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  • NOT A PRIORITY THIS TIME: New Canadian government budget cuts taxes but fails to deliver on expected increases for arts and culture. CBC 02/29/00

  • POST-MODERN IN AN "AFTER-MODERN" WORLD: "We're living in a postmodern world. We don't know what that means yet. All we know is that what we have now is not the same thing we had had before. We're 'after-modern.' We've deconstructed all the foundations of the modern world to see how they were put together in the first place. It's been a fascinating task, and we've been very successful. Problem is we don't know anything about building foundations. We just know how to take them apart." *spark-online 03/00

  • HOLOCAUST TRIAL: British libel trial rehashes details of the Holocaust. Sometimes the trial is a jousting match, with historical documents and incidents as the lances. Other times, the debate is more disturbing. Salon 03/01/00

  • OWNERSHIP QUESTIONS: British report says some 300 works of art in UK museums have questionable WWII provenance and could have been stolen by Nazis from their rightful owners. The Guardian 02/29/00

    • NAZI LOOT: British museums and galleries announce a list of art they hold that was looted by the Nazis and never returned to rightful owners. So will the art be returned? Not necessarily. "Arts Minister Alan Howarth told the BBC's 'Newsnight' program: 'Just as it was wrong to take paintings off Jewish people in the circumstances of the Nazi era, so it would be wrong without a proper basis of evidence to take paintings off the national collections which are held for the public benefit.'" BBC 02/29/00

    • WHAT'S FAIR? "It is entirely proper that stolen pictures, especially those taken in the appalling circumstances of Europe under Nazi domination, should be returned to the families of their pre-war owners, but publishing lists of this kind invites false claims made, not with mischievous intentions, but through errors of recollection after 60 years or more - one Picasso looks much like another after so long a time. It is possible, even probable, that the list will provoke false memories, and once a false claim is made it may well be difficult for the gallery in question to prove or disprove the claim, leaving ownership in limbo." Evening Standard 02/29/00

  • E-BAY DENIES REPORT that it will buy troubled auction house Sotheby's for $1.6 billion. Wired 02/29/00

    • Previously: E-BAY TO BUY SOTHEBY'S? Five-year-old eBay is reported to be interested in buying the troubled 256-year-old auction house. Valued by the stock market, eBay is worth nearly $20 billion, 16 times Friday's closing price for Sotheby's. The Independent 02/27/00

  • AND THEN THEY CAME FOR ME: "Should intellectuals push for a cultural embargo of Austria and try to starve the xenophobic rightists out? Or should they go to Austria and feed the vigorous internal opposition, which made itself apparent in a march of 250,000 protesters in Vienna this month? But such tactics could do a great deal of harm. "I can agree on a boycott on the highly official level," says one critic and curator. But, referring to the Austrian Freedom Party's crusade against contemporary art, he says, "it makes no sense to boycott us. We are already under attack inside Austria." Chronicle of Higher Education 02/29/00

  • CORPORATE SUPPORT: Sydney's Olympic Arts Festival is doing well attracting corporate sponsors. But Australia's Minister for the Arts says continued corporate support after the Olympics end is crucial to a healthy Australian arts scene. Currently corporations fund only about 10 percent of the country's arts expenditures. Sydney Morning Herald 02/29/00 

  • WHAT FALLS TO EARTH... The American Museum of Natural History in New York goes to court to refuse to give back a 10,000-year-old, 15-ton meteorite to Oregon Indian tribes who say their ancestors once treated the rock as a sacred object. The rock is not the kind of sacred object intended to be covered by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990, a law covering the "repatriation" or important Native-American cultural objects, claims the museum. New York Post 02/29/00

  • NO PAIN, NO GAIN:  "Pessimists are worried that Christie's and Sotheby's may not even survive the crisis. Derek Johns, a London dealer who was once a director of Sotheby's, says, 'It would be devastating if they became bankrupt.' The optimists, on the other hand, say that Christie's and Sotheby's have survived drama and scandal in the past, and that a better, more competitive and less arrogant art market may eventually come out of all this." London Telegraph 02/28/00

    • Previously: E-BAY TO BUY SOTHEBY'S? Five-year-old eBay is reported to be interested in buying the troubled 256-year-old auction house. Valued by the stock market, eBay is worth nearly $20 billion, 16 times Friday's closing price for Sotheby's. The Independent 02/27/00

    • OF SINS AND SCANDALS: So what's a little collusion? Other auction house practices may be legal, but they're far from fair. 02/28/00

