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Wednesday July 31

KENNEDY CENTER HONORS: This year's Kennedy Center Honors have been announced. Chosen are Paul McCartney and Elizabeth Taylor, conductor James Levine, actor James Earl Jones and dancer and actress Chita Rivera. "Now in their 25th year, the Honors are presented by the nation's performing arts center as a tribute to those who have distinguished themselves in the fields of music, dance, theater, film and television. The honors will be bestowed at a State Department dinner Dec. 7, followed the next night by a Kennedy Center gala." Washington Post 07/31/02

TAKING ARTS ED FOR GRANTED? Arts education has become an issue treated with the reverence usually reserved for motherhood. Just try getting an arts grant these days without an educational component. But "in some respects, there's surely too much of the arts in the curriculum today, not too little. Out of anxiety that the next generation doesn't become totally Disneyfied or football-crazy, we risk over-selling 'high culture' to our children. Premature school outings to Tate Modern or Bankside Globe puts more 10-year-olds off Matisse or Shakespeare than turns them on. Far better to let them wander in later, out of their own curiosity - and far better to concentrate resources on low ticket prices and long opening hours." The Telegraph (UK) 07/31/02

BEWARE OF LABELING: Should plays be rated like movies to warn of content that might be offensive to some viewers? Some are suggesting a return of the theatre censor Britain used to have. Bennedict Nightengale thinks not: "Theatregoers are usually pretty well informed, read reviews, ask questions — and, if they’re frightened by the prospect of Nicole Kidman elegantly divesting in The Blue Room, they give the play a miss. Actually, the job of a theatre vigilante would be virtually impossible, for plays change unpredictably in performance." The Times 07/31/02

Tuesday July 30

MASSIVE CUTS IN MASSACHUSETTS: "The Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency that has been fighting proposed cuts for months, learned yesterday that it is likely to lose $12 million of its current $19 million budget. The 62 percent cut proposed by Acting Governor Jane Swift will mean cuts across the board in state money to artists, nonprofit institutions, and 335 local cultural councils... The cultural council is the largest source of state funds to the arts." Boston Globe 07/30/02

ARGENTINA'S GREAT DEPRESSION: "As Argentina struggles to survive a four-year economic calamity that in statistical terms is now the equivalent of the Great Depression in the United States, the impact on the nation's cultural life is felt in every way and at every level. Cultural producers are not only scrambling to try to do more with less, they are being forced to rethink the role, function and nature of culture in Argentine society." The New York Times 07/30/02

SUMMER FEST: This summer there are a record number of arts festivals across America. There are "3,000, drawing an audience estimated at up to 130 million and accounting, by industry estimates, for close to $2 billion in spending. With the number of arts festivals nearly doubling, by some accounts, since the mid-90's, the festivals have changed the ways Americans consume culture." The New York Times 07/30/02

THE VISA PROBLEM: Getting visas for foreign artists to come into the US to perform has become tougher. Visas are delayed, or in some cases denied, "sometimes for reasons that are understandable and sometimes for reasons that seem arbitrary. Among the artists denied entry were 10 of the 28 members of an Iranian troupe that performed at Lincoln Center Festival 2002 this month, and most recently a Yugoslav pianist with a recording on EMI Classics to his credit and a recommendation from the conductor Christoph Eschenbach in his file." The New York Times 07/30/02

Monday July 29

HACK ATTACK: A proposed new bill in the US Congress that would allow copyright holders to hack into the computers of file-traders, is a scary turn of events. Many "fear that approval of the bill could result in a multitude of clumsy and ill-conceived 'hack' attacks that could have widespread, system-damaging effects on both file traders and those who have never downloaded a single song from a file-trading server." Wired 07/29/02

THE PRICE OF ART: America's National Endowment for the Arts got a budget boost when Congress recently voted a $10 million raise. The NEA has become a non-issue for funding. "Now the endowments play it safe, mostly channeling money into museums, schools and other mainstream institutions that are more interested in fostering knowledge and appreciation of art and literature than in subsidizing individual artists and writers. This is progress, as it brings us considerably closer to a proper governmental relationship to art and literature in a representative democracy that stands for freedom of expression rather than state-sanctioned (and state-controlled) expression. But the question of subsidy just won't go away." Washington Post 07/29/02

