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  • Dance

    La Monnaie, Belgium’s National Opera House, Eliminates Dance Programming

    Faced with huge funding cuts from the federal government, the Brussels theater – home to Maurice Béjart’s company for 27 years, the place where Mark Morris created his most popular works, the base for Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker and her company – must abandon dance, says its chief executive, so that it can continue its core function as an opera company. (in French)

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    Police Investigate Corporate Philanthropy Chief’s Grant To His Partner’s Ballet Company

    “The chair of supermarket chain Asda’s charitable foundation … resigned from his twin roles as vice president of corporate affairs and head of the £8.6 million foundation in September following the discovery that he had sanctioned [£180,000 in] payments … to the MurleyDance company, without the approval of the foundation’s board.”

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    The Essential Ballet? It’s About Generosity

    “Again and again among dancers and teachers, I saw examples of generosity that were not simply random, but intrinsic to this world. The real-life counterparts of the ballet teacher who nurtures Billy Elliot and his talent turn out not to be the exceptions but the rule. The die-for-your-art histrionics of The Black Swan and The Red Shoes mercifully exist mostly in the realm of fiction.”

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    OMG! Our City Is OVERRUN With Nutcrackers! WHY???

    “I would call our Nutcracker The Great American Way Nutcracker! You get your Nutcracker in a half an hour, you can sit with your family, enjoy coffee, bagels, muffins, a balloon twister and dancing with the Nutcracker characters. And… photos with Santa! No mall lines!”

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  • Ideas

    Worrying About Stuff May Be A Sign Of Intelligence (Your Mother Is Totally Vindicated)

    “Correlation doesn’t imply causation, of course, but this is not the first paper to have found a link between anxiety and intelligence. On the other hand, Penney and his colleagues also found an interesting association in the other direction: The more respondents said they replayed past events over in their minds, the lower they ranked on non-verbal intelligence.”

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    War, Peace And A Culture Of Exceptionalism

    “The most famous ceasefire was among British and German regiments around Christmas Eve. German soldiers actually decorated their trenches with Christmas trees and began singing carols. British forces began singing back, and in a matter of hours over 100,000 troops were unofficially crossing into disputed territory to sing, exchange gifts, and celebrate with one another. This all occurred, mind you, during the second bloodiest conflict in European history.”

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    Why Materialism Doesn’t Really Make People Happy

    In a new press release from the American Psychological Association, “psychology professor Tim Kasser gives an interesting perspective from his research on just why placing a high value on stuff is no good. In a recent meta-analysis he published with colleagues from the University of Sussex, he found that materialism seems to undermine some of our deepest human needs.”

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    What If We Made College Free? (It Actually Wouldn’t Cost That Much)

    “According to the most-recent calculations of Strike Debt, the debt-resistance group I work with, the cost would be relatively modest. The federal loan program is propped up by a motley assortment of subsidies and tax exemptions that amount to tens of billions of dollars.”

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  • Issues

    ‘Tis The Season For Kitsch (So Here’s Why Kitsch Is Bad – And Good)

    “Kitsch, in other words, is not about the thing observed but about the observer. It does not invite you to feel moved by the doll you are dressing so tenderly, but by yourself dressing the doll. All sentimentality is like this – it redirects emotion from the object to the subject, so as to create a fantasy of emotion without the real cost of feeling it.”

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    Arts Council England’s New CEO: Boss Of UK’s Classic FM

    “Arts Council England has appointed the managing director of Classic FM, the music radio station, to be its next chief executive. Darren Henley will take over at the country’s main arts funding body in 2015, replacing Alan Davey, who leaves after seven years in the role” to become controller of the BBC’s classical network, Radio 3.

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    Have We Been Trying To Understand Race In The Wrong Way?

    The authors argue that “quantitative researchers should acknowledge that any one person’s racial identity is more like a collection of many different factors — from skin color, to neighborhood, to language, to socioeconomic status. With this insight, it becomes possible to study race not as a single, unchanging variable, but rather as a “a bundle of sticks” that can be pulled apart and carefully examined one by one.”

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    Romancing The Audience (More Than Putting On A Good Show)

    “In my experience as a reviewer, one of the biggest mistakes that performers and presenters can make is not respecting their audience. They make it a show all about themselves instead of seeing themselves as a vehicle of interpretation.”

