ARTS BEAT NEWSLETTER - Last Week's Top Stories

Arts Journal Home Page
PublishingTheatreVisual ArtsArts IssuesPeople

SearchContact Us


Nov 19-24
Nov 11-18
Nov 4-10

Oct 28-Nov 3
Oct 21-27
Oct 15-20
Oct 7-14

Sept 30-Oct 6
Sept 23-29
Sept 16-22
Sept 9-15
Sept 3-8

Aug 26-Sept 2
Aug 19-25
Aug 12-18
Aug 5-11

July 29-Aug 4
July 22-28
July 15-21
July 8-14
July 1-7

June 24-30
June 17-23
June 10-16
June 3-9

May 27-June 2
May 20-26
May 13-19
May 6-12

April 29-May 5
April 22-28
April 15-21
April 8-14
April 1-7

March 25-31
March 18-24
March 11-17
March 4-10

Feb 25-Mar 3
Feb 18-24
Feb 11-17

Feb 4-10

Jan 28-Feb 3
Jan 21-27
Jan 14-20
Jan 7-13

2001 archives
2000 archives

News Service Home`Services
Digest Samples
Headline Samples








Week of October 7-14, 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


OF CRIMINALS AND ARTISTS: A controversial theory suggests that artists and criminals have a lot in common: they both break the rules. Both "express a primal rage. Love, hate, fury, despair and passion can be given utterance with brushes and pens, or with guns and knives. Artists enjoy seeing themselves as raffish outsiders, people of dubious morality." The Observer (UK) 10/06/02

FILM'S DEBT TO POLLOCK: The best, most counter-cultural strain of American film-making owes a great deal, perhaps everything, to Jackson Pollock. It is impossible to overstate his importance in American culture. He was the first purely American artist. It took the strange, inarticulate Pollock to break through to something unprecedented. The way he painted - dancing, letting paint fall - was not European. It asserted a freedom, a daring that marks a break in the cultural history of the US." The Age (Melbourne) 10/07/02

ACTIVE ANALYSIS: "To understand the significance of music for the musicians who created it and the society in which it was produced is a challenge to music-lovers. Perhaps no writer on music devoted more energy to this task than Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno, and the translations into English of his writings on philosophy and music and their diffusion have been multiplying in recent years while, at the same time, his ideas have become widely influential in the US and Europe." New York Review of Books 10/24/02


WHO OWNS DANCE? Once a dance is created, its recreation often depends on the memories or records of those who were there at the creation. But who owns the work once the choreographer is gone? "Questions revolve around whether choreographers in fact own their own dances and even wanted those dances to be seen after their deaths." The New York Times 10/10/02

ROYAL BALLET IN NO RUSH: London's Royal Ballet says it is in no rush to appoint a new artistic director, after Ross Stretton was forced out of the job last week. "It has dismissed as speculation reports that the artistic director of the American Ballet Theatre, is the front-runner to take over following the resignation of Ross Stretton." BBC 10/07/02

ROYAL BALLET REMAKES ITS SEASON: After ousting Ross Stretton from the top job at the Royal Ballet in London, the company has dramatically remade its schedule for the current season, dropping ballets and changing soloists. The Guardian (UK) 10/09/02


HAVE IT YOUR WAY: We're maybe three years away from having video-on-demand - any movie, anytime, anywhere. "The implications of such a trend: declining influence of the movie-distribution chains that hold sway over when and where new films are released; few video stores outside large urban areas; and dwindling attendances at cinemas everywhere. Cable providers will get their cut in the form of payment for opening their networks to third-party content. Meanwhile, the set-top box will replace the VCR—the greatest single product the consumer-electronics industry ever produced, and one which, at its peak, generated half the industry's sales and three-quarters of its profits." Think the cable/movie/TV business is worried? The Economist 10/04/02

WEBCASTERS MAKE ROYALTY DEAL: Small webcasters may have a deal to lower proposed royalties for songs they stream on the net. Many webcasters had gone silent, complaining that onerous royalty fees would put them out of business. "Sources on both sides of Sunday's deal, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said it was a two-year agreement that calls for Webcasters to pay back and future royalties equal to 8% to 12% of their revenue or 5% to 7% of their expenses, whichever was higher." Los Angeles Times 10/07/02