Friday July 26

INVEST HERE: How curious that in tough economic times that governments propose cutting arts spending. Such spending isn't a handout, it's investment in a multi-billion-dollar industry. A study commissioned by Americans for the Arts quantifies the economic return - an investment of one dollar in the arts returns $8. "When governments consider reducing their support for the arts, as is the case with the proposed cut to the California Arts Council, they are not cutting frills. They are undercutting a nonprofit industry that is a cornerstone of tourism, economic development and the revitalization of many downtowns." San Diego Union-Tribune 07/26/02

IDEA ECONOMY: The battle over intellectual property rights is heating up as one of the most important issues of the day. On one side are established industries seeking to protect their power bases. On the other side are those looking to build on existing ideas, processes and products. "One wonders - when we have copyright laws that provide protection for the life of the author or creator plus an additional 70 years - how much incentivizing (of other creative talent in the same field) is going on when that person has been dead and buried ... for several decades." Nando Times (AP) 07/26/02

Thursday July 25

OHIO CUTS ARTS FUNDING: Ohio joined the list of American state arts agencies taking big cuts in their budgets. "Broad state cutbacks forced the council to lower its projected 2003 budget from $15.7 million to $13.3 million. The council already had had its budget reduced by 6 percent last October." The Plain Dealer 07/25/02

FILLING UP THE MIDDLE: Boston has some major performing arts halls. But there's a gap for those performers who can't draw enough to fill Symphony Hall but are two big for smaller venues. So a private developer is building a new four-hall complex for mid-size groups. The largest theatre in the $65-70 million project will have 800-1000 seats. It's to open in 2005. Boston Globe 07/25/02

Wednesday July 24

GETTING A BOOST: The British government has come through with an unexpected £5.2 million of funding for 49 of the country's top "non-national museums and galleries." The funding comes from the UK's Designated Museum Challenge Fund, "created in 1999 to promote collections of national and international importance." BBC 07/24/02

ART AS RESEARCH: A new British government reports says the arts and humanities should be funded in the same way that science and medical research is. "The arts and humanities field is of increasing economic significance, with growth in the creative industries being three times faster than the economy as a whole. 'The move to the office of science and technology will also further the contribution we are already making to the intellectual, cultural, creative and economic life of the nation, and provide a coherent and much-needed route from the arts and humanities community to government policy making'." The Guardian (UK) 07/23/02

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO CRITICS? Set aside The New York Times and a few other national outlets which still have some dedication to traditional arts criticism, and there is a startling lack of intelligent media discussion on the arts these days. Full-time critics are increasingly rare at America's daily newspapers, and even cities known for their strong support of the arts find themselves stuck with capsule reviews, thumbs-up-thumbs-down assessments of complex performances, uninformed reviewers, and general media laziness. But does the blame for the dumbing down lie with reviewers, media conglomerates, or thin-skinned artists themselves? Word of Mouth (Minnesota Public Radio) 06/02 [RealAudio plug-in required]

  • YOU MEAN CRITICS DON'T KNOW EVERYTHING? 18 U.S. journalists are going back to school next fall, courtesy of a McKnight Foundation grant. What's the point? Well, for one Midwest music writer, the value of academic study is obvious - it might just make him a better critic. "I need to get better as a writer... I need to figure out a way to do it differently--in terms of describing music, or referencing music." The grants allow the journalists to spend a year studying whatever they want, regardless of whether their chosen course of study directly impacts their area of expertise, and forbids them from writing for publication during that time. City Pages (Minneapolis/Saint Paul) 07/24/02

