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 Thursday August 31

  • FASTER, LOUDER, PAINTIER? A former Canadian Olympic athlete has proposed an Arts Olympics. "The plan is to create an Olympics that will celebrate emerging artists from around the world in five categories: film, dance, music, literature and visual arts. The effort also proposes to bring an element of competitiveness back to the arts, which has always played a large role in the Olympic movement, dating back to the beginning of the modern Games in 1896." National Post (Canada) 08/31/00
  • URBAN (ART) PLANNING: Is it possible for a single artist to turn an entire town into a regional arts center - to use his aesthetic choices to faciliate socialism, creativity, and togetherness? One town, in Israel's Upper Western Galilee, has hired an artist to do just that. Ha'aretz 08/30/00

Wednesday August 30

  • “PERFORMANCE” ART? Austria’s annual digital arts festival, Ars Electronica, this year includes what might be the world’s most bizarre arts festival activity - “sperm racing.” “The idea of Ars Electronica is always to deal with areas where new technologies are starting to have an impact on culture and society." Wired 08/29/00
  • MONUMENT TO WOODSTOCK: New York billionaire Alan Gerry announces plans for a performing arts center on the grounds of the original Woodstock Festival in upstate New York. "The plan calls for a 4,000-seat covered theater with 15,000 additional open-air seats. The Gerry Foundation will own and operate the $40 million facility; the state will pay $15 million of the construction costs." New York Daily News 08/30/00
  • MEXICAN POLITICAL TURN HAS ARTISTS WONDERING: "No matter how we voted, for many of us in the arts and letters the election of the charismatic Mr. Fox is as bracing as a cold shower. No one really expected the plain-spoken rancher from Guanajuato to win, and we're flummoxed by a world turned suddenly inside out: a political right that has promised to reject its traditional religious, censorious, and invasively straight-laced stances, and a left adrift without a compass. Artists and intellectuals dependent on government largesse are at a loss as to how to court the unknown." Christian Science Monitor 08/30/00
  • THE FORGETFUL CENTURY? "While Susan Sontag has argued that tuberculosis preoccupied the 19th century and cancer, then AIDS, dominated the 20th, there are signs that Alzheimer's is becoming an important cultural metaphor for our new century.Consider the number of recent novels, stories and memoirs in which characters with Alzheimer's figures prominently." The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 08/30/00
  • WHAT HAPPENED TO THE ART OF BEING BORED? New study suggests that today's kids are so programmed that they are losing the time for imagination. "Playtime has morphed into what Klauber calls a "digital wonderland" - a fast-moving, goal-oriented zone that affords little time for aimless fun. Many kids today are focused on competition, efficiency and results. One consequence of this development is that their imaginations are beginning to atrophy: Play is all about the destination rather than the journey." Minneapolis Star-Tribune 08/30/00

Tuesday August 29

  • LIEBERMAN TO TESTIFY: US vice-presidential candidate Joe Lieberman will testify as early as Sept. 13 about a Federal Trade Commission report that reportedly claims "that film, record and video game producers are pushing their wares on children while pretending not to." The Gore campaign is unfazed: "I think he's brought to the ticket some real credibility on this issue. And it's an issue that's real important to people, especially to families. And where you find this level of concern is with working families - families where both parents are working, and the kids have a lot of time on their own where they're unsupervised." Salon 08/29/00
  • GETTING WHAT YOU WANT WITHOUT SAYING WHAT YOU MEAN: Tactics used by Britain’s culture secretary Chris Smith to secure a record amount of funding for the arts this year have been revealed in confidential minutes from a meeting between Smith and his Irish counterpart. “The aim appeared to be to get the cash without mentioning the dreaded word ‘arts’ to Treasury mandarins.” Instead, Smith stressed the economic returns of “educational funding” and “niche tourism” (read: museums). The Guardian (London) 08/29/00

