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Week of October 21-27, 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


WHY DOWNLOADING MAKES GOOD BUSINESS SENSE: Recording artist Janis Ian says that recording companies are wrong about downloading piracy. "Attacking your own customers because they want to learn more about your products is a bizarre business strategy, one the music industry cannot afford to continue. On the first day I posted downloadable music, my merchandise sales tripled, and they have stayed that way ever since. I'm not about to become a zillionaire as a result, but I am making more money. At a time when radio playlists are tighter and any kind of exposure is hard to come by, 365,000 copies of my work now will be heard. Even if only 3% of those people come to concerts or buy my CDs, I've gained about 10,000 new fans this year." USAToday 10/24/02


STRIVING TO THRIVE: Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal is one of Canada's major dance companies. But it's currently in reduced circumstances, and most of its 35 members have been with the company only a few seasons. "Depending on how one looks at it, Les Grands can be thought of as either the most versatile or the least consistent of Canada's major ballet companies." Toronto Star 10/19/02

IS DEREK DEANE RIGHT FOR THE ROYAL BALLET? Who will be the Royal Ballet's next artistic director? "Typical wish-lists can be broadly divided into three categories: superstars, old boys and wannabes. Big names such as Mark Morris, Mikhail Baryshnikov or ABT's Kevin McKenzie might have international cachet but the house's arcane management structure and its reputation for ancestor worship might prove hard to bear." So what about cheeky former English National director Derek Deane? The Telegraph (UK) 10/22/02

IF IT WALKS LIKE A DUCK... The Twyla Tharp/Billy Joel project now on Broadway is playing in a theatre theatre, writes Clive Barnes. "But if it looks like a ballet, sounds like a ballet, feels like a ballet and dances like a ballet - it is a ballet, the first full-evening Broadway ballet, at least since Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake a few years back got Broadway's feet wet. No praise can be too high for the dancing." New York Post 10/25/02

ABT, BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER? It was only a year ago that the future of the American Ballet Theatre seemed decidedly uncertain, with lawsuits and backstage infighting overshadowing what should have been a period of celebrated artistic growth within the company. But these days, with a new management team in place and cooler heads prevailing, the ABT is reintroducing itself to the American dance scene, with a well-reviewed New York production celebrating the diverse music of Richard Rodgers and George Harrison. Chicago Tribune 10/27/02

  • ABT'S NEW BEATLES HIT: "American Ballet Theatre's tribute to George Harrison, Within You Without You, given its world premiere at City Center last weekend, is not the first Beatles ballet, but it is the most ambitious. What could have been a gimmick has emerged as a signature piece for ABT." New York Post 10/25/02


WHERE'D THE ART GO? Movies have always been entertainment. But also art. "Lately, though, the word 'art' is scarcely mentioned in discussions about films in this country, even where you might most expect it, namely independent cinema. The reasons are complex but include the decline of fine art in middle-class life and our love affair with the most trivial aspects of entertainment culture." San Francisco Chronicle (LAT) 10/25/02

BAD NEWS FOR BRIT FILM: The British film industry is officially in a slump. In the last year, the UK's Channel Four closed its film production business, and less US investment in British film has resulted in fewer movies being made overall - 40% less than last year, in fact. But the British Film Council is not ready to throw in the towel, and insists that the industry will rebound. BBC 10/25/02

NEW RESPECT FOR BOLLYWOOD? "Although India has a film industry that goes back a century and produces more than 800 films a year, Bollywood filmmakers often complain their work is not taken seriously by either critics or the larger global audience. With their heavy reliance on musical numbers and formulaic plots about star-crossed lovers, popular Indian movies have rarely won critical applause." But recently Bollywood seems to be winning more respect away from home. What people have become aware of recently is that the way Bollywood deals with similar plot lines is interesting. It has become far more acceptable to think that melodrama is a viable form of art, and not just a failure of art." National Post 10/25/02

  • BOLLYWOOD DOWN: India's Bollywood, home to the largest film industry in the world, has lost $30 million since the beginning of the year. "Both producers and distributors have been hit by the ongoing economic downturn, and that producers have faced falling profits from the sale of music, satellite and overseas rights." BBC 10/22/02

