIZERS: Hollywood says it will crack down on those who re-edit films to filter out content for "sensitive or politically conservative consumers. "This is not about an artist getting upset because someone dares to tamper with their masterpiece. This is fundamentally about artistic and creative rights and whether someone has the right to take an artist's work, change it and then sell it." The New York Times 09/19/02

HOLLYWOOD DOWN UNDER: The Victorian government has signed off on constructing a new $110 million film/TV studio complex. The plan would be the "last piece of the jigsaw to establish Victoria as a pre-eminent film and TV location in Australia". The project is expected to generate "an extra $100 million of film and television production a year, 500 jobs during construction, and 1000 in the film industry." The Age (Melbourne) 09/18/02

THE CASE FOR/AGAINST TIVO: Tivo allows TV viewers the ability to watch whatever programs they want when they want it. Also to get rid of commercials, and that worries TV execs. "According to its last customer survey, 74 percent say TiVo has made their life better, 89 percent say it's frustrating to watch TV without TiVo and 96 percent say it would be difficult to adjust to life without TiVo. More than 40 percent said they'd toss their cellphone before giving up TiVo." Hartford Courant 09/17/02

HERE WE GO AGAIN: Are there really no original ideas left in Hollywood, or is everyone out there just exceedingly lazy? In either case, the film industry is once again obsessed with remaking movies that someone else has already made. In one particularly ridiculous example, Paramount is preparing to release the fifth version of "The Four Feathers." Some say it's homage, but most agree that it's just yet another sign that Hollywood is making movies the way McDonald's makes burgers - fast, cheap, and every one like every other. The Christian Science Monitor 09/20/02

COVERING THE DEAD: A TV host in the U.K. is attacking the BBC for what he sees as arts coverage mired hopelessly in a previous century. Melvyn Bragg, who hosts an arts program for BBC rival ITV, pointed to a recent BBC documentary on the Mona Lisa as an example of arts programming which ignores contemporary work and living artists. The BBC says Bragg is full of it, and insists that Britain's original broadcaster is firmly committed to showcasing contemporary British art. BBC 09/20/02

WE ARE THE WORLD: It's increasingly difficult to identify movies as having come from a particular place or culture. "Independent filmmakers, seeking to maintain their distance from studio filmmaking, more frequently must go around the world to seek financial arrangements that make their independence possible — in the process engaging in a variation of the same kind of international moviemaking practice that now defines the very studios these filmmakers seek to work independently of." Toronto Star 09/16/02

PROGRAM CHOICES: The real battle for the eyes and minds of American TV viewers is being played out over onscreen programming guides. With so many channels available on digital cable and satellite, the guides are essential. But who gets to control what kind of program information you get? Wired 09/17/02

FORCED TO CHOOSE: For years, African-Americans have assailed the major broadcast networks over a lack of non-white faces on the small screen. In recent years, diversity has increased a bit, with a handful of shows scoring points both for their originality and for their willingness to showcase minorities in non-stereotypical situations. But two networks have once again enraged activists and TV critics alike with their inexplicable decision to put America's two most successful shows featuring black families (The Bernie Mac Show on FOX and My Wife and Kids on ABC) opposite each other in the new fall lineup. Chicago Tribune 09/22/02


ROCK ON: Some critics "have gotten whole books out of the notion that when rock 'n' roll passes from an expression of unbridled youthful rebellion to professionalism and nostalgia, it ain't worth a damn anymore. But rejecting the still-living possibilities of classic rock bands relies on an attitude toward rock that deifies it and demeans it simultaneously. Better to look at it for what it is: For its makers, it's both a job and (probably) a pleasure. The real conundrum is not, Why do these grizzled fools go on? but, Why aren't they all on the road nine months of the year, every year?" Salon 09/19/02

