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Friday May 31

COURT - LIBRARY FILTERING ILLEGAL: A US federal court has ruled that a law forcing public libraries to install filtering software on computers available to the public is unconstitutional. The filters are meant to screen out pornographic websites, and the law required libraries to use the software or see their federal funding stopped. Librarians had opposed the law. The "court unanimously said that a federal law designed to encourage the use of filtering software violated library patrons' rights to access legitimate, non-pornographic websites." Wired 05/31/02

Thursday May 30

DEAL WITH THE DEVIL? Appleton, Wisconsin, is a small town struggling to maintain an identity, keep its 70,000 residents at home, and provide some semblance of big-city ambience in a down-home atmosphere. Impossible? Not with the help of America's largest radio monolith. Clear Channel Communications has teamed with Appleton to build a $45 million "Lambeau Field of the arts," a cultural center designed to elevate the city to 'national touring city' status. They've already landed a commitment from the first national tour of 'The Producers.' Chicago Tribune 05/30/02

TOO MUCH AMERICA? American TV shows are all over British television, American plays clutter London's West End, and American movies clog the cinemas. Way too much America, writes Michael Billington. "Whole weeks now go by in which, as a critic, I see nothing but American product and I learn far more about life in Manhattan or the midwest than Manchester or Midlothian. But that is merely a symbol of a far wider phenomenon in which our cultural and political agenda is increasingly set by the world's one surviving superpower. You think I exaggerate?" The Guardian (UK) 05/30/02

Wednesday May 29

TIME TO PAY UP: Britain's Labour Party has made a lot of political capital touting the country's artists and creative capital. But prominent artists, led by David Hockney, say the government has not made enough investment in culture. A delegation is meeting with the chancellor and "will be told it's payback time, time to save the nation's least celebrated art treasures, housed under the leaking roofs and in the draughty stores of thousands of cash-starved regional museums and galleries." The Guardian (UK) 05/28/02

MAKING AN IMPACT: Cincinnati arts groups have a new economic impact study to demonstrate their contributions to the local economy. "The 17 arts organizations that are part of the Fine Arts Fund attracted 1.75 million visitors and added $169 million into the Tristate economy last year." The groups will use the study to lobby for more funding from local governments and corporations. Cincinnati Enquirer 05/28/02

FROM DISASTER AREA TO WORKSPACE: "What was once an indoor mall at the World Financial Center will become artist studios under a program designed to draw tenants and visitors back to the battered complex. Nine artists, who will move into space vacated after the World Trade Center attack, toured the financial center on Tuesday to see where they will work in coming months. Starting in October, the artists will exhibit works ranging from a computer-rendered history of downtown development to handcrafted artificial trees." Nando Times (AP) 05/28/02

Tuesday May 28

UK ARTISTS LOBBY FOR MORE: British artists, including David Hockney, Damien Hirst, Antony Gormley and Bridget Riley have "joined forces to lobby the government to restore regional galleries and museums as 'great cultural assets'. The group is asking Gordon Brown to find money to support a report published in 2001 arguing for major reforms to the sector." BBC 05/28/02

WHAT WENT WRONG AT ADELAIDE: This year's Adelaide Festival was a failure pretty much all around. The most expensive events failed to attract big crowds, and predictions of the end of the era of big splashy international festivals seemed to have come true. Further, "as the Adelaide Festival, which cost the South Australian Government $8 million, sold $1.7 million worth of tickets, the Fringe, which cost $800,000, sold $3.8 million." The government is investigating new models. The Age (Melbourne) 05/28/02

Monday May 27

SPENDING DOUBLED IN A DECADE: According to data from the National Association of State Arts Agencies, state appropriations for the arts doubled between 1993 and 2002. Spending rose from $211 million in 1993 and peaked in 2001 at $447 million before declining to $419 million last year. "However, appropriation declines of $21 million in California and $5 million in New York account for nearly all of this decrease. When they are removed from total appropriations, the aggregate remains flat at zero percent change." The total should decline dramatically next year as numerous states have proposed cutting arts budgets in recent weeks. National Association of State Arts Agencies 05/02

Sunday May 26

INTO THE BOG: So London's South Bank has a new leader, plucked from Down Under. Good luck. South Bank is London's cultural swamp, a bog where ideas drown and finding your way to solid ground a mystery known to few. "It is the place of perpetual crisis, the place of lost cultural vision, and the place on which the arts press loves to dump. It has become the emblematic arts crisis of the era." So a few tips for the new head man... The Guardian (UK) 05/25/02