GOING DIGITAL? Digital radio could be the biggest update to the medium since the debut of FM in the 1940s. The Federal Communications Commission is to decide Thursday whether to allow radio stations to broadcast digital signals and how they should do it. Digital radio's rollout could begin in a few months in some major cities, and consumers would start seeing digital receivers in car stereos and high-end audio systems next year." Wired (AP) 10/08/02

FINAL CUT: Video editing software is sophisticated enough that anyone can now edit TV shows or movies. Legal challenges confront Cleanflicks, a company that edits out scenes it feels are objectionable. But "legal or not, this kind of manipulation is here to stay. It's not just conservatives in Utah who are taking the knife to films: Enterprising fans are using their computers to alter films, too." Village Voice 10/08/02

THE FCC DID WHAT? The two satellite radio companies which have been inundating us with advertising for the last year or two haven't turned a profit yet, but execs at both Sirius and XM have repeatedly expressed confidence that mass popularity for the medium is only a matter of time. But this week, the FCC has approved plans for existing radio stations to broadcast digital signals (much as TV stations will soon be required to) and the fallout may include the death of satellite radio. Wired 10/11/02

WHAT WILL DIGITAL SOUND LIKE? This month, the FCC approved the introduction of digital radio signals into the American broadcast landscape, setting off a flurry of predictions, speculations, and warnings over what form the new technology might take. The truth is that digital radio will likely be many things to many people, but anyone looking for it to provide an end to the corporate domination of the airwaves will likely be disappointed. Chicago Tribune 10/13/02

FILM INSTITUTE MAY CLOSE: The Australian Film Institute is close to closing, after failing to raise enough money to support its operations. "In its 25 years of existence, the Australian Film Institute's library has played a key role in countless local and international screen projects." The Age (Melbourne) 10/10/02

SCOTTISH STUDIO IN DOUBT: A study commissioned by the Scottish government concludes there isn't enough fim work in Scotland to justify building a big new film studio. "Hopes had been raised for a studio after one of the busiest years in the industry - with about 14 productions currently shooting in Scotland." BBC 10/09/02


FREE CDs FOR IMMUNITY: "In New York last week the Big Five record companies struck a deal with the attorneys-general of 40 US states who were suing them for price-fixing. The Five agreed to give five and a half million free CDs to schools and public libraries after being accused of setting mimimum CD prices at three major retailers... Anomalies like these have provoked parliamentary inquiries in Washington, London and Brussels, but never a full prosecution. Governments do not mess with the music biz. It is too big, too generous at election time and too influential on young minds for politicians to risk a coalition of gangsta rappers, country crooners and opera divas converging on their doorstep in cacophonous protest. The biz has always got away with it in the lobby. Now, the US prosecutors have backed off again in exchange for a stack of free discs." La Scena Musicale 10/10/02

YEAH, AND NAPSTER CAUSED THE RECESSION, TOO: The global slump in CD sales is getting worse, with the latest figures showing a 9% drop in sales in the first half of 2002, following a 5% drop last year. It's all the fault of internet piracy, according to the industry, with free song-swapping sites "the greatest threat facing the music industry today," but the industry still hasn't come up with anything approaching a user-friendly legal alternative to free sites like Kazaa and Gnutella. BBC 10/11/02

MUSIC AMID THE MUDDLE: This week, Shanghai launched an incredibly ambitious international music festival, and predicted that the huge gathering would 'make history.' The reality, says one critic, was that the city and the festival organizers were completely unprepared to put on a show of such magnitude. "The level of incompetence is hard to understand in a city that resembles a bizarre cross between the sci-fi optimism of Dan Dare and the dystopian nightmare of Blade Runner... How many Chinese men does it take to change a light bulb? Eight. This is not a joke. I happen to know the answer because I watched it happen. China is a country whose full employment policy creates ludicrous levels of over-staffing and a pass-the-buck culture." The Telegraph (UK) 10/12/02

FAME CAN BE FLEETING: "Hey! You've won the prestigious Van Cliburn piano competition! What are you going to do now? Answer: Go to Bakersfield; Allendale, Michigan; Hot Springs Village, Arkansas... Life isn't concertos at Carnegie Hall for Van Cliburn winners. After getting showered with attention and fame, finalists begin a two-year grind of recitals and mostly low-key orchestra dates. Even with all the hype, winning the Van Cliburn doesn't guarantee stardom." San Jose Mercury News 10/12/02