VILAR LATE ON GIFTS: There are reports arts philanthropist Alberto Vilar has fallen behind on promised pledges to arts groups. "Because Mr. Vilar's Amerindo Technology Fund has decreased by nearly 50 percent each year for the last three years, there has been wide speculation in the arts world that he would default on several of his extravagant pledges to cultural organizations. There is uneasiness in classical music circles, for example, that Mr. Vilar may be late on payments to the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Salzburg Music Festival, the Kirov Opera and Royal Opera House at Covent Garden and that he may have failed to pay for the supertitles he had installed at the Vienna State Opera." The New York Times 09/19/02

  • WAITING FOR VILAR: Two more prominent opera companies are reporting that Alberto Vilar, the billionaire businessman who is the world's leading private supporter of opera, has failed to make payments on pledges to their organizations. The Metropolitan Opera in New York, and the Los Angeles Opera have not received expected checks, increasing speculation that the heavy losses Vilar sustained in his high-tech investments may have left him unable to continue his previous level of support. Vilar insists that the money will be there, and says his fiscal tardiness is purely temporary, a result of short-term cash flow problems. The New York Times 09/21/02
  • BITING THE HAND THAT FAILS TO FEED: Days after press reports surfaced suggesting that Alberto Vilar, opera's most dedicated and generous patron, would be missing payments on some of his pledges, the Washington Opera has removed his name from its young-artists donor list after a $1 million payment was not made. "Rumors have circulated for months that losses at Vilar's Amerindo Investment Advisors... would hamper Vilar's ability to fulfill his philanthropic pledges. Vilar has rescheduled some payments and said in the [New York] Times that in some cases he was 'not on top of the status of the payments.' But several large recipients of Vilar's philanthropy either declined to discuss his giving or confirmed that he was on schedule with payments." Washington Post 09/20/02

WAS MUNCH A NAZI COLLABORATOR? Like many who lived in France during World War II, conductor Charles Munch (later the distinguished director of the Boston Symphony) claimed to have been aiding the French Underground. But an article in a current Skidmore College publication plants Munch squarely at the center of collaborationist Vichy culture in Paris during the war. ''He was a superstar of the cultural scene of occupied Paris who made the transition without missing a beat to the postwar scene in Boston.'' Boston Globe 09/19/02

GOING OUT WITH A BANG: Vladimir Spivakov, the 'stopgap' music director of the Russian National Orchestra who was informed earlier this summer that his contract would not be renewed when it expired next year, has resigned in spectacularly public fashion, following the RNO's first concert of the new season. Spivakov cited disagreements with management in his decision to quit, and in fact informed the media of his resignation before telling his musicians. Who will take his place at the head of the Moscow-based orchestra for the remainder of the season is unclear. Andante 09/21/02

SAMPLE OR STEAL? 'Sampling' is a defining component of hip-hop music, and the practice, in which artists excerpt bits of another musician's work and incorporate them into their own music, has been in wide use for at least two decades. But those being sampled aren't always happy about it, and, though most high-profile rappers take great pains to secure permission for their sampling, clashes are inevitable. In the latest sampling scandal to hit the courts, a California jazz musician is suing popular rap act Beastie Boys for a flute solo they sampled ten years ago. Los Angeles Times 09/22/02

ADAMS IN NEW YORK: This week, the New York Philharmonic premiered John Adams's new 9/11 commemorative work, On the Transmigration of Souls, which might be said to be a project for which the composer of such politically inspired fare as Nixon in China and The Death of Klinghoffer is perfectly suited. David Patrick Stearns has heard it three times already: "It was shattering. Utterly. The audience reaction? A bit muted. Hard to read - aside from a few visible hankies. The gala-ish atmosphere of the occasion wasn't really apt for this premiere, given the inevitable presence of listeners who are there just to be there. On the Transmigration of Souls needs to be presented, somehow, to those who need it." Philadelphia Inquirer 09/21/02

THINKING TOO BIG? Opera Australia isn't saying anything more about its decision to oust artistic director Simone Young last week. But it appears that it was her grand "vision" for the company's 2004 season that was the cause, and not some of the other reasons that have been speculated on. Meanwhile the company says: "Simone Young is a great asset but this company has a long tradition of great people such as Charles Mackerras, Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge ... they have all invested in making the company what it is today. The company has a proud history and it will go on." The Age (Melbourne) 09/18/02

