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 November 18-24, 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


IS ARTS OUTREACH FUTILE? The need to widen public access to the arts has become a modern political mantra. If government is to fund the arts, the argument goes, then the arts must be made available to as many people as possible. They must be made accessible to new audiences, especially to young audiences, by opening doors, by cutting or abolishing entrance costs - and by reaching out to the public through activities such as the opera workshops in East End schools. The virtue of such efforts as these is now so universally accepted that it is striking to discover that many in the arts have got their doubts about aspects of it, and that those doubts are increasing." The Guardian (UK) 11/22/02

THE MOVIES MADE US THIS WAY? Why are Americans so cocky about going to war? Why are they so confident everything will turn out in their favor? "The source of our unworried attitude, our sureness that Iraq will be no more than a blip on our glorious march toward the future, is, I very much fear, that we have been brainwashed by history and, more to the point, by the movies into thinking we cannot lose." Los Angeles Times 11/24/02


AUSTRALIAN DANCE THEATRE ON TOP: Adelaide's Australian Dance Theatre has won three of eight top awards in the sixth annual Australian Dance Awards. The Age (Melbourne) 11/17/02

WHO OWNS DANCE? Who owns a dance once it's been done? "In the 18th and 19th centuries, choreographers were rated so low that it was the composer's name which usually headed the posters. The ownership of a ballet, if contested, would generally have been considered the right of the theatre. This meant, if you were a choreographer, that your ballet was fair game for the subsequent improving hands of producers acquiring it for other companies or staging it after your death." Prospect 11/02

FORMER NATIONAL BALLET DANCER DIES IN MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT: William Marri, 33, a former principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada, died Saturday after being in a motorcycle accident in New York. Marri had left the National last March to join the cast of the Billy Joel/Twyla Tharp show Movin Out, which recently landed on Broadway. "Marri was riding his motorcycle before an evening performance when he crashed." Calgary Herald (CP) 11/19/02

SLIMMING DOWN TO GREATNESS: Matthew Bourne is famous for his subversive rewrites of familiar ballets. But as his success got bigger and bigger through the 90s, he got more caught up in keeping his company viable. "It was all getting a bit grand. I felt that I was running an office rather than a company." So he pulled back. Now he's back to choreographing low-budget shows... The Guardian (UK) 11/20/02


LITTLE EVIDENCE VIOLENT GAMES HARM ADULTS: Governments around the world have been considering legislation regulating sale of violent and pornographic computer games. Australia recently banned two controversial games. But social scientists say "more careful research before we can reach a definitive conclusion, (but) I know of no scientific evidence that the interactive nature of computer games makes them more harmful than other popular media." The Age (Melbourne) 11/17/02

HAS RADIO QUALITY BEEN HURT BY DEREGULATION? "The Future of Music Coalition (FMC) charges in a new report that the 1996 Telecom Act, which allowed companies to own more stations, 'has not benefited the public. It has led to less competition, fewer viewpoints and less diversity in programming.' Nonsense, says the National Association of Broadcasters. "Studies repeatedly show 75% of Americans express high satisfaction with radio. This report has all the credibility of Miss Cleo." New York Daily News 11/19/02

THE ARTLESS CENSOR: If a film gets an "NC-17" rating in America, it will have difficulty being distributed. So filmmakers often censor themselves before the ratings board does, taming the content to fit an "R". "Why do we accept similar censorious interruption when it's sex rather than violence at issue? And why is the art-house audience, supposedly the one that takes film most seriously, so willing to look the other way?" Denver Post 11/24/02

NAZIS COME TO GERMAN TV: For the first time in more than half a century, German television is showing a program about Nazis. And it's a comedy. "Non-German directors in a long line that stretches from Charlie Chaplin to Roberto Benigni may have dug humour from beneath the horror-strewn surfaces of Nazism and fascism. But for Germans themselves, 'the catastrophe', as it is often called, has been too painful to be seen as anything but a tragedy." The Guardian (UK) 11/19/02