LISTENING TO THE WEB: Most popular TV series are tracked by scores of websites - an official one run by the network; the others run by fans - that dissect the content of every episode. It would be simple to underestimate the intensity with which Web sites fetishize TV programs - and the impact they have on the show's creators. It is now standard Hollywood practice for executive producers (known in trade argot as 'show runners') to scurry into Web groups moments after an episode is shown on the East Coast." New York Times Magazine 10/20/02

INTERACTIVE TV ON YOUR PHONE: "Text messaging has recently overtaken Internet use in Europe. One of the fastest-growing uses of text messaging, moreover, is interacting with television. Figures show that 20% of teenagers in France, 11% in Britain and 9% in Germany have sent messages in response to TV shows." The Economist 10/18/02


THE NEW WAVE: "Every half century, history rolls at us another wave of composers who will change the way music is heard and played. At the beginning of the 20th century came Debussy and Schoenberg, soon joined by Bartok and Stravinsky. In the 1950's, those arriving ranged from John Cage to Milton Babbitt. Now it is time for another great sweep, perhaps going in even more diverse directions and prompted from farther out on the periphery. The 20th century's revolutions were led from Europe and then the United States; now may come the turn of China, Australia and Latin America." Exhibit A may be Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov. The New York Times 10/27/02

  • IS NEW MUSIC FINALLY POPULAR? Ever since the modernist and serialist movements of the mid-20th century, conventional wisdom has held that the concertgoing public cannot abide new music, and that any effort to program modern works must be counterbalanced with a healthy dose of 'safe' classics. But with the rise of accessible (and yet unquestionably serious) composers like John Corigliano, how can anyone still claim that new music is unpopular? Philadelphia Inquirer 10/27/02

HOUSE BAND: "House concerts are exactly what those two words say - concerts that people hold in their houses - and they've become something of a nationwide phenomenon during the past 10 years. While there has always been live music in homes - classical drawing room salons, rural front-porch hoedowns, Harlem rent parties, rock bands in basements - the current style of house party has flourished because of a confluence of circumstances, the primary one being the graying of the baby boomers..." Washington Post 10/25/02

THE MODERN ORCHESTRA MODEL: With orchestras collapsing and gasping for breath all across the continent, the San Francisco Symphony is firmly in the black, artistically sound, and universally acknowledged to be one of the most musically daring ensembles in the world. Is it the ultra-trendy city? The dynamic and flashy music director? Don't fool yourself: the SFS is where it is due to prescient long-range planning, an unswerving commitment to its audience, and a top-notch management team which foresaw the economic collapse five years before it happened, and had a 'Plan B' ready to roll. Dallas Morning News 10/27/02

ON-AIR WOMEN: Women artists have always had a tough time getting airplay on American radio stations. Until very recently, most stations had a rule of not playing back-to-back songs by women. Now 12 of the Billboard Top 20 songs are by women artists. But while it's better, critics still claim bias. "It's indicative of the industry that programmers don't think that men, and especially boys, are interested in hearing what women have to say unless it's a sexy song." Christian Science Monitor 10/25/02

HARD TIMES AT PRODIGY CENTRAL: You know the music industry has hit hard times when the president of the Juilliard School is saying things like "I'm just as much thrilled if someone gets a job teaching junior high school music as if they get a job in the Chicago Symphony." Joseph Polisi also indicated that, with the job market in music tighter than ever, it will be essential for young musicians to find new ways of bringing music to the public if the form is to survive. Star Tribune (Minneapolis/St. Paul) 10/23/02

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE ORCHESTRA BOOM? Only five years ago, many North American orchestras were convinced that the future was bright. New concert halls abounded, and ticket sales were up continent-wide. These days, though, it is a rare orchestra which isn't struggling in the grip of crippling deficits, and many smaller orchestras are finding themselves on the precipice. Case in point: the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. Edmonton Journal 10/24/02

COPYRIGHT HYSTERIA: "People auction everything from stereo equipment to World Series tickets to used software on eBay. Why, then, did an indie musician who tried to hawk his own band's CD get fingered by the site as a copyright violator?" Wired 10/24/02

