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Sunday April 30

  • SOMETIMES A CIGAR... Sigmund Freud continues to loom over the landscape of our modern culture. "My bottom line is that any trip to a movie theater, any conversation with someone at work, seems to make clear that the influence, the impact, of Freud is still alive and well in the year 2000. In spite of the fact that most people have no idea that he is humming so loudly in the background of everything from their 'pickup lines' to their talk about the weather, the 21st century begins as one in which we know a cigar is never just a cigar, and that's an important thing to know." Christian Science Monitor 04/28/00
  • ART OF RECONCILIATION: The UK's Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, is blocking plans for a peace sculpture made of decommissioned weapons to be erected in Belfast. Richard Branson has commissioned a £50,000 work from 97-year-old Josefina de Vasconcellos, the world's oldest living sculptor. "The idea of the sculpture has been widely welcomed by politicians in Northern Ireland. However, the proposal to make the new work from decommissioned weapons is causing disquiet at the Northern Ireland Office." The Independent 04/30/00
  • COMING HOME: A decade after a federal law gave Native American tribes the right to reclaim human remains and sacred artifacts from museums, less than 10 percent of the human remains believed to be in the custody of federal agencies, museums and universities have been returned to tribes. Chicago Tribune 04/30/00

Friday April 28

  • EARLY WITHDRAWAL: The faxes started coming in to Australia's arts groups - their biggest patron was pulling out. So the rumors were true. Richard Pratt, "generally acknowledged as Australia's second wealthiest man, is used to doing what he wants with his money, including the estimated $10 million-plus he is thought to have directly handed over to Melbourne-based performing arts organisations in less than a decade. However, along with the generosity came an interventionist approach that ruffled feathers." Sydney Morning Herald 04/28/00

Thursday April 27

  • ONE STEP BACK: Australian arts groups are losing one of their richest, most generous patrons. Richard Pratt is stepping down from his various roles as arts supporter, as part of a general withdrawal from public life. The Age (Melbourne) 04/27/00
  • ART IN THE 'BURBS: So what's the secret of running a successful arts center out in the suburbs? Treat people like they're in the city. "There is this city mentality that seems to believe that everyone in the suburbs has gone brain dead. A lot of well-educated, sophisticated people come out to raise their children in a nurturing setting. That doesn't mean they have lost their curiosity or their interest in cultural diversity." Chicago Tribune 04/27/00
  • UNDUE INFLUENCE: Consumer groups are stepping up to object to Time Warner's merger with AOL. Critics are afraid of a "content bottleneck" if the deal goes through. Variety 04/27/00

Wednesday April 26

  • STAND BY ME: Getting working capital from banks to finance a project is often a problem for artists. So the Alberta and Canadian governments have decided to help with a "Cultural Industries Guarantee Fund" that provides collateral for project financing.  "Some of the book publishers or magazine publishers may be in that middle stage where they have had great initial success on a lot of their projects, and need to grow, and without that investment, just can't. And they have a very difficult time." CBC 04/26/00

Tuesday April 25

  • SPIES FOR ART: "From 1950 to the late 1970s, the Central Intelligence Agency covertly spent many millions of dollars spreading American art and American ideas while hiding behind a front organization, the Congress for Cultural Freedom. The CIA practiced stealth subsidy. That project was clownish in some ways - and totally undemocratic. In theory it was a terrible idea. But what didn't work in theory worked in practice. It left unwitting readers of CIA publications with highly conflicted feelings. I, for one, sternly disapprove of the whole idea but also remain permanently grateful for it." National Post (Canada) 04/25/00
  • LOST IN SPACE: How come it's always the engineers that get to go up in space? Well, obviously there are some good reasons. But designer and choreographer Richard Seabra wants to "send artists and performers into space to work in a special art module that he wants to become part of the International Space Station (ISS). Seabra wants to see to it that the arts and humanities are given a permanent place in space, that science moves aside to make room for the bounty of other cultural pursuits humans value. 04/23/00
  • UNDERGROUND ART: In a bid to promote access to Seoul's cultural resources the city's artists have gone underground - to the subway. "The subway theater project, which was conceived late last year, is aimed at providing commuters and passersby with an easy access to a wide range of cultural experiences. In addition, the project is designed to help artists who are unable to hold shows either due to limited spaces or from lack of money." Korea Times 04/25/00