Friday May 24

CUTTING THE ARTS: Across the US states are trying to balance their budgets. And typically, one of the first things to be cut is funding for the arts. "After years of steady expansion, public financing for the arts has begun to drop substantially as a long economic boom ends." Some of the cuts are as much as 60 percent. The New York Times 05/24/02

  • SYMBOLIC CUTS HURT: California governor Gray Davis has been a friend to the arts, substantially increasing arts funding in the state over his time in office. But his arts budget got whacked in half last week when he submitted his proposal for the state budget. The cuts have arts officials perplexed - arts funding is still a tiny part of the state budget. "Any cut to arts funding is primarily symbolic. It's not enough money to solve this budget crisis or any budget problem. There's no point pretending that it does. It's meaningless fiscally." LA Weekly 05/23/02

ARTS MAKE BETTER STUDENTS: A new report that looks at "all the arts and make comparisons with academic achievement, performance on standardized tests, improvements in social skills and student motivation," says that "schoolchildren exposed to drama, music and dance may do a better job at mastering reading, writing and math than those who focus solely on academics." USAToday 05/23/02

BRITAIN'S NEW 'IT' CITY: Manchester is opening an arsenal of ambitious new buildings this summer. "For the first time since 1939, when Sir Owen Williams built his Daily Express building, it is possible to turn to Manchester not with a shudder but with keen anticipation. Given that Manchester was the city that gave us Piccadilly Plaza in the Sixties, which seemed to have been picked up and moved bodily from Moscow, and the brute ugliness of the Arndale Centre in the Seventies, which at one stroke cut off the north of the city from the centre, that is quite a change." The Telegraph (UK) 05/24/02

Thursday May 23

RESIGNED SMITHSONIAN BIGWIG UNDER INVESTIGATION: When Smithsonian comptroller Edward Knapp resigned from his post last week, it didn't make a big splash. But a Washington Post investigation has turned up evidence that the Smithsonian is probing into Knapp's activities during his tenure at the nation's flagship cultural institution. Details are still somewhat sketchy, but irregularities in expense accounts and awarded contracts are among the concerns of investigators. Knapp has been busted for fudging expense accounts before, back when he worked for the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. Washington Post 05/23/02

A GOVERNOR PILEDRIVES ARTS FUNDING: Governor Jesse Ventura of Minnesota, he of the pro wrestling background and snarling visage, has used his veto pen to wipe out tens of millions of dollars of arts funding from this year's state budget. Hardest hit is the nationally renowned Guthrie Theater, which had been scheduled to receive $24 million for a new theater on the Mississippi riverfront, and will now receive nothing at all. Ventura claims that government funding of the arts is a slippery slope (though he just signed a bill funding a $330 million ballpark for the local baseball team,) while the Guthrie's artistic director calls the governor destructive and dictatorial. Minneapolis Star Tribune 05/23/02

Wednesday May 22

FROM DOWN UNDER TO THE SOUTH BANK: "The head of the Sydney Opera House is to lead a major redevelopment of London's South Bank arts complex... The 27-acre area - considered by many to be a concrete jungle - is to be transformed at a cost of tens of millions of pounds." BBC 05/22/02

BANNING AMERICA'S QUINTESSENTIAL AMBASSADOR? Iran has banned Barbie from stores. "Agents have been confiscating Barbie from toy stores since a vague proclamation earlier this month denouncing the un-Islamic sensibilities of the idol of girls worldwide." The Age (AP) (Melbourne) 05/22/02

Tuesday May 21

FORMER UK ARTS MINISTER ATTACKS ARTS POLICY: Mark Fisher told BBC News Online that the government was only excited in 'art created for and by young people'. And he said that this emphasis posed a threat to the UK's great museum collections. 'The emphasis they are giving to collections and scholarship and curatorial skills - the things that make the collections of museums and galleries particularly fine - is diminished, given a lesser priority'." BBC 05/17/02

