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Week of November 4-10, 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


COMMUNICATION PRESERVATION: "Fifty to ninety percent of the world's languages are predicted to disappear in the next century, according to the The Rosetta Project, a collaborative, open-source endeavor by language specialists and native speakers around the world who are creating a 'near permanent' archive of the world's languages. Developers of the modern Rosetta disk hope they will help future generations recover lost languages that are now on the brink of extinction." Wired 11/04/02

INFLATION MYTHS: "It is largely accepted on faith that grade inflation - an upward shift in students' grade-point averages without a similar rise in achievement - exists, and that it is a bad thing. Meanwhile, the truly substantive issues surrounding grades and motivation have been obscured or ignored. The fact is that it is hard to substantiate even the simple claim that grades have been rising." Chronicle of Higher Education 11/04/02


AUSTRALIA BALLET'S DIFFICULT BALANCE: Australia Ballet is in a big transition. In the past 18 months it's hired a new artistic director, chairman and general manager, lost a longtime senior principal dancer, had "a significant reshuffle in the ranks of the cast and an almost comical case of revolving doors at senior management level." In addition, some of the company's touring programs have not sold well. "The need to expose regional audiences to more eclectic and cutting-edge works has to be tempered by commercial considerations." Sydney Morning Herald 11/05/02

LONG DISTANCE PERFORMING: In a demonstration of the superfast Internet2, dancers and musicians in Los Angeles and Cleveland collaborate in a long distance performance. "The challenge was to integrate the live performance by three dancers and two Institute of Music trumpeters who performed in Los Angeles with two-dimensional images of three other dancers and three brass players whose performance was streamed from Mather Dance Center in Cleveland." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 11/05/02

SOME COMMON-SENSE OBSERVATIONS ON DANCE: Dance watcher Ann Barzel is 97 years old, and she's got some pointed things to say about the pregress of the artform in the past century: "Dance is the only art form where the modern practitioners threw everything out. In music, you can like Stravinsky and not hate Beethoven. These women in modern troupes today go to college and take dance instead of physical education. Then, they graduate, get a grant from the Illinois Arts Council and start a company. A few years later, they get married, and, poof, there's no more company." Chicago Tribune 11/10/02


MOVIES AS LOSS-LEADER: "People are going to the movies in droves, but theaters - from nationwide cineplex empires to mom-and-pop neighborhood operations - are struggling to stay afloat. Audiences grew, but not as quickly as the number of theaters competing for their business. The debt load left most participants financially crippled. A dozen theater chains sought bankruptcy protection over the past two years, including most of the biggest. Some, like 80-year-old General Cinema, were cannibalized by competitors. Roughly 600 theaters were shuttered last year, victims of a business model as twisted as a box of Twizzlers." The Star-Tribune (Minneapolis) 11/10/02

BBC NOT KILLING FLAGSHIP ARTS SHOW: The BBC has come under attack, accused of killing its flagship arts TV show. But the Corporation says "Omnibus is being re-launched - not scrapped - and has hit back at criticism that the move is a sign of dumbing down. The show, to be called Imagine, will be overhauled at the start of 2003 and will be presented by former BBC One controller Alan Yentob." BBC 11/04/02

BET THE FRANCHISE: Franchise movies are the movies of the future. They have built-in audiences and enormous marketing campaigns. "Franchise movies are as depressingly insipid and predictable (or as 'dependable') as Holiday Inn suites, theme parks, resort vacations, edge of city Big Box stores, or the generic opinions of political candidates and the toneless mendacity of US media reporting. They all offer white bread, middle-of-the-road ideas or experiences entirely lacking in intellectual or emotional nourishment." The Guardian (UK) 11/08/02

HARRY AND JAMES EDGE OUT SMALLER FILMS: A prominent British film producer has called on the government to enact quotas on the number of theatre screens that blockbuster movies can occupy. This winter new James Bond, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings movies are due out, and smaller films have been squeezed out of theatres. "Her call for quotas comes as the Film Council, charged with developing and supporting the indigenous industry, announced proposals to ensure more home-grown films are shown." BBC 11/06/02