REMAKING PUBLIC TV: Since taking over as CEO of PBS in 2000, Pat Mitchell "has been herding cats, struggling to bring unity and stability to the nation's loose affiliation of 349 noncommercial television stations. With varying success, she has shifted some of the network's 'icon' series from their hallowed time slots in an effort to bring a new thematic consistency to the weekly offerings. None of these changes, even ones that seem superficial, have been easy." Washington Post 11/22/02

HURT ME BABY ONE MORE TIME: Forget sex and violence. What sells these days is humiliation. Some "reality," eh? "Viewers have shown an insatiable appetite for the queasy thrill that comes from watching an ordinary person suffer searing public embarrassment in exchange for 15 minutes of fame." The New York Times 11/20/02

THE NEXT BIG MOVIE RENTAL MODEL: "Consumers love the Netflix rental model, which lets subscribers order DVDs online, receive them by mail, and keep them for as long as they want without late fees. likes it so much that it's launching a nearly identical service early next year. 'They're printing packaging that is essentially identical to ours. Blockbuster is close behind'." Wired 11/19/02

PLAYING GAMES WITH RACE: Judging by a lot of today's movies, "you'd think race was easy. No biggie whatsoever. Not only that, it's fun and entertaining." But Hollywood has a long history of distorting race relations. "If anything, Hollywood is — and nearly forever has been — in the problem-dodging business, and if these movies are only becoming more strident in their insistence that race on-screen isn't an issue, it's because off-screen it so clearly, obviously and unsettlingly is." Toronto Star 11/22/02

HOW WILL RADIO EVOLVE? Does webcasting help promote recordings in the expectation that listeners will go out and buy? Or is it just theft of free music? Should webcasters have to pay substantial royalties for the privilege of using recordings? Have big corporations consolidated the life out of traditional radio stations? These are questions confronting those trying to determine the future of music-casting. BBC 11/17/02


MUSIC - GOOD FOR YOUR NEURONS: A new medical study reports that "the same neural clusters that process the seductive pleasures of sex, chocolate and even hard drugs also fire up for music. There is also persuasive evidence that the brain tends to prune these neural circuits for maximum pleasure the way a gardener cuts unproductive branches to make a rose bush bloom. Music, it seems, may make the brain bloom best because it literally electrifies, at lightning speed, a web of nerve paths in both hemispheres of our cerebral cortex that connect the neural clusters processing musical pitch, rhythm, harmony, melody, short term memory, long term memory, and emotions." Ottawa Citizen 11/18/02

OPERA'S NEWLY BROAD APPEAL: "Opera as a subject for film peaked during the silent era, when movies were accustomed to non-stop music and a kind of melodramatic posturing that's still taken as normal on many opera stages. But there's no current shortage of film directors willing to do opera in its usual habitat, or even to write and stage new works." And we're not talking about filmed versions of La Boheme, either, but new operas written by real composers in collaboration with the directors. Maybe there's hope for the mass appeal of the high arts yet. The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 11/20/02

WHAT'S TO BLAME? DOWNLOADING? THE ECONOMY? BAD MUSIC? Music recording giant EMI reports sales down 3 to 6 percent for the year. "EMI held back on new releases early in the year while it reorganized, eliminated 1,900 jobs and dropped some 400 acts from its roster, including a $28 million buyout of Mariah Carey's contract in January." The New York Times 11/20/02

SELLING OUT? "Where once pop musicians and their fans were revolted at the thought of letting beloved singles be used to sell sports cars, software or beer, today's fans are largely accepting while many musicians are eager to sign on. To some degree, this change in attitude represents a shift away from the Sixties-schooled idealism of the Baby Boomers and toward the media-savvy cynicism of Generations X and Y." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 11/19/02

MESSING WITH WAGNER: A new production of Wagner's Die Meistersinger has sparked angry boos. The staging, by one of Germany's most progressive directors, includes an "on-stage disruption that breaks the score at a crucial moment and leads to an additional scene of dialogue." At one point, "the music grinds to a halt, and the cast start a debate on what constitutes 'German and genuine'. If you are a Wagnerite, this is blasphemy." The Guardian (UK) 11/23/02