GEORGIA CUTS ARTS SPENDING: The state of Georgia ranks 47th among US states in per capita public spending on the arts. But that doesn't stop the state from cutting this year's arts budget. "The Georgia Council for the Arts has announced awards totaling $2.5 million to 177 nonprofit organizations around the state for the new fiscal year, beginning July 1. That's down from $2.7 million to 181 groups last year. It's the state's smallest arts grants budget since 1989." Atlanta Journal-Constitution 05/20/02

CALIFORNIA ARTISTS WEIGH CUTS: The state's governor proposes a 57 percent cut in the state arts budget. "At this rate, every municipal reading series, every literary grant program, every local arts council from Calexico to Hopeless Pass can add 'a future' to its wish list, right up there alongside the volunteer proofreader and the used Mac." San Francisco Chronicle 05/20/02

GERMAN CITIES CUT BACK CULTURE: Frankfurt, like many German cities, is reducing how much it spends on culture, as a way with trying to deal with public budget deficits. "A number of German cities have long been unable to afford themselves, the most striking example being that of Berlin. Frankfurt now seems no longer able to afford itself either. Or willing to do so." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 05/20/02

Monday May 20

UNIVERSITY CRISIS: A new government audit of British universities says they are "at least £1 billion a year short of the money needed to keep buildings and equipment in working order. The audit suggests institutions either need to scale down their activities at a time when they are supposed to be expanding to meet government targets - or receive a massive injection of extra money to avert disaster." The Guardian (UK) 05/20/02

NY ARTS GROUPS RESIGNED TO CUTS? New York arts groups are protesting the major cuts in the city's cultural budget proposed by mayor Michael Bloomberg. They're just not protesting very hard. Is it because they're already resigned to losing the money? "In his preliminary budget, Mayor Bloomberg proposed cuts of $19.1 million to the Cultural Affairs Department. This breaks down to reductions of about 18 percent to the 34 members of the Cultural Institutions Group, institutions whose buildings or land is owned in part or whole by the city, and about 13 percent to the more than 500 institutions that are considered program groups." The New York Times 05/20/02

NOTHING FREE ABOUT CULTURAL TRADE: A Canadian activist lashes out at the World Trade Organization and the policy of free trade for cultural products. "Currently, cultural goods and services are treated merely as economic products under the free trade principle, with no particular consideration paid to dynamics of culture,' he said, pointing out the perils of the dominance of U.S. cultural products and media conglomerates in other countries with weaker cultural industry backgrounds." Korea Herald 05/15/02

AFTER 23 YEARS, MIAMI'S LINCOLN CENTER? Miami's new performing arts center will cost $334 million - the largest public/private project in Miami history. It is "designed to rival the Lincoln Center in New York and scheduled to open in the fall of 2004." The project's new director says he sees the center being a "point of contact" between cultures and that he hopes "to be the only white guy" on the new center's team. Miami Herald 05/19/02

Sunday May 18

KANSAS CITY GETS A SUPER-PAC: The trend towards huge, multiple-use performing arts centers is proceeding apace, with Kansas City the latest American metropolis to sign on for the ride. The city's PAC, which comes with a $304 million price tag and looks something like the Sydney Opera House turned inside out with all the corners pounded flat, will include a "2,200-seat theater/opera house and an 1,800-seat orchestra hall. A 500-seat multipurpose 'experimental theater' remains part of a future phase of development and fund raising." Kansas City Star 05/17/02

Friday May 17

COPYRIGHT POWERS THAT BE: Think there's any chance of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act being changed? Think again. Despite plenty of challenges in the courts and criticism from the online digital community, the real powers in Washington like the law. This week "some of Washington's most influential lobbyists and politicians sung the praises of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and said it had successfully limited piracy and promoted creativity." Wired 05/17/02

CLEVELAND'S CULTURAL SUMMIT: No culture wars in Cleveland, where about 350 arts advocates gathered for a cultural conference to hear praises from the city's politicians. In Cleveland "the arts represent a sizable economic sector, with 4,000 full-time workers and an economic impact one study estimated at $1.3 billion a year in Northeast Ohio." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 05/17/02

LOTTERY THINKS SMALLER: Britain's Lottery Heritage Fund - responsible for funding a big part of the arts building boom of the past decade - is scaling back to smaller projects. "Although 25% of the money will still be reserved for big projects - there is no official ceiling on bids, but anyone seeking grants of over £1m will still have to raise at least 25% in matching funding - it is clear the fund believes the glory days are past of huge capital projects such as the British Museum's Great Court or the rebuilding of the Walker Gallery in Merseyside." The Guardian (UK) 05/16/02