THE ART OF MAKING MOVIES ABOUT ART: Why is it that so many movies with artists as their central characters portray painters, sculptors, and photographers as unbalanced, melodramatic nut jobs peddling their genius between nervous breakdowns? Does Hollywood really think this is how most artists live? Denver Post 11/07/02

NOT JUST FOR KIDS ANYMORE: Think video games are for kids? "Sony Australia's sales figures for the PlayStation 2 reveal that males aged between 18 and 40 make up 60 per cent of the lucrative computer game market." Indeed, kids aren't the target audience anymore; it's men aged between 18 and 35. The Age (Melbourne) 11/4/02

SEEN IN ALL THE RIGHT PLACES: "Product placement is now a recognized industry, rather than a back corner of the advertising world, and everyone wants a shot at it. The game is reaching new levels of sophistication and products are turning up in more and more unexpected places. Never has the relationship between commerce and creative content been so incestuous. In the product-placement world, companies don't necessarily pay to have a product placed in a film or TV show. Sometimes the producer pays, sometimes the marketer does." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 11/09/02

THE DIGITAL TV MESS: Arizona Senator John McCain has quite a brouhaha to look forward to as he takes over the committee in charge of the transition to digital TV broadcasts. The government wants the transition to move fast, so it can sell the analog spectrum to wireless providers. The industry doesn't want to commit to digital anything until a system is in place to prevent consumers from making personal copies of copyrighted material. And consumers want their old TVs to work with the new system, and the right to make personal copies of copyrighted material. Good luck, Senator! Wired 11/08/02


ORCHESTRAS DYING? LET'S CHECK THE EVIDENCE: There are altogether too many columns decrying the death of classical music, writes Justin Davidson. But "the American Symphony Orchestra League's numbers show that U.S. orchestras gave more concerts and sold more tickets in the 2000-2001 season than ever before. Revenue from ticket sales - $775 million across the country - had climbed by 37 percent in five years. A few months later, the World Trade Center tumbled, and so did ticket sales, but only temporarily. At the New York Philharmonic, which might be expected to have suffered disproportionately from post-Sept. 11 doldrums, the box office remains steady." Newsday 11/10/02

THE STARS COME OUT: So music recording sales are down. Whether you blame internet downloading or weak product, the industry is in a slump. So it's time to bring out the big guns. "I've never seen a fourth quarter like this," says one major-label publicist, struggling to grab a few drops of attention for his acts in the monsoon of big-time, big-name publicity machines. "It's like the royalty of every label is putting something out. How do you compete?" The Star-Tribune (Newsday) 11/06/02

CHANSONS - OF THEE I SING: "While French artists of today glory in the richest musical heritage in Europe, they are also frustrated by the insularity of their traditions. At a time when the music business is becoming increasingly globalised, it is hard for a Francophone artist to break out of the home market. Language is a huge barrier; there are very few French songs that become international hits." The Guardian (UK) 11/04/02

IRAQ PHILHARMONIC PLAYS ON: Through all of the hardships of the past decade, Iraq's National Philharmonic plays on - albeit to small audiences. "In all this period, the Philharmonic Orchestra only stopped playing two months, in 1991. They play part-time, for the pleasure and the prestige of being chosen for the national orchestra, as they get less than 10 dollars a month, a quarter of the average salary in this country impoverished by 12 years of UN sanctions. For the orchestra, this translates into absentees. Of its 45 members, 35 played in Sunday's concert." Andante (AFP) 11/05/02

FIRST LADIES: To be a prima donna is as much a state of mind as it is a designation of your place in the opera world. The term can tag you as a demanding temperamental bitch. Or it can be a sign of ultimate respect. How do today's first ladies of opera feel about the term? Opera News 11/02

TICKET INFLATION: Why have ticket prices for pop concerts risen so fast? "From 1996 to 2001, concert-ticket prices rose 61 percent. Tickets for sports, movies and theater events rose 24 percent in the same period, while the Consumer Price Index rose only 13 percent. It's a confounding jump, less for economists than for the fans who wonder if it's worth ponying up $151 to relive their hippie past with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, or $75.50 to plop their kids in front of Britney Spears." Seattle Times 11/03/02