Monday August 28

  • THE SENATOR AND ART: US VP-candidate Joe Lieberman's criticism of popular culture has free-speech advocates worried. But he's also a supporter of government funding for the arts.  "To have strict restrictions, having the government being judge and jury of what's acceptable art, (Lieberman) doesn't believe that's an appropriate role for government.'' Boston Herald 08/28/00
  • WHICH WAY TO THE CULTURE WAR? Attacking culture is usually good for a few votes. But so far the candidates in this year's US elections have been generally quiet. "Sen. Joseph Lieberman's selection as Al Gore's running mate prompted a flurry of Hollywood hand-wringing, but so far the vice presidential nominee has spent more time attacking George W. Bush's tax-cut plan than the way women are tortured in 'The Cell'." Los Angeles Times 08/28/00
  • FILM DECAYED: "Those who object to the violent, sexist or otherwise ugly images in movies tend to seek censorship, either by the industry itself or by legislation. I agree that movies, music, television programs and all privately funded works of art must be protected against censorship without regard to their content. But I also agree with those who say that the content of a lot of current art, including popular film, feeds an ongoing moral decay in our culture." Los Angeles Times 08/28/00
  • THE POLITICS OF MONUMENTS: "For reasons no one has satisfactorily explained, a few well-placed, influential men - apparently chief among them J. Carter Brown, chairman of the Commission of Fine Arts, and Bob Dole, former senator and Republican presidential nominee, now national campaign chairman of the World War II Memorial - are hellbent not merely on building a memorial but on building one of surpassing ugliness and placing it right in the heart of the National Mall." Washington Post 08/28/00
  • REMAINING BEHIND: "Ten years after Congress ordered American Indian remains returned to their tribes, only 10 percent of the up to 200,000 remains estimated to be in public collections are even officially inventoried, federal records show." Chicago Tribune 08/28/00
  • THE ART OF COMPETITION: When the modern Olympics were revived in 1896, artists, musicians, and writers competed for medals right alongside the athletes, just as they had done in ancient Greece. The practice was dropped in 1948, but host cities are still required to present an arts festival along with the sporting events. Although a lack of sponsorship and poor ticket sales have dampened Sydney’s plans for next month’s event at the Summer Games, the lineup is still impressive - 70% of the artists involved are Australian. Sunday Times (London) 08/27/00
  • TAKING IT TO THE STREETS: Gallery and museum attendance in Korea is down in recent years due to a popular view of fine arts as “pretentiously ritzy, untouchably high culture, and shamelessly time-consuming.” So what are curators and arts marketers doing to bolster attendance? “Holding exhibitions in the unlikeliest places in town - cemeteries, trains, warehouses, subway stations and local streets - for the very purpose of winning converts to the fine arts.” Korea Herald 08/27/00

Sunday August 27

  • HI TO HIGH CULTURE: "High" culture is wildly popular right now, and isn't that what artists have been fighting for? "Public enthusiasm for art, music, theater, and dance is raising some highbrow eyebrows, however. Academics, connoisseurs, and critics maintain that as arts organizations market themselves to draw new audiences, the quality of their offerings has been 'dumbed down'. 'Popularity is not necessarily a measure of success in the arts."  Too many institutions are compromising their standards as they scramble to respond to 'bottom-line pressures that reared their ugly heads in the 1990s'.'' Boston Globe 08/27/00
  • HIGH TACKINESS: "In recent times, it has become an unwritten rule of the Olympics that each opening ceremony should go faster, higher and further than the one before. Lighting the cauldron has become not so much a simple emblem as an increasingly emotional focal point for the games. After the heart-stopping moment in Barcelona when an archer lit the cauldron with a flaming arrow, Atlanta pulled off another coup in 1996, when Muhammad Ali, willed on by the world, lit it with visibly shaking hands. Now the pressure is on Sydney to top them both." The Sunday Times 08/27/00
  • ARTS BOOM: The arts are booming in Singapore, according to a new report. "Performance arts activities jumped from 1,500 in 1989 to 3,800 in 1999. For visual arts, the number of exhibitions went up from 212 to 406 in the same period." Singapore News 08/27/00

Saturday August 26

  • SHOCK OF THE NEW: What is it about being shocked that artists and viewers find so...invigorating? "Notoriously, ever since the dawn of Impressionism, modern art has delivered the shock of the new. Whether you find it a bracing blast of novelty or a dastardly attack on everything sacred is partly a matter of temperament - and taste." The Telegraph (London) 08/26/00
  • WHO GETS THE MONEY: In August the Australian government agreed to $70 million in additional funding to Australian arts groups. But agreement about how the money will be spent has been held up in a spat over $47,000 between the arts minister for Victoria and the federal government. The Age (Melbourne) 08/26/00 

Friday August 25

  • POLITICS OF SCOOPING: Last week the Boston Herald reported that longtime American Repertory Theatre director Robert Brustein would be leaving the theatre after this season. The next day the Boston Globe printed a story wherein Brustein denied the Herald's scoop. So did the Herald have it wrong? No, say its editors. Boston Phoenix 08/24/00

