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Friday September 29

  • PROTECTING DIVERSITY: Delegates to an international cultural conference in Greece have decided to form the International Network for Cultural Diversity. The organization will endeavor to protect local cultures. "We want this to be a legal and enforceable agreement that will give countries the ability to support culture and diversity and to stand up to trade measures that are infringing on their cultural sovereignty." CBC 09/29/00
  • MAKE IT SO: The handwriting of the ancient queen Cleopatra has been discovered on papyrus stored in a mummy in Berlin. "Cleopatra's signature can be found in just one word: 'genestho,' which means 'Make it so!' It is the formula for the royal authorization, and had to be added by the ruler's own hand." Discovery 09/29/00

Thursday September 28

  • OUR AMERICAN COUSINS: Americans are big players in London's current cultural boom. "Today, as London is seeing the greatest cultural expansion in its history — a $600 million millennium effort financed partly by England's national lottery and partly by private donations — a list of many of the largest donors reads like a Who's Who of American philanthropy. New galleries, courtyards, libraries, reading rooms and additions are being christened with names like Annenberg and Sackler." New York Times 09/28/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • I, STAR: Finding ways to "brand" your artistic director goes a long way towards defining the success of your arts organization. The Canadian Opera Comapny's Richard Bradshaw has remade "one of the fustiest cultural institutions in the land into one of the hippest". Conversely, the Toronto Symphony tried to position Jukka-Pekka Sarasate as a stud and turned off the orchestra's traditional supporters. The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 09/28/00
  • BUILDING FOR THE ARTS: All the while Harvey Lichtenstein was building the Brooklyn Academy as a cultural force, he was bothered by the vacant property around the Academy building. Now he proposes an ambitious series of buildings - a visual and performing arts library, a charter school, a new- media center, a mixed-use arts complex, theaters, nonprofit offices, a museum, retail space, loft housing and a hotel - and has got architect Rem Koolhaas interested. New York Times 09/28/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

Wednesday September 27

  • BAN REVOKED: Ireland's censor has just revoked a ban on a 1967 movie version of Joyce's "Ulysses." "The production, which contains all the sexually explicit language that made the novel notorious, is expected to be released to cinemas here for the first time. Film censor Sheamus Smith said it was 'innocent stuff now', and has granted a certificate for showing to audiences aged 15 and older." Nando Times (AP) 09/27/00
  • SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST? The international arts world has witnessed countless casualties these last few months, with orchestras and dance companies closing shop and widespread budget cuts near certain. Arts lovers bemoan the losses, but one critic sees the futility in trying to save the foundering organizations. “My heart goes out to stranded artists, as it does to shipbuilders and steelworkers whose jobs have vanished. But propping up arts companies that have lost their popularity and purpose is futile. Better, surely, to rally resources around the fittest ensembles, whose success may breed regeneration.” The Telegraph (London) 09/27/00
  • STEPPING INTO THE VOID: Government funding for the arts in Canada has declined precipitously in recent years - down by $41 million a year in Toronto alone. But Canada doesn't have a tradition of individual giving to the arts. "Canadians donated $4.44-billion to charitable and non-profit organizations between 1996 and 1997, but only 3 per cent went to arts and culture." The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 09/27/00
  • FROM THE STADIUM TO THE SYMPHONY: Australian arts companies feared the Olympics would draw audiences away from their performances, but the opposite has proved true. Sydney’s arts audiences are booming. Sydney Morning Herald 09/27/00