CHICAGO SYMPHONY DEFICIT: The Chicago Symphony reports a $6.1 million deficit for last season. The orchestra notes "challenging economic conditions,'' and says that "even record-breaking contributions to the annual fund could not close the 'widening imbalance' between operating revenues and expenses." Chicago Sun-Times 10/23/02

CANADA'S THRIVING CLASSICAL MUSIC RADIO: While classical music radio has been dying out in the United States in the past decade, "in Canada, looking over the last 20 years, there has been an obvious growth in the appetite for classical programming, as well as jazz, on FM radio." La Scena Musicale 10/22/02

COMMITMENT TO NEW MUSIC, WYOMING STYLE: The Cheyenne [Wyoming] Symphony is a long way from a major city. But the orchestra decided to present a program of music by composer John Corigliano. The orchestra invited Corigliano to town for three days, found underwriting and sponsorships, and sold out the city's 1,500-seat civic center. "The concert was greeted with cheers, whistles and cascades of applause. Quite simply, it was a success in every way." Denver Post 10/22/02

NJ SYMPHONY RUNS DEFICIT: The New Jersey Symphony ran up a deficit of $1.1 million last season. Alarmingly, the figure is about 7 percent of the orchestra's total budget. "The economy has basically moved orchestras from experiencing small surpluses to experiencing small deficits. I anticipate it's a short-term phenomenon." Newark Star-Ledger 10/18/02

JUST SHUT IT DOWN: "The fact is that big orchestras are done for. Gonzo. They're an anachronism, an all-but-dead corpse kept on life support by tax dollars and an ever dwindling group of philanthropists and ticket buyers." Just shut them down. Calgary Herald 10/18/02

OPERA IN L.A. - MISSED OPPORTUNITIES? A few years ago opera was a hot ticket in Los Angeles, particularly among the under-30 crowd. Now? "Did opera turn out to be another pop-cult fad, or did the L.A. company blow the opportunity to capture this most sought-after demographic?" Los Angeles Times 10/17/02

KNOWING WHEN TO QUIT: "Performing is a physical activity, and time takes its toll on the human body: on breath support, on lips, on strength, on coordination, on sight and hearing. Like athletes, singers and instrumentalists eventually have to come to terms with the fact that they can't do certain things as well at 60 or 70 as they did at 20 or 30. It's easy to stay too long, and those who do risk undermining their legacies." St. Louis Post-Dispatch 10/20/02

HOW TO STAGE AN OPERA IN 36 HOURS: The saga leading up to the Kirov Opera's appearance in Los Angeles this week has been, well, operatic - cancellation of the originally scheduled opera, sets that floated away to Asia in a dockworkers' strike... This week the company itself showed up in LA. "The full dress rehearsal is scheduled for 7 p.m. and for the half hour leading up to it, it is difficult to imagine that somewhere within this building there is a 280-member opera company. The halls are silent, backstage is silent, the makeup people sit outside the silent wardrobe rooms, waiting, not really knowing what is going to happen next..." Los Angeles Times 10/25/02


ADOLPH GREEN, 87: Adolph Green, half of a songwriting team with Betty Comden, has died. "The best Comden and Green lyrics were brash and buoyant, full of quick wit, best exemplified by New York, New York, an exuberant and forthright hymn to their favorite city. Yet even the songwriters' biggest pop hits - The Party's Over, Just in Time and Make Someone Happy - were simple, direct and heartfelt." Nando Times (AP) 10/24/02

BELLESILES RESIGNS FROM EMORY: "Historian Michael A. Bellesiles, author of a controversial 2000 book on gun ownership in early America, resigned from Emory University in Atlanta yesterday after a devastating indictment of his research was made by an outside committee of scholars... Mainstream scholars raised questions [in 2001] about research Bellesiles did into probate records. His credibility problems were compounded when he said that he had lost all of his research notes in a flood at Emory." Boston Globe 10/26/02

CAMELOT'S KING PASSES: "Richard Harris, the voluble Irishman who starred as King Arthur in the film version of "Camelot" and more recently played Albus Dumbledore, the wise, magical and benign headmaster in the first Harry Potter movie and its forthcoming sequel, died yesterday in London. He was 72." The New York Times 10/26/02