Thursday August 24

  • LIVE-IN.THIS: The Dot-commies are making it so expensive to live in San Francisco that artists can't afford it any more. Thousands have lost their work/live spaces and arts organizations are being prices out of the city. But protesting won't change things - time to act and use some of the city's policies to alleviate the squeeze. SF Weekly 08/23/00
  • CRITICAL INFLUENCE: In the fluid performance world that is the Edinburgh Festival, quotes from critics are hawked on the streets in attempts to lure an audience inside. Problem is, many of the quotes are distorted. "But journalists are fighting back. Some are insisting that the offending passages are removed... but only after bums have been successfully put on seats. Others have attempted to construct pieces without a single positive, quotable word. One irate hack was even said to have pounded the Edinburgh streets at night, tearing down 'his' quotes." The Guardian 08/24/00
  • VOTES FOR SALE: Last week, someone put their vote up for bid on E-bay. "You must specify whom I vote for in the presidential and all other elections in my district, by name or party,' the seller wrote in his description of the item. 'Why should the American citizen be left out? Congressmen and senators regularly sell their votes to the highest bidder. Democracy for sale!' E-bay finally canceled the sale, cooperating with investigators from the Justice Department, but not before the price had been bid up to $10,100." Feed 08/24/00
  • NOT SO SMART: The founder of Mensa, the society for geniuses, recently died in London at the age of 85. A curious society this. "The great idea of the Mensa organisation was that if only it were possible to get together all the most intelligent people in the community, they could have an overwhelming influence for good and social welfare. It has discovered the hard way that high intelligence correlates in no way with good character, emotional stability, personal charisma or understanding of other people. There are just as many nasty as nice intelligent people." Sydney Morning Herald 08/24/00
  • CHOKED BY SUCCESS? Edinburgh is the world's largest arts festival, and boasts more than 1,600 shows over three weeks. It is "made up of a number of fringes with dramatically different agendas, audiences, resources and performers all taking place only loosely beneath the tent that is the Fringe Festival." But is the Fringe - "which encompasses theatre, dance, musicals, opera, fine art and comedy and revue entertainment - grown so diverse as to become impossible to define?" The Globe and Mail 08/24/00

Wednesday August 23

  • KENNEDY CENTER AWARDS are announced: dance Mikhail Baryshnikov, tenor Plácido Domingo, actress Angela Lansbury, rock 'n' roller Chuck Berry, and the actor/director Clint Eastwood. New York Times 08/23/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
    • POPULAR CHOICE: "Though the Kennedy Center has been questioned for giving people a legendary status when their careers were brief or obscure, or saluting artists with highbrow appeal but little in the way of broad popular impact, this year's honorees have had long, influential careers. In many cases, even their clunkers have been hailed as bold experiments." Washington Post 08/23/00
  • SUIT OVER ARTS FUNDING: "The Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, founded in 1988 to support illegal aliens and homosexuals, established an arts program in 1990. It is suing the city because it claims the city council's decision in 1997 to eliminate taxpayer funding for its arts program was political." 08/23/00

Tuesday August 22

  • ACTIVE CRITIC: Portland theatre critic not only wrote critical reviews of a theatre company's shows but went to funders to ask why they gave money to the theatre. "It appears to me through it all he's trying to close us down. If he gets away with it, guess who's next? I don't mind being blasted, that's part of it. But this goes over the line." Portland Business Journal 8/22/00
  • THE SELLARS FESTIVAL: Peter Sellars is hard at work putting together the next Adelaide Festival. "Decrying many Australian and American festivals for relying heavily on what he calls 'a yuppie shopping spree' of European works, Sellars has confirmed he will present a predominantly local program in Adelaide. It is a proposition that alternately dazzles and horrifies people, as do his challenging images of large-scale community collaborations likely to involve Asian countries." The Age (Melbourne) 08/22/00
  • PLAYWRIGHT OF THE PUBLIC DOMAIN: Do copyright laws help or hinder culture? Playwright Charles Mee addresses the question repeatedly in his work - all of his plays include text appropriated from another source, and all of them are available for free over the web. “The greatest plays in human history - those by the ancient Greeks and Shakespeare - would never have been written had copyright laws existed to keep the authors from borrowing from the culture around them.” NPR 08/21/00 [Real audio file]
  • SIMPLIFYING GERMAN: In the interest of efficiency, the European Union has decided to use "new" simplified German in its business. The simplified language, introduced two years ago, "cut the number of spelling rules from 212 to 112 and those governing usage of commas from 52 to nine. German's Lego-like way of constructing words was also changed by preventing one very long one being created from several." But the decision has Germans up in arms. The Telegraph (London) 08/22/00

Monday August 21

  • ARTISTS VS DEVELOPERS: A Boston artists' district has become a popular target for developers, who want to significantly remake the area. Now a coalition of artists is "aggressively attempting to buy warehouse buildings from local developers in the hopes of salvaging the artists' presence in the bustling arts district." Boston Herald 08/21/00
  • AN EDIFYING EDINBURGH? As usual, a fair bit of controversy at this year's Edinburgh Festival. "Founded in 1948 to foster cultural links after the second world war, the international festival has since been surrounded by a clutch of peripheral events, of which the most prominent and controversial is the fringe festival. So how does the international festival now distinguish itself?" And is it doing a good job? The answer, according to some experts is a resounding no. The Guardian (London) 08/21/00
  • JUDGING WORK: "Readers and writers of the past - not just the geniuses, either; the intelligent, alert ones who kept current as we all like to think we do - remind us how culture and taste change. And why. What aesthetic, social and intellectual needs do beliefs serve in their time? Which ones serve us now, and why?" New York Times 08/21/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • BRUSTEIN REVIEWS ALEXANDER: "Jane Alexander probably could have been less of a diplomat with legislators, and more of an advocate for the avant-garde and the high arts. With hindsight, she had nothing to lose by a more forthright stand since, for all of her charm, graciousness, and tact, she failed to save the agency from become a limping animal, disabled by the Congressional axe. But Command Performance is possibly more interesting as a personal bildungsroman than as a history of a crippled government agency - a tale of what befalls a liberal American idealist at the close of the twentieth century." The New Republic 08/21/00