  • INEPT MEANS: The way Opera Australia's board terminated Young was curious. The decision was made without talking to her first, and then delivered while she was out of the country. How inept. "What we have still to discover is whether the board members are, collectively, high-minded and thoroughly worthy dabblers or mean-minded, ruthless dabblers intent on the conspicuous exercise of power; or whether - in managing this announcement - they are merely inept." Sydney Morning Herald 09/18/02

MUSICIANS FIGHTING RECORDING COMPANIES: Musicians' revolt against the deals they sign with recording companies is heating up. "The RIAA has positioned this as a bunch of rich old rock stars seeking revenge and better deals. The truth is, this system would not be suffered in any other business. You have record companies bought and sold on the strength of copyrights created by artists who sign away all rights in perpetuity to a faceless corporation. In the past 20 years, an industry that was led by visionaries and music lovers has become dominated by accountants, financial analysts and people who can't think ahead more than 90 days." USAToday 09/17/02

U.S. REFUSES ENTRY TO CUBAN MUSICIANS: Twenty-two Cuban musicians nominated for Latin Grammys have been denied visas by US officials and won't be able to attend Wednesday night's Latin Grammy Awards ceremony. The State Department declines to comment. Newsday (AP) 09/18/02

WHY TODAY'S PIANISTS ARE BORING: Are pianists today less interesting than in years gone by? Sometimes it seems that way. "Some solo pianists do scarcely more than travel, practise, give concerts and eat and sleep. On such a treadmill, it is very hard to remain fresh and interesting. To look for illumination from today's international soloists is a bit like looking for a lost object in a place where you know it can't be." The Guardian (UK) 09/17/02

OPERA AS CHAOTIC EXPERIENCE: Francesca Zambello is the first American invited to direct at the Bolshoi Opera. Mounting Turandot on the historic stage is a different experience from doing it in the West. "Money is scarce. Ingenuity great. The other day, I suddenly realized there were no TV monitors in the wings backstage so my chorus could see the conductor while they are lying down looking at Peking's moon. Instead there were five conductors in the wings waving large flashlights. Not surprisingly, the chorus didn't sing together. What to do?" London Evening Standard 09/13/02

LISTENING TO MUSIC - JUST NOT TO CONCERTS: An American study on who listens to classical music and why offers some comfort for those who fear the artform is dying - there's a sizeable market for classical. "The bad news for symphony orchestras is that the traditional concert-hall experience is not the primary way these people relate to the art form. According to the study, people connect with classical music by listening to the radio first and foremost, followed by playing CDs in their cars and living rooms. Down the line is the attendance at live events in churches, schools and, yes, even concert halls." Hartford Courant 09/16/02

OUT WITH THE CD: With music sales down last year for the first time since 1983, there are signs music fans are tired of the CD format. "Several similar-looking formats appear poised to replace the standard compact disc. So how to tell which is the 'best' - and, more important, which will be the last to fall?" Nando Times (Christian Science Monitor) 09/16/02


JOAN LITTLEWOOD, 87: "Acclaimed theatre director Joan Littlewood, who broke new ground in stage acting, has died at the age of 87. Born in 1914 Littlewood was one of the most controversial and influential theatre directors and drama teachers of the 20th Century... Radical and outspoken, she was said to have been feared by the authorities, and snubbed by the Arts Council. But for many Littlewood was a woman ahead of her time." BBC 09/21/02

HIRST APOLOGIZES: Britartist Damien Hirst has apologized for his comments about 9/11 comparing the attacks on the World Trade Center to art. ""I apologise unreservedly for any upset I have caused, particularly to the families of the victims of the events on that terrible day. I think the idea of looking at the 11 September attacks as an artwork is a very difficult thing to do. But I don't think artists look at it in a different way." BBC 09/19/02