SALES OF MUSIC OVER THE INTERNET ARE DOWN: A new study says that internet sales of prerecorded music, such as CDs and cassette tapes, was down to $545 million in the third quarter, "well behind last year's total of $730 million for the same period." Indianapolis Star (AP) 11/04/02

CHANGE AT THE TOP: "The new millennium seems to be generating a new spirit of musical adventure; more than a dozen top orchestras are embarking on brave new eras, most under younger leadership. In a world traditionally resistant to regime change, nine major batons have just changed hands, six more are in the process and another half dozen up for grabs. This is a major moment of transition, with a younger generation taking charge of many of the world's great orchestras." The Observer (UK) 11/03/02

UNDERSTANDING TOSCANINI: Arturo Toscanini's "fame belongs to another age, when classical music was not so remote from popular entertainment. Twice on the cover of Time magazine—inconceivable for an orchestra conductor today —Toscanini inspired a veneration in the press that mass-market magazines now lavish only on television or movie stars and pop musicians. 'The greatest musical interpreter who ever lived,' a critic wrote in the New York Herald Tribune in the 1930s." Two new books remember. New York Review of Books 11/07/02

THE FUTURE OF STREAMING: It's called Internet2, and it is powerful. Forget about your wussy DSL hookups and T1 lines - this baby can transmit 70Mbps straight to your computer, and blast the sound (and image) of a live symphony orchestra through a 12-speaker system with digital quality and no breaks in service. Where can you sign up? Um, you can't. Sorry. Be patient. Wired 11/08/02

HOW TO MARKET YOUR OPERA: It is an undeniable fact that the ticket base for performing arts organizations is shifting from subscription holders to single-ticket buyers. But what to do about it? The Minnesota Opera has an idea: a glossy, irreverent opera primer distributed absolutely everywhere in the Twin Cities and aimed at impulse buyers. The booklet provides an overview of the season, but also a history of opera in general, suggestions on what to wear and when to applaud, and personality descriptions of the various voice parts, including "Tenor: Often kill themselves; almost always gets the girl." Saint Paul Pioneer Press 11/07/02

FANS OF THE NEW: We've all heard the rap - challenging contemporary music doesn't sell. So how to explain the crowds making their way up to Columbia University's Miller Theatre, where George Steel has put together programs of contemporary concert music? "Mr. Steel's belief in the drawing power of contemporary music contradicts what most consultants seem to be telling beleaguered American orchestras, where executives, long rattled by the graying of classical music audiences, are now grappling with the dismal economy as well." The New York Times 11/10/02

MUSIC'S DECLINING HOLD ON HIGH CULTURE: Why has interest (and funding) for new music faded away in Britain? "Given the genuinely diversifying society of this country, it seems improbable that the surviving directors and institutions of our post-war high culture will ever regain quite the centrality and influence they once exercised. The support that composers can expect from that quarter, therefore, will doubtless remain restricted." The Independent (UK) 11/01/02

RENEWING ANCIENT MELODIES: "For centuries now the received wisdom among classicists has been that the actual melodies of ancient Greek music (as opposed to literary references and iconographic material) vanished, irretrievably, long ago. Trying to resurrect the surviving pieces—the existence of which is generally known only to a few specialists—has been viewed as, at best, an entertaining but frivolous distraction from more-mainstream work." And yet, a few die-hards persist... The Atlantic 11/02

BY "AMERICAN" YOU MEAN... What defines an American composer? Is it someone born there? Some born elsewhere but who works there? Could it be, as composer Frederic Rzewski, believes, that "the first and foremost expression of any composer, himself included, is the aspiration of the national culture into which he or she was born?" 11/02


I, CONDUCTOR: Vladimir Askenazy made his reputation as a pianist. These days he conducts (arthritis has slowed down his pianism). "As a conductor (he is currently chief conductor for the Czech Philharmonic and conductor laureate of the Philharmonia Orchestra), Ashkenazy has developed a reputation for reinvigorating orchestras, not with particularly radical concert programmes, but with huge enthusiasm and an unpretentiousness that has earned him great respect among orchestral musicians." The Guardian (UK) 11/08/02