Monday September 25

  • THE FAME GAME: Artists are a hot commodity in London right now. Newspapers vie to put artists in their columns, and he or she who makes something outrageous is sure to get plenty of attention. But it's all so very predictable... New York Times 09/25/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • THE BOTTOM LINE: "How should an entertainment company balance the demands of profit-making versus good corporate citizenship? It's no secret that we live in an era when the demands of Wall Street dominate entertainment company decision-making. The Oscars, Emmys and Grammys are a once-a-year gold medal for corporate responsibility. The rest of the year, we celebrate the corporate gunslingers who boost their company's value - and we demand the heads of the losers who lag behind in profits." Los Angeles Times 09/25/00
  • CULTURE STIRS IN IRAN: in the trenches of the "culture wars" - where right-wing vigilantes once attacked theatres that put on "liberal" shows, ripping up their chairs and intimidating theatregoers - the political sea change has brought rebirth. Iranian films are increasingly winning plaudits and awards at international film festivals for their fresh treatment of humanist issues. New Statesman 09/25/00

Sunday September 24

  • ARTS CENTER OR BERMUDA TRIANGLE? Even in London's current artboom, plans for redoing Southbank's galleries and concert halls have hit yet another snag. "One famous architect after another has boldly set out to civilise its streaked concrete walkways and make sense of its flawed galleries and concert halls, only to see their schemes vanish without leaving so much as an oil slick on the Thames." The Observer 09/24/00
  • FUND-RAISING NO-NO: Jean Kennedy Smith, the former U.S. ambassador to Ireland, is fined by the Justice Department for "soliciting a $1 million donation from the Irish prime minister to help fund a program at the Kennedy Center. Smith, who served as ambassador for five years and is a longtime member of the center's board, violated a federal conflict-of-interest law by making the solicitation in August 1998, near the end of her appointment in Ireland." Washington Post 09/23/00
  • HARD PAYS FOR SOFT: The German government proposes to initiate a fee on computer hardware makers that would be used to pay those whose intellectual property is distributed digitally. 09/24/00

Friday September 22

  • YOU CAN'T DIE WITHOUT PERMISSION: A small village in France ran out of room in its cemetery. So the mayor issued an edict: "It is forbidden for any person not in possession of a family vault to die on the village's territory." Sydney Morning Herald 09/22/00
  • TOE-ING THE LINE: In Paris thousands roll through town once a week in an inline skate. The fad has spread to Amsterdam and now to London, where every Wednesday hundreds roll by Buckingham Palace with the now-traditional "Hi Queenie" greeting. London Evening Standard 09/22/00
  • FREE SHELVES ONCE AGAIN: A US federal judge has struck down a local law in Wichita Kansas that allowed signers of a petition to yank “objectionable” books from the public library. MSNBC (AP, REUTERS) 09/22/00

Thursday September 21

  • NEA INCREASE: The National Endowment for the Arts finally got a budget increase from the US Congress yesterday - an additional $7 million this year, for a total of $105 million. But the extra money comes with a catch. Washington Post 09/21/00
  • NEW HARVARD STUDY ON ARTS EDUCATION: After a comprehensive review of 50 years of arts education research and nearly 200 existing studies, researchers concluded that spatial-temporal reasoning improves for children when they learn to make music and improves temporarily for adults when they listen to certain kinds of music. However, researchers uncovered no generalizable, causal links between studying the arts and improvement in SAT scores, grades or reading scores, challenging a popular argument that the arts can and should be used to buttress other types of learning. Washington Post 09/21/00
  • TAKING CONTROL: New report says that music and book publishers could lose billions of dollars over the next few years because of the internet and digital copying. On the other hand, "it predicted that musicians will gain $1 billion, authors $1.3 billion, and third party service companies $2.8 billion by 2005 in 'a historic transfer of revenues'," due to artists choosing to distribute their own work. The Age (Melbourne) 09/21/00
  • JOB DESCRIPTION: The artist's job is to "experience (mostly emotions), to mould it into a the grammar, syntax and vocabulary of a universal language in order to communicate the echo of their idiosyncratic language. They are forever mediating between us and their experience. Rightly so, the quality of an artist is measured by his ability to loyally represent his unique language to us. The smaller the distance between the original experience (the emotion of the artist) and its external representation - the more prominent the artist." The Idler 09/20/00
  • FIRST IT WAS THE FRENCH... Now Italian authorities are getting upset about the corruption of their language by English. "Critics complain that not enough effort was being made to coin new Italian words instead of borrowing foreign ones." BBC 09/20/00
  • ANOTHER SIGN OF TIMES SQUARE'S TURNAROUND: Pedestrian traffic through New York's rejuvenated Times Square in the heart of the city's theatre district has gotten so heavy that the city is considering closing streets off to cars, widening sidewalks and making other pedestrian-friendly moves. New York Post 09/20/00