BARENBOIM ATTACKED: Conductor/pianist Daniel Barenboim, in the Middle East giving concerts, was attacked in a restaurant in Jerusalem Tuesday. His attackers called him a "traitor for giving a performance in Ramallah on Tuesday. (His wife responded by throwing vegetables at the activists). There were also reports that right-wing politicians had proposed that Barenboim should be put on trial for entering the occupied territories without permission." Ha'aretz 09/18/02


AMAZON CUTS CANADIAN BOOK PRICES: Amazon, which opened its Canadian website last June, this week announced it is slashing prices on its top 40 bestsellers in Canada by 40 percent. The move substantially undercuts's prices, which discounts its own bestsellers by 30 percent. "An Amazon spokesperson sidestepped questions about whether the aggressive discounting constitutes retaliation against Indigo Books & Music for stirring up problems for in Ottawa." Toronto Star 01/18/02

MYTHOLOGY OF THE BESTSELLER LISTS: What books sell well in Canada? You certainly can't tell from the Bestseller lists, which aren't compiled in any kind of scientific way. "We are in the Dark Ages. Have you noticed how when a movie opens, we know how many people went the first weekend? What we do in books is to say, 'Let's hold our finger up in the air and guess how many people bought our books over the weekend.' That would never, ever happen in a grocery store, in the movies or in the record industry." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 09/18/02

NOT JUST ABOUT THE SCHOLARSHIP: University presses are feeling a squeeze as their budgets get cut. "As budgets tighten, the people making editorial policy at university presses find themselves playing an unaccustomed and disagreeable role. They have always been proud of influencing scholarship by helping new ideas see the light of day. But now they face the challenge of determining which specialties no longer make the cut." Chronicle of Higher Education 09/16/02

THE PARTY'S OVER: Once upon a time, book parties were standard to launch a book. But the parties have gone away. "At one time book parties created a buzz, which generated sales. Now, except for the occasional mention in a gossip column about a celebrity author, they don't. They are, publishers believe, merely writer-ego builders, and the money spent on them would be better spent on other promotions." The New York Times 09/19/02

READ THIS. NOW! In the past, authors relied on their publishers' publicity departments to get attention for their books. But increasingly, publishers are giving the majority of their authors less and less assistance. When times are tough, publishers prefer to invest their publicity dollars in books they're fairly sure will sell - big-name authors, hot topics - rather than in promoting lesser-known or new authors, especially fiction writers. Not only that, but newspapers and magazines are trimming back their review coverage. And publishers are releasing more and more individual titles each year. The result is a lot of desperate authors who are realizing that getting published isn't the end of a long struggle but the beginning of an even harder one." Salon 09/16/02

POTTER PLAGIARISM CASE DISMISSED: A woman who brought suit against JK Rowling claiming that Rowling had plagiarized from her for the Harry Potter stories has lost her suit and been fined $50,000. "The court finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that Stouffer has perpetuated a fraud ... through her submission of fraudulent documents as well as through her untruthful testimony." Nando Times (AP) 09/19/02

WILL WRITE FOR ROOM: Last year novelist Fay Weldon, (best known for the book The Lives And Loves Of A She-Devil), "caused controversy last year when she signed a deal with jewellers Bulgari to mention them repeatedly in a novel." This year she's made a deal with the Savoy Hotel in London to live in the hotel while she writes her new book. "Weldon, 71, will be given a room with a view over the Thames worth £350 a night from October. The deal also includes breakfast, although she will be expected to pay for other charges incurred, including lunches, dinners and the mini-bar." BBC 09/13/02

KELLY SCALES BACK AT ATLANTIC: "After three successful and eventful years at the helm of The Atlantic Monthly, editor Michael Kelly will cede control of day-to-day operations to Cullen Murphy, the managing editor, to pursue other projects and obligations, the magazine announced yesterday." In reality, Murphy has already taken over many of the venerable magazine's daily editor's duties, and the change is unlikely to be very noticable to readers, since Murphy and Kelly claim to be on the same page on nearly every editorial issue. The Atlantic Monthly, one of America's oldest magazines, has flourished under Kelly, with subscriptions and newsstand sales up considerably. Boston Globe 09/20/02