Monday April 24

  • CLEAN ART: Nine of Chicago's cultural institutions will mount $4 million worth of solar panels on their buildings - each institution will get 50,000 kilowatt hours per year of sun power in this energy demonstration project. Chicago Sun-Times 04/22/00

Sunday April 23

  • HOW 'BOUT SOME LIP SERVICE? The heart of London's new success and prosperity is in its creative community. The arts are the driver that makes the city dynamic. So why, then, are the candidates for mayor avoiding talking about the arts at all? Nada. Zip. Hey, don't vote for someone who doesn't tell you their policies on the arts. The Observer 04/23/00 
  • ONE IRELAND? Maybe it's more than just a war, just the endless "troubles" and politics. Is there a cultural difference between north and south? "Is there a Northern Ireland culture? My first annoyed reaction is that only a stranger could ask. From that one can deduce that Northern Irish culture is tribal: two tribes within a larger people who are still locked within the northern equivalent of Heartbreak House." Sunday Times (London) 04/23/00

Friday April 21

  • CLIPPED WINGS: In Toronto, a task force seems ready to recommend that the Hummingbird Center, the city's main performing arts venue, be decommissioned after the Canadian National Opera moves into a new home. Hummingbird fans are outraged. Toronto Globe and Mail 04/21/00
  • PREMATURE RETURN: Hawaii's Bishop Museum apologizes for turning over ancient Island artifacts over to one native custodial group when others had a claim also. The museum's actions have damaged its credibility among island groups. Honolulu Star Bulletin 04/20/00

Thursday April 20

  • A CASE OF ARTISTIC FREEDOM? "A University of Iowa Museum of Art employee is suing the school over what she says is an attempt to stifle an art exhibit supported by a federal grant. She claims the museum director canceled her exhibit in retaliation for filing a university grievance against him. She said university officials retaliated by withholding matching money previously promised for the exhibit." Des Moines Register 04/18/00
  • ART OR PORNOGRAPHY? A San Diego judge has ruled that a pair of art books in the San Diego Library that feature photographs of nude girls, are pornography. Police are investigating; they have requested from the library the names of anyone who has checked the books out. San Diego Union-Tribune 04/19/00
  • BOSTON ARTS INITIATIVE Boston has long lagged behind other cities in public funding for the arts. Now its mayor announces a major arts initiative to try to aid the arts. But the plan is long on goals and somewhat short of substance. Boston Globe 04/20/00
  • WHO'LL PAY THE BILLS? Berlin's cultural world is in crisis. Of course pretty much every other European capital has gone through some sort of public funding crisis in the past two decades, but that doesn't particularly ease the pain. "Berlin supports three opera houses, seven orchestras, 50 theatres, 170 museums and 300 galleries - all this for 3.5 million residents." Where is the money going to come to keep this extravagance afloat? London Telegraph 04/19/00

  • HIGH TIMES/HIGH CREATIVITY: What is it about artists and substance abuse? "Artists have long taken refuge in substances during barren spells, or indulged in them as part of macho rituals. Yes, a great many writers, and other artists, would toast the liberalisation of illegal highs. But to cause a real commotion, politicians would have to criminalise the innocuous pick-me-ups and blameless crutches that are their true inspiration and solace." New Statesman 04/19/00

  • IT'S NEA GRANT DAY: The National Endowment announces 800 grants today. More than half are going to outreach and arts education, bringing the arts to "underserved" communities. Washington Post 04/19/00 