MUSEUM-BUILDER: Fort Worth, Texas is about to open the second-largest museum devoted to modern art in America. But not only is the museum little known in the broader artworld, so is its director. "That's not because she's a wimp. On the contrary, Marla Price, the soft-spoken, unassuming woman who heads this museum, is one of the savvier, more effective leaders in the business. People talk about her zeal and persistence." Dallas Morning News 11/10/02

THE DISEASE OF FAME: David Gritten has spent 20 years interviewing famous people. Celebrity is not an easy state, he writes. "Celebrity carries with it an odd moral neutrality, and the innocence with which people succumb to the fame virus counts for nothing; once they are famous, their every false move is ruthlessly scrutinised. This is the ugly underbelly of celebrity, the flipside of fame that the non-famous rarely pause to consider." The Telegraph (UK) 11/09/02

POET TO HEAD GUGGENHEIM FOUNDATION: Poet Edward Hirsch is to become president of the Guggenheim Foundation in January. "We live in a culture where, if we don't speak up on behalf of the arts, they will be lost. The arts need us. We need our artists to be citizens. Intellectuals need to participate in intellectual life. Otherwise it's going to be all television, all advertising and media, all politics." The Chornicle of Philanthropy 11/06/02

ART OVER RESUME: Poet Quincy Troupe lied on his resume about having graduated from college, and when it was discovered, lost his appointment as poet laureate of California. Now there is pressure to remove him from his teaching job at the University of California, San Diego. But lost in the furor is a proper appreciation of his contribution to San Diego's cultural life, writes the arts staff of the San Diego Union-Tribune. "Since his arrival in San Diego in 1991, Troupe has proved so popular a professor, so prolific an author and so generous a contributor to the city's quality of life, that no one – including the UCSD administration that hires in the arts based on performance, not paperwork – could possibly care whether he ever received an undergraduate degree. His deception was unnecessary; the cachet of a B.A. played little if any role in his success. San Diego Union-Tribune 11/01/02

CANADIAN AUTHOR CANCELS US TOUR BECAUSE OF RACIAL PROFILING: Indian-born Canadian author Rohinton Mistry has cancelled his book tour midway through its U.S. leg, "citing the 'unbearable' humiliation of being searched at U.S. airports." Nando Times (AP) 11/03/02

deLARROCHA TO RETIRE: Spanish pianist Alicia de Larrocha has announced her retirement from the stage at the end of the 2002-03 season. The 79-year-old pianist began her international career in 1947. San Francisco Chronicle 11/04/02



BOOKER CONTROVERSY GOES ON: Did Yann Martel steal the intellectual property of Brazilian writer Moacyr Scliar in his Booker-winning novel? Is Scliar really as upset about it as some press is reporting? And does anyone really have intellectual property rights over an idea or a concept? The debate rages... BBC 11/08/02

  • THE LEGAL LINGO: "Under Canadian law, only patents cover ideas. Copyright of a publication is another thing. Once you get a Canadian patent, you can sue anyone who uses your idea or invention... Thus, the burden of proof would be on Scliar to prove Martel had read his book - which Martel has consistently denied doing." Montreal Gazette 11/08/02
  • JARDINE WEIGHS IN: "Lisa Jardine, chair of the Booker Prize jury in London, lashed out yesterday at critics who have suggested Canadian author Yann Martel plagiarized the plot of his award-winning book Life Of Pi from a book by a Brazilian writer. Jardine called the controversy the work of some 'very ignorant Brazilian journalists' who noticed the plot parallels and then made an unfounded allegation without having read both books." Toronto Star 11/08/02
  • THE REAL IMPACT OF A BOOKER WIN: Yann Martel's Booker Prize win for Life of Pi has had a big impact on its sales. "Although released in May to strong reviews, initially strong sales had dwindled to 150 copies a week by August; respectable but hardly unusual. A place on the Booker shortlist hoisted that figure to between 600 and 800 copies a week, but the announcement of his win has triggered sales of almost 10,000 copies a week. As the busiest period in the book trade are the four weeks prior to Christmas, sales could climb as high as 25,000 per week." The Scotsman 11/08/02
  • COMPARING THE BIG CATS: Did Booker Prize winner Yann Martel steal the idea (or more) for his book Life of Pi from Brazilian writer Moacyr Scliar's Max and the Cats? Scliar is contemplating a lawsuit and controversy swirls. So Sandra Martin reads both books and concludes... The Globe & Mail (Canada) 11/09/02