HOUELLEBECQ CLEARED BY FRENCH COURT: French writer Michel Houellebecq has been cleared of inciting racial hatred by saying Islam was 'the stupidest religion'. A panel of three judges in Paris declared that the author was not guilty after he was sued by four Muslim groups. He made the comments in an interview with the literary magazine Lire in 2001. The case was seen as an important battle between free speech and religious conservatism." BBC 10/23/02

DRABINSKY CHARGED: Theatre producers Garth Drabinsky and Myron Gottlieb have been charged with 19 counts of fraud in Toronto arising from the loss of half a billion dollars to his investors. "One thing even his most unforgiving foes would have to admit is that unlike, say, the disgraced executives in the Enron scandal, Drabinsky was never primarily motivated by an appetite for personal wealth. Throughout his spectacular rise and fall at Cineplex Odeon in the 1980s as well as his tragic second act at Livent in the 1990s, it was always clear Drabinsky was chasing a much bigger dream than money." Toronto Star 10/23/02

THE MAN CHALLENGING COPYRIGHT: Eric Eldred is a quiet, unassuming man. But his case before the US Supreme Court challenging the 1998 copyright extension law could change the course of creative history. "At 59, he is unassuming, shy, and soft-spoken. Yet his passion for publishing on the Internet is unmistakable. He envisions a society in which literacy and democracy are advanced through the online dissemination and discussion of great literature. Literature, he says, should not be 'locked up in a library and accessible [only] to high priests of academia ... People have as much power as a printing press' in their own computers." Chronicle of Higher Education 10/25/02

SD GLOBE THEATRE HIRES SPISTO: Louis Spisto has been named executive director of the Globe Theatres in San Diego. Spisto is former exec director of American Ballet Theatre and the Pacific Symphony. "Spisto resigned from ABT under pressure in 2001, after several staff resignations, rocky relations with some board members, and an ousted employee's claim of sex and age discrimination."But the Globe says: "The controversy "doesn't say as much about Lou as it does about that organization, which has a history of dysfunctional situations with its leaders."
Los Angeles Times 10/23/02

GREATEST BRITON EVER? Who is the greatest Briton ever? The BBC is taking a poll. Of the finalists, "only three of the top 10 are from the 20th century - John Lennon, Winston Churchill and Princess Diana. Three are scientists or engineers - Brunel, Darwin and Newton - and three are national leaders - Cromwell, Elizabeth I and Churchill." BBC 10/20/02


ARE WRITERS THE NEW POP STARS? "There’s a sense among young people and those who make it that fiction can be central to the culture. There was a conventional wisdom among the older generations that it was a marginalized endeavor. To see it be a central cultural product for kids today, that’s all to the good. The only caveat is the problems that being a rock star or any kind of celebrity sensation presents." New York Observer 10/23/02

REJECTING A WINNER: Yann Martel's Life Of Pi won the Booker Prize this week. But when he was looking for a publisher, five top London firms turned him down. "It is embarrassing for the editors concerned. I understand how they must be feeling today. But you know, this sort of thing happens all the time with serious fiction in particular, where taste and sensibility are what matters. Of course, it is very gratifying when your own judgment and belief in a book's greatest proves correct." The Guardian (UK) 10/24/02

SEBOLD'S SUCCESS: The publishing industry, like most entertainment cultures, does not like surprises. The best-sellers are supposed to be written by brand-name authors and fluffed up by expensive marketing campaigns. But once every few years, a book manages to break through the PR wall and sell like gangbusters simply because, well, it's a great book. Enter Alice Sebold, and her self-made bestseller The Lovely Bones. Washington Post 10/24/02

MARTEL WINS BOOKER - AGAIN: Canadian writer Yann Martel has won this year's Booker Prize. He quickly denied that the fact that three Canadian writers made the Booker shortlist consituted a literary movement. "It's happenstance that there's three Canadian writers." This is actually Martel's second time winning the booker in the past week. Last week the Booker website briefly declared him the winner; that announcement was dismissed as an error by Booker judges. BBC 10/23/02