Sunday August 20

  • WAR'S A WAR... They don't have Communists, and the drug war has gotten old. What's the next "great" issue? "With three major combatants in the nation's culture wars closely tied to the race, the assault on sex, violence, and sensationalism in the entertainment industry is now very much a bipartisan venture. 'These censorship crusades are quite cyclical. There may be some differences ideologically in terms of what Lynne Cheney would want to censor and what Al and Tipper Gore want to censor. But I'm not aware of any significant differences'.'' Boston Globe 08/20/00
  • MEDIA MEANING: " 'The work we have been doing on media and screen dependency has suggested that people have been desensitised. In order to get a better reaction artists have had to go to further extremes. It is about finding a new kick and a new thrill. Very often, these shock tactics are a substitute for real creativity.' So is there no other purpose behind this ceaseless search for more raw and brutal forms of diversion?" The Observer (London) 08/20/00
  • SUCCESSFUL CULTURES: Do the values of a culture determine its economic success? A new book offers 22 various scholars and authors debating whether the cultural aspects of a people make a difference in their level of economic development. Boston Globe 08/20/00
  • GETTING OVER IT: "It's fascinating the effect a bad review has on you and those around you. Friends and family tend to flap around saying: 'It's only one person's opinion, what does it matter?' But that's rubbish. If you get a really good review somewhere, people don't say: 'Hey, don't bother getting excited, that's only one person's opinion.' People tell you to be thick-skinned, to rise above it, but I don't think you can. Bad reviews hurt like hell and that's all there is to it. Now I know why so many actors say they never read them at all." The Observer (London) 08/20/00
  • SIB ART: "While rock has long had a tradition of sibling acts, the film and art worlds, though previously featuring plenty of brothers and sisters working in different areas of the same art form, seem to have only recently hit upon the idea of consolidating the family business. But does working with your brother or sister have any effect on the artistic end product? Is sibling art or music somehow different from other collaborative efforts and, if so, is it rooted in a genetically shared talent or simply the circumstances of upbringing? Sunday Times 08/20/00

Friday August 18

  • CULTURE WARS, ROUND II: "Around the country, think tanks, foundations, academics and researchers are drawing up a wide range of empirical evidence designed to defend and define the civic role of culture in America. And by culture they don't just mean art in a museum or music in an orchestra hall. Culture, they say, includes everything from fine art to movies and pop music, parks, historic monuments and architecture - the essential fabric of our lives. And, they say, government needs to pay fresh attention. Witness the birth of the cultural policy movement." Los Angeles Times 08/18/00
  • LIEBERMAN VS THE ARTS: "None of us wants to resort to regulation. But if the entertainment industry continues to move in this direction, and continues to market death and degradation to our children, and continues to pay no heed to the real bloodshed staining our communities, then the government will act." The government will act: To many people, even those who agree that the contemporary entertainment world is objectionably coarse and crude, those words are almost as menacing as the tip of a bayonet in the small of the back. Chicago Tribune 08/18/00
  • FREE ART: "Brooklyn-based historian, author and playwright Charles Mee believes that the greatest plays in human history - those by the ancient Greeks and Shakespeare - would never have been written had copyright laws existed to keep the authors from borrowing from the culture around them. Mee puts his money where his mouth is. He makes the texts of his plays freely available on the Web, and forgoes royalties." All Things Considered (NPR) 08/17/00 [Real Audio file]
  • BETTING ON ART: The arts are in desperate shape in South Africa. "To continue to ignore the very real obstacles facing the cultural and artistic life of the country is reckless. With the Lottery pickings out there to better South Africa, why are the arts not on the agenda?" Daily Mail & Guardian (South Africa) 08/17/00
  • RETURN TO SENDER: "Britain may have lost its former colonial territories, but its national museums still hold vast cultural treasures; the surviving legacy of hundreds of years of empire. These museums are now becoming increasingly out of step with museums around the world which have been handing back material over which there have been claims. Indeed the Australian Museum has been a leader in the field for more than 20 years, having returned significant items to Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands." Sydney Morning Herald 08/18/00
  • ROLLER-PARIS: "Twice a week, thousands (as many as 28,000) of in-line skate aficionados take over central Paris, turning the traffic-clogged streets of the French capital into a derby of flailing limbs and technicolour Lycra. Held every Friday night and Sunday afternoon, the inline skating "parades" are a magnet for locals and tourists seeking exercise, fun and even a whiff of danger. Each week, police approve a new 30-kilometre route and keep traffic at bay during the allotted three hours. National Post (Canada) 08/18/00