STRATEGY - OVERWHELMING THE DOWNLOAD BUSINESS: Recording companies have been fighting downloading services, trying to discourage (or sue out of existence) those who enable downloads. Now they're getting into the downloading business themselves. The "companies continue to use their financial muscle to slow the growth of file-trading networks and to acquire digital-rights management technologies that limit what people can do with MP3s and other files." The plan? take control of the download market and shove the competition out to the curb. Wired 11/18/02

MITCHELL QUITS THE BIZ: Singer Joni Mitchell insists that her new album, Travelogue, will be her last. "Calling the music industry a 'corrupt cesspool', the Canadian rages that: 'I'm quitting because the business made itself so repugnant to me. Record companies are not looking for talent. They're looking for a look and a willingness to cooperate'." The Guardian (UK) 11/21/02

MAHLER'S FIRST SHOT: A newly immigrated music professor only a few weeks on the job in Israel, finds an important manuscript of Mahler's First Symphony. It's not the final version that made it into print, but it reveals much about the composer's thinking process in composing the work. Ha'aretz (Israel) 11/21/02

DON'T COPY, DON'T PLAY: Recording companies tired of seeing their new releases copied and released online even before they hit stores, are tightening security. They're not sending advance copies out, and limited pre-release copies are digitally marked so they can be traced if copied. "With certain releases, the record companies are much more careful. Record reps are now booking appointments with me to play certain songs. I either have to hear it in their cars or in my office, or somewhere else private, and they won't leave behind a CD." National Post (Canada) 11/19/02

SUING OVER A LOST STRAD: The Dallas-based Cremona Society is suing a New York violin dealer after he lost a rare 288-year-old Stradivarius violin made in what is known as Stradivari's "Golden Period." The Society had consigned the instrument to dealer Christophe Landon in February, and in April Landon reported it missing. "I do not remember putting it back into the vault," Landon said last week. He said he has tried hypnosis to jog his memory for possible clues. Nando Times (AP) 11/17/02


FORMER NATIONAL BALLET DANCER DIES IN MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT: William Marri, 33, a former principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada, died Saturday after being in a motorcycle accident in New York. Marri had left the National last March to join the cast of the Billy Joel/Twyla Tharp show Movin Out, which recently landed on Broadway. "Marri was riding his motorcycle before an evening performance when he crashed." Calgary Herald (CP) 11/19/02

THE REEDUCATION OF JONATHAN FRANZEN: It's been a year since Jonathan Franzen dissed Oprah and her book club. He says things have changed, but others aren't so sure. "Franzen has the most dire case of literary status-anxiety that I have ever seen," says Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of the New Republic. "He demeans his own seriousness with his flurries of positioning."Others are more positive. "This is someone whose work is galvanized by his own contradictions, his own warring instincts," says Henry Finder, editorial director of the New Yorker. Washington Post 11/19/02

THE WORK CONTINUES - IT'S THE CRITICS WHO CHANGE: Edward Albee had brilliant success early in his career, but then went through a period where he couldn't do much right, at least as far as the critics were concerned. Then he was golden again. Albee, 74, maintains that the quality of his writing didn't much vary during those wilderness years. The only difference was the critical reception. Similarly he was, and still is, driven by the same motives, still irked by the same social faults." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 11/22/02

THE REAL DAVE EGGERS - WHO KNOWS? Dave Eggers has a way of polarizing opinions about him. Is he a brilliant writer, a lone wolf who has gone his own way and eschewed Big Publishing? Or is he a shrewd PR guy who's figured out how to play the fame game? "Eggers can't lose: he will either be remembered as one of the leading American writers of the twenty-first century, or as someone who discovered, nurtured and galvanised those who are." The Observer (UK) 11/17/02


NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNERS: "The third time was the charm for Robert A. Caro, who finally won the nonfiction prize for the third volume of his majestic Lyndon B. Johnson biography, The Master of the Senate (Alfred A. Knopf). Caro was a finalist in 1975 and 1983. Other winners include: for fiction, Three Junes by Julia Glass; for young people's literature, The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer; and for poetry, In the Next Galaxy by Ruth Stone. Washington Post 11/21/02