HAVANA OPENS A DOOR: "The Cuban government has agreed to allow access to a trove of Ernest Hemingway's papers that experts say promises to illuminate the period in which he wrote some of his most significant works... Those who helped persuade the Cubans to open the collection, ending an impasse that has frustrated American scholars for 40 years, say they have seen just a small fraction of it, but it already offers hints of Hemingway's creative process: raw fragments of stories scribbled on paper and book jackets, galleys and early drafts of major works, and a poetry anthology in which he circled 'No man is an island.'" The New York Times 09/21/02

HARRY'S READY: JK Rowling has come out of hiding to say that the next installment of Harry Potter is pretty much done and will go to the printer's soon. "The novel, entitled Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, is already readable and she is happy with the result. She is now at the tweaking stage. So can her millions of readers expect a Christmas present? 'Possibly'. There is a deep, throaty chuckle." The Times (UK) 09/20/02

EGGERS FIRES BIG PUBLISHING: Dave Eggers has a new book coming out next week. But he's turned his back on the commercial publishers and book chains that helped his last book become a bestseller. He's self-published Velocity and "is making it available only over his own Web site and in a select group of independent bookstores known as the McSweeney's 100. Eggers says he wants to reward those who have supported his quirky quarterly literary magazine." His last book - A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius made him millions of dollars. "Despite his extraordinary windfall, the experience apparently soured Eggers, 32, on dealing with large publishing houses or the totems of Big Publishing. He famously fired his literary agent and regularly dumps his publicists when visiting cities for a book tour." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 09/19/02

VANDAL NABBED: "For nearly a year, someone lurked in the stacks at San Francisco's Main Library and the Chinatown branch, vandalizing books. Almost always they were volumes on gay and lesbian subjects, some of them out of print and hard to replace. Some books had cat eyes cut into the covers or pages. Others were defaced, then stuffed with Christian religious material. Sometimes, the attacker would insert the torn-off covers of romance novels." Finally, a librarian staked out the stacks and caught the culprit, a 48-year-old security guard. San Francisco Chronicle 09/19/02


PLANS FOR A NATIONAL AFRICAN AMERICAN THEATRE: Kenny Leon, formerly director of the Alliance Theatre Company in Atlanta, the largest resident theater company in the Southeast, says he plans to establish a national African American theatre. "Leon said he would like to put on three productions in 2003 in Atlanta; two of them would come to Washington. Leon hopes he might also get a run in New York." Washington Post 09/18/02

YOUTH APPEAL: This season London's National Theatre made a major push to appeal to young people, reconfiguring its performing space and presenting 13 new plays. The numbers show some success: "Just over half the total audience has been under 35. It is striking that roughly a third of the audience has been in that most elusive of all age-groups, the 25 to 34-year-olds, usually reckoned to be tied down by children and mortgages." But was the season an artistic success? There the record is a bit more murky... The Guardian (UK) 09/16/02

TUESDAYS AT SEVEN: A group of Broadway theatres is floating the idea of moving curtain time up by an hour on Tuesday nights - to 7 PM. "Called Tuesdays at Seven, the new curtain time - probably starting the second week in January - might give a box-office boost to the night most in need of it." Nando Times (AP) 09/16/02

AS LONG AS EVERYONE'S LOSING MONEY ANYWAY... Not that the theater-going public cares, but Broadway is undergoing a sea change in the philosophy of the behind-the-scenes money men who bankroll the shows on the Great White Way. "Right now we seem to be in the end game of a decades-long shift in how Broadway shows are produced. Nonprofit theater companies are making their presence felt ever more strongly on Broadway. People have been worrying about this for decades... [but] what's new is the actual physical presence of the nonprofits in Broadway theaters, through long-term leases or outright ownership." The New York Times 09/22/02