THE POETS KNOW: Composer John Cage once dedicated a book to "us and those who hate us, that the USA may become just another part of the world, no more, no less." Since 9/11, America has at times come close to fulfilling Cage's wish, but has mainly devolved into its usual bullying tactics in Afghanistan and beyond. Artists and poets have been among the small number willing to criticise the U.S. actions, and they have largely been shouted down or decried as unpatriotic. Has the post-9/11 world begun to stifle creativity, or is the current wave of ultra-nationalism just one more bump on the road of American artistic freedom? The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 07/24/02

A SENSE OF PROGRESS: Why are so many people resistant to new experimental art? "In a world where experience is increasingly fragmented and isolated, art points to the unbreakable chain of human creativity, and refuses to make islands of separation out of past, present and future. New work is new energy, and we need new energy, not least to understand what we have already achieved." The Times (UK) 07/24/02

Tuesday July 23

THE IRRELEVANT NEWSPAPERS: For three weeks the newspapers in Vancouver Canada have been on strike. Last time there was a strike - in 1978 - it was a disaster for the local arts community. "Ticket sales plummeted, seasons curtailed, staff reduced to handing out flyers on Granville Street, huddled in doorways like Jehovah's Witnesses. This time, arts groups hardly notice the papers are gone. Certianly part of the reason is that there are so many other sources of news. But it also "comes down to the fact that both Vancouver dailies have been cutting back on arts coverage for years (along with city hall and other time-consuming local beats), judging it more cost-efficient to publish press releases of Hollywood films, wire-service photos of female breasts, and hotel interviews in which Jamie Portman sucks up to the star du jour. Having of necessity turned to other media with their message, local artists no longer live or die at the whim of some underpaid 'critic' who would rather be covering sports or restaurants or, well, anything really." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 07/23/02

Monday July 22

THE LATEST IN SUPERPAC: Dallas has unveiled plans for a new $250 million performing arts center. "The complex, adjacent to the Meyerson Symphony Center in the downtown Dallas Arts District, is scheduled to open in November 2007. One building will house the Dallas Theater Center in an adaptable 700- to 800-seat facility to be built directly east of the Meyerson. Across the street, a second building will contain a 2,400-seat opera house that will provide a new home for the Dallas Opera and the Dallas season of the Fort Worth Dallas Ballet." Fort Worth Star-Telegrapm 07/21/02

WHAT'S THE PROGRAM? With the demise of Stagebill, Playbill has a virtual monopoly on the concert/theatre program business in many American cities. "Insiders say that some arts organizations are already reporting that Playbill is suggesting new or different terms and that the idea of forming an arts consortium to look at other publishing options was floated. It's an exciting possibility - a program company run and operated by arts organizations -- but the time constraint of being ready for the upcoming season will most likely put it on the back burner temporarily." Washington Post 07/21/02

CULTURE SERVED UP COLD? Cultural diversity is an orthodoxy commonly preached these days. But is it a policy that deadens art? "The essence of cultural diversity, as preached by government and these organisations is 'respect' for other voices, different points of view and self-expression. We are exhorted to listen to other voices in every discussion on diversity but never to judge them. The rhetoric of diversity deems every cultural form of worth, not because of a quality intrinsic to it, but for the sake of it. This phoney respect is not earned, but derived from an external formula distinct from culture. All too often, the praise and endorsement of other cultures expresses itself alongside a total ignorance of them. This is why, despite much talk of diversity, champions of it tend to sound the same and the exhibits or productions seem to merge. We are being fed a formula for indifference." The Art Newspaper 07/20/02

CURSE OF THE ADJUNCT PROFESSOR: "There once was an unwritten deal. If you were smart and willing to devote up to 10 of your most productive years studying for a doctorate, certain things would likely happen. A college or university somewhere would hire you. And if you did well there, there was a full-time tenured job in your future. The money wouldn't be great, but you'd be part of an academic community. You'd do research in your field. You'd live a life of the mind. Then the deal changed. Critics call it the corporatization of higher ed. Colleges prefer to call it a shift toward greater efficiency." Washington Post 07/21/02