NEW LETTERS: Why is arts coverage so bad? New letters from readers taking on San Diego Union-Tribune editor Chris Lavin's remarks: "Critics so often take themselves so seriously they're hard to take seriously. And where's the sense of proportion? I don't really care how many notes so-and-so missed. Tell me about how the artist is engaging with an idea." 05/16/02

Thursday May 16

GOLDEN STATE ARTS FUNDING GOES GRAY: California governor Gray Davis proposes to close a looming state budget gap by making cuts and raising taxes. Among the hardest hit - the state arts council which would see its budget cut by more than 50 percent. "Last year, Davis fattened its budget by $10 million, bringing the total budget to more than $29 million. Davis' cuts would take the council's budget to about $13 million, with only $6 million for its Arts in Education program." San Francisco Chronicle 05/16/02

  • CUTTING NY ARTS FUNDING: New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg proposes "a 20 percent cut in funding to the city’s largest institutions and a 15 percent cut to the smaller ones. In recent weeks, leaders of high-profile institutions like the Met, Carnegie Hall, the New York State Theater, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the outer-borough botanical gardens have been privately taking stock of what looks to be an extremely grim situation. Now the real-life implications of Mr. Bloomberg’s proposed cuts are sinking in, and they are causing widespread panic among leaders in the arts community." New York Observer 05/15/02

REPLACING THE RSC: Only days after the Barbican Center chief blasted the Royal Shakespeare Company for leaving the center, the Barbican announces an ambitious new lineup of presentations meant to fill in gaps left by the RSC's departure. "The Tony-nominated US director Mary Zimmerman will direct, her first production in Britain. Other highlights include a premiere of work from US choreographer Merce Cunningham to mark his dance company's 50th anniversary. The German choreographer Pina Bausch comes to the Barbican for the first time with a piece for dancers aged over 65." The Guardian (UK) 05/15/02

  • Previously: BARBICAN CHIEF ROASTS RSC: The head of London's Barbican Centre has lashed out at the Royal Shakespeare Company for abandoning its leases on two theatres at the complex. "The two stages the RSC used at the Barbican were built for it to its specifications and the company received £1.8m a year in Arts Council subsidy to perform on them. Graham Sheffield also criticised the Arts Council, which funded the RSC, for failing to exercise 'either responsibility or common sense' over the RSC's decision to quit its long-time home in the capital." The Independent (UK) 05/15/02

THE ARTS AS A POPULATION DRAW: For many cities, the arts are a frill, an afterthought to be stroked when times are good and ignored when budget crunches strike. But in Minnesota's Twin Cities, the arts have long been seen as a crucial way to attract and keep residents in an area of the country widely believed to be out of the way, isolated, and very, very cold. Still, once a thriving arts scene is built, it requires maintenance, and with deficits looming all over the country, Minneapolis and Saint Paul residents find themselves wondering whether they can afford to reaffirm the commitment. ABC World News Tonight 05/15/02

  • BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: Cleveland may be home to America's (arguably) finest orchestra, but aside from that, the city is far better known for its insanely passionate sports fans than its arts aficionados, and the arts have often gotten short shrift from local politicians who believe that the city is just too blue-collar to become a serious arts destination. But Cleveland's new mayor disagrees, and this week, Jane Campbell convened a summit of Northern Ohio's artists and cultural leaders to discuss what City Hall can do to advance the cause of high art. The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 05/16/02

Wednesday May 15

WHO'S TO BLAME FOR BAD ARTS COVERAGE? Has coverage of the arts gotten worse in America? If more people go to arts events in a given week than to sports, then "why is the DAILY sports section of some newspapers 24 pages on a regular basis while the WEEKLY arts sections are small, and obviously, one-seventh as frequent - if they exist at all?" San Diego Union-Tribune editor Chris Lavin delivered a speech last week to the Association of Performing Arts Service Organization and charged there's plenty of blame to go around - arts organizations who haven't learned the art of promotion in the way football teams have, and editors and critics who don't know how to tell stories and are unable to speak to a wider audience. "Reviews, almost by their definition, are narrowly focused - they speak to the theater community and to people who attended the show or are considering attending a show. I don't believe they attract the eyes of the non-theater-going community nor do I think they are generally written in a way that makes the art form more accessible to a broad newspaper or television audience." Poynter 05/14/02

  • What do you think of Lavin's case? Send us a letter and we'll publish reactions.