RUMOR CENTRAL: It's autumn in New York, which can mean only one thing - time for all that Broadway gossip to really heat up. Among this season's hot topics: 1) Is Take Me Out, Richard Greenberg's play about a gay baseball player, really ready for the big time? 2) Does the Roundabout Theater Company plan to cancel all of its productions, or just the three it's already scuttled? 3) Are the people in charge of Little Ham really choosing their curtain-raising times by consulting astrological charts, and why does no one think that's odd? Ah, theater people. What would we do without them? The New York Times 09/20/02


ENDANGERED ART: The Philadelphia Museum of Art basement, an area "more than two acres" big, which stores "paintings, sculptures, books, carpets, furniture, ceramics, china and silver, including works by Monet and Alexander Calder" is a fire hazard, says the city's fire department. "More than half of the vast basement has no sprinklers or other fire-suppression system - a fire-code violation - according to a fire-inspection. The museum has been in violation of the city fire code since Jan. 2, 1952. In the cultural world, fire experts cannot name other museums that leave most of their art-storage areas unprotected. And it highlights a tension between art curators and firefighters - one group fearful of water, the other of fire." Philadelphia Inquirer 09/16/02

RICHEST NEW ARTS PRIZE: The Gulbenkian Foundation announces a £100,000 arts prize for museums to "raise the morale and profile of Britain's museums and galleries." The unexpected new prize is twice the value of the Booker prize, and more than the Booker, Turner and Stirling prizes put together. It is open to galleries large and small. It is designed to reward 'the most innovative and inspiring idea - an exhibition, new gallery, public programme or important new initiative - developed during 2002'." The Guardian (UK) 09/16/02

COLLUSION IN ART BUY? Last year the National Gallery of Australia and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery got together to jointly bid on a painting they wanted. They won the John Glover painting, and at a price of $1.5 million, had to shell out $1 million less than the picture was thought to be worth. But the agreement has run afoul of Australian regulators, who say the deal might have been anti-competitive. If the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission rules against the museums, they could face fines of up to $10 million. The Age (Melbourne) 09/16/02

JUST GIACOMETTI: A controversial sale of work by Giacometti this month in Paris draws attention the legal quagmire into which his estate has fallen. A foundation set up by the artist's widow has had great difficulty getting authorized by the French government, and some wonder if there is an ulterior (and selfish) reason the bureaucracy has ground to a halt. The Telegraph (UK) 09/16/02

DANGEROUS ART: Many of the guests invited to a boarded up gallery in London last week were angry at Santiago Sierra, the artist whose "work" the closed gallery was. But Sierra's art is usually much more dangerous and unsettling. "He goes beyond the limits of reasonable human interaction. He implicates the viewer and doesn't account for the effect. I am not sure I can handle it. I certainly don't approve of it. But here and there, through the shock of it, there is a superb formalist trying to get out." London Evening Standard 09/17/02

STOLEN TITIAN RECOVERED: A Titian painting stolen in 1995 is returned - dropped off in a brown wrapper at a London bus stop after its owner pays a $150,000 ransom. The painting was likely stolen by amateurs who didn't know what they had stolen, and who found it difficult to fence. The New York Times 09/19/02

MUNICH'S NEW MODERN ART PALACE: The Pinakothek der Moderne, one of the world's biggest modern art museums, has opened after six years of construction in Munich. "This is a great day for Bavaria, a great day for Germany. The museum rivals the Tate Modern in London, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art in New York." (DPA) 09/17/02

MEMBERSHIP DRIVE: Memberships are the life's blood of a museum. They build loyalty and are an important source of income. But how good a deal are they for the consumer, wonders Huma Jehan? "Before taking out any gallery membership, be brutally honest. Look at the list of forthcoming exhibitions. Consider how many times you think you'll visit it, and then divide the number by three to get a more realistic idea." The Guardian (UK) 09/17/02