Sunday July 21

WHY NOT CLEVELAND? Cities from San Francisco to Seattle to Boston have proven that the arts are an investment that comes back to reward the larger economic climate of a region handsomely. So why are some cities so hopelessly unable to master the concept? In Cleveland, arts advocates are struggling with old attitudes and embarrasingly transparent ploys. "Many of the city's students and young workers can't develop careers here because Cleveland's dull image doesn't attract enough activity in their chosen fields. Isolated neighborhoods and marooned campuses discourage their efforts to form collaborations and a sense of community. Worse, perhaps, some of Cleveland's attempts to make itself enticing are so outmoded that hip, in-demand workers are writing the city off as clueless." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 07/21/02

RESISTANCE IS FUTILE: A furious collection of Toronto artists, musicians, and community activists gathered in protest this week in an effort to shut down Presto, a "new, all-ages punk-rock and hip-hop club and gallery." What's the problem? It seems that the club is not a club at all, but an elaborate PR campaign by those kings of the Swoosh™ at Nike. The club, which opened this summer, was apparently intended to drum up attention for the company's newest line of sportswear, become one of the hottest night spots in Toronto, and then vanish mysteriously this August. Nike says it wasn't trying to fool anyone, but the folks who were fooled anyway aren't taking it lying down. The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 07/20/02

DIVERSITY COMES TO THE UK: Most Americans probably imagine Great Britain to be about as racially diverse as, say, North Dakota. But the truth is that the UK has never lacked diversity, only the desire to celebrate it. Recently, however, there has been an explosion of high-profile films and exhibits from minority artists in the country. "Why this interracial outpouring in the arts? Perhaps because the whole meaning of Britishness is being reconstructed by younger, less tradition-bound thinkers, artists, writers and politicians. Their perspective is more cosmopolitan, more global, and they're eager to show it." The New York Times 07/21/02

Friday July 19

SNOB APPEAL: Joseph Epstein traces the roots of snobbery in America in his new book. "The phenomenon, he argues, was more or less nonexistent before the early 19th century, despite the proliferation of kings and dukes all over the map. Snobbery feeds on social uncertainty, and in a rigidly organized society with clear and mostly hereditary class distinctions, no one could hope for upward mobility or fear the loss of status failure." Salon 07/18/02

BUZZING THE BUZZWORDS: "Two keywords - innovation and challenge - dominate the discussion of contemporary art the world over. But both shy away from the real issue. The big question is this: what makes a work of art really good - really profound, beautiful, moving, serious? Instead of directly addressing this great issue, there is a tendency to concentrate on secondary matters. Like whether what the artist is doing has been done before or whether it stands in opposition to what is taken to be popular belief. It's not that innovation and challenge are in themselves bad. It's just that they don't make much headway in helping us to understand how art can matter to us." The Age (Melbourne) 07/19/02

HOW TO RAISE YOUR PROPERTY VALUES: Lowell is one of those small, secondary New England cities struggling in the shadow of Boston, and, as such, it sometimes finds itself with a hard sell in convincing artists to migrate to its downtown. "It's an old story: Artists move into run-down but affordable neighborhoods, set up studios in old warehouses, and inject new life into the streets. They plant the seeds of gentrification, then get priced out." But Lowell is making a concerted push to get and keep artists, and buck the trend of the revolving art door. Boston Globe 07/19/02

BUYING REJECTION: Some very big publishers and recording companies are selling writers and composers the "opportunity" to be considered for publication by professional editors and producers. Wait - isn't that the job of editors and producers to look at new material? "I guess this is an improvement over the Famous Writer's School and Famous Artist's School of my childhood," writes Kurt Andersen, but surely it's just a setup for rejection. Public Arts 07/18/02

Thursday July 18

HOUSE VOTES NEA INCREASE: The US House of Representatives voted an increase in the budget for the National Endowment for the Arts Wednesday. "In a 234-192 vote, the House agreed to increase the NEA budget for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1 by $10 million, to $126 million. The same amendment to a spending bill for public lands programs and cultural agencies boosted funds for the National Endowment for the Humanities by $5 million to $131 million." Nando Times (AP) 07/17/02