OPERA WARS: British arts policy tries to promote opera in parts of the country where there isn't much. So regional companies get big subsidies. But bad facilities and lame programming choices undercut efforts. And knockoff foreign touring companies are an even bigger threat. "Audiences, depressingly, seem content to hear foreigners singing familiar tunes loudly, with scenery and costumes left over from the silent-film era." The Telegraph (UK) 10/09/02

NOTHING HAPPENS BY ACCIDENT: To hear many people tell it, you would think that the recent resurgence of opera as a popular art form has happened purely by chance, and that the increasingly young age of opera patrons is due to nothing more than youngsters wandering into the opera house by accident. Not so: in fact, opera companies across North America have been making a concerted effort to draw in a more diverse crowd. The Canadian Opera Company is a prime example, with an 'Opera 101' education program, as well as a continuing series of classic operas directed by famous names like Atom Egoyan. Toronto Star 10/12/02

WHAT, US, WORRY? "In a difficult financial environment for symphony orchestras, the Florida Orchestra has bucked a trend. In the fiscal year that closed at the end of June, the orchestra reported a surplus of $480,000 in a cash budget of $7.8-million at its annual meeting Tuesday. The Florida Orchestra didn't have the weakened ticket sales that many other orchestras did after the terrorist attacks of last Sept. 11," and a pre-9/11 round of budget cutting may have helped the orchestra stay above the red line. St. Petersburg Times 10/09/02

WAGNER TO TAKE OVER WEIMAR: Nike Wagner, granddaughter of Richard Wagner, has been chosen as director of the Weimar Music Festival for at least three seasons. "Ms Wagner, a former culture minister in the Hamburg regional government, was also considered in 1999 to take over the Bayreuth festival, which showcases her great-grandfather's works." BBC 10/09/02

WHICH BEST IS BEST? The Donatella Flick Conducting Competition in London exists to spot new talented conductors and help them along. But by what criteria do you declare a winner? From a listener's perspective, the wrong guy won... The Independent (UK) 10/07/02


BEVERLY'S BACK: Was it really only six months ago that Beverly Sills resigned her post at the head of New York's Lincoln Center, following a contentious debate over the complex's impending expansion and renovation? At the time, Sills said that she was retiring, and wanted to "smell the flowers a little bit." But apparently the quiet life wasn't all it was cracked up to be for Sills, 73, who has just accepted the chairmanship of the Metropolitan Opera. The Met is, of course, Lincoln Center's most powerful tenant, putting Sills smack in the middle of the same debates she so recently bowed out of. The New York Times 10/12/02

STEPHEN AMBROSE, 66: Stephen Ambrose, the eminent historian whose colloquial style made him a bestselling author as well as a respected researcher, has died at the age of 66 after a long battle with lung cancer. Ambrose had lately been battling charges of plagiarism in several of his works. The New York Times (AP) 10/13/02

THE RADICALIZATION OF LARRY LESSIG: Lawrence Lessig is taking on the business that controls big entertainment. This week he's arguing his case before the US Supreme Court. "The entertainment industry, Lessig believes, is locking up old movies, books and songs that long ago should have transcended private ownership and become the property of the people. At stake, he says, is not only our common cultural heritage, but also the freedom that writers and musicians and filmmakers must have to interpret, reinterpret, adapt, borrow, sample, mock, imitate, parody, criticize - the very lifeblood of the creative process. But Lessig doesn't merely want to free the past. He wants to free the future as well." Chicago Tribune 10/10/02

BACK TO TELL ABOUT IT: "Gabriel García Márquez, the 1982 Nobel laureate from Colombia and the foremost author in Latin America, learned in 1999 that he had lymphatic cancer. He promptly cloistered himself with a single-minded pursuit not seen perhaps since he wrote the 1967 masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude, in a little more than a year, his only vice a steady supply of cigarettes provided by his wife, Mercedes." Now he's about to release "what may be his most-awaited book, Vivir Para Contarla, or To Live to Tell It." The New York Times 10/09/02