SO MANY STUDENTS, SO FEW TEACHERS: Of California's 300,000 full time public school teachers, only two percent teach music or art. But now the state has mandated each graduating student must have some arts training. Where will the teachers come from? The more determined schools have turned to the community... San Francisco Chronicle 05/15/02

  • THE STEPS REQUIRED: Unless arts education is required in classrooms it's not going to get taught. But it's hard to get to that place "when California is facing a budget deficit of as much as $22 billion, teachers spend their own money for classroom supplies and lawmakers are hell-bent on raising test scores in reading, writing and arithmetic." San Francisco Chronicle 05/15/02

DALLAS PERFORMING ARTS CENTER GETS BOOST: Dallas' proposed new performing arts center got a big boost Tuesday with a $42 million private donation. The contribution, "one of the largest philanthropic gifts in city history, puts the campaign to build the complex in the downtown Arts District at $110 million in gifts and pledges, nearly half of the estimated $250 million cost." The new center would "provide performance space for the Dallas Opera, Dallas Theater Center, Fort Worth Dallas Ballet and Dallas Black Dance Theatre, among others." Dallas Morning News 05/14/02

PLEASANT TO SEE YA: Houston's new Hobby Center for the Performing Arts opened last weekend. What's it look like? If architect Robert Stern has "not created something wildly original or challenging, he has created something that has the potential to be exceedingly pleasant. And in a city whose points of pleasantry are hardly legion, that's not bad. Although Stern has tied the hall's ornate, even gaudy, appearance to Broadway theaters designed by Henry B. Herts and Hugh Tallant early in the last century, there is clearly an echo of Stern's own work for the Walt Disney Co., where he has shown a flair for playful, over-the-top, art deco-ish interiors. But that gleaming, open exterior? It would appear, for Stern, to be something brand-new." Houston Chronicle 05/13/02

  • Previously: MISGUIDED HOBBY: No question Houston's new Hobby Center for the Performing Arts is a big addition to the city's cultural landscape. But "architecturally, the Hobby Center is a dud. The sure command of materials and details evident in Robert A.M. Stern's earlier country houses and public buildings has deserted him here. The exterior looks slapdash and a bit tacky. Budget probably played a part – astonishing as it sounds, $92 million is cheap for a performing arts center these days – but a more fundamental problem may have been Mr. Stern's trying to be a modernist when his heart, and his hand, were not really in it." Dallas Morning News 05/13/02

Tuesday May 14

CUT UNTIL IT BLEEDS: Just how bad has arts education been cut in California public schools? In San Francisco, arguably one of America's most culturally active cities, "just 16 full-time music teachers are expected to serve 30,000 children enrolled in 70 elementary schools. To compensate for the lack of money, teachers have become experts at applying for grants; parents have become pros at planning auctions, art projects and candy drives; principals have forged partnerships with nonprofit arts groups; and arts providers have created ties with philanthropists." San Francisco Chronicle 05/14/02

  • WORK-AROUND SOLUTIONS: If California's public schools have no resources to provide arts education, many schools have turned to community arts groups. "Bolstered by strong research that proves that learning occurs in many ways, school administrators here and in other communities look to nonprofit groups for the arts teaching and expertise squeezed by a generation of cramped budgets and new test-based priorities." San Francisco Chronicle 05/14/02

Monday May 13

NAMING BLIGHTS: "As part of Lincoln Center's $1.2 billion redevelopment plan, the performing arts center is considering whether to renovate Avery Fisher Hall substantially or to raze it and start from scratch. Executives have said they are leaning toward building anew, in part because it may cost as much to renovate as to start over and also because it is easier to raise funds for a new building than for an old one." But the family of Avery Fisher says they would take legal action if the hall is renamed  (thereby making it difficult to attract a lead donation for the project). The New York Times 05/13/02

BRINGING ART BACK TO SCHOOL: School arts programs were gutted around the U.S. in the last two decades, and no state was hit harder than California, where theatre, visual art, and music programs all but disappeared from many schools. But somehow, the arts seem to be making a comeback these days, despite continued budget crunches and vocal opposition from the types of "three R's" purists who always oppose such things. "Beginning in 2003, all students admitted to a California public university must have had one year of the arts in high school - and not just basket-weaving." San Francisco Chronicle 05/13/02