    • SELLERS' MARKET: "This sends a bolt of lightning through the marketplace," said Scott Black, president of Delphi Management, a Boston money-management firm, and a serious collector who has spent tens of millions of dollars on fine paintings. "When you step into that auction room and raise your hand, you assume it's a fair market. . . . I think a lot of people are going to think twice about the spring auctions." Washington Post 02/27/00

  • WHO OWNS MUSIC? A Harvard panel debates intellectual property protection in the digital age. Wired 02/27/00

  • ART FROM AN URBAN UNDERWORLD: In a nation with an almost oppressive sense of conformity, the shocking new artists in China's southern-most province rebel against not only official orthodoxy but even the mainstream avant-garde. It has also become symbolic of a new southern avant-garde that has, in recent years, taken root in the fast-moving Shenzhen region. ARTNews 03/00

  • CRACKDOWN: Three robbers were recently executed in China for stripping a tomb of murals with the intention of selling them. Is China cracking down on the plundering of cultural artifacts? The Art Newspaper 02/025/00 

  • BLOOD IN THE WATER: With Sotheby's and Christie's busy with investigators, the auction-house competition behind them consolidates. After buying Phillips, the world's third largest auction house, less than four months ago, LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton buys Tajan, France's largest auction house. The deal will allow Phillips to enter the French auction market, which remains closed to foreign auctioneers. It will also give Tajan's customers access to the London and New York markets, where Phillips has sales and where taxes are lower than in France. New York Times 02/25/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • ON SECOND THOUGHT: Salzburg Festival director Gerard Mortier changes his mind about quitting the festival to protest Austrian politics, according to the Vienna daily Der Standard. Times of India (AP) 02/24/00

  • TALKING GRAPEFRUITS AND ARTISTIC USES FOR USED CHEWING GUM: The Canada Council has come under fire in Parliament for some of the offbeat artistic projects it has funded. "Artists are often pushing the envelope. They are like scientists - they are experimenting, taking risks." Chicago Tribune 02/24/00

  • DOUBLE TROUBLE: The Iranian Council of Music, a "unique creation of the 21-year-old Islamic Revolution," requires written approval before any bar of music is played in public anywhere in Iran. "Along with the Council of Poetry, which vets every word of every lyric written, it is housed within the Ministry of Islamic Guidance and Culture, charged with keeping Iran a pure Islamic country by enforcing a mass of rules about which books people can read, what music they can hear, which foreigners they can talk to." All of which has predictably led to an official culture and an underground one. Salon 02/24/00 

  • YOU DESERVE A BREAK TODAY: Billboards advertising McDonald's have gone up around Berlin showing a picture of a hamburger next to words like 'Plima!' or 'Liesig!' Written in a caricaturist 'bamboo script,' the misspelled words play on a popular misconception that Asians, and particularly the Chinese, cannot pronounce the letter R. "These ads are jolly and funny," says a McDonald's spokesman. "We haven't heard any complaints." He sure has now. Die Welt 02/23/00

  • SYDNEY FESTIVAL records a surplus. Bodes well for upcoming Olympic Arts Festival. Sydney Morning Herald 02/23/00

  • CULTURAL INVESTMENT: Korea plans major investments in its cultural infrastructure to reshape the country's cultural profile over the next ten years. Plans include a massive new cultural center for Seoul. Korea Herald 02/23/00

  • AMAZON TO BUY SOTHEBY'S? The auction house's share price surges Wednesday on speculation that the company is ripe for a takeover. Financial Times 02/24/00

    • And: SELLING SCRAMBLE: With the spring art auction season approaching, Christie's and Sotheby's scramble to get works to sell. Sellers are eager to take advantage of the high markets, but many are wondering what effect the collusion scandal will have. New York Times 02/24/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

    • "EXPENSIVE BUT NOT LIFE-THREATENING": New chairman of Sotheby's, on the job just one day, brushes aside his company's plunging stock price and predicts the auction company will come out intact from the US Government's investigation of collusion. New York Times 02/23/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

    • And: Europeans to join in lawsuits against auction houses. London Times 02/23/00

    • So what's the case for collusion, why's it so wrong and can the auction houses talk their way out of trouble? Slate 02/23/00

    • Related: DON'T GET MAD, GET EVEN: Australian art dealer Chris Deutscher believed giant auction houses Sotheby's and Christie's nearly ran him out of business. So he closed up his gallery and opened upstart Australian auction house Deutscher Menzies. The firm is finding its niche, prospering, even, as the Sotheby/Christie's scandal widens - DM racked up a 50 per cent increase in sales this past year.  Sydney Morning Herald 02/23/00