Thursday August 17

  • THE WHO'S TO BLAME GAME: Joe Lieberman gave his speech to the Democratic Party convention Wednesday and didn't slam Hollywood. But he sent pal William Bennett to speak on a panel in his place across town. Bennett decried the "morass of sex and vulgarity promoted by Hollywood" and "reiterated that the entertainment industry is responsible for 'the degradation of our culture' and that movies, TV and music have led to 'a debasement of the moral environment'." Variety 08/17/00
  • ARTS CUTS: Ottawa, Canada's capital, is consolidating into a "megacity" and the board overseeing the transition has decided to cut a promised $500,000 for the arts from the new city's budget surplus. "We are just one tenth of one percent of the regional budget and to grab that money, they really are going to have some upset artists." CBC 08/17/00
  • LAGUNA FESTIVAL FIGHT: "The day after the festival board voted 5-0 late Tuesday to move the Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters to a bigger site in San Clemente, artists and other opponents of the move vowed to step up their fight. 'We will not allow this to happen. They may go, but the festival will not go with them. The artists will not go. The pageant people indicated they will not go and volunteers said they will not go'." Orange County Register 08/17/00
  • ACADEMIA'S INDENTURED SERVANTS: Last April, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that graduate assistants at NYU had the right to unionize. The university subsequently appealed the decision and now, just as school is about to begin, the notoriously overworked and underpaid GAs are awaiting the Board's decision. The Village Voice 08/16/00

Wednesday August 16

  • A MATTER OF PRIORITIES: Arts education programs by more than a dozen Boston area arts groups that work with more than 30 schools may have to be curtailed after the Massachusetts governor vetoes $5.2 million in spending slated for Boston schools. "This is the single largest act of destruction for arts education in Boston.'' Boston Herald 08/16/00
  • TO BOLDLY GO: "While the major media establishments struggle to figure out how to use the Internet, many celebrities are taking advantage of a medium that offers more creative freedom at a lower cost. And they're being greeted by a number of smart online companies such as Artistdirect, which creates Web sites for celebrities, and Atomic Pop, which is headed by Al Teller, the former head of MCA Music Entertainment Group and CBS Records." Yahoo! (Inter@ctive Week) 08/15/00
  • DOT-COM DETENTE: "Clearly, if San Francisco is becoming too expensive for some folks to live in, it's also becoming too expensive for others to create in. While the booming dot-com economy may have something to do with squeezing artists out, dot-communists themselves are not necessarily the enemy. At least that's what the Institute for Unpopular Culture will set out to prove tomorrow night." San Francisco Chronicle 08/16/00
  • LEAVING LAGUNA: Laguna Beach's colorful 70-year-old Pageant of the Masters arts festival is leaving town. "The five-member Festival of Arts board voted unanimously Tuesday night to move the prestigious pageant and the festival art show to a $30 million complex in San Clemente after next year. Festival officials expect to clear $2 million annually - instead of the current $75,000 - to donate to the arts community." Orange County Register 08/16/00

Tuesday August 15

  • REPLACING TOBACCO DOLLARS: Tobacco companies have been major funders of Canadian arts. But new regulations curtail tobacco sponsorships. A survey of 152 arts groups finds that "more than half of the groups now receiving tobacco money will be forced to reduce the size and scope of their productions. It also found that arts groups will seek new sources of revenue rather than ask existing sponsors for more money." CBC 08/15/00
  • THE MOST POWERFUL MARKETING FORCE IN THE UNIVERSE: Hollywood has the capacity to excite the public about just about anything - which is why NASA has been bending over backwards to help Hollywood make its space movies more authentic. It goes something like this: if people get space-crazy, NASA may get more support from Congress. The Age (AP) 08/15/00
  • THE ART OF REUNION: A delegation of North Korean poets, painters, and scholars will return to see their families in South Korea for the first time in 50 years - many of their family members have only been able to see their relatives' art at overseas exhibitions in China and Japan. The Korea Herald 08/15/00

Monday August 14

  • CRITICAL DISCOMFIT: Movie critic Stanley Kauffmann finds his opinion has changed after 40 years. "The plain, discomfiting fact is that every one of us who has watched plays and films or read books or listened to music or looked at painting and architecture is, in some measure, self-deceived. Filed away in the recesses of our minds are thousands of opinions that we have accumulated through our lives, and they make us think that we know what we think on all those subjects. We do not. All we know is what we once thought, and any earlier view of a work, if tested, might be hugely different from what we would think now." The New Republic 08/10/00