RULES FOR SHARING: A new company is attempting to set up a system for sharing digital intellectual property. "The firm's first project is to design a set of licenses stating the terms under which a given work can be copied and used by others. Musicians who want to build an audience, for instance, might permit people to copy songs for noncommercial use. Graphic designers might allow unlimited copying of certain work as long as it is credited. The goal is to make such licenses machine-readable, so that anyone could go to an Internet search engine and seek images or a genre of music, for example, that could be copied without legal entanglements." The New York Times 05/13/02

Sunday May 12

ART WITHOUT A HOME: "Much has been said recently about the rights and wrongs of art being removed during wars from one owner or country to another. Yet the long history of such appropriations is rarely mentioned. It may be that Rome's pillage of Corinth in 146 B.C., or Venice's of Constantinople in 1204, now seem irrelevant because the spoils cannot be identified or because they have come to be associated with their new home. (The four horses of St. Mark's is a case in point). But even when we know the fate of the booty, we accept the outcome after enough time has passed: in the long run, art has no permanent home." New York Times 05/12/02

RECALIBRATING THE MISSION OF ART: "The shutdown of the Museum of Modern Art's 53rd Street headquarters and its temporary move to Queens are only the most prominent examples of how the city's modern and contemporary art scene will be transformed during the next few years. Most of New York's major institutions have already begun to redefine themselves and recalibrate their missions in a new century." Other cities are watching closely, and will likely follow suit if the New York moves are a success. Los Angeles Times 05/12/02

TOO MUCH REMEMBRANCE? "Are we in danger of 9/11 overload? Sometimes it seems as if every Off Broadway theater company, every musician, every artist wants to weigh in." Are such tributes a measure of the country's resilience and respect for the dead, or merely another example of Americans' innate belief that nothing is more important than we are? Or are real Americans sick of the whole thing, even as the media continue to try to whip the viewing/reading audience into a frenzy of grief and anger? New York Times 05/12/02

Friday May 10

IS CENSORSHIP ALL BAD? Yet another silly book flap over an attempt to ban To Kill A Mockingbird for its use of the word 'nigger' is sparking discussion at the offices of Canada's National Post. In a discussion with two editors, the paper's cultural writer puts forward the unpopular notion that "the so-called intelligentsia... are too quick to slap around ordinary people who have entirely authentic concerns about the effect of language and even ideas on their constituencies." Also, is censoring Harper Lee somehow more egregious an offense than censoring Agatha Christie? National Post (Canada) 05/10/02

Thursday May 9

COUCH POTATOES: A new study says Brits rarely get off the couch in their free time. "According to a survey commissioned by the European Union 70pc of people not only shun watching traditional high culture such as plays, but do not even bother to attend a football match, sing in a choir or play a musical instrument." Western Mail (Wales) 05/08/02

WHO OWNS PUBLIC ART? A Seattle artist is suing the Seattle Symphony for using a picture of his public art project in a brochure. Though public art is paid for with public money, artists generally still own the copyright. For artist Jack Mackie, the issue is less about money than how images of his work are used. Morning Edition (NPR) [RealAudio link] 05/07/02

THE CLAP TRAP: "Even as we all complain that everybody talks in movie theatres these days, anecdotal evidence suggests we are becoming more deferential during live performances. Nineteenth-century audiences used to come and go at will and chat during plays and operas, while musical producers had to include loud numbers at the top of Act II to lure crowds back from the intermission. And opera buffs who liked a particular aria thought it quite permissible to interrupt a performance with persistent calls for a mid-show encore. Try that today, and you would probably be greeted with a chorus of huffy ssshhhhs and dark glares. Who invents all these rules anyway?" The Globe & Mail (Canada) 05/09/02

ART AND THE DISABLED: A new international organization to promote the interests of performers with disabilities has been set up. "The International Guild of Disabled Artists and Performers had its inaugural conference in Adelaide, South Australia." BBC 05/08/02

Wednesday May 8

NAJP FELLOWS ANNOUNCED: Winners of arts journalism fellowships at Columbia University for 2002/2003 include New Republic theatre critic Robert Brustein, Boston Globe architecture critic Robert Campbell, Village Voice editor Robert Christgau, and New York Times cultural critic Margo Jefferson. NAJP 05/07/02