BILBAO-ON-HIDSON CHOOSES DIRECTOR: Jonathan Levi has been chosen as director of the new $62 million Bard Performing Arts Center. The center, designed by Frank Gehry, "is to be completed in January and open in April as a home for music, theater and dance. The building's two theaters will be used both for academic purposes and as a public space for international cultural events. Like the Guggenheim Museum that Mr. Gehry designed in Bilbao, Spain, the Bard center is highly distinctive with a series of low-lying steel canopies that look like large, overlapping ribbons." The New York Times 07/18/02

Tuesday July 16

BUMPING UP CULTURE: The British government propses to give arts and culture a funding increase of £75 million next year. Along with the funding came a pledge to "maintain free access to Britain's national museums, saying attendance at museums had risen by 75% since the government abolished entry fees last year." Under the proposal, "funding to culture, media, sport and tourism would rise from £1.3bn in 2002 to £1.6bn by 2006." BBC 07/15/02

CULTURE? IT'S JUST CULTURE... The battle between "high" and "low" culture has been raging for some time. But is anyone paying attention anymore? ?The curious thing about this conflict - a savage, no-holds-barred struggle to anyone professionally caught up in it - is that nine-tenths of the population barely know that it exists. Pavarotti and Puccini, the Beatles and So Solid Crew - it is all simply 'music' to the specimen radio browser or megastore CD rack sifter. The vast cultural chasm that supposedly exists between a Tchaikovsky symphony and Andrew Lloyd Webber is a matter only for the arts police." New Statesman 07/15/02

CLICK TO LEARN: It's called Net thinking. "a form of reasoning that characterizes many students who are growing up with the Internet as their primary, and in some cases, sole source of research. Ask teachers and they'll tell you: Among all the influences that shape young thinking skills, computer technology is the biggest one. Students' first recourse for any kind of information is the Web. It's absolutely automatic. Good? Bad? Who knows?" Washington Post 07/16/02

OUT IN THE COLD: As the state of Connecticut declares a budget crisis, some small arts groups are getting the bad news that their state funding has been zeroed out. Some of those left out are award-winning and have been funded for years. "There's a chilling effect when a national or state arts agency deems your group is not worthy of financial support. More than just the dollars, the awarding of a grant - however modest - says the group deserves help from the community and others should follow suit. When the state dismisses an organization's grant request, it gives others permission to do so." Hartford Courant 07/14/02

Sunday July 14

RECONCILING ELITISM AND EQUALITY: "High culture is seen by some as the product of a hidebound establishment bent on excluding outsiders... Can people of left-liberal political sympathies believe that high culture has special and superior value which justifies state support for theatre and grand opera, but not for pop concerts or darts competitions? On the face of it the answer is surely 'Yes'; even if, after the characteristic British manner, left-leaning votaries of high culture... occasionally mask their interest under an appearance of irony, given the risk that such interests run of being branded affected or pretentious. The Guardian (UK) 07/13/02

A ONCE-DIVIDED ARTS SCENE GELS NICELY: Berlin is like no other city on Earth, in that it spent 50 years divided squarely in two, then attempted to readapt to existing as a single entity. That kind of dichotomy can make or break any attempt at a coherant arts scene. "This is today's Berlin: a mix of old Disneyfication, new construction and eager renovation. And, tucked into any corners still waiting to find a place within that mix, a burgeoning world of contemporary creativity that makes the city one of the most dynamic art centers on the planet and a magnet for outsiders." Washington Post 07/14/02

TWIN ARTS PHILOSOPHIES: How to support the arts in a time of fiscal downswing is a challenge faced by elected officials across the country. In the Twin Cities, two rookie mayors are taking decidedly different routes towards maintaining the area's well-known commitment to arts funding. In Minneapolis, Democrat R.T. Rybak is offering mostly lip service, and a promise that money will flow when the city's coffers are replenished. Over in Saint Paul, Republican Randy Kelly swears he can pay for the arts and still balance the budget, but some of his promises have gotten him in trouble when the cash wasn't forthcoming. The Star Tribune (Minneapolis) 07/14/02