  • THINKING ABOUT CANADIAN WRITING: Martel's book was greeted with good but not great reviews in Canada, but was an instant hit with British critics. "I hope this award will encourage us to think of Canadian literature in a different light, to respond more positively to adventurous, playful, yet intellectually serious strains of writing." Toronto Star 10/23/02

DISCOVERING HEMMINGWAY: Last March, in a small house in Cuba, "a delegation of four Americans found what they described as a jackpot: file cabinets and boxes filled with thousands of pages of Hemingway's original manuscripts, rough drafts and outtakes from great works, handwritten letters of love and anger, notes in English and Spanish, and thousands of photographs." The trove should reveal much about the last third of the writer's life. San Francisco Chronicle 10/23/02

AN EIGHTH HARRY POTTER? JK Rowling has always said that there would be seven Harry Potter books. But Warner Brothers has copyrighted not only the next three titles, but a fourth as well. "The new titles are book five (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) plus Harry Potter and the Pyramids of Furmat, Harry Potter and the Chariots of Light and Harry Potter and the Alchemist’s Cell." The Scotsman 10/21/02

  • NO EIGHTH HARRY: JK Rowling's agent has denied there are any plans for an eighth Harry Potter. "There is absolutely no truth in the story that either there is going to be an eighth book in the series or that these titles are genuine title for the sixth and seventh books." BBC 10/22/02

THE NYer'S NEW FICTION EDITOR: Deborah Treisman, a "32-year-old prodigy little known outside the literary world," has been named the new fiction editor of the The New Yorker magazine, succeeding Bill Buford in one of the most important fiction editing jobs in the literary world. "I suppose it is not wrong to say that that I am interested in younger, more experimental, edgier voices." The New York Times 10/21/02

WHOSE BACKLASH IS IT ANYWAY? Is a backlash forming against today's young trendy literary writers? The signs are all there. But look a little closer - the " 'backlash' being forecast is against a group of writers who started by exploiting a 'backlash' of their own devising." MobyLives 10/21/02

A TRADITIONAL GG: Canada's Governor General Book Award finalists were announced Monday. There were no first-time authors, no edgy, risky new voices on the fiction list. The shortlist includes The Case of Lena S. by David Bergen (M & S), Exile by Ann Ireland (Simon & Pierre), The Navigator of New York by Giller nominee Wayne Johnston (Knopf), A Song for Nettie Johnson by Gloria Sawai (Coteau) and Unless by Carol Shields (Random House), who is also a finalist for the Booker and the Giller. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 10/22/02

CALIFORNIA POET LAUREATE RESIGNS AFTER LIE: Quincy Troupe, California's first poet laureate, who was appointed last June, has resigned after it was discovered he had lied on his official resume. "His curriculum vitae says he graduated from college, but he didn't. Troupe, a professor of creative writing and American and Caribbean literature at the University of California at San Diego, is author of 13 books, including six books of poetry. 'He was extremely popular. His work was fantastic. He was loved among his students. It's a shame'." Yahoo! (AP) 10/19/02

TRIAGE AMONGST THE STACKS: It's the hardest part of any librarian's job, and there are many who think it shouldn't be done at all. But with space at a premium in nearly every library, the process known as 'weeding' has become an essential, if painful one. Which books to keep, and which to discard? Should lack of recent readership banish a book from its space, or should decisions be made based on quality, as determined by 'experts'? The debate goes on. The New York Times 10/26/02

HANDICAPPING THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARDS: This year's National Book Award fiction list "lacks not only a clear favorite, but also a controversial anti- favorite—think In America, by Susan Sontag, in 2000—that could provide what contest-watchers live for: a big fat upset. Publicly, publishers say nothing but nice things about the nominated titles. Privately, they bicker and bitch about who’s been excluded. And who came blame them?" New York Observer 10/23/02


KID APPEAL: How to get kids interested in theatre? "It's clear that theatre isn't as irrelevant to young people as we are often told. They're not alienated by the actual art-form so much as the structures and habits they see imposed on it by the adult world. Think high ticket prices, and hushed, hallowed atmospheres. Think lack of novelty or urgency." The Guardian (UK) 10/23/02