    • THAT HAPPENED UNDER THE OLD GUYS: As US investigation into collusion between the top auction houses widens, chief executives at Sotheby's suddenly resign yesterday. New York Times 02/22/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • BOLD BUT BLOWN OUT: The budget and box office, that is, for this year's Perth Festival, which reached for some ambitious international projects, but seems headed to a record deficit. Sydney Morning Herald 02/22/00

  • GROWING CHORUS of artists protests inclusion of Joerg Haider's far-right Freedom party in the Austrian government. CBC (AP) 02/22/00

  • HARVARD UNDER ATTACK: Native Americans charge the university is trying to get around a law requiring the return of American Indian artifacts. "(Harvard) is very unpopular with natives from coast to coast right now,'' said Ramona Peters of the Wampanoag tribe in Gay Head. ``It appears they view our ancestors as their property.'' Boston Herald 02/22/00

    • RESPONSIBLE RETURN: Some American museums are struggling with complying with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, which mandates the return of native artifacts to Indian tribes. Boston Herald 02/22/00 

    • NATIVE AMERICAN FRUSTRATION: "So you go into the museum as the authority figure. And guess who the authorities are on Indians? White people. That's the hypocrisy. You go in possessing all these qualities and the non-Indian doesn't recognize you because you don't have a paper on the wall that says Ph.D. on it." Boston Herald 02/22/00

  • REACHING OUT: An Australia Council report has some dismal warnings for traditional arts: "A staggering 47 per cent of 18- to 39-year-olds had not attended a performance of theatre, dance or music in the past two years. Ballet rated the worst, capturing only 8 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds who frequented arts events. While young people generally have the time and money to attend the arts, they intensely dislike its "older, stuffy image" and prefer to spend time drinking, clubbing, socializing, watching movies and sport." Sydney Morning Herald 02/21/00

  • NOT US: Revelations that some US museums have asked for commissions on sales of work they exhibit leave other museums scrambling to deny they engage in the ethically-questionable practice.  New York Times 02/21/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • SEE THE ART, WRITE ABOUT THE ART: It's quite a simple rule, really. If you pronounce about the quality of art before you've even seen it - as some Canadian politicians did last week - you'll almost always get yourself in trouble. Toronto Globe and Mail 02/21/00 

  • ARTIST RESALE RIGHTS: British opponents of an EU plan to give artists a cut on the resale of their work say the plan will gut the English market and drive art-sellers to Switzerland or New York where the tax won't be collected. Is that any reason not to let artists share in profits on their work? London Telegraph 02/21/00

  • FRENCH IN ENGLISH: Much French culture never travels beyond French borders. Now a high-budget film and an ambitious musical take a new approach to exporting French culture to the rest of the world. Sunday Times 02/20/00 

  • AIN'T NOHOW, NOWHERE: American linguistics professor says that heavily dialectical speech ain't no sign of lack of intelligence. His critics say he should be fired. Baltimore Sun 02/20/00

  • NEA WARS: National Endowment for the Arts chairman Bill Ivey and four of his predecessors gather on a stage in Boston to talk about the agency's past and future. Is it a matter of high and low art? Washington Post 02/19/00

  • AUSTRIAN APARTHEID? "For perhaps the first time since the liberal revolutions of 1848, a political opposition is growing out of Austria's intellectual salons. Can a man like Herr Haider be toppled by the roar of literary lions? Common sense dictates otherwise, but the vocabulary of Austria's rebel artists is strikingly similar to that used by white South Africans who opposed apartheid or the dissidents of Eastern Europe." London Times 02/19/00

  • KKK AWAY: Court rules that a St. Louis public radio station doesn't have to accept underwriting funding by the Ku Klux Klan of "All Things Considered" broadcast. St. Louis Post-Dispatch 02/18/00 

  • ARTS WRITERS UNITE! In Zimbabwe, writing about the arts - like anywhere - is a fight for space in the newspaper. Last week, Zimbabwean arts writers formed their own association to try to win some respect. "What is so special with sports that it is accorded full desks within the newsrooms?" Zimbabwe Mirror 02/11/00

  • PANEL ON NAZI ART: The British government is setting up a panel to resolve disputes about artwork looted by the Nazis and now housed in British museums. Washington Post 02/17/00

  • REVERSING FIELD: Britain agrees to go along with EU plan to grant artists resale rights on their work. Under the plan, artists would get a maximum of four per cent on the resale of their work on art worth up to £30,000, and smaller percentages for higher-valued work. British Art Federation chairman Anthony Browne says the damage to London's galleries would be "colossal". London Evening Standard 02/16/00