  • IN SEARCH OF BOHEMIA: "It has become fashionable these days to emphasize, even to celebrate, the assimilation of bohemian ideals to capitalist realities. The 'bourgeois bohemian' is becoming a stock figure in social criticism, or what passes for it. Trendy boutiques and lame attempts at politically correct purchasing have become the stuff of neo-conservative satire. The implicit message of such gloating is always the same: bohemia has disappeared into up-market fashion. And one would be hard pressed to deny that this new pop-sociological cliche has a basis in reality." The New Republic 08/14/00

  • PLAYING TO THE RIGHT? A longtime critic of the entertainment industry, U.S. Democratic vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman on Sunday accused Hollywood of corrupting the nation's children and the culture at large. He singled out Walt Disney Co. as particularly lax morally and warned that Washington could impose “legal restrictions” if the industry doesn’t impose some of its own. “Look, I love the movies. I love music, but there is still too much violence, too much sex, too much incivility in entertainment.” Yahoo! News (Reuters) 08/13/00 

    • AND BURNING BRIDGES?  “Two days after Al Gore's Lieberman announcement, a lot of people in [Hollywood] were absolutely reeling. Was Joe Lieberman one of ours or was he not? Is a milestone civil rights breakthrough worth the price of a Silver Sewer award?” Salon 08/14/00

  • EDINBURGH - DOES SIZE MATTER? "We are repeatedly told that it is the biggest in the world, the largest arts festival of any kind, an artistically overstuffed August when, for three weeks, Edinburgh becomes the mother of all festivals - Official, Fringe, Film, Book, TV and now Club. But for too long, the Fringe has been inordinately concerned with size. Like an adolescent boy - and, for that matter, most males - it is obsessed with being the largest. But who's counting? And does it matter?" New Statesman 08/14/00
  • OPPORTUNITY RUINS: One month after the Roman Coliseum hosted its first theatrical event in 1,500 years, a pop concert planned for the amphitheaters of ancient Pompeii and Paestum may be next. Despite widespread concerns over possible damage to the ruins, Italy’s culture minister promised that more of Italy's famous monuments will present entertainment. Times of India (AP) 08/14/00
  • ARTSCORPS: A Boston pilot program "teams students with five local cultural institutions. The students act as apprentices to artists in five disciplines: dance, portraiture, storytelling, Vietnamese silk painting and puppetry-theater arts. In addition to the cultural experience, the students are also gaining job training and literacy skills. The students are required to keep a daily journal, show up on time, and act professionally and respectfully. For their time - five hours a day, five days a week, for five weeks - the program's participants receive $6 an hour." Boston Herald 08/14/00

Sunday August 13

  • SHANGRILARTIST: "The Delaware Arden should be mythical because it sounds like a place that's too good to be true. It has an odd but equitable tax scheme, community spirit out of a Jimmy Stewart movie, and a lot of artists. This isn't surprising, because Arden was founded 100 years ago by a sculptor and an architect who were trying to invent a more perfect form of society. They didn't quite succeed, but their legacy is an enclave that even today is home to more than an average complement of creative people - artists, artisans, writers and aesthetes of every stripe." Philadelphia Inquirer 08/13/00
  • ACCESSIBILITY AFOOT? "Conceptual art, performance art and hard abstraction still often dominate the art magazines. But in New York, there is a feast of representational art this summer. I decided to check it out to see if there was anything in these exhibits that would give me a clue as to what is afoot." Washington Post 08/13/00

Friday August 11

  • 18,000 MANUSCRIPTS, BOOKS, AND MUSIC COMPOSITIONS stolen by Russia’s Red Army after World War II and since kept in Armenia’s Academy of Sciences were returned to Germany this week. Armenia first returned war booty to Germany in 1998 with a huge shipment of antiques. Germany’s culture minister is confident the remaining artifacts will be returned shortly. Russia Today (Reuters) 08/10/00

Thursday August 10

  • GHOST OF A CHANCE: In the 1960s, hippy artists from Britain were invited to revive a ghost hill town in Italy. They restored its houses and rebuilt the water and sewage system and made the town a going concern. "But a promise that they could make their homes was never put in writing." Now the Italian government wants the town back... BBC 08/09/00
  • SHOWDOWN IN NEW YORK: "In the arts world, passions can run pretty deep. But passions have carved a Grand Canyon-size divide among warring factions of artists fighting for control of the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center on the Lower East Side. And the fight could end up in a death grip, with all the artists being kicked out of the castlelike building." New York Times 08/10/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • EASY TARGETS: "There are three people truly disliked by Hollywood. John McCain, conservative moralist William Bennett and Joe Lieberman. That's because each has sought the spotlight to further his own career by picking on an easy target — the pop culture spewed out by television, movies, music and video games. Most of the culture-war cackling from these three heats up during an election year. It's a no-brainer for politicians: TV equals filth. We need guidelines — like ratings, a V-chip and content concessions from Hollywood producers. That Lieberman is now in the running to become vice president is not good for those who oppose censorship." San Francisco Examiner 09/10/00