  • CONFESSIONS OF A JUDGE: Michael Kinsley ought to have known what was expected of him when he agreed to be a judge for this year's National Book Awards. "It served me right when the books started rolling in and I realized with horror that I was actually expected to read them: 402 in all. Three FedEx men and our local UPS woman had been retired on full disability by the time all these packages were lugged up our front steps. If you lined up all these books end-to-end, you would just be putting off having to open one and get cracking. Who are you trying to kid?" Slate 11/21/02

LAST DAYS FOR SALON? Is the online magazine Salon on its last legs? This week its stock was demoted toWall Street's Little League. "The San Francisco company has said it could run out of money by Dec. 1, barring an emergency infusion of cash." In the past two years, Salon has slashed staff and scaled back. "In all, Salon had revenue of $1 million in the last quarter. That is tiny by business standards, the equivalent of sales at two neighborhood gas stations." San Francisco Chronicle 11 22/02

KIDS ONLINE: A new website is putting thousands of children's books from countries around the world online. And it's free. "When it's completed in about five years, the International Children's Digital Library will hold about 10,000 books targeted at children aged three to 13. 'There are places in the world where you're going to find a computer way before you find a library or a book store'." The Age (Melbourne) 11/22/02

FAMOUS POETS SCAM: A writer enters a poetry competition, then is surprised at how bad the winning poem is. "What most of the other poets I met didn't know is that the Famous Poets Society is a vanity publisher that heaps praise on even the worst poems to sell anthologies and convention tickets. The letter about the coveted Shakespeare trophy and poet-of-the-year medallion went to roughly 20,000 people, 500 of whom made the trek to Florida. Some of the poets, thinking this was a once-in-a-lifetime honor, paid for the trip with help from church groups, city councils or Rotary Club chapters." Los Angeles Times 11/24/02

SALES THAT AREN'T KID'S STUFF: We make a fuss about adult bestsellers. But classic children's books keep selling year after year. "Chris Van Allsburg's The Polar Express, which has sold more than 4 million copies since 1985, magically reappears on the bestseller list every Christmas. The Poky Little Puppy has racked up sales of more than 14 million since 1942. Goodnight Moon (1947) is still going strong at 6 million. These are among the books that never seem to date or disappear." Washington Post 11/24/02

THIS IS GETTING RIDICULOUS: If you want to get a sense of the plot of the next Harry Potter book, it'll only cost you $9500 or so. The latest installment of the wildly popular series by J.K. Rowling still has no official publication date, but Rowling has announced that she has prepared an index card with 93 'random words' on it which hint at the plot, and that card will be auctioned next month at Sotheby's in London. Seriously, an index card. Will be auctioned. At Sotheby's. New York Post 11/21/02

STOLEN BOOKS RETURNED: "Four rare books — including a 17th century edition by Sir Isaac Newton — were returned to Russian libraries Monday after police arrested three people suspected in their theft." Yahoo! (AP) 11/19/02

NO HARD FEELINGS - FAILED POET GIVES MAG $100 MILLION: Some 30 years ago, the editor of Poetry Magazine rejected a submission by one Mrs Guernsey Van Riper Jr. of Indianapolis. Over the next few decades she kept submitting poems and he kept rejecting them. It turns out she was fabulously wealthy, and, now 87 years old, has just made a gift to the influential Poetry of $100 million over the next 30 years, with "no strings attached." Chicago Tribune 11/18/02

  • $100 MILLION FOR POETRY? "One can but wonder what this will do for that most marginalized literary form. Visibility, for sure, since suddenly there's lots of 0000's at the end of the $$$$'s attached to the word poetry. Poets are a quirky lot, and the first, but not lasting, reaction from some was concern, since this peripheral art's loneliness was seen as part of its strength; the next common reaction was that the idea of connecting money to poetry was somehow unpoetic." The New York Times 11/21/02