HOW ABOUT TEAMSTERS AS TICKET-TAKERS? "Some London theaters are increasing security in reaction to the siege of a Moscow theater by Chechen rebels, while on Broadway additional measures also have been taken to ensure safety. But most European theater operators said Friday they were satisfied with precautions already in place." Los Angeles Times (AP) 10/26/02

BEING TWYLA THARP: Critics have not been kind to the new Twyla Tharp-Billy Joel collaboration slated to hit Broadway this week. Some writers, in fact, savaged the production from top to bottom, and singled out Tharp as an artist who should have known better than to get involved in such a collection of pop dreck. But Tharp, one of the most respected choreographers of her generation, is determined to make the show work, and seems fairly sure that the critics will come around. New York Post 10/24/02

RSC TO ADAPT RUSHDIE: The Royal Shakespeare Company has taken on adapting Salman Rushdie's book Midnight's Children for the stage. Up til now the book has been a jinx for anyone trying to adapt it. "The last attempt to transfer the book from the page collapsed twice after first the Indian government, and then the Sri Lankan authorities, caved in to Muslim fundamentalists and refused the BBC permission to film there." The Guardian (UK) 10/22/02


ART AS GLOBAL IMPULSE: Vicente Todoli takes over this month as the Tate Modern's new director. He observes that internationalism is an important artistic impulse. "Art has always been moved by individuals. Before businessmen, artists were the precursors in breaking down frontiers. Globalisation is the essential spirit of art. The world is wider today and art has always had an openness of viewpoints because that is its nature. The only problem today is tremendous commercialisation which is killing much creativity and controls the mind of some artists who take decisions dictated by it." The Art Newspaper 10/25/02

DEFENDING THE COLLECTOR: "A group of American collectors has formed a new organisation to defend the interests of private and public collecting. They see threats to collecting coming from foreign countries, over-zealous law enforcement and a public debate, which, according to them, has been driven by the 'retentionist' bias of many archaeologists." The Art Newspaper 10/25/02

THE GREATEST ARTS PATRONS OF ALL TIME: It seems safe to say that the world will never again see a family like the Medicis, who held up the financial end of artistic achievement in Europe for more than 500 years. Without the Medici family, there would have been no Michelangelo, very little of Galileo, and the Rennaissance might have been little more than an average movement in the history of art. A new exhibit in Chicago focuses on the last glory days of the Medici, with more than 200 works on display. Chicago Tribune 10/27/02

EVERYTHING (EUROPEAN) MUST GO: As part of its new mission of focusing its collection on American art, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is auctioning off 34 works by Europeans artists next week, with the proceeds to be used to beef up the academy's American collection. "The consigned works... are with several exceptions by relatively obscure and unfashionable artists, and only a few carry estimates of more than $100,000." Philadelphia Inquirer 10/23/02

REVOKING FREE ADMISSION? London's Natural History Museum saw a 70 percent increase in attendance last year after it dropped entry fees. In return for free admission, the British government promised museums more money. But "museum bosses have told MPs the extra volume of visitors is costing them £500,000 ($773,000) a year more than they receive in return for giving up charging." So the museum is thinking about reinstating the entry fees... More museums may follow, given the government's disappointing funding promises earlier this week. BBC 10/24/02

LOOTING THE CRADLE OF CIVILIZATION: "Since Iraq's defeat in the Persian Gulf War in 1991, thieves have been stealing anything they can Because Iraq's antiquities bureaucracy collapsed after the war and even today only is a fraction of what it once was, the country's 10,000 known ancient sites - plus many more yet to be documented - have been easy targets for the last decade. The frenzy of looting has panicked experts on ancient Mesopotamia, long seen by scholars as the cradle of the first civilizations." Detroit News 10/23/02

STATUES DAMAGED BY CLEANERS: Four busts of Great Britons Isaac Newton, William Hogarth, Joshua Reynolds, and John Hunter have stood watch over London's Leicester Square in central London for almost 130 years. They have survived war, pollution and the elements. But not, apparently, a restoration cleaning in the early 1990s. "It appears the cleaners used a highly corrosive, concentrated solution of hydroflouric acid. If the busts are left outside, they will continue to deteriorate. Within two decades they could be just meaningless lumps of rock." The Guardian (UK) 10/24/02