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  • Media

    Sure It’s Fun To Read The Hacked Sony Emails. But Should We?

    “What it comes down to is that anyone who disseminates the information found in those emails is doing their bit to chip away at free speech.”

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    North Korea Was Behind Sony Hack, Says U.S. Gov’t Source

    “North Korea has denied it was behind the hacking, but security experts in Washington said it was an open secret Pyongyang was responsible.”

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    What We Actually Know So Far About Sony, “The Interview” And North Korea

    Here’s a rundown of what is and isn’t certain, who is affected, and how.

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    Sony Cancels “The Interview” Release After American Movie Chains Refuse To Show It

    “On Wednesday afternoon, AMC Theaters, citing “the overall confusion and uncertainty” around the film, joined Carmike Cinemas, Cinemark and Regal Entertainment in dropping the film. Together, those exhibitors control more than 19,200 screens across the United States. Smaller American chains and Canada’s Cineplex Entertainment also canceled the film.”

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    Have You Ever Noticed How Violent Kids’ Cartoons Are?

    “Rather than being the innocuous form of entertainment they are assumed to be,” writes a research team led by Ian Colman, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Ottawa, “children’s animated films are rife with on-screen death and murder.”

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  • Music

    Two California Opera Companies Merge

    “We were looking at a sustainable model to pay for, support and increase quality for markets of our size.”

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    Small Music Venues Are Dying In The UK (Can They Be Saved?)

    “It is urgent that we find solutions to finance independent music venues which respect the spirit of live music and musicians. Artists are their customers, too, and we know that branding and club nights are not enough to keep some of our venues afloat.”

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    San Francisco Symphony Transforms A Dead Acoustical Space Into A Sound Marvel

    “Using real-time reverberation and spatialization algorithms, this sound engineering solution tricks our brains into perceiving vastly different acoustic spaces. Add comfortable, if scarce, seating, evocative video projections, blue-and-green mood lighting, and of course alcoholic libations, and you might have created just the kind of alternative venue that would make Jonny Greenwood proud.”

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    Can They Reinvent The Chamber Orchestra In St. Paul?

    With now-stable finances, new leadership, a revamped musicians’ contract, 90% capacity audiences, and plenty of ambition, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra means to try.

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    Explaining How An Opera Company Works To A Business Journalist

    L.A. Opera CEO Christopher Koelsch talks about keeping the company healthy fiscally and artistically, how they weathered the financial crash and recession, and why lower total box office revenue isn’t always a worrisome thing.

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  • People

    Excuse Me For A Moment While I Rant About Celebrity Worship

    “I used to get it, the whole carnival of one frock festival after another leading to the Academy Awards and the unveiling of the allegedly best movies of the year. Now I see an endless sprawl of mindless celebrity worship.”

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    Fights Over James Brown’s Estate Freeze Out His Final Wishes

    “The bulk of his estate, worth millions of dollars — perhaps tens of millions — was to go to a trust to provide scholarships to needy children here in his native state and in Georgia, where he grew up. But nearly eight years after his death, at 73, on Dec. 25, 2006, the I Feel Good Trust has not distributed a penny to its intended recipients.”

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    25 Women Who Drove The Culture In 2014

    “Whether they sent us into a collective tizzy with their scandalous album covers or had us pumping our fists in favor of their truthful testimony, these 25 women (plus a few honorable mentions at the end) were the ones who got us talking, thinking, re-thinking, and maybe, just maybe, planning a revolution of our own.”

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    Janis Martin, Mezzo-Turned-Wagnerian-Soprano, Dead At 75

    “To most opera lovers worldwide, Ms. Martin is best remembered for her potent mastery of the challenging soprano parts in the works of Wagner and Richard Strauss. She was a regular at the Bayreuth Festival in Germany, dedicated to Wagner’s music, and she appeared at the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Covent Garden, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, and other leading opera houses.”

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  • Theatre

    The Death Of American Playwrighting

    “In 21st-century America, playwriting cannot be thought of in earnest as a rival of screenwriting. In reality, it is more like a barnacle clinging to it. Indeed, the economic ruin of the playwriting profession is a 20th-century story, not a 21st-century one. It began in the 1920s, or thereabouts, with the rise of commercial motion pictures, and was more or less complete by the 1980s, with the introduction of cable TVs and VCRs.”