BE A BOARD MEMBER FOR FUN AND PROFIT: Time was when a seat on the board of a major cultural institution was really nothing but a prestige position awarded to those rich and well-connected enough to get offered that sort of thing. "But times are changing. Brash newcomers, who owe their seats to a growing public demand for representativeness and transparency, are beginning to take their places beside the old money around the oak tables at the RSC, the British Museum or the National Gallery." The Observer (UK) 07/14/02

GONE NATIVE: The arts world and the larger capitalistic society understandably view one another with skepticism, and sometimes outright hostlity, and the best way to make an artist nervous is to put a businessman in charge of his fiscal affairs. Such was the case when Gerry Robinson was persuaded to take on the leadership of the Arts Council of England, with the hope being that he could use his business savvy to streamline the council's operations. Four years in, Robinson has done just that, but the council appears to have had as much impact on him as he has had on it: "Like many arts ministers and Arts Council chairmen before him, Robinson has gone native, and is quite prepared to admit the fact. He now talks the arts talk with total conviction, effortlessly embracing both the social importance of the arts... and the pursuit of excellence." Financial Times 07/12/02

Thursday July 11

ILL AT EASE WITH THE ARTS: It's time for Britain's Labour government to announce its support for the arts. But "New Labour has never been publicly at ease with the arts. Tony Blair may be an occasional theatre-goer, but the philosophy and practice of Blairism have little real place for the arts as such. Predisposed as they are (or were, until the 2002 budget) to American rather than European models of the role of government, senior Labour ministers have an intellectual aversion to arts spending. But their suspicion of the arts is also more visceral. The New Labour coalition was built on tabloid tastes. Marginalising the arts, like marginalising civil liberty, is a price New Labour remains instinctively willing to pay to court public approval from the tabloid editors." The Guardian (UK) 07/12/02

WHAT AILS US: Britain's arts seem caught in mismanagement and lack of creative direction. "The despondency that developed throughout the arts world after 20 years of starvation funding means that we have become too timid and defensive to subject ourselves to muscular public self-criticism. We are afraid to speak frankly and openly about the inadequacies of our major cultural institutions. We fear that if we burn down the opera houses, we will be left with nothing but a smouldering pile of ash. Yet what need is there for artists to demolish the major cultural institutions when we have the media to do it for us?" The Guardian (UK) 07/12/02

HOBBLED BY HISTORY: New York's famous literary landmark Algonquin Hotel has got its third set of owners in 15 years. "The Algonquin, of course, is the dowager queen of West 44th Street, more storied than any other theater-district hotel. But if the new owners are to succeed where its other eager buyers have failed in making the Algonquin a player in the luxury-hotel market, they’ve got to resolve the same dilemma that has proved insoluble to its previous modern-day owners: how to give the old hotel a new profile without alienating the old guard of returning guests entranced by the Algonquin’s place in the intellectual history of the city?" New York Observer 07/11/02

Wednesday July 10

CULTURAL DISCONNECT: San Jose, whose symphony orchestra recently went out of business, is not served well by cultural institutions, though there is broad support for the arts, says a new survey. The study reported that "95 percent of Silicon Valley residents believe artistic creativity is so vital that art should be taught in school at least an hour a week, and yet 38 percent of local parents say their children get no arts instruction at all. And while 80 percent of residents have attended a live performance in the past year and 60 percent have visited a museum, 53 percent rated the area `poor' or `fair' as a place to attend concerts or museums." San Jose Mercury News 07/09/02

ANOTHER 9/11 CASUALTY: At a time when appreciating other world views might be important in America, arts presenters are finding that getting visas for international artists to enter the US is getting more difficult. Village Voice 07/09/02