STUFFY, STAID, AND SUCCESSFUL: Current conventional publishing wisdom says that in order to sell copies of your magazine, you need near-naked women on the cover, piles of ads from hip companies, and for the love of God, no big, long, thought-provoking articles! Nobody likes those. Well, nobody except the growing subscriber base of The Atlantic, which may just be America's most unlikely serious magazine success story. Columbia Journalism Review 11/02

WAKING UP THE GILLER: This year's Giller Prize may just usher in a new and exciting phase for the normally staid and predictable Canadian literary award. "While there always have been grumbles about both the Giller shortlist and the Giller winner, most observers generally have "gone along" with the picks. [This year's winner,] however, came into the contest freighted with perhaps the most extreme critical assessments of any work of Canadian fiction in recent memory." The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 11/07/02

REQUIEM FOR UNIVERSITY PRESSES: "University publishing is in danger. All presses are suffering financially. Even the large ones are imperiled. They can't assume things will be eternal. There isn't a single reason why - it's systemic. It's at a turning point. Scholarly publishing in the United States is in very, very, very, very serious trouble." Chicago Tribune 11/06/02

A CASE AGAINST POETS LAUREATE: Why are poets laureate a bad idea? "When poetry is forced to do a specific job it usually turns sour and lumpy. Conversely, our official world, our politics and our state, have become the antithesis of poetry. But if the role of poetry is to reveal the deep complexity in something that was ostensibly simple (to 'make familiar objects be as if they were not familiar,' as Shelley put it), then this is exactly what modern politics does not do. 'Axis of evil' is the opposite of poetry. 'The people united will never be defeated' is too." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 11/02/02

DECONSTRUCTING THE POSTMODERN: Berkeley professor Frederick Crews is back on the trail condemning postmodernist literary analysis. His new book Postmodern Pooh asserts that academic theory has taken a very wrong turn. "The point is, are intellectuals saying things that the public can genuinely learn from? When they're only talking the jargon of their own field, the public is learning nothing. There has to be an effort to take the serious disciplines of knowledge and communicate them to the public in a way which is not debased." Spiked-online 11/06/02

NOMINEES FOR NOVELDOM'S RICHEST AWARD: One hundred and twenty-five novels have been nominated from around the world for the 100,000 euro Impac Award. The books are voted for by librarians from across the world, who draw up the long-list. "The longlist includes works translated from Dutch, Spanish, Swedish, French, Croatian, Chinese, Portuguese, Czech, Norwegian, Japanese, Turkish, Hebrew and Galician. There are works by authors from 31 different nationalities, 29 of whom are American, 20 English and five Irish." BBC 11/04/02

CANADA'S FOREIGN WRITING LEGION: Canadian writers are big internationally. But some of the country's best-known writers weren't born in-country. "Canada is a great hotel maybe, but not necessarily a comforting home, these writers say. In a society that takes pride in the mildness of its political debates (with the exception of periodic dust-ups over Quebec sovereignty), immigrant fiction writers are among the country's sharpest social critics. 'Canada's immigrant literature often reflects deep feelings of incredible loneliness'." The New York Times 11/05/02


BRITAIN'S "CULTURAL APARTHEID": National Theatre director-designate Nicholas Hytner warns that a "cultural apartheid" afflicts British state schools. "A generation of poor and middle-class children are being forced to study Shakespeare and the classics without ever seeing a play, he warned. Not only were they being turned off, he said, and left with no real understanding of the pillars of British culture, but our centuries' old tradition of popular theatre was in danger of dying as audiences dwindled." The Guardian 11/04/02