Wednesday September 20

  • PRAYING TO THE SOUND OF PORN: A broadcaster mixes up the soundtracks of a Catholic broadcast and a porn channel. "For two hours, millions of Roman Catholics watched video of cardinals singing hymns and praying, set to the orgasmic moaning and caterwauling of porn stars like Shyla Foxxx, Kaitlyn Ashley and Caressa Savage. Conversely, male viewers of the Fantasy Channel, sitting on sofas with their pants to their ankles, were treated to porn that featured holy incantations." Salon 09/20/00

Tuesday September 19

  • GETTING A PIECE OF THE PIE (BUT A VERY SMALL SLICE): News of an extra $70 million in funding wasn’t enough to excite Australia’s state theater companies. While the overall government spending represents a 23% increase for the arts sector, the four largest theater companies will only see a 4 1/2% raise - barely more than inflation. The Age (Melbourne) 09/19/00
  • WHO ARE YOU CALLING A “PHILISTINE”? UK Culture Secretary Chris Smith responded to recent attacks by artists (David Hockney, Doris Lessing, V. S. Naipaul, among them) criticizing the “dumbing down” of British culture: Arts funding has actually increased 60% during the Labour Party’s first five years. “I don't call that the action of a philistine government.” Sydney Morning Herald 09/19/00

Monday September 18

  • MR. GRUMPY PARTY POOPER: I hate clapping along at concerts. "I don't think the clapping has yet been brought forward as an issue, and in this time of Olympic-level whingeing and control, I think it's time we looked at legislation to contain it. Of course, being in a crowd of rhythmless hand-bashers does have its spiritual upside. I now truly understand what the Buddhists mean when they talk about the beauty of the sound of one hand clapping." Sydney Morning Herald 09/18/00
  • CULTURAL AUSTRALIA: "Australian culture is for the most part deeply democratic, and joyously so as well. It is no longer "provincial", a distant and nervous response to norms generated in imperial centres. It is the result of a bloodless and slow-developing social revolution conducted over 40 years as a small society grew larger and immeasurably more complex, shook off its sense of derivative Englishness and its fear of American domination, and learned to trust its own talents." The Guardian 09/18/00
  • NATIONAL TREASURES: "Today at the White House, the Smithsonian Institution will confer on Frank O. Gehry and Apple Computer the status of national treasures." Washington Post 09/18/00
  • YEARNING FOR E-LEARNING: Textbook publishers have been slow to hit the internet, but that's all changing. "Now it's a race. If you don't have a significant e-learning strategy then you're going to be left behind." Wired 09/18/00
  • ARE LIBRARIES VIABLE? In a few years, if students can get all their research online and access most books electronically, does that mean the traditional library will be obsolete? Wired 09/18/00
  • COMPUTERS MAY HURT, NOT HELP: A growing number of educators, child development experts, and doctors are beginning to speak out against early computer use, especially when coupled with regular television watching. Too much 'screen time' at a young age, they say, may actually undermine the development of the critical skills that kids need to become successful, diminishing creativity and imagination, motivation, attention spans, and the desire to persevere. US News 09/25/00