  • LITERALISM isn't just for religious fundamentalists. The doctrine of literalism flourishes in a variety of American endeavors. Chronicle of Higher Education 02/00

  • MUSING ON THE MUSE: A Valentine's ode to art's inspirations. "Idyllic as it may sound, the relationship between artist and muse is not all sonnets and elegantly reclining nudes. A muse is as likely to be seduced, harangued and assaulted as courted, praised and revered. One moment she is an all-powerful goddess, the next a put-upon working girl." London Times 02/14/00

  • NAZI PLUNDER: The Nazis stole 600,000 pieces of art in Germany and the countries they occupied during Hitler's 12 years in power, says the U.S. government's top expert in stolen art from that era. The Oregonian (AP) 02/14/00

  • VIOLENT REACTION: Two weeks ago, San Francisco Chronicle film reviewer Mike LaSalle wrote that it was time to do something about violence in movies. He suggested that any time a film showed a gun being fired, it should receive an NC-17 rating. Letters to the newspaper came flooding in, so the Chronicle is changing its reviewing policy. San Francisco Chronicle 02/13/00 

  • UNIVERSITY EDUCATION in Australia is broken. The system defies all that rewards success and punishes failure. Here's how to fix it. The Age (Melbourne) 02/11/00

  • OF BOYCOTTS AND RESIGNATIONS: A number of artists - led by Salzburg Festival director Gerard Mortier - have resigned cultural positions in Austria or say they will boycott in protest over Haider's rise. Should artists boycott or quit to protest politics? Norman Lebrecht thinks not. London Telegraph 02/10/00

  • THE VELVET HAMMER:  "From the earliest days after the revolution of 1910, Mexican governments have showered intellectuals and artists with privileges, including grants, prizes, artistic commissions, jobs in government, publishing contracts, fellowships for study abroad, and diplomatic postings. Intellectuals have wielded disproportionate influence in politics and society by becoming in-house ideologues to various Mexican presidents, or by speaking for groups that lacked a voice in politics, such as indigenous people. In return, they have been expected to act as cheerleaders for the regime, lending their prestige and legitimacy to it, and collaborating in the 'building of the nation.' " Chronicle of Higher Education 02/04/00

  • BOOST FOR THE ARTS? President Clinton proposes a hefty budget increase for the National Endowment for the Arts - from $97.6 million to $150 million next year. He also proposes increasing the budget for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and suggests a new $200 million annual “lease fee” for analog frequencies that broadcasters have been using free for the past 50 years. The money would be used for the arts. Variety 02/08/00

  • "A SCANDAL TO SHAKE THE ART MARKET TO ITS FOUNDATIONS": Christie's auction house has turned state's evidence and told anti-trust investigators from the United States Justice Department about an alleged deal with Sotheby's to limit competition on sellers' commissions. Watch for the lawsuits to start flying. London Telegraph 02/07/00
  • THE PETITION THAT WOULDN'T DIE: It's that "save the NEA" e-mail that has been endlessly circulated around the internet. Doesn't matter that it was written in 1995 and that threats to PBS and the National Endowment have receded. San Francisco Chronicle 02/07/00
  • INVESTMENT NOUVEAU: Back in the 1970s, the arts' biggest funding buddies were the tobacco companies. Now tobacco is out and the big American investment banks are funding British arts institutions. The benefits both ways are many. Financial Times 02/07/00
  • CBS AND FOX TV NETWORKS make deals with NAACP to increase minority hiring on their programming. Boston Globe 02/04/00
  • CULTURAL REBUILD: Under Apartheid, artists were suppressed and mistreated and their art quashed. Now the enormous task of rebuilding a culture. Nobel Prize-winning author Nadine Gordimer was part of the cultural resistance, and tells of her vision for a cultural rebirth. Media Channel 02/03/00
  • SCIENCE OF ART: The scientific community has discovered the arts world, investing in arts projects. The artists bring outside-the-box thinking with their projects. New York Times 02/03/00 (One-time registration required for entry) 
  • HIGH RENT DISTRICT: Seattle rents are forcing out many of the city's artists. A new set of evictions points up a much more complicated problem than the traditional greedy-old-developer-against-helpless-artists scenario. Seattle Post-Intelligencer 02/03/00
  • THE CODE: US Senators Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) took their plea for an entertainment industry "code of conduct" to New York Monday before a group of  about 200 members of the entertainment industry. Los Angeles Times 02/03/00