MOSCOW THEATRES EMPTY: Muscovites are staying away from theatres after last week's hostage crisis that played out in a theatre. "The theatre has become a symbol of threat...people aren't going to the theatre because they're worried about a repeat of what happened." BBC 11/03/02

ATLANTA - A NEW CENTER FOR THEATRE? "Outside New York and Chicago, the centers of live performance in the United States, only a handful of American cities have vibrant theatrical communities. Atlanta is not considered one of them. Now, however, five midsize Atlanta theater companies are sharing a $1 million no-strings-attached grant from two local foundations. For the first time, some of this city's most important power brokers have joined to support more financing for theaters." The New York Times 11/06/02

ARTHUR MILLER ON THE ART OF ACTING PRESIDENTIAL: "He believes politics, today more than ever, is a matter of mastering a relaxed, vaguely threatening sincerity for the camera. 'The presidency, in acting terms is a heroic role. It is not one for comedians, sleek lover-types, or second bananas. In a word, to be credible the man who acts as president must hold in himself an element of potential dangerousness. Something similar is required in a real star'." Chicago Tribune 11/10/02

COUNTDOWN TO OBLIVION: "Last month, Pittsburgh Musical Theater announced that it needed to raise $500,000 to ensure long-term solvency, including a rapid infusion of $150,000 to keep the company alive." The deadline is now 12 days away, and PMT is still looking for about $100,000 in donations to avoid an immediate shutdown. Possible? Sure. But $100K in less than two weeks is a tall order in this economy... Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 11/07/02


CRITICS WHO WON'T CRITICIZE: A new study of art criticism in America by the National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia University reveals that "in the majority of the (169) surveyed publications, large and small, the visual arts generally receive less than half the coverage of books or music. (Art coverage averages 6% of editorial space.) But sheer quantity of articles, which surely ups the statistical chances, wouldn't seem to explain the qualitative phenomenon. Here's what does: By and large, journalistic art critics don't write art criticism," writes Christopher Knight. Los Angeles Times 11/08/02

SOTHEBY'S TRUST PROBLEM: How will the public regain trust in auction houses Sotheby's and Christie's? Fines are not enough. Confidence in the auction houses won't come until everyone who had any hand in the price-fixing scandal has departed. One problem. Former Sotheby's chairman Alfred Taubman, currently serving a prison term in remote Minnesota, is still the company's biggest shareholder. And he's not likely to sell anytime soon. The Times (UK) 11/06/02

L.A.'S NEW LOOK: Despite the fact that the sidewalks roll up at sunset, downtown L.A. has gotten hot. We know this sounds familiar—the neighborhood’s had more comebacks than Richard Gere. Now developers, spurred by tax incentives, are busy flipping dilapidated buildings into lofts, and young urban pioneers are moving in, lured by the affordable rents and the vague notion that urban living is cool... The once fringy art scene—with struggling artists tucked into abandoned industrial spaces—is flourishing, and new galleries are turning up in Chinatown." Newsweek 11/11/02

SCULPTURE - THINKING BIG IN ARIZONA: An outdoor sculpture show in Sedona, Arizona aims to reinvent itself into America's "largest, most successful juried sculpture exhibition." But how to get there? "To the organizers of the Sedona Sculpture Walk, success is defined not only in quality but in dollars also. What's the take at the end of the show? Thus, transforming a local festival into a nationally known event is as much about marketing as about art." The New York Times 11/06/02

100 YEARS OF ART: "ARTnews is America's oldest and most successful art magazine. This 100th anniversary issue features countless excerpts from a century of art coverage, and much of it is delightfully zany. A lot of the comedy comes from endless variations on a theme that is now as old and tired as a mother-in-law joke - the eternal battle between outrageous artists and outraged philistines." Washington Post 11/05/02

THE SOUND OF ART: "When CDs become a regular feature of museums' publications, the status of sound as an art medium must be changing. But how and why? Some recent museum sound events offer clues." San Francisco Chronicle 11/04/02