TIME TO WONDER: Are today's overprogrammed kids losing their creativity? With little free time and more and more planned activities, today's kids don't have time to let their imaginations wander. "Today's youths don't play creatively, can't make decisions for themselves, and, thanks to technology, are lazy, impatient and get frustrated easily, critics say." The Star-Tribune (Cox) (Minneapolis/St. Paul) 07/10/02

ART AS BRANDING EXPERIENCE: Increasingly, corporations are coming up with ideas for art, then funding them, often through arts organizations. "This is sponsorship, but not as we know it. Instead of waiting for an arts organisation to have a good idea and patronising it, these sponsors are generating ideas of their own - and putting their names up front in lights. In today’s uncompromising business climate, there is little cash for philanthropy. Arts sponsorship is being moved from 'charity' to 'marketing'. A warm fuzzy feeling isn’t enough; today’s executives need concrete results." The Scotsman 09/10/02

Tuesday July 9

RETHINKING LINCOLN CENTER? Bruce Crawford is taking over as president of Lincoln Center, and one of his first pronouncements is that the center's redevlopment plan - which carries an estimated budget of $1.2 billion - may need to be rethought. "The scope of the campaign needs to be decided, and it needs to be based on more than hope. What would we like to do, and what can realistically be done? We need to address that issue, and we will." The New York Times 07/09/02

Monday July 8

BASICS VS. CREATIVITY: A new report charges that the British government's emphasis on basics and testing in schools comes at the expense of teaching the arts. "Music teaching gets an average of 45 minutes a week - and in some schools just half an hour - religious education, history and geography just short of an hour, and art and design and technology just over an hour." The Guardian (UK) 07/05/02

DEAF AND THE ARTS: Some 400 deaf artists are participating in an international arts festival in Washington DC devoted to art by the hearing-impaired. "The weeklong extravaganza is said to be the largest event in any country devoted to deaf issues and the arts. More than 8,500 people from 108 countries have registered, and organizers are expecting hundreds more." The New York Times 07/08/02

  • WHY A FESTIVAL: "There is a separatism. Deaf people can be reluctant to let hearing people into their world. And a lot of hearing people don't know anything about us. There's a perception that it's a disability, 'Poor you'." Washington Post 07/08/02

A CONFUSING TIME: Connecticut arts groups are feeling schizophrenic. On one hand, some ambitious big-ticket arts building projects are underway. On the other hand, funding is down, and the economic downturn is a threat. "How should they react? With less programming? Higher ticket prices? Should they hunker down, water down and pander to what they think is their audience? Will we see more mediocre, less adventuresome art? Or will we see programming that braves conservative forces and dares to excite and re-energize a community? Will they be rising stars or pale moons going around and around the same old orbit?" Hartford Courant 07/07/02

Sunday July 7

PRICED OUT OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD: No one gets into poetry for the money. In fact, many consider poverty to be an essential part of poetic inspiration. So when poets and other artists begin moving out of your city in droves, it's possible that you have a bit of a cost-of-living problem. Yes, Chicago, we're looking at you. Chicago Tribune 07/06/02

NEXT, THEY'LL TRY TO BAN WINE FROM FRANCE: The Italian Futurists of the early 20th century were easily one of the most amusing philosophical movements of the last 200 years. Given to sweeping pronouncements and outlandish predictions about what the coming epoch would bring, Futurists also had a habit of calling for the destruction of beloved aspects of Italian society, such as gondolas, opera, and Venice. But their most daring attack on civil society may have been the day they tried to abolish pasta. The Telegraph (UK) 07/06/02

Friday July 5

FREE TO BE: The idea of "open source," as practiced by some in the software world, is spilling over into the physical world, with some new products giving away "proprietary secrets." "In a world of growing opposition to corporate power, restrictive intellectual property rights and globalisation, open source is emerging as a possible alternative, a potentially potent means of fighting back. And you're helping to test its value right now." 07/01/02