  • SO MUCH FOR THE 'BRAVE LONER' PLOY: David Irving lost his libel lawsuit in London claiming that the Holocaust never happened. The judge found against Irving, calling him, in effect, a propagandist for Adolf Hitler. But, "we ought to condemn - better, dismiss - him not because of his convictions, but because of the way in which he states his evidence." Newsweek 04/24/00

  • BUY AUSTRALIAN: Peter Sellars has been hired to run the 2002 Adelaide Festival. But instead of bringing the best international artists to town (as Australian festivals are famous for doing) he's taking the homegrown route. We need to build the country’s “cultural infrastructure," he declares. "It is time that poets and musicians, filmmakers and architects and chefs were around the table together. If we are asking the society itself to get better at reconciliation, shouldn't we artists - the most notoriously bickering and biting group on Earth - make some attempt to clean our own little house?” Sydney Morning Herald 04/18/00

  • THE PLAY'S THE THING? Seeing how schools have largely abdicated responsibility for arts education, and worried about growing audiences for the future, Broadway producers have stepped up their education and outreach efforts. “But for all the good will and good publicity that education programs may generate, do such tactics really work? Does one Broadway show make a future theatergoer?” New York Times 04/18/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • HIGH MOCKABILITY FACTOR: The San Francisco Art Institute is in the business of pushing the edges, of encouraging its students to think unconventionally - "It's high concept, but you bring it down to a raw level." Sometimes, as in a recent controversial student project that featured sex on stage, the concept gets a bit out of hand. Can this stuff really be taught? Should it be? Chronicle of Higher Education 04/18/00 

  • WAR GAMES: Long blamed for encouraging misspent youth and mind-numbing violence, now Sony’s hugely popular PlayStation 2 is being accused of inflicting far more damage: the potential to be used to build weapons of war. Japan decided to restrict all exports of the videogame console because it “contains a graphics processing facility quick enough to help guide certain types of missile, such as the Tomahawk, towards their target. The Age (Melbourne) 04/18/00

  • UNION ACTORS in the US vote to go on strike against producers of TV commercials. Strike set for May. Variety 04/17/00

  • COLONY POWER: For years Australians looked to Britain for its arts leaders. But with two Aussies taking the top London ballet jobs, it looks like the Brits are seeking the vitality of the former colonies to inject new energy into these keystone establishments. The Age (Melbourne) 04/17/00

  • IN FOR A POUND: A proposal by the British government to slash admission fees to £1 to London museums is being met with mixed (but generally enthusiastic) reaction. The Art Newspaper 04/15/00 

  • CASE STUDY: A documentary on violinist Nadia Salerno-Sonnenberg raises questions about the relationship between manic depression and artists. "I think that people who suffer from depression may be able to use their creativity to help themselves out of it," says one doctor. St. Louis Post-Dispatch 04/16/00

  • A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS: Elitist, artistically moribund, over-dependent on government funding, and poorly managed; these are the favorite charges leveled against Australian arts organizations. But wait just a minute - does reality bear out these perceptions? Sydney Morning Herald 04/14/00

  • NOT JUST LOSING, BUT... It's tough to defeat a libel charge under British law. But a British judge threw out controversial historian David Irving's case against the historian Deborah Lipstadt, who had written in a 1993 book that Mr. Irving was "one of the most dangerous spokesmen for Holocaust denial." Remarkably, the judge went so far as to call Irving a racist anti-Semite who deliberately distorts historical evidence to portray Hitler "in an unwarrantedly favorable light." New York Times 04/13/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  •  ROAD SHOW: Historian David Irving, who lost his controversial libel trial in London earlier this week and now faces bankruptcy, is planning a lecture tour of the US with other Holocaust deniers. He hopes the trip will replenish his “fighting fund.” The Independent 04/13/00 