OHNESORG RESIGNS BERLIN: Deutsche Presse-Agentur is reporting that Franz Xaver Ohnesorg, general manager of the Berlin Philharmonic, will step down from the job January 1, 2003. The orchestra says he's leaving for personal reasons. Before going to Berlin Ohnesorg had a short and stormy stint running Carnegie Hall in New York. Andante (DPA) 10/08/02

LEONARDO'S HUMBLE ORIGINS: Was Leonardo da Vinci the son of a Middle Eastern slave. After 25 years of research the director of an Italian museum located near the Leonardo's birthplace in Tuscany has concluded as much... Discovery 09/26/02


KERTESZ WINS NOBEL: A Hungarian novelist whose works draw their dark inspiration from the author's own days in two Nazi death camps has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Imre Kertesz was lauded by the Swedish Academy for "exploring how individuals can survive when subjected to 'barbaric' social forces." BBC 10/10/02

GHOSTWRITTEN NOBEL? One of Spain's most distinguished writers - Nobel winner Camilo Jose Cela - has been accused of "regularly using ghostwriters for most of his career. The allegations... include not just the recent works of Cela, who died in January at 85 and won his Nobel in 1989, but stretch back to his early classics." The Guardian 10/09/02

ATWOOD SUES GLOBE: The Toronto Globe & Mail is being sued for libel by famed Canadian author Margaret Atwood, after the newspaper supposedly singled out Atwood as one of the more prominent signers of a strongly worded petition opposing American President George W. Bush's plans to invade Iraq. Atwood did sign the petition, along with about 130 other Canadian artists, authors, and celebrities, but she claims that the Globe associated her with comments made at the press conference announcing the petition (notably one referring to the American administration as a group of thugs,) a press conference she did not attend. National Post (Canada) 10/10/02

PRODUCT PLACEMENT OR HACK-FOR-HIRE? Audiences have long since gotten used to the endless and gratuitous product placements used in movies and television shows to generate extra revenue with very little extra effort. But now, an even more insidious form of message imbedding has come to the world of books: "Two entrepreneurial exiles from Britain's advertising universe are venturing boldly and unapologetically into this once-forbidden territory. They propose to write fiction for organizations and institutions that want their message communicated. Never mind the niceties of plot, theme and character development; let's just turn literature into another marketing opportunity, of which the Western world is so clearly bereft." The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 10/12/02

OUSTING THE POET: The New Jersey State Legislature has been working on a resolution to oust state poet laureate Amiri Baraka after Baraka read a poem suggesting that Israelis might have had something to do with the attack on the World Trade Center. Though he can't fire Baraka, NJ Gov. James E. McGreevey "stopped payment on the $10,000 state grant Baraka was to have received as the state's honorary poet laureate." Newark Star-Ledger 10/08/02

SECOND CHANCES: Today's publishing climate exerts huge pressure on writers to hit big out of the gate. And even greater pressure to follow up with another success. There's little patience for stumbles. But "Second-Novel Syndrome has long been an occupational hazard in the world of letters, as authors struggle with writer's block, intense scrutiny, and the self-consciousness induced by sudden celebrity." Village Voice Literary Supplement 10/08/02

CROSSFIRE: There are bad reviews. And then there are bad reviews. Jason Cowley writes that literary London is wincing at a whomping of "perhaps unprecedented hostility and malice" in the Times Literary Supplement of noted Russian scholar Orlando Figes' new book, Natasha's Dance, "a broad, sweeping, multidisciplinary cultural history of Russia." Moscow-based, British academic Rachel Polonsky's review "cites among her charges against him factual inaccuracies, misreadings, cavalier appropriation of sources and overall intellectual irresponsibility. There are even suggestions, if not of plagiarism, which remains the cardinal crime in academe, then of careless paraphrase." The Guardian (UK) 10/03/02

PORTER COMES FORWARD: Peter Porter has won poetry's biggest award - the £10,000 Forward Poetry prize. "After the acrimony of many recent poetry prizes, last night's was a unanimous decision by the judges, for Porter's latest collection, Max is Missing. William Sieghart, the chairman, described him as one of the most distinguished poets working in Britain - where he has lived since he left Australia 50 years ago." The Guardian (UK) 10/10/02