Friday September 15

  • DELAYED GRATIFICATION: They're getting more money, so why are they griping? The Australian government decided in August to award an extra $70 million to arts groups. But the announcement that came yesterday also informed the groups they would have to wait nine months before they get it. The Age (Melbourne) 09/15/00 
  • LEAVING SOMETHING TO THE IMAGINATION: Often arts education gives too much information at the expense of too little imagination. But "imagination is the fuel of art, the engine of growth and the frank pleasure of life. No less a brainiac than Einstein insisted that imagination is more important than knowledge, yet most folks -  education bureaucrats or not - seem to shudder at the thought. In our modern Information Age, imagination regularly withers from neglect." Los Angeles Times 09/15/00
  • NO MORE HIGH AND LOW? "There is a rooted assumption that popular culture is easy, especially popular music. But millions who try and fail to create it find out the hard way that it is just that - hard. And that's why the Spice Girls - so denigrated by the toffee-nosed culture snobs - have managed to notch up a remarkable 500 million sales worldwide, whereas a posh, pampered 'hard-to-work-out-what-they're-saying' writer like Henry James has yet to make any mark on the pop charts." The Guardian 09/15/00
  • A BASE GRANT FOR ARTS: Edinburgh's summer Festival draws the best artists from around the world. Makes one critic wonder about the state of Scottish arts: "The arts have been ill-served down the years by successive governments. Over the last decade, leaving aside additional funding for the National Companies, we have seen a base grant to the arts in Scotland rise... a niggardly 1.1% a year, not only way below inflation, but less than any comparable public sector area." The Scotsman 09/15/00
  • TROUBLE IN WALES: With arts organizations closing and others languishing, arts leaders sound the alarm that "Wales is in serious danger of being relegated to the second division of arts and culture." Ananova 09/15/00

Thursday September 14

  • ON THE ATTACK: A long parade of lawmakers testified before the Senate Commerce Committee Wednesday in response to this week’s FTC report attacking Hollywood’s marketing violent content to children. VP nominee Joseph Lieberman decried a “culture of carnage” and urged the industry to self-regulate itself, or face government intervention. CNN 09/13/00

    • BUT WHAT IF YOU HELD A HEARING AND NOBODY CAME? Not one of the film industry executives invited to participate in Wednesday’s hearing showed up. John McCain was livid, demanding the absentees (including Michael Eisner, Rupert Murdoch, and Harvey Weinstein) show up for a follow-up hearing in two weeks. Salon 09/14/00

    • NO, YOU'RE RUDE: Hollywood execs, meanwhile, said that Senator McCain "showed his absence of manners by inviting them Friday night to show up on short notice without ever having had time to study the report. A spokesman for one of the studios, in fact, said no invitation to appear was ever received." Variety 09/14/00

    THE DEATH OF COPYRIGHT? "Copyright, a lot of people are saying, is obsolete. It's a concept outmoded by technology. And good riddance to it, say those who work in advertising or Web site design. The fat cats in New York who sell 'content' are gouging us already with their ridiculous fixed prices. Everyone knows a CD costs something like 35 cents to produce; why does it retail for $23.99?" The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 09/14/00

Wednesday September 13

  • DOWNLOADING DONS: Attorney General Janet Reno said Tuesday that organized crime's intellectual property infringement should be prosecuted as vigorously as other serious crimes like drug trafficking and money laundering. Recent busts (like last week’s in New York in which 35,000 counterfeit CDs were seized) have shown organized crime’s turn from drugs to software for profits. Wired 09/12/00
  • ARTS INSTITUTIONS CONSIDER FORMAL HIGHER EDUCATION: Arts institutions are into education big time these days. So how long before some of those programs become formalized?  Chicago's Adler Planetarium, Field Museum of Natural History and John G. Shedd Aquarium have become so far-reaching in their educational purposes these days it would not be a stretch to see the three facilities, individually or as a consortium, become degree-conferring institutions. Chicago Tribune 09/13/00