Wednesday August 9

  • CULTURAL CRUSADER: On Tuesday US VP-candidate Joe Lieberman, "a culture warrior considered one of the moral voices of the Senate, promised supporters that the Democratic Gore/Lieberman ticket would help parents 'raise PG kids in an X-rated society.' He praised Vice President Gore's wife, Tipper, for having had the courage to speak out against certain music lyrics, a move for which she was widely blasted in the 1980s." Washington Post 08/09/00
    • A TV CRITIC: "Lieberman, like a lot of us who actually watch the TV we rip, wants content changes. But when the government threatens to get involved in that sort of thing, it smacks of demagoguery. No matter. TV critic Lieberman is always good for an opinion." Chicago Sun-Times 08/09/00
    • THE LIEBERMAN FACTOR: US VP-candidate Joe Lieberman has been tough on the entertainment industry. How tough?  "He told Daily Variety last year that shows like 'Friends' should be relegated to late night because of their raciness. Variety 08/08/00
  • SOUL SURVIVOR: Europe's big cultural festivals are big business. "Salzburg, the most prestigious, sold its soul a long while back. Nowhere on the tourist itinerary of Europe are you more likely to find over-priced hotels and mediocre restaurants. The old town has become little more than a shopping mall for the exceedingly wealthy. How could Mozart's birthplace have come to this?" All the more to sympathize with Gerard Mortier's struggle for artistic integrity. Financial Times 08/09/00
  • FESTIVAL POWER: "Think of Edinburgh today: boomtown, glittering northern capital, as beautiful a city centre as any in Europe; full of history, packed year round with visitors, draped with pavement cafés, bright with flags. Then glance back at Edinburgh as it was 53 years ago, when the Festival was founded: a lost capital almost crushed by the pressure of two world wars - the austerity, the rationing, the sheer exhaustion - into a kind of dour British provincialism from which it seemed unlikely ever to recover." The Scotsman 08/08/00

    • EDINBURGH OPENS FOR BUSINESS: "Everything from theatres to circuses, orchestras to book-readings, stand-up comedy to experimental dance is featured on the programme, making the festival the largest celebration of the arts anywhere in the world - it is listed as such in The Guinness Book of Records." CNN 08/08/00

Tuesday August 8

  • CONSCIENCE OF THE NATION? Hollywood is pondering the possibility of Joe Lieberman becoming vice-president of the US. "Lieberman is widely regarded as 'the moral conscience' of the Senate and has continually blasted TV, movies and the recording industry for featuring too much sex and violence." New York Post 08/08/00
  • LANGUAGE OF THOUGHT: European thinkers are curious about American intellectural thought, and seem to seek it out to engage with it.The reverse is not so often true. "In failing to read our European contemporaries in their own languages (especially when they write about their own philosophical classics), don't we deprive ourselves of important cognitive sources?" Chronicle of Higher Education 08/07/00
  • SURVIVING CULTURE: Do cultures have an inherent right to survive? "There is no great moral distinction, such rhetoric seems to suggest, between allowing a culture to assimilate into the wider surrounding society and actually going out and killing its members en masse. If we take these arguments at face value, cultural survival is something very close to a moral absolute; to refuse to endorse it is to sign up on the side of cultural atrocity and numbing global conformity." Civilization 08/00
  • WHO, THEN, WILL LEAD US? "No longer do our poets, both musical and otherwise, define society; instead, they reflect it. Some of the most significant philosophers of our time have provided nothing more than political fuel, and fashion designers have been left with the sole responsibility of directing the masses. We can hardly claim to perpetuate the age-old search for nobility. Knowledge is no longer a reward in itself, and a good number of us believe Socrates to simply be a character in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure." *spark-online 08/00

Monday August 7

  • CITY TAX FOR ART: A proposed "cultural tax" in Detroit would pump $36 million annually to arts and culture. "It is being pushed by Detroit Renaissance, a group of business executives trying to enhance the area, and a coalition of cultural institutions. They contend that the money is needed to keep Metro Detroit's cultural landmarks vibrant by stabilizing funding and providing support for the arts if the economy slows." A poll shows 58 percent of those surveyed said they would approve it. Detroit News 08/07/00
  • STORE THIS HERE: "Think about it - every time you see a web page that's using a piece of clip art with a dog looking surprised, there are anywhere from six to a thousand other web sites using the exact same image, all stored in different places. This is what my Information Mechanics professor used to call a 'waste of space'." That's why I invented a program for the Library of Congress to erase duplicate information. *spark-online 08/00 