AN INDIE SUCCESS STORY: Enough with stories about the woes of independent bookstores. Here's a success story, in a southern suburb of Miami: "At a time when book lovers are mourning the disappearance of the independent bookstore, Books & Books has become a beacon of hope for independent booksellers. It is one of the few stores in the country that have succeeded in showing that individuality, personality and a passion for books can go a long way in competing against retail giants." The New York Times 11/19/02

BOOKER WON'T ADMIT AMERICANS: Organizers of the Booker Prize say that they have decided not to open up the award to American writers. Earlier this year the Booker, which is given annually to an author who writes in English somewhere in the Commonwealth, toyed with the idea of including Americans in the competition. Critics complained the move would damage the tone of the award. The New York Times 11/18/02

TOUCH ME, FEEL ME... There is a visceral thrill to collecting books. Sure they're difficult to store. But "most true book-heads will not be content with contact by catalogue alone. They must sniff the dust of ages, they must browse, they must handle the goods. Dealers have responded to this urge by peregrinating around the country offering their wares at book fairs." The Spectator 11/09/02


GOING ONE AT A TIME: Fewer people are buying season tickets to the theatre. That's got theatre people anxious. "But a drop in subscriptions nationwide doesn't translate that fewer people are going to the theater. Actually, more people than ever are going. A recent survey by Theatre Communications Group showed that 22.5 million people attend nonprofit theaters, a slight rise from the previous year. But the safety net that a large subscription base affords is now becoming increasingly frayed, making theaters vulnerable to the downturns in the economy, increasing competition for the leisure dollar and fickleness of audiences." Hartford Courant 11/24/02

SWEETHEART DEAL ON THE MAGNIFICENT MILE: Chicago's Lookingglass Theatre is one of country's best. But it's hardly wealthy. Which just makes the deal for its new $5.5 million, two-theater complex located in the middle of the city's high-rent Magnificent Mile retail area more amazing. If the theatre were paying market rent for its new 16,000-square-foot facility, "it would be spending millions of dollars per month ($4.8 million if you do the math and ignore the discounting that can go on in real estate deals)." But "it has signed a 10-year lease with the City of Chicago, with an option to extend for a further 10 years. The rent is $1 per year." Chicago Tribune 11/24/02

PRODUCERS NOT SUCH A HOT TICKET ANYMORE? The Producers is showing signs of slowing ticket demand on Broadway. Blockbuster musicals usually go years before running out of steam at the box office, but Producers is only two seasons old. "Advance ticket sales going into January and February have slipped; the overall advance is under $10 million (it was once over $20 million); and, according to ticket brokers, demand for group sales tickets has declined markedly." New York Post 11/22/02

42ND STREET PUSHES WEST: A new section of 42nd Street's Theatre Row in New York opens. "It is a major piece in the revitalization of what is said to be the biggest Off Broadway theater redevelopment in New York history." The New York Times 11/21/02

DEATH OF THEATRE: Is theatre dying in Great Britain? "The statistics bear this out. While overall theatre attendance in Britain has recovered after the dip caused by 11 September, young people today are much less likely to go to the theatre than any other age-group. According to a recent report by the Arts Council of England, only 23 per cent of 25- to 34-year-olds attended a ‘play or drama’ in 2001. The figures aren’t much better for 35- to 44-year olds." The Spectator 11/02


ART CRITICS - UNDERWORKED, UNDERPAID: So what does you average art critic look like? The National Arts Journalism Program has produced a new report with some answers. "For starters, most art critics make less than half their annual income writing criticism. Only 40 percent of those surveyed are employed as full-time critics, yet 75 percent function as chief art critics for their publications. Furthermore, some of the nation's largest daily papers do not have full-time art critics. The most notable example is USA Today, Gannett's national newspaper with a circulation of 2.3 million. Most critics are older than 45 and make less than $25,000 a year from their work as critics." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 11/22/02