SERIOUS READING: Many American magazines have been struggling as the economy has worsened. But more serious magazines have seen their circulations increase significantly. Harper's, the Atlantic Monthly and The New Republic are newly thriving. "When everyone is feeling that the only important thing in life is the next Lexus and worship CEOs as demigods, there is little appetite for ideas or good writing, which is what our magazines are about. But the fact remains that you can get more out of good writing than you can from a 500-channel television universe that inevitably dissolves into incoherence. Writing involves thought and creates coherence, which is an appealing commodity in this atmosphere of concern." Los Angeles Times 10/04/02

BOOK WORLD CONVENES IN FRANKFURT: The annual Frankfurt Book Fair begins this week "with more than 6,000 exhibitors representing 110 countries, hosting more than 2,600 events and 800 readings and interviews with authors. Although the number of countries and publishers is 5 percent lower this year than last year, the Frankfurt Book Fair remains the largest fair of its kind in the world. The most notable absentees are from the host country itself, with almost 15 percent fewer German publishers reserving space this year." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 10/04/02

PUBLISHING'S GOLDEN AGE: Down with the pessimists, writes Toby Mundy. "With its over-educated, overworked, underpaid legions, publishing is an industry bedevilled by pessimism. This pessimism blinds people to the fact that we are living in a golden age of book publishing in which quantity and quality rival anything in the past, in which books have never been so well published and in which they occupy a more boisterously visible place in the general culture than ever before." Prospect 10/02


IS BROADWAY BAD FOR THEATRE? For decades, the progression of a given play or musical from one of America's regional theatre centers to the bright lights of Broadway has been largely unchanged. New productions are shuffled off to a regional the way newly drafted baseball players are sent to the minors for seasoning, and brought up to the big time when they are deemed to have worked out all the kinks. But in the last few years, regional theatre has begun to rethink its role in the process, and some have begun to question whether the Broadway Way is really the right way? Boston Globe 10/13/02

OH MY MIMI: Director Baz Luhrmann loves to reinvent. His new take on La Bohème is "about to land slap-bang in the middle of Broadway, with all the attendant razzmatazz. And it's not cut, translated or otherwise jazzed-up or dumbed-down either: every note of the score will be sung and played by trained singers and a full orchestra.This crazy and wonderful project has a long history." The Telegraph (UK) 10/07/02

LONDON CALLING: Why are American movie stars so anxious to perform on London stages? Maybe it's because they feel that "Americans tend to fare better treading the boards here than they do in their own country. The perception among many American stars is that the critical piranhas lie mercilessly in wait on Broadway, where seeing a film star on stage isn’t such a novelty." The Times 10/11/02

RERUN: Broadway is full of revivals this season. "The rationale among the high-minded is that producers serve as enlightened curators, like those in art museums, preserving and reinterpreting classics for new audiences and that plays can only benefit from a revival. The less stated fact is that producers minimize financial risk by relying on a familiar formula. But are current shows worth an audience paying new money for an old formula?" Christian Science Monitor 10/11/02

CUTTING OFF A CRITIC: Toronto's Canadian Stage has refused to issue anymore review tickets to CBC critic Lynn Slotkin, calling her reviews "consistently mean-spirited, negative and personal." It's not about bad reviews, the theatre says - rather it's her tone that annoys them... National Post 10/09/02

THEY'RE SO CUTE AT THIS AGE: In the age of star-driven theatre productions, who to give first billing is usually not an issue. But what do you do when Dame Maggie Smith and Dame Judi Dench are both starring in your play? And once you've figured out the billing order, who gets the prime dressing room? These things may seem minor to the public, but actors have walked out of productions over their placement on promotional material, and such 'exposure issues' are considered a very big deal in the theatrical community. The Observer (UK) 10/13/02


ART SALES DOWN THIS YEAR: The Art Sales Index shows that the value of art sold in the past year declined 13-14 percent. "In the wake of 11 September, collapsing stock exchanges and high international tension, the art market has had a tough season, and while some stellar prices have been achieved, this has tended to obscure a very real weakness in the middle market." The Art Newspaper 10/11/02

UK MUSEUMS LOOKING FOR PROMISED HELP: UK museums are hurting. A survey last summer uncovered "a litany closures, decaying buildings, collapsing morale and inadequate acquisition funds," warning that "unless £167 million was found for museums outside London, the 'brain drain' from the provinces after years of underfunding would be hastened, driving many museums into irreversible decline." The government promised help. But months later, that help is not assured, and some are beginning to wonder... The Guardian (UK) 10/10/02