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    No Prosecutions Over West End Theatre Ceiling Collapse

    “A council investigation found the collapse happened because of the age of the roof, which dates back to the theatre’s original construction in 1901, and no laws had been broken. … The accident at the Apollo Theatre last December left 88 people injured when plaster fell from the roof … during a performance of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time.”

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    Theatre Is Definitely Not “A White Invention,” Says UK Culture Minister

    Responding to actress Janet Suzman’s controversial comments of last week, Ed Vaizey said, “Every community has a tradition of performance and theatre so I wouldn’t agree with those comments. … If you talk to the black, Asian and ethnic minority community, the frustration is they feel this conversation has been going on for 30 years, and nothing has changed. I have a lot of sympathy for that.”

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    Why’s It Taking So Long For The NEA To Get A New Theater Chief?

    “This week marks a year since [Ralph] Remington left his job as director of theater and musical theater at the National Endowment for the Arts to take a position with the Actors’ Equity Association in Los Angeles. In the interim, the federal agency has advertised the position twice but hasn’t filled the job.”

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  • Visual

    $10 million Of Art Stolen In One Of America’s Biggest Art Heists Is Recovered In LA

    “After an undercover operation at a West Los Angeles hotel in October, federal authorities detained Raul Espinoza, 45, who tried to sell the paintings — which are valued at $10 million — for $700,000 cash. The nine works recovered were among the dozen stolen from an Encino home on the morning of Aug. 24, 2008.”

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    Leadership Changes At Sotheby’s, Christie’s Have Art World Buzzing

    “The leadership shake-ups coincide with changes in the contemporary art auction world, where record sales do not necessarily translate into big profits, and where new markets — primarily China and the Web — are proving vital for growth.”

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    Lawsuit Over California’s Artist Resale Royalty Payments Nears Decision

    “Payments are supposed to be made to any artist who is an American citizen or who is a California resident — if his or her work is being sold by a California owner, regardless where in the United States the sale occurs. The royalty right extends 20 years after an artist’s death.”

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    How Online Is Powering The Art Market

    “Far from competing with physical fairs such as Art Basel, digital and social media have become an integral part of the event. In addition to 73,000 visitors, Art Basel Miami has 300,000 Facebook followers, 150,000 Twitter followers and 100,000 on Instagram.”

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    The Frick Museum Has Been Evolving Since It Was Created (So Maybe A Little Historical Perspective Is In Order?)

    “Past behaviors offer little guidance when deciding what and what not to keep. Change is messy; preservation must be balanced against needs, but also against quality of experience.”

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  • Words

    Those Amazing Writing Machines (A Cult Of Typewriters)

    “We felt we were more productive on a typewriter because we had to keep moving forward…. If we made a mistake, we kept typing. If we wanted to rearrange the information, we had to start over. With the word processor we’ve lost some of the immediacy. It’s too easy to delete, to cut and paste.”

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    The Problem With Academic Books (For Everyone Involved)

    “There are certainly university press books that sell 350 books and that’s a copy sold to literally everybody in that sub-field and some libraries. So, that’s 100 percent market saturation. I consider that a kind of victory for a book.”

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    Thanks To The Nobel, Americans Are Finally Paying Attention To Patrick Modiano

    “One of his most famous works, Missing Person,” … had sold just 2,031 copies before the prize was announced in October, and has since sold more than 13,600 copies. … Now, a big commercial publishing house has acquired Mr. Modiano’s latest novel, with the hope of drawing more American readers to his work.”

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    Walking The Paris Of Patrick Modiano’s Novels

    “There is probably no other writer like Modiano who invites his readers on a tour. Give me your hand, he says, and I’ll take you to the streets of Paris. He returns to places he knew many years ago, and demonstrates that very little has changed. He gives us a clear, concise, amazingly accurate map with which we can walk around the city.”

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    Hilary Mantel’s “Assassination Of Margaret Thatcher” Story Brouhaha Starts Up Again

    BBC Radio 4 announced that the historical fantasy would be read on the popular Book at Bedtime broadcast, and the folks who fussed when the story was published this fall have resumed fussing. Says Mantel, “You’d think they’d learn. I was bemused when Lord Bell suggested the police should interest themselves in the case of a fictional assassination of a person who was already dead.”

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