HEY - A CANALETTO FOR YOUR HOME? Britain's Art Fund is celebrating its 100th anniversary, "during which it claims to have stopped nearly half a million works of art from going abroad." The fund is arranging exhibitions all over the UK, some of them in unusual locations. None of the plans more unusual, though, than a proposal to put an Old Master painting in a private home. "Obviously there are security and conservation issues, but we seriously intend to allow an Old Master painting to be shown to an ordinary home. We are serious. I can assure you it will happen, the museums love the idea." The Guardian (UK) 11/19/02

SEX SELLS - ONE MUSEUM THAT TURNS A PROFIT: The Museum of Sex in New York has been open six weeks, and at $17, its admission price is high. But already the museum has attracted 15,000 visitors, many more than needed to "make a profit." The New York Times 11/19/02

ANGER OVER STREET ART IN ARGENTINA: About 60 artists placed dozens of human-like dolls covered in fake blood and vomit on the streets of Buenos Aires. The controversial art project angered many when "ambulances were called and passers-by distressed after seeing what they believed were dead bodies on the corners of some of the city's major streets and avenues." Ananova 11/18/02

GUGGENHEIM VISITS DOWN 25 PERCENT: Is the Guggenheim Museum in danger of going bankrupt, as a New York Sun story suggested in late September? Not at all, say museum officials. Sure the museum is hurting - staff has been cut, and the museum's Soho gallery was closed - and attendance is down 25 percent this year. For next year? "Staff layoffs, reduced museum hours, and changes in the exhibition programme were all suggested as possibilities, according to a spokesperson for the Guggenheim." The Art Newspaper 11/15/02

DON'T BOX ME IN: Why is it that some of the most critical people condemning contemporary art seem to have the strongest ideas of exactly what art is? And those ideas usually involve some sort of idea which has been done before. Beware, writes Martin Gaylord, having inflexible definitions of art is a sign of narrow minds... The Spectator 11/02

FORT WORTH - A NEW INTERNATIONAL PLAYER: The new Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth opens to the public in two weeks. But this past weeks critics were allowed in to take a look. "In addition to a sublime building designed by award-winning Japanese architect Tadao Ando, it now boasts works of a quality one expects of a museum that has suddenly become the country's second-largest arena for postwar art. The message rings clear: What was once considered a regional museum with modest ambitions has become part of the international mainstream." Dallas Morning News 11/24/02

KEN'S ART/FRANK'S BUILDING: Ken Thomson's $370 million gift to the Art Gallery of Ontario will help make possible a $178 million rebuild of the museum by Frank Gehry. Gehry grew up in Toronto before leaving for the US in 1947, but up til now hasn't designed anything for his hometown. "The Thomson-Gehry alliance is a magical one. The men enjoy a relaxed jocularity together and their admiration for each other is easy to read." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 11/21/02

  • THE GLENN GOULD OF COLLECTING: Last summer Canadian art collector Ken Thomson paid $117 million for a Rubens (or maybe it wasn't a Rubens, depending on who you ask). This month he announced a gift of $300 million to the Arts Gallery of Ontario. The man's appetite for things art is voracious. "To describe Ken Thomson as a driven collector is like describing Glenn Gould as a gifted pianist; the words cannot quite do it justice." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 11/23/02

OUTSIDER ART - PHENOMENAL OR FRAUDULENT? "Outsider art -- or, to be reductive, folk art made by the unschooled (and frequently unskilled) -- is the hottest art phenomenon to sweep galleries and academies since the identity art craze of the eighties and nineties. The poor, alienated, ignorant and mentally marginal are the new 'ethnics'; their otherness as remote and alluring to privileged art buyers as any African mask... But how innocent can art be when it is so smartly packaged?" The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 11/21/02

MEXICAN WALL ART STANDOFF: A few years ago the Mexican government hired an artist to paint a mural depicting Latin-American writers on a wall of the new San Francisco main library. The mural was finished and dedicated, but the Mexican government never paid the artist. A change in government swept out the official who commissioned the work and the new government is unwilling "to accept responsibility for decisions of the past." San Francisco Chronicle 11/18/02

UFFIZI GALLERY MAY SHUT: Florence's Uffizi Gallery could see its lights turned off because it has been unable to pay its utility bills. "The arts authority owes £165,000 for electricity and other bills have been mounting up. Its financial plight, which caused a stir in the art world when it was reported in the newspaper La Repubblica yesterday, is attributed to recent government moves to make the management of art heritage autonomous." The Telegraph 11/21/02