CULTURE'S JUST A FRILL? The state of Massachusetts is facing a budget crisis. Among the proposals to deal with it is a cut in the Massachusetts Cultural Council budget - "from just over $19 million this year to about $10 million. On a percentage basis, it is one of the largest cuts proposed for any agency in the state. The council distributes more than 7,000 grants for exhibitions, concerts, and cultural education programs. Most of the groups that receive funding from the council would face cuts of up to 50 percent next year." Boston Globe 05/08/02

WHAT'S CULTURE WITHOUT DEBATE? Berlin has had a tough time culturally in the past couple years, with funding crises and confused debates about the role of culture. Many hoped that the city's new cultural minister would initiate a cultural debate, but so far that hasn't happened. "Culture ministers all over Germany have backed off from this debate. As a result, the back and forth of funding allocations and hefty cuts increasingly seems to be the work of a dark oracle acting on unfathomable secret counsel." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 05/08/02

Tuesday May 7

WHO CONTROLS INNOVATION: The current debate about how copyright adapts to the digital world is being won by the traditional media players at the expense of new innovators. "They've succeeded in making Washington believe this is a binary choice - between perfect protection or no protection. No one is seriously arguing for no protection. They are arguing for a balance that avoids the phenomenon we are seeing now - one where the last generation of technology controls the next generation of industry." BusinessWeek 05/06/02

AWARDING AUSTRALIA'S PERFORMERS: Australia's Helpmann Awards, were created last year "billed as Australia's answers to Broadway's Tonys." Like the Tonys, the Helpmanns are not controversy-free. In fact, they've been "dogged by controversy over nominations, sponsorship support and voting procedures since they were established last year to reward 'distinguished artistic achievement and excellence' in the performing arts. Last night the judges opted for a mix of safe and surprising choices, giving the nod to blockbuster musicals, commercially risky operas and edgy independent productions." Sydney Morning Herald 05/07/02

Monday May 6

THE RIGHT TO SURVIVE: Like many, American artist Lowry Burgess was outraged at the Taliban's destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas last year. "His despair and outrage has moved him to create what might be called conceptual art: a manifesto urging the international community to prevent such destruction from ever happening again. Burgess sat down and wrote a statement calling for international protection of sites and artifacts embodying cultural memory, not just in wartime (as guaranteed in the Hague Accords), but at all times. He's calling it the Toronto Manifesto: The Right to Historical Memory, and his goal is no less than to see it adopted internationally." Philadelphia Inquirer 05/05/02

UNDERFUNDING BY INCOMPETENCE: The government of Italy has allocated more money for arts and culture. Only one problem - it's not being spent. "A combination of incompetence and red tape have led to the absurd paradox that more money than ever is available for the arts, but 65% of the funds allocated to the cultural sphere is not being spent." The Art Newspaper 05/03/02

PLAYING WITH FREE SPEECH: Are computer games speech? One judge rules yes. Another has ruled no. If the no side is upheld "that could be a disaster for anyone who wants to see games evolve into a medium every bit as culturally relevant as movies or books. It is, of course, indisputable that the world of gaming is replete with titles that have little redeeming value, just as it is true for every other artistic medium. But as Medal of Honor and other games demonstrate, computer gaming has created a new means of conveying complex, relevant ideas. One more uninformed ruling, and the potential of this medium could be curtailed even further, by legislators with elections to win, and ideologues who've pincered it from both sides of the political spectrum. The stakes really are the future of free expression." Salon 05/06/02

Sunday May 5

HOUSTON'S NEW PERFORMING ARTS CENTER OPENS: Houston's new Hobby Center for the Performing Arts opens in Houston. "Almost 20 years in the making, the Hobby replaces the Music Hall, a leaky, largely unlamented Depression-era project that occupied the same site until its demolition in 1998. You can't walk more than a few steps in the massive complex without spotting star-shaped light fixtures. They're in the ceiling, on the walls and on the side panels of theater seats. Even the bathroom stalls have silver stars on the doors. The stars - four-pointed, instead of traditional five-point stars of Texas - are part of architect Robert A.M. Stern's effort to inject some razzle-dazzle into Houston's downtown Theater District." Houston Chronicle 05/04/02