  • CULTURE SWAP: Korean arts groups are hoping the much-anticipated policy summit between North and South Korea in June will give inter-Korean arts exchange some needed momentum. “The excitement is understandable, given that for more than a half century there has been almost no civilian contact.”  Korea Times 04/13/00
  • FROM SILENCE TO SPEAKING OUT: Choreographer Bill T. Jones on his decision to boycott this year's Spoleto Festival in Charleston because of an NAACP boycott: "The questions you should be asking is not 'Why I'm doing what I'm doing' but 'Why are there so few people who feel that they have to boycott? Why do so many people have a rationale that allows them to find other ways of responding to the [Confederate] flag?' People have a lot of deep responses to the issue, but the biggest response is the silence." Los Angeles Times 04/12/00
  • IT'S THIS OR BRUSSEL SPROUTS: “There is something appallingly appealing about the notion of being chastised with culture. Who among us would object to being sent to Devil's Island for a few years if we could take the contents of the British Library?” But that’s not exactly the thrust of East Connecticut State University’s new program of forcing students who infringe campus rules to attend classical concerts or opera as their punishment. The Telegraph 04/12/00
  • PUBLIC RADIO FOR THE PUBLIC? Earlier this year the Federal Communications Commission voted to allow low-powered radio stations. Last week National Public Radio, "the mighty non-profit corporation which counts more than 600 member stations nationwide and is heard by 14 million listeners each week," publicly supported efforts to gut the ruling. Why? "NPR is willing to give lip service to low-power radio and supports its goals of diversity on the airwaves. But behind the scenes NPR's been incredibly destructive," charge critics. Salon 04/11/00
  • A LESSON NEEDING RELEARNING? "Distance learning" is all the rage in academia these days as universities rush to get online. But does anyone remember that a century ago correspondence courses were a very lucrative business? And that their history is rather less than glorious? Le Monde Diplomatique 04/11/00
  • THE FINE ART OF OPPOSITION: Science is changing our moral world. In turn, artists respond to its discoveries and challenges. "The 'artistic' culture differentiates itself from the scientific culture by cherishing the individual gesture and scribble, and very often by characterising itself as the subversive, the destabilising, the contrary." New Statesman 04/10/00
  • CULTURE CLUB: The cultural capital of Europe in the 18th Century? Paris? Nope - at least that's the premise of a new blockbuster exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum. "Rome is where all the artistic sparks were going on. It was like Paris in the 19th century and New York in the late 20th century." New York Times 04/11/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • NICE AND SIMPLE: "We've been dallying with 'simple' for almost a decade. Not the simplicity of Ralph Waldo Emerson reflecting on nature in his barely furnished cabin by Walden's Pond, mind you, but rather the dumbed-down simple espoused by the phenomenally successful "For Dummies" franchise, which reduces everything, from Wagner to Dadaism, to Grade Five-level comprehension. Or the sweet, witless simplicity advocated in the best-seller Simplify Your Life: A Little Treasury by Elaine St. James. Simple has even become a fashion statement, a design choice." National Post 04/10/00
  • EDUCATION CONVERGENCE: A new for-profit online education venture featuring partners including Columbia University, the Smithsonian, the British Library, Cambridge University Press and the London School of Economics promises something new. The venture "will go beyond traditional course offerings, by integrating content from museum exhibitions, lectures, reference books, interviews, and documents - from Frank Lloyd Wright interviews to a multimedia-infused presentation of the Magna Carta." Wired 04/10/00
  • AGAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME: Have we lost the will to be original? "The concept sounds strangely alien in a world in which novels routinely are based on previously published works or on history itself; in which the visual and photographic arts increasingly incorporate previous works; in which composers systematically layer previously produced works into their compositions; in which more and more plays are based on historical characters; in which a plethora of movies are based on previous movies or on TV shows; in which a steadily growing stack of TV shows are derived from earlier TV shows; in which ads raid movies and TV shows; in which people loot the Internet for whatever they want; in which everybody is copying from everybody else and nobody seems to mind." Chicago Tribune 04/09/00