ART AS EVERYDAY: The second Liverpool Biennial takes the viewer out to the art. To see this biennial you have to be willing to explore the city: "You are in a world where anything can be art, from a ketchup v soy sauce battle (a symbol of East/West antagonism, apparently) to the appearance of Queen Victoria’s head in your hotel room to a fire engine belching eyebrow-singeing flame. It could all be — and often is — bewildering. The viewer quickly succumbs to sensory overload. And yet talent will out." The Times (UK) 09/17/02

COMPLETING SYDNEY: Joern Utzon designed one of the 20th Century's most identifiable buildings - the Sydney Opera House. But as it was being built, some three decades ago, he walked off the project after he thought his designs were being tampered with in a way he couldn't tolerate. Now, at the age of 83 he's been hired to finally finish the project. In all these years, he's never seen the building in person. Any plans to? "Oh, I don't need to do that. I see it every night when I close my eyes." The Telegraph (UK) 09/17/02

SEATTLE ART MUSEUM TO EXPAND: The Seattle Art Museum announces a construction plan that will triple its exhibition space. Not only will the expansion not cost the museum, it will make money on the deal, a partnership with a major bank. The bank will build a 40-story tower on property owned by the museum next door. The museum will occupy the bottom of the tower, and in return for the prime downtown real estate, the bank will pay off outstanding construction bonds used to finance the museum's current home, a Robert Venturi building that opened in 1989. Seattle Post-Intelligencer 09/19/02

BEST/WORST DOCUMENTA EVER? This year's installment of the German Documenta festival was savaged by U.S. critics as virulently anti-American, out of touch with reality, and, according to the New York Times "puritanical and devoid of humor." Regardless, attendance was the highest it has ever been in Kassel, the average age of attendees has stopped escalating, and the bottom line is safe for the first time in years. America, it turns out, may need to grow a thicker skin: "Art has seldom been so insolently criminalized as with the absurd assertion that Documenta Director Okwui Enwezor was pursuing the same objective in the area of aesthetics as the mass murderers of Sept. 11, and that they only differed in the degree of their motivation." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 09/20/02

WHERE'S OUR TECH BOOM? Digital art continues to have a tough time getting respect as a serious art form, and France's new digital art festival Villette Numérique aims to advance the cause with six days of installations, juries, club shows, concerts, and video game marathons. (Could that last one be a source of the public disrespect for the form?) But organizers of the festival lament the lack of understanding of their oeuvre, and gently suggest that they ought to be in line for some government funding, as well. Wired 09/21/02

SELLER'S MARKET IN PARIS: "The suspense may not match the tension in world politics, but for those who sell art the stakes have never been so high. At the 21st Paris Biennale, 96 dealers watch with apprehension the reactions of collectors thronging to the most sophisticated showcase of the art of the past for sale in the world. Their anxiety is matched by that of collectors wondering how much longer they have to find gems as supplies continue to shrink every year." International Herald Tribune (Paris) 09/21/02


VISA DELAYS IMPACT AMERICAN ARTS ORGANIZATIONS: US visa delays for foreign artists trying to get into the United States has disrupted the programs of many arts organizations and presenters in the past year. Now foreign artists who are members of American companies are having difficulty getting back into the country. "A coalition of national arts groups, led by the American Arts Alliance, has been talking to the Immigration and Naturalization Service since July about speeding up paperwork processing for visa petitions. They say they fear that the delays may deter international artists from participating in American arts productions, changing what one arts administrator called 'the color of our culture'." The News & Observer (Raleigh NC) 09/15/02

  • MORE VISA WOES: Another American arts event marred by visa problems. The World Festival of Sacred Music in Los Angeles has lost a couple of its top attractions because artists weren't able to get their visas on time. "We got a head start, got all the papers in line, but at this point it doesn't matter when the artists are trying to travel from nations identified as trouble spots." Los Angeles Times 09/18/02