STORYTELLING: "If you don't understand a culture's stories, then you'll never understand - or be able to defend yourself against - the actions that spring from those stories." It's the power of myth to grab hold of the consciousness of a culture. Chicago Tribune 05/05/02

NOT DECLINE, BUT CHANGE: It's hard to have a discussion about culture these days without talking about the decline of traditional culture. Julia Keller sat down with five chicago cultural luminaries to talk about culture in Chicago... Chicago Tribune 05/05/02

Friday May 3

PAY TO PLAY - IT'S COMING: Want access to a piece of music or a movie or book? Get ready - it's going to cost you. "Total cultural capitalism - we must prepare for its arrival in the digital world within the next few years. Technically, it involves Digital Rights Management (DRM) systems that make it possible to control legitimate access to digital resources. The legal framework for the installation and protection of such systems is being set up in Europe right now." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 05/02/02

THE RISE OF CREATIVITY: "A new social and economic geography is emerging in America, one that does not correspond to old categories like East Coast versus West Coast or Sunbelt versus Frostbelt. Rather, it is more like the class divisions that have increasingly separated Americans by income and neighborhood, extended into the realm of city and region. The distinguishing characteristic of the creative class is that its members engage in work whose function is to 'create meaningful new forms'. The key to economic growth lies not just in the ability to attract the creative class, but to translate that underlying advantage into creative economic outcomes in the form of new ideas, new high-tech businesses and regional growth. " Washington Monthly 05/02

JUST FADE AWAY: Pop icons have always been used for endorsements. And "great efforts are being made to pitch deceased singers, actors and historical figures to Generations X and Y, as the luminaries’ estates seek to enhance legacies and keep profits flowing. There’s a problem, however. Young people today show almost no interest in legends from previous generations, youth marketers say. For people under 30, they’re dead brands." That's a concept difficult for boomers to understand. “It’s hard to understand why people don’t love the things you love, but young people haven’t shared your experiences, and they have different needs and heroes.” MSNBC (WSJ) 05/01/02

EVANESCING ONLINE: "In the last few years, prestigious universities rushed to start profit-seeking spinoffs, independent divisions that were going to develop online courses. The idea, fueled by the belief that students need not be physically present to receive a high-quality education, went beyond the mere introduction of online tools into traditional classes. American universities have spent at least $100 million on Web-based course offerings, according to Eduventures, an education research firm in Boston. Now the groves of academe are littered with the detritus of failed e-learning start-ups as those same universities struggle with the question of how to embrace online education but not hemorrhage money in the process." The New York Times 05/03/02

Thursday May 2

OFF WITH THEIR HEADS! The turnover in top jobs at British arts institutions is remarkable. But given the hoops through which such managers have to jump, "it is a matter of some amazement that anyone should want the job. In the version of musical chairs we play with the arts, the rules are reversed: there are more empty seats than players to fill them and the winner is the last one to resign. The flaw in our system is not excessive freedom of speech but the growing exercise of thought control." London Evening Standard 05/01/02

SILLS BOWS OUT: One month ago, Lincoln Center chairwoman Beverly Sills announced that she would step down from the job many thought she would never leave behind. This week, she leaves the job for good, and Lincoln Center will launch an international search to fill her position, which was an unpaid advisory post when Sills first assumed its title in 1984. Andante (UPI) 05/02/02

BOLSHOI ON THE ROAD TO RECOVERY: "After almost a decade of turmoil, uncertainty and artistic decline, Moscow's Bolshoi Theater seems on the road to recovery. The theater, which houses both a ballet and opera company under its venerable roof, has a newly reorganized leadership team and has released plans for an ambitious new season. But soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, a legendary figure at the theater until she left for the West in 1974, says that far more drastic changes are required." Andante 05/02/02

Wednesday May 1

THE CITY LEFT BEHIND: In the past decade many English cities have dressed themselves up with the arts. But though Leeds, a city of one million, is more prosperous than many of the new arts centers, it has failed to participate in the cultural upgrade. Leeds "has no major museum or purpose-built concert hall, and its only theatre capable of hosting large-scale opera, ballet and musicals is falling to bits in a ghetto of kebab shops and 'To Let' boards. There's a smugness about the place: its spirit is hard-headed and unsentimental." The Telegraph (UK) 05/01/02