MUNICH MODERNS UP: "Munich, until recently, was never a great city for the avant-garde. But in September, the city inaugurated the Pinakothek der Moderne, an extraordinary modern-art museum with works from Beckmann to Bacon to Beuys, which curators say represents a definitive break with the city's relative apathy toward 20th-century art." The New York Times 11/10/02

FREE ART IN CINCINNATI: The Cincinnati Art Museum is dropping its admission charge, thanks to a multi-million dollar gift from two local benefactors.The museum had previously charged $5 per visitor, but leaped at the chance to replace admission with an endowed fund. Admission will still be charged for a few special exhibits. The Plain Dealer (AP) 11/07/02

NATIONAL GALLERY MAKEOVER: London's National Gallery has unveiled a £21 million makeover project to improve access to the museum. "Gallery officials and architects believe the refurbishments will turn the area into the capital's cultural focal point." BBC 11/05/02

  • AN EXPENSIVE DOOR: "The east entrance to the National Gallery is about to become the most expensive front door in Britain: opening the towering glossy black door to the public, after 170 years, will cost £21 million." The Guardian (UK) 11/06/02


AUSTRALIA COUNCIL ISSUES MIXED REPORT: It's not exactly a glamourous or high-minded arts issue, but insurance costs are one of the biggest problems facing Australian galleries, collectors, and artists, according to the annual report issued yesterday by the Australia Council. "The annual report calculates the arts and related cultural sector is worth $7billion a year, employing more than 250,000 people. The AC's total expenditure was $131million with about $110million of it being directed into artistic production and the development of artistic practice." The Age (Melbourne) 11/09/02

BRITONS TOP SPENDING ON HOME CULTURE: A new study reports that "Britons spend more on DVDs, videos and books than any of their European counterparts. Britons spend an average of 184 euros (£118; $185) each on these items every year, compared with 158 euros in Germany and 111 euros in France." BBC 11/08/02

WHEN A GOOD LIFE STORY OVERWHELMS AN ARTIST'S WORK: "The rise of biography is one of the great stories of the last century. Our appetite for fictions based on fact only intensifies. But is it a legitimate hunger? Or is it something we should try to overcome, like sugary snacks and excess carbs? Is it really just a sort of glorified nosiness?" Chicago Tribune 11/10/02

ART FUNDING - IS THE CRISIS TEMPORARY, OR... Arts groups in America are in a funding crisis. But are the problems temporary, the result of a down economy, or is it something more ominous? "On one side is the notion that most of the current problems in the arts are directly related to the economy - coupled with the cocooning tendency that set in after Sept. 11 - and will, inherently, improve along with the economy. On the other is the notion that the world has changed for good and that some arts groups still don't get it. In this way of thinking, the old institutional ways of doing business are moribund - and the new climate cannot be dealt with merely by putting more effort into sales and communications." Chicago Tribune 11/10/02

MELBOURNE'S ARTS CRISIS: What's happened to the arts in Melbourne? "National arts companies say Melbourne ticket sales are in crisis, while box-office takings are booming in Sydney, where prices are higher. Leading Melbourne arts figures are dismayed at the fall in patronage and challenge the validity of Melbourne's long-held claim to be the cultural capital." The Age (Melbourne) 11/04/02

THE GREATEST BRITON: Who needs some silly contest to name the greatest Briton of all time? "The title was won four centuries ago and has been retained ever since by the man who makes Britain in general, and England in particular, different from the rest of the world. Whatever our other failures and failings, we remain special and superior because we have William Shakespeare." The Guardian (UK) 11/04/02

10. FOR FUN 

CALL ME BABY, ONE MORE TIME: Songs about phones are being recycled as ring tones on newer-style phones. "At first glance, there's a weird circularity in that idea but the truth is, pop music and the phone have a long-established symbiosis - developments in telephony have been paralleled in lyrical shifts. Hundreds, if not thousands, of songs have been built around the imagery of telephones, around calling and waiting to be called." The Age (Melbourne) 11/08/02