  • ONE LAST DRAG: For decades tobacco manufacturers have been major sponsors of the arts in Canada. Now, "determined to rid Canada of the demon weed, earnest politicians have banned all cigarette advertising, and side-swiped the arts in the process." Faced with gigantic holes in their budgets, some arts managers wonder where the next sugar daddy is going to come from. Toronto Globe and Mail 04/08/00
  • LOVED TO DEATH: The crush of tourism is threatening Egypt's prehistoric sites, the Eighth International Congress of Egyptologists heard last week in Cairo. "Unless urgent measures are taken, Egypt will be left with not one prehistoric site intact." New Scientist 04/08/00
  • MAYBE IT'S AN AUCTION THING: Christie's and Sotheby's legal woes are well known. But on-line auctioneer E-Bay is also getting tangled up in legal challenges. According to court documents, E-bay is currently involved in three US government investigations. The Art Newspaper 04/07/00 
  • NOT JUST FOR WAITING TABLES ANYMORE: A group of senior execs in Canada's high-tech industry banded together last week to demand more education money for the liberal arts, saying they can't build the digital economy with technology grads alone. "A liberal arts and science education nurtures skills and talents increasingly valued by modern corporations." Ottawa Citizen 04/08/00
  • OF BASQUES AND BILBAO: A year ago the Basques seemed "more optimistic than ever before about peace and prosperity in their little nub of Spain. Not only did the glorious Guggenheim Museum of Frank Gehry now hover over a once-nondescript city. But a truce declared by ETA, the murderous Basque separatist movement, was holding. Since then, ETA has assassinated a general, a politician, and a policeman, and the atmosphere is once again heavy with recrimination and uncertainty." But perhaps the modernity of Gehry and of architect Norman Foster encourages Basques to look forward, not back" and towards some sort of resolution. The Idler 04/09/00
  • THE RIGHT HOOK: Last year everyone in St. Louis arts management was talking about cultural tourism. This year it's marketing. "The only way we can get on track is with a huge marketing campaign that lets people know everything available to them arts-wise in St. Louis. If we do a piddle here and a piddle there, it won't get us anywhere." St. Louis Post-Dispatch 04/09/00
  • SURVIVING IN THE GOOD TIMES: Even in a booming economy, a number of Atlanta arts institutions are struggling to stay afloat. Atlanta Journal-Constitution 04/08/00
  • IS THERE A DIGITAL DIVIDE? Lord David Puttnam - director of “Chariots of Fire” and “Midnight Express” and cultural advisor to Prime Minister Tony Blair - urges educators and digital technology developers to work hand in hand. “Computers should not be viewed as simply tools…and arts subjects should not be viewed as lightweight pleasurable diversions.” The Age (Melbourne) 04/07/00
  • DESIGN RENAISSANCE: Birmingham, England - once the butt of European jokes, a “city gripped by a concrete stranglehold” - is undergoing a design renaissance. Many observers credit Conductor Simon Rattle, formerly music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, for boosting civic morale and prompting the arts-led transformation. Rattle introduced the city council to the “idea that bribing key players in the arts to decamp to Birmingham would change its image. And it did.” The Times (London) 04/07/00
  • WAITING GAME: Australia’s debt-laden performing arts organizations will have to wait longer than expected for details on their nation’s agenda to increase arts funding. A recent study found that 31 of the country’s arts organizations were short on funds and “unable to keep pace with global competition,” but cultural ministers expected to announce their remedy unexpectedly cancelled today’s meeting. Sydney Morning Herald 04/07/00 
  • DOT COM LURES ANOTHER: Lawrence Wilker, who presided over a period of enormous growth as president of the Kennedy Center, has resigned. The center was $7 million in debt when he began the job in 1991. He succeeded in eliminating the red ink and more than doubling its annual fund-raising from $14 million his first year to $32.8 million in 1999. Washington Post 04/07/00
  • PRESIDENT of Washington's Kennedy Center stepping down to join internet firm. New York Times 04/07/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • FLASH AND CASH VS. CUTTING EDGE: Reviving an ancient rivalry, Beijing and Shanghai are competing for the title of China's cultural capital. Both cities' cultural scenes are thriving, and both cities are spending lavishly on new arts centers. Shanghai boasts a new art museum, antiquities museum, Grand Theater, and one of the world's largest libraries; Beijing just broke ground on a glitzy new $420-million National Theater. "Ultimately, the question is whether Shanghai's money will win out over Beijing's moxie." Time (Asia) 04/10/00