THERE ONCE WAS A PAINTING FROM GHENT... In 1934 a panel painted by van Eyck was stolen from in Ghent's St Bavo Cathedral. In the decades since, the mystery of its disappearance deepened. Was it hidden elsewhere in the church? Was it sold to a collector? Was it destroyed? Last week a taxi driver claimed to have some answers... The Guardian (UK) 10/09/02

BIG DEAL: The Tate Modern is unveiling a giant sculpture created by Anish Kapoor for the museum. "The work, which measures almost 150m in length and is 10 storeys high, spans the entire entrance of the art gallery. 'It's a big thing because it needs to be a big thing. One hopes that it's a deep thing'." BBC 10/08/02

LONG ROAD AHEAD FOR THE BARNES: The Barnes Collection outside Philadelphia is trying to move inside Philadelphia. Though the Barnes has lined up plenty of support from civic leaders, funders and foundations, and though many in Philadelphia are anxious to get the Barnes to come to town, Albert Barnes' will must be challenged in court. "This is not something that will be decided in the court of public opinion. This is going to be up to the courts, and it could be a very long process." Washington Post 10/08/02

THWARTING KHAN: The Aga Khan has been trying to buy property on the Thames in London to build a museum for his art collection - the largest collection of Islamic art in the English-speaking world. But the National Health Service wants the land (owned by King's College) so the hospital next door can expand. Though the Aga Khan offers more than twice the money for the property, the sale is likely to be made to the Health Service, prompting some to worry that the Aga Khan might take his collection out of England. The Observer 10/06/02

MET STATUE CRASHES TO FLOOR: Sunday night a 15th-century marble statue of Adam by the Venetian sculptor Tullio Lombardo at the Metropolitan Museum in New York fell off its pedestal and crashed to the floor. "The museum has now tentatively concluded that the 6-foot-3-inch statue fell to the ground when one side of the 4-inch-high base of its pedestal apparently buckled, tipping over both the pedestal and statue." The New York Times 10/09/02

SCOTLAND BUYS BEUYS: The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art has scored a coup. For £605,000 - "hardly enough to buy you the pickled hind quarters of a Damien Hirst" - the gallery has purchased a major collection of the work of Joseph Beuys. "The drawings, lithographs, photographs, books and sculptures amount to a third of the German artist's multiples, editionalised versions of his works he produced to bring his art to the widest public." The Guardian (UK) 10/09/02

ATTACKING ART, LITERALLY: Cultural terrorism - the destruction of public art and artifacts in the name of political gain - has yet to reach American shores, but is a major concern around the world. "The shelling of the Bosnian National Library in Sarejevo in August 1992, by Serbian nationalists dug in the hills surrounding the city... and the fire it caused, destroyed thousands of priceless manuscripts and books, as well as gutting a historic and beautiful building." Such acts of wanton destruction are often minimized when placed alongside terrorist attacks on human life, but the cold reality is that the cultural death toll may be more permanent than the human one. Toronto Star 10/12/02

TURNER FAMILY MAY WANT PAINTINGS BACK: William Turner's descendants are threatening to take back the painter's work from London museums. "Relatives say the Tate and the National Gallery ignored the artist's wishes that his collection, now worth an estimated £500million, should be kept in rooms specifically for his work. They are considering legal action to try to force the galleries to return the paintings." London Evening Standard 10/10/02

A JETTY REEMERGES: "The most famous work of American art that almost nobody has ever seen in the flesh is Robert Smithson's 'Spiral Jetty': 6,650 tons of black basalt and earth in the shape of a gigantic coil, 1,500 feet long, projecting into the remote shallows of the Great Salt Lake in Utah, where the water is rose red from algae." The visual effect is stunning, when the coil can be seen, but it has been years since the murky waters of the lake yielded up Smithson's work to the eyes of visitors. But with drought sweeping the American West, the water level is lower than it has ever been, and the jetty has reappeared, at least for the time being. The New York Times Magazine 10/13/02