NOW HERE'S AN ARTS POLICY (NOT): London mayor Ken Livingston - like many politicians these days - wants to be a player in the arts industry (after all, it's non-polluting and makes money). But politicians have such a wide definition of culture as to make the word almost meaningless, write Norman Lebrecht. "The best a city can do for culture is to foster a climate where it can speak freely and reach millions. That requires a vibrant press (unlike New York, where debate is monopolised by the Times), a modicum of prosperity and a reliable transport system - unlike London, where many of us miss the first half of shows through getting stuck in the Tube or the traffic." London Evening Standard 09/17/02

THE HITLER INDUSTRY: Why all the recent fascination with Hitler? "A rash of projects featuring the dictator are currently in the works, from theater to television, film, and merchandise all featuring the Nazi dictator. Critics are skeptical as to how the onslaught of media attention can educate without employing morbid titillation, creating a villain anti-hero or humanizing a murderer: "Hitler today is a thriving, world-wide industry and it is interesting, as well as disturbing, to note that there have been far more books, movies and TV programs produced about Hitler than Britain's wartime leader Winston Churchill… " The Age (Melbourne) 09/17/02

BUSH SIGNS BILL TO EXPAND KENNEDY CENTER: President Bush signs a bill authorizing expansion of the Kennedy Center. The new "open pedestrian plaza, stretching east from the center toward the State Department, would accommodate two new buildings under the center's plan. One would be a museum devoted to the history of the performing arts; the other would contain rehearsal halls and offices." Now the Kennedy Center must raise the $250 million needed to build the project. Washington Post 09/19/02

FRANCE FALLS BEHIND: A report getting great attention in France documents the poor state of the visual arts in France. "The report confirmed what was already widely known: the French art scene has largely lost the influence which it enjoyed during the first half of the twentieth century. Worse, it is flagging fast compared with Germany, and even England." Along with numbers to show the decline, comes some speculation on reasons French art doesn't travel, including the idea that French art is "too intellectual to be rated beyond the French border." The Art Newspaper 09/15/02

CENSORSHIP OR PUBLIC GOOD? The debate over the explicit French film Fat Girl has made its way into the Canadian courts, and Ontario's law governing allowable censorship of 'objectionable material' hangs in the balance. The plaintiffs "will argue that the Ontario board misapplied the Theatres Act legislation and that the act itself is an infringement on the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If Martin's constitutional challenge is successful -- something the Ontario government will do all in its power to prevent -- it will have major ramifications on the sundry classification/review/censor boards across the country." The Globe & Mail (first item) 09/21/02

LEHRER TO GET LINCOLN CENTER GIG: "Peter M. Lehrer, a construction executive, is expected to be named chairman of Lincoln Center's ambitious redevelopment project next week. As chairman of the Lincoln Center Constituent Development Project Inc., Mr. Lehrer will oversee the extensive plans to improve the center's halls and public spaces, a $1.2 billion project that in its early stages was complicated by in-fighting among the center's constituents. Mr. Lehrer, 60, a co-founder of the large New York construction management firm Lehrer McGovern, replaces Marshall Rose, a real estate executive who stepped down in October, several months earlier than had been expected." The New York Times 09/21/02

10. FOR FUN 

SABOTAGE HALTS PARIS OPERA OPENING: Opening night of Handel's Giulio Cesare at Paris' Palais Garnier was sabotaged when someone planted a tape player and speakers inside the opera house that began playing scenes from the opera while the performance was underway. Eventually the performance was halted until the recording could be found and silenced. The New York Times 09/18/02

SEE ME, TOUCH ME: A 36-ton marble sculpture of the Roman God Janus that was recently placed in front of a public building in Denver, was designed partly, with blind people in mind. The sculptor wanted the blind to be able to touch the sculpture and trace its relief with their hands. But the piece has run afoul of the Americans With Disabilities Act which "mandates anything that protrudes 4 inches or more above a height of 28 inches requires some kind of warning for blind people using canes." New Jersey Online (AP) 09/17/02