Sunday August 6

  • YOU CAN TAKE THE AUDIENCE OUT OF THE BAR, BUT... Pittsburgh's undergoing a building boom of cultural facilities. "But despite our new wealth, it sometimes seems as if we've invested in our venues but not in ourselves. A blue-collar work ethic is a good thing, but 25-cent manners meant for the neighborhood tavern don't fly in a $25 million theater designed to radiate culture. Anyone who's recently been to a film, play, dance performance or music concert has seen a recital of the Pittsburgh Inconsiderate Symphony." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 08/06/00

Friday August 4

  • CULTURAL ASSET? Dick Cheney is George Bush's running mate, but of interest to cultural people is his wife Lynne, who was chairperson of the National Endowment for the Humanities in George Sr's administration. When she left NEH, though, she attacked it. Cheney appeared on ABC's 'This Week' last Sunday, "and told interviewer Cokie Roberts that she had tried to eliminate the agency because 'the Endowment, under the Clinton administration, evolved into something outrageous,' and that 'it was such a misuse of taxpayer money.' " Backstage 08/04/00
  • HOW COMPUTERS CHANGE US: Computers are useful tools, to be sure. But using them is also changing the way we think. "The computer is a new semiotic channel. When it processes information it changes that information. Consider, for example, the hunt-and-browse method of research one does when actually working in library stacks. Compare this to the Boolean search procedures one uses when doing computer assisted research. This change is bound make a difference in the knowledge produced, but as yet we do not know in what way." The Idler 08/04/00
  • INVESTMENT IN CULTURE: Various levels of Australian governments spent a combined $199 per person on cultural activities in 1998-99, says a new report. That was up $9.40 from the previous year. The Age (Melbourne) 08/04/00 
  • WHO ARE WE? There are plenty of prominent Aussie actors and directors who have made it big worldwide - Mel Gibson, Cate Blanchette, and Geoffrey Rush, just to name a few. But what version of Australia are they presenting to the world (and to Australians)? "A bloke could be forgiven for starting to wonder exactly who owns this country." Feed 08/04/00
  • POPULAR COOPERATION: "Ever wonder what would happen if several leading entertainment firms decided to work together? Korea is about to find out as five business giants in various entertainment fields signed a cooperative contract Wednesday to start just such a joint venture." Korea Herald 08/04/00

Thursday August 3

  • THE CORPORATE ARTS BUDDY PLAN: With only 1% of businesses investing in the arts, Australian Prime Minister John Howard decided it was about time to create an arts business foundation that would encourage funding from the private sector.  "What we are trying to encourage is recognition that it's not just about handing over a cheque. It's about two partners looking for the longer term." The Age 08/03/00

Tuesday August 1

  • OLYMPIC ARTS FEST SPUTTERS: What if they threw a party and nobody came? Sydney's arts companies are reporting that the Sydney Olympic Organizing Committee has botched the arts festival by not promoting it properly and failing to deliver tickets. "Arts companies have complained that some events have sold as little as 8 per cent of tickets with just six weeks until the festival's opening." The Australian 08/01/00
  • THE NEW LATIN: "Think of mathematics as the Latin of modern times. Across the world, it plays, as several historians have noted, the role that Latin played for Europeans in the Middle Ages. It's the international language of vital work. It unites those whose thoughts produce big changes, and it helps make those changes occur. We who know nothing of mathematics (like Europeans who knew nothing of Latin in, say, 1350) are fated to be, in a crucial sense, more spectators than participants at the central dramas of our lifetime." National Post (Canada) 08/01/00
  • TAKE A LESSON FROM THE BASQUE: Once admired as one of Europe’s most art-friendly cities, with collections rivaling those of several European capitals, Glasgow has seen its museums and galleries fall into disrepair and financial turmoil in recent years. No surprise why - funding cuts, due in large part to a remapping of municipal four years ago. “What is required is a change in the way the museums - and perhaps other cultural assets - are funded." The Telegraph (London) 08/01/00 
  • WHAT’S THE REAL STORY? While the Napster controversy has enjoyed an avalanche of media attention, how much of it can be considered “good journalism”? “Too often the complicated dispute between the online start-up and the music industry has been painted in the most simplistic terms - a reductive tale of forward-thinking entrepreneurs outsmarting head-in-the-sand label executives. From the get-go, disturbing signs suggested the press was more interested in advancing Napster's story as a David-vs.-Goliath tale than in seriously addressing the intricate issues at hand.” Salon 08/01/00
  • SILICON VALLEY'S RESIDENT LUDDITE: Clifford Stoll is on a mission. "In his most recent book, 'High Tech Heretic,' Stoll writes that computers 'dull questioning minds with graphical games where quick answers take the place of understanding.' In his book, Stoll skewers calculators, laptops, desktops, and cell phones as gizmos that do nothing to provoke critical thinking. Instead, they swallow time and waste money that should be spent on books and teachers." Minneapolis Star-Tribune 08/01/00