THE ART OF SINKING: How fast is Venice sinking? For at least three centuries it's been going down at a rate of about 8 inches a century. How do scientists know? By looking at the paintings of 18th Century painter Giovanni Antonio Canaletto. The scientists turned to Canaletto because precise measurements of the city’s sea level only date to 1872, while the artist’s works are from the previous century. Canaletto was so true to detail he even painted the dark algae stains on buildings along canal banks, a detail many artists avoided for aesthetic reasons." MSNBC (AP) 11/21/02


THE MAN WHO SAVED UNESCO: Unesco is the United Nations' cultural wing. But it's been disorganized and ineffective for much of its 30 years of existence. But under a sharp new director, "today Unesco not only displays more dynamism, efficiency and financial transparency—'accountable to all State holders'—than has been seen since its foundation in 1945, but it has also persuaded the US to return to membership." The Art Newspaper 11/15/02

AN ARTS MAYOR HAS DIFFICULTY DELIVERING: When Atlanta's new mayor was elected last year, hopes were high in the cultural community. "She not only understood the arts, she consumed them, championed them and lived with them long before she reached the top job at City Hall. The business of running Atlanta, however, has stifled the artistic muse. The city's financial mess and archaic sewer system have prevented her from making arts and culture more of an official priority." Atlanta Journa-Constitution 11/17/02

PEEL BACK THE SCREEN: It's the art of worrying over the study or explanation of something. Suddenly '' 'Meta'' is a liminal term these days; it's creeping more and more into everyday conversations, even if it's not nearly as widespread as, say, 'irony'. Some people talk about meta all the time... New York Times Magazine 11/17/02

THE DEATH OF HIGHER LITERACY? Scholar and cultural critic George Steiner is worried about us. Specifically, he worries that while nearly all of us know how to read a computer manual, very few of us have read The Iliad or Ulysses. Is the modernity of Western life destroying our cultural history? "Every generation loses a little bit of the past, as new poems and novels jostle for attention. But Steiner (like Baudrillard, Sontag and Paglia) believes that the catastrophic forgetfulness that has overtaken the West since the Second World War is a sign that the print culture that sustained us for six centuries is actually dying." The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 11/21/02

$100 MILLION + $80 MILLION - SOON YOU'RE TALKING SERIOUS MONEY: A few more details about Ruth Lilly's $100 million gift to Poetry Magazine this week. "According to local court records, Lilly also donated at least $80 million to Americans for the Arts, an advocacy and educational group based in Washington. Its president and CEO, Robert Lynch, said that his group's annual budget is currently $8 million and that its endowment is less than $1 million." And this: "In 1981, a court declared Lilly mentally incompetent, and the control of her estate was turned over to her brother, Josiah K. Lilly III. Since his death, her lawyer, Thomas Ewbank has served as her attorney. National City Bank in Indianapolis has managed her estate, now worth about $1.2 billion. Nonetheless, she can make her wishes, Ewbank said." Boston Globe 11/20/02

IN SEARCH OF FUNDING: Earlier this year the Nova Scotia government disbanded its arts council, looking for "administrative savings." Now a group of arts supporters has formed its own arts support group. "The new group, Arms Length Funding for the Arts (ALFA), calls itself a 'broad group of concerned Nova Scotians' trying to restore funding for the arts." CBC 11/22/02

10. FOR FUN 

THE SCHOLARLY BUFFY: A Melbourne University professor puts out a call for scholarly papers on the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer and is flooded with proposals. "Scholarly Buffyphiles prefer the Online International Journal of Buffy Studies (, a website governed by an editorial board with academic contributors examining notions such as Buffy as 'transgressive woman warrior', or Buffy 'and the pedagogy of fear'. Intellectuals around the globe are deconstructing, dissecting and extrapolating from Buffy, across disciplines, in journals and at conferences too." The Age (Melbourne) 11/19/02