Thursday July 4

A REMARKABLE IMMIGRATION: A new book pays tribute to the cultural accomplishments by the wave of Jews immigrating to Britain in the 1930s. "When 55,000 of them came to the United Kingdom in the 1930s, driven from their homes and universities, their art galleries and concert halls, they immeasurably enriched the cultural life of this country and, in music, opera, dance, literature, mathematics, science, architecture and the history and connoisseurship of the visual arts we owe them a largely unacknowledged debt." But, asks Brian Sewell, where is the sense of passion that such a book ought to convey? London Evening Standard 07/01/02

Wednesday July 3

WHY ARTISTS? Why do we hold artists to be special? "The vast majority of artists will never be famous. Many will achieve limited, parochial renown to be all but forgotten by posterity, except maybe for family members, art society types, dedicated collectors, traditionalist dealers, local or national art history chroniclers: all strictly small-time. The condition for most artists will remain relative anonymity and obscurity, but I stress the word 'relative' here: being known and respected in a local community carries its own weight, however insignificant against the wider international benchmark. But then, why dwell on artists anyway? What makes them so special compared to 'ordinary' humans?" *spark-online 07/02

Tuesday July 2

WHO GIVES TO THE ARTS: New studies show that Americans' contributions to non-profits was flat last year. "On the upside, arts and culture giving by American foundations climbed to nearly $3.7 billion in 2000, more than double the $1.8 billion recorded for 1996. Adjusted for inflation, this is an 83% overall increase - an average of 16.3% annually. Arts giving by U.S. foundations slightly outpaced the giving in all fields during this period." Backstage 07/01/02

WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM... Performing Arts, the program magazine handed out at 40-50 major California performance venues statewide, including the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Mark Taper Forum and Ahmanson theaters, the Hollywood Bowl, Pasadena Playhouse, and Orange County Center for the Performing Arts has folded. It was a victim of the takeover of Stagebill by Playbill last month. Theaters in New York, Chicago and other cities that used Stagebill are scambling to decide on new program book services. "In light of the changes, representatives of performing arts venues from around the country are organizing a July 8 meeting in New York to discuss their options, including self-publishing or negotiating new contracts with other publishers." Los Angeles Times 07/02/02

WE DECLARE A THUMB WAR: What happened to the culture wars? There's as much offensive culture out there as there has been. "Whatever happened to the age-old culture spaz-out that's been a staple of pop since Elvis learned to undulate in the '50s? The tango between stars and their exasperated detractors has followed a clear pattern: The artists allegedly push the boundaries of taste and the critics splutter, usually to the benefit of the artists, who get tagged as controversial, which invariably stirs sales." But nothing - despite some high-level provocations... Washington Post 07/02/02

CULTURE - AN ESSENTIAL INDUSTRY: In Korea "it has been strongly argued that the culture industry should be made a key industry of state. With regard to this, the government has considered culture technology a core technology for state development and, subsequently, published a comprehensive plan for developing skillful workers related to the culture industry. As a result, the share of the culture industry budget of the total budget of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism increased rapidly from about 3 percent in 1998 to 16 percent in 2002." Korea Herald 07/02/02

COMP THIS: What do Korea's culture consumers look like? A survey says most Koreans are not in the habit of buying tickets to events. "Among the respondents, 61.2 percent said they asked their friends to buy the tickets for them or went to the performance because they had free invitations. Only 13.6 percent of respondents said they purchased the tickets at the ticket box office whereas 10.6 percent bought the tickets at designated reservation centers." Korea Herald 07/02/02

Monday July 1

THE GREAT AMERICAN... "What is the Great American novel/play/ song/idea/movie/TV series?" Chicago Tribune critics take a whack at naming the best of the best. "Take your pick - and take cover. We like the notion of choosing a single work, from the multiplicity of created works that surround us, and anointing it as the best reflection of who and what we really are." Chicago Tribune 06/30/02

A MATTER OF DEDICATION: Sacramento has a growing arts scene. And yet, the city never seems to quite be able to pay for the arts it has. So some are suggesting a new city arts-dedicated tax that would provide significant stable funding for the arts. Any takers? Sacramento Bee 07/01/02