MUSEUMS ATTACK LOW FUNDING PROMISE: UK museum directors fretted yesterday after a government announcement that £70 million in funding would be allocated to the country's museums. "A government-sponsored report found that, unless £167 million was found, many institutions with world-class exhibits would be pushed into irreversible decline. The response from museums was angry and swift." The Guardian (UK)10/23/02

  • BRITISH MUSEUM GETS CASH: The British government announces a £70 million funding package for the British Museum and regional museums. The BM's financial crisis has been so bad it has had to close galleries and reduce hours as it deals with a large deficit. "The BM will receive £36.8m, with an extra £400,000 in 2003 to re-open the Korean Galleries and others currently closed." BBC 10/22/02

GETTY CAN EXPAND VILLA: After the Getty Museum moved into its new home in 1997, the museum announced plans to add an outdoor theatre to the Getty's former headquarters in its Malibu villa. Neighbors sued to block the plan. Now a judge has ruled in the Getty's favor. In addition to the theatre, "the villa complex would grow to 210,000 square feet, including a new restaurant to replace the site's old tea room, expansion of the bookstore and renovation of museum galleries for display of the Getty antiquities collection." Los Angeles Times 10/23/02

AUSSIE ARTS COUNCIL EXPLORES ARTIST TRUST ACCOUNTS: The Australian Arts Council is investigating the idea of setting up trust accounts for artists. Gallery sales would be deposited into the accounts directly for the artists. "There are a whole range of other businesses and services that require that the intermediary - the real estate agent, the travel agent, the lawyer - holds funds in a trust account. The point is, if a work has been sold then the value of that work, less the agent's fee, is the artist's money." Sydney Morning Herald 10/22/02

THE GREAT PAINTING CONTEST: In the 16th Century on of the most extraordinary public art collaborations ever, teamed Michelangelo and Leonardo to paint side by side paintings in the Council Hall of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. Art historians call the project "the turning point of the Renaissance." But Giorgio Vasari, the famous chronicler of Renaissance painters' lives, had the wall painted over, obliterating the art... The Guardian (UK) 10/22/02

THE PRADO'S INVISIBLE RENOVATIONS: Madrid's Prado Museum is in the middle of a $45 million renovation. "The Prado will belatedly join a host of other museums, from the Louvre in Paris to the National Gallery in Washington, that have built annexes for art and assorted services. But the Prado is different: it wants its $45 million extension to go largely unnoticed." The New York Times 10/21/02

IN PRAISE OF THE BILBAO EFFECT - FIVE YEARS ON: Frank Gehry's Bilbao Guggenheim Museum is five years old. "The Bilbao effect is viewed by many as a triumph of style over substance, a type of global branding that used to be confined to items such as fashionable shoes and whatnot. And the style itself - especially the 'signature' buildings whose complex, odd-looking forms could never have been designed and built without the aid of advanced computer technology - is considered highly suspect." Washington Post 10/20/02


THE DANGER OF LOWBROW: Most people consider lowbrow entertainment to be a guilty pleasure, certainly not terribly enriching, but not particularly harmful, either. But Michael Berkely thinks that our appetite for mindless entertainment is destroying serious, challenging art: "Labels and classifications tend to lead to preconceptions; in any case, a huge amount of art defies category. But I do differentiate between entertainment and what I call Hard Art, between Big Brother and Wozzeck, if you like." The Guardian (UK) 10/26/02

BUSH APPOINTS NEW NEA CHAIR: President George Bush has nominated poet Dana Gioia as the next chairperson of the National Endowment for the Arts. "Gioia, 51, won this year's American Book Award for his third book of poems, Interrogations at Noon. His best-known book, Can Poetry Matter?, is a study of poetry in modern American culture." Nando Times (AP) 10/24/02

GETTING DOWN: How do American arts groups cope with a down economy? "Museums make cutbacks, reduce budgets, lay off personnel. Symphony orchestras search for new donors, new ways to get cash. A theater group pulls back its cast sizes. A big city opera cuts salaries of its top directors. This is the drama of making the arts work in a slowing economy... Seattle Post-Intelligencer (AP) 10/24/02