  • AND YOU LIVE WHERE? France's cultural minister is perplexed by why so many French choose to live in Britain. Some 60,000 French nationals are registered as living in Britain but officials suspect that the figure may be as high as 180,000, with half of those in London. After a high-profile French model decamped to London, the French culture minister growled: "If you move to London, what you save on tax, you'll lose in rent and healthcare, not to mention the metro train service." Yahoo (Reuters) 04/03/00

  • SO MUCH FOR BEING WELL-ROUNDED: Beginning in 2003, Florida's public universities will require that all incoming freshmen have taken 19 academic courses in high school - four more than are required now. To fit in all the extra work, students may have to give up elective courses in the arts, computers, vocational studies and ROTC. The requirement has arts teachers and guidance counselors worried that the focus on academics threatens the continued success of everything from high school marching bands to popular magnet high schools. St. Petersburg Times 04/03/00

  • IF YOU MAKE IT CHEAP, THEY WILL COME? Britain's on a museum-building kick. But where will the visitors come from to see all the new attractions, wonder critics? Never fear, the government has a plan - next year it will slash admission fees for many of the country's museums, down from £7.50 to £1. The plan is estimated to cost the government about £7.1 million in lost admit fees. BBC 04/04/00 

  • GREAT EXPECTATIONS: In the past year, the heads of all six of Hartford's major arts institutions have left, along with a number of leaders of the city's second-tier groups. No, the city didn't suddenly become arts-unfriendly, and each of the arts leaders left for different reasons. But unquestionably the demands on modern-day arts administrators have increased. "Today's arts honchos are called upon to grow, increase, enlarge, build. And in Hartford, they are seen not only as custodians of their own institutions' destinies but as key figures in the fitful revitalization of the city itself." Hartford Courant 04/04/00

  • A DOGGED READ: Three times a week since December, about 20 protesters have gathered outside the new Barnes & Noble store in Flagstaff, Arizona to protest the superstore retailer's presence in their community. "I find it disturbing that communities can't fight the intrusion of these giant chain stores unless they have a legal apparatus behind them, because big corporate trans-nationals have the legal muscle to sue cities that try to keep them out." Publishers' Weekly 04/04/00

  • STEPPING STONES: Many of Britain's major arts institutions are now being run by foreigners. Not to worry though. They seem primarily interested in using their tenure to spruce up their resumes for the next job. "For the new breed of arriviste, an English appointment is merely a staging post; the country is becoming an extension of the flight connections lounge at Heathrow." The Observer 04/02/00

  • OF AGE AND ART: The general population is living longer these days. And so are artists. So maybe it's time to re-evaluate what we expect of older creative artists. New York Times 04/03/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • WANTED: "BETTER MINDS IN GOVERNMENT" NEA chairman Bill Ivey on supporting the arts: "Society devalues art. The arts are still on the fringe. They are in the style section of the newspaper. And yet we frame our most pressing social concerns around art and art-making. The arts don't matter until they get under our skin; then we realize we use art to talk to each other about a whole range of issues. The arts irritate us." Chicago Tribune 04/02/00

  • JACKO, PINO AND 5000 FAKE NOSES: Just as Doctors Without Borders delivers medical care in troubled countries, Clowns Sans Frontières (Clowns Without Borders) delivers humor. And Fake noses. "The kids [in Kosovo] had never seen anyone like us. I don't think really they even knew what a clown is." Toronto Globe and Mail 04/01/00