COPYRIGHT CASE GETS A HEARING AT THE SUPREME COURT: In a landmark case which could change the way copyright law is administered in the U.S., the Supreme Court is hearing arguments on the issue of whether Congress may extend current copyrights past their original expiration, as it did in 1998, and keep popular images, songs, and art out of the public domain, where they could be used by anyone without permission or payment. The suit was filed by Internet archivist Eric Eldred, who "runs an Internet archive called Eldritch Press, which includes such books as Nathaniel Hawthorne's 19th-century classic The Scarlet Letter. But the 1998 law would have forced him to pay to publish works from the '20s such as stories by Sherwood Anderson and some poems by Robert Frost." Washington Post 10/10/02

  • THE RIGHTS OF CREATIVITY: This week's arguments in front of the US Supreme Court about the constitutionality of the copyright laws is really a battle over how we as a society will get to use our creativity. Opponents of the 1998 extension of the copyright law - which include "dozens of the nation's leading law professors, several library groups, 17 prominent economists, and a coalition of both liberal and conservative political action groups - say it serves no legitimate public purpose, violates the clear intentions of our nation's founders regarding copyrights and is unconstitutional." SFGate 09/26/02

WHAT ECONOMIC RECOVERY? Even as the government continues to insist that America is on the road to better economic times, the stock market continues to take large chunks out of some of the nation's heaviest wallets, and that uncertainty is causing severe pains to U.S. arts groups, and not just from their dwindling endowments. In the last months, Alberto Vilar and Ted Turner, two of America's biggest arts supporters, have warned of possible defaults on their pledges to various groups, and countless more heavy hitters in the philanthropic world are said to be in similar financial straits. The New York Times 10/11/02

MUCH MORE OF THIS, AND IT'LL BE JUST LIKE THE U.S.: "Toronto's financial support of its major cultural institutions has declined by 35 per cent in the past decade at the same time as the regional economy grew by 40 per cent, a city report says... The report points out the difficulties that Canada's largest city has had maintaining its commitments since amalgamation, the shifting of responsibilities from the provincial government to the municipalities, and the lack of any additional significant taxation powers beyond the traditional property levy." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 10/10/02

CAN'T IT JUST BE ART? MAYBE NOT: In an age when it doesn't seem to be enough for art to just be pleasant or thought-provoking or challenging, arts proponents are lined up around the block to promote music, art, dance, and the like as a veritable balm for the soul, a healer and soother of the stresses of modern life. The latest example was the global series of concerts commemorating the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl by Al-Qaeda terrorists, and while the sentiment of the organizers was clearly in the right place, Peter Dobrin worries that we are "preaching to the choir. The harder task is to convince spiritual have-nots that they are have-nots, and to give to them something more human to reach for." Philadelphia Inquirer 10/13/02

DECLINE IN VALUE: American arts organizations are facing a triple whammy - declining corporate support because of the economy, cuts in government support, and - because of the battered stock market - substantial declines in the value of endowments. "This has been the most challenging time for our cultural institutions in my memory. We're seeing erosions between 15 and 60 percent in the market value of endowments at arts institutions nationwide." The Star-Tribune (Mpls) 10/09/02

ISRAEL - OUT OF THE LOOP: Artists have stopped going to Israel. "In the past two years, ever since the outbreak of the second intifada, a virtual blockade has been set up between the cultural world of the West and Israel. Performers and ensembles are canceling performances here, and even more are not even booking dates. The situation is so bad that the impresario business, which had specialized in bringing international acts to Israel, is on the brink of collapse." Ha'aretz (Israel) 10/08/02

10. FOR FUN 

X-RATED CLASSICAL: The New Zealand Symphony sent out 8000 promotional CDs to market its new season. But when recipients of the discs put them into computers to play, they discovered that someone had substituted the track titles with pornographic descriptions of sex acts. "It seemed the person responsible used an Internet media player to read the CD, made the changes and saved them on the database. This meant that whenever anyone else used a media player connected to that database, the X-rated version was displayed." The Age (Melbourne) 10/08/02

OH, GOD, NO: "A Russian opera company is planning a comic opera that will tell the infamous story of Monica Lewinsky and the president. The Russian president, to be precise. The composer of Monica in the Kremlin is Vitali Okorokov, a classically trained musician who is well known to the Russian public for his pop hits. After a performance of one of his symphonic poems, Okorokoc was approached by the artistic director of the Saratov Opera, who asked him to write an opera on a contemporary subject." Andante 10/10/02