RETURN ON INVESTMENT: A new study of the Denver arts scene reveals what several other recent surveys have concluded on a national level to be true for the local area as well: the arts are a darned good investment of public funds. "Cultural revenue was $208 million, half earned through ticket and other sales and the other half through contributions and cultural tourism generated $139 million, including attracting 860,000 visitors from outside the state." Denver Business Journal 10/22/02

HIGH ART'S LOW AMBITIONS: Robert Brustein is pessimistic about modern culture. "We are witnessing the not-so-gradual disappearance of what used to pass for American high art, whether we are talking about performing arts or serious literature or classical music or the visual arts. When ruled entirely by profit, the quality of art is bound to the client and so is any openness to risk or to adventure. The days are over, I think, when publishers took chances on good writers who were unknown or difficult in order to bring distinction to a list dominated by bestsellers." Partisan Review 10/02

CANADIAN ARTS DOWN: The 1990s were a terrible decade for Canadian arts institutions. A new study reports that attendance and funding were down, while expenses went up. The number of performances and exhitions fell. "Total attendance dropped by five per cent in the decade, to roughly 13.3 million from 14 million. At the same time, rising costs resulted in virtually all the country's largest performing arts organizations - the Stratford and Shaw Theatre Festivals excepted - reporting deficits." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 10/22/02

AMERICANS FOR THE ARTS SUES BANK OVER STOCK PORTFOLIO: The Washington-based arts advocacy group Americans for the Arts has filed a lawsuit against a bank charging it with negligence and breach of fiduciary duty. The group says the bank failed to diversify a stock portfolio trust consisting entirely of Eli Lilly stock, leading to the loss of $81 million from the trusts in nine months. Nando Times (AP) 10/20/02

WHEN PARIS WAS EXTRAORDINARY: What was it that made Parid the explosion of art it became between the two World Wars? "If you wanted three words to define the extraordinary period in the arts in Paris between 1918 and the end of the 1920s, they would be 'energy', 'colour' and 'iconoclasm'." The Guardian (UK) 10/18/02

BUST FOLLOWS BIG BOOM: In the four years between 1997 and 2001, Orange County California experienced an arts boom, says a new study. "According to the survey, the take from paid admissions to museums, performances and arts festivals soared 58.6% during the boom economy - from $29.5 million in 1997 to $46.8 million in 2001. The number of paying patrons rose 37%, from 1.45 million to 2 million. Donations to operating budgets grew 65.1%, from $29.8 million to $49.2 million. With total income up 56.2%, the arts groups raised their spending even more aggressively - by 58.9%. The number of full-time employees increased 40%, from 417 to 585." And then came the slowdown after 9/11... Los Angeles Times 10/23/02

10. FOR FUN 

WELCOME (BACK) TO HONG KONG: "In August of 2000, some 10,000 classical music fans in Hong Kong paid US$30 each to hear Russia's famous orchestra play a series of concerts. By most all accounts the evening was a success, with one local critic lauding the orchestra's 'exciting accelerandos and heart-stopping rubatos.' The only problem was that the real Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra was touring France, Spain and Portugal at the time. A group of apparently cash-strapped musical imposters duped Hong Kong's music aficionados." This week, the real Moscow Phil makes its triumphant premiere/return to Taipei. Taipei Times 10/25/02

THE GREAT COVERUP: Two sculptures that Renaissance artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini made for a church almost 350 years ago, have finally been unveiled. "The two sculptures, which represent the virtues of Truth and Charity, were designed by Bernini in the 17th Century for the chapel of a Portuguese aristocrat, Roderigo de Sylva. They have been located in the chapel since they were completed in 1663, but were deemed offensive by religious leaders two centuries later, and covered up." BBC 10/25/02

THE PAINTING PACHYDERMS: Zookeepers have long observed that elephants like to pick up sticks and doodle in the sand. "Elephants are highly intelligent animals who don't particularly like to stand around all day." Now a group of Balinese elephants are painting and earning a following (and cash). "Their work has been exhibited at several museums worldwide. And recently, the handlers of a dozen or so painting pachyderms in Asia formed a website. Within two months, sales broke $100,000. Half of the profits go to elephant-rescue sanctuaries in Southeast Asia." Christian Science Monitor 10/25/02