Tuesday September 12

  • WHAT MEANING ART? Divisions between high and low culture (or "art-" and "popular-" culture) are increasingly irrelevant. "How are we to judge what more powerfully influences us and, hence, what is stronger or better? See Schoenberg's 'Moses and Aaron', 'Madam Butterfly', 'Phantom of the Opera' or Elvis Presley at Las Vegas, and how do we set about judging differences? The cultural diktat of our day still tells us that Schoenberg is superior to Presley; many people go along with that. But is this any more than obedience to hierarchies laid down before popular culture gave itself a true chance to be compared? The Guardian (London) 09/12/00
  • BURNING AND DREAMING: Larry Harvey's Burning Man Festival attracted 30,000 to the Nevada desert earlier this month. " 'This will be Rome to the colonies. The problem with utopias is that they are based on some theory of human nature,' he says, as he is joined on his couch by a topless woman, a punk called Chicken John and a transvestite glam rock star named Adrian Roberts." Time Magazine 09/18/00
  • MORT? NO! A pair of Finnish scholars have scored success with a weekly worldwide radio newscast broadcast in Latin. "Based on the 15 to 20 letters the program receives every week from listeners, the producers say Nuntii Latini listeners also include Latin scholars and students around the world as well as the residents of various monasteries, who almost all, naturally, keenly scrutinize the show's word usage and grammar." The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 09/12/00

Monday September 11

  • REALPOLITIKS: Al Gore and Joe Lieberman issue an ultimatum to the entertainment industry: "Mr. Gore said he would give industry officials six months to 'clean up their act.' If they do not, and if he and Mr. Lieberman win the November election, the vice president said he would encourage the Federal Trade Commission to move against the industry by using its power to prohibit false and deceptive advertising. New York Times 09/11/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • BERLIN'S STRUGGLE FUNDING CULTURE: Why are Berlin's cultural institutions in such difficult financial straits? Trying to support the culture of the former East Berlin has taken its toll. Now the city will get an extra 100 million DM a year from the federal German government  on condition that certain elite Berlin institutions come under national control. The Art Newspaper 09/11/00
  • NO PLACE TO LIVE: San Francisco artists gather for a weekend protest/conference about the gentrification of their city. Rising rents and the prosperity of the Dotcoms have led to the eviction of many artists and arts organizations in the city. San Francisco Chronicle 09/11/00 
  • FIGHTING FOR CULTURE: In the so-you-can-rest-easier department, isn't it nice to know that NATO is protecting our interests in culture as well as in the skies? "The aim of NATOarts is to advance the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s goals in the cultural realm. There was also a feeling that an organization such as NATO should take a more proactive role in the formation of international culture." New York Press 09/06/00

Sunday September 10

  • BIG RETAILERS TO POLICE ENTERTAINMENT CONTENT: This week Congress is due to release a report on violence and the entertainment industry and accompany the report's release with hearings. In advance, retailers are clamping down. "Kmart said Thursday that it will refuse sale of mature-rated games to anyone under age 17, using a bar-code scanner that will prompt cashiers to ask for identification from young people. After Kmart's news conference in Washington, Wal-Mart said it will enact the same policy, and in a letter last month, Toys R Us officials said the practice is in place at their stores." Chicago Sun-Times 09/10/00
  • THE NEW COLOR OF ENGLAND: A new report says that in a few decades whites will be a minority in Britain. "Colonial pomposity and imperial cruelty have been severely undermined to the point of oblivion. There is no economic basis for this phenomenon. National capital has been dissolved into global capital, drawing into its wake an international population now at ease in England." The Observer (London) 09/10/00
  • AWASH IN MASS CULTURE: "Faced, then, with a public that craves variety while it is governed by the familiar, the choice of what cultural products and symbols to produce and reproduce - and what cultural meanings to represent - becomes increasingly a marketing decision of how many ticket sales, book sales, symphony subscriptions, etc., will be generated. In this corporatized, profit-motivated environment, all culture is mass culture, since mass consumption of the highest levels possible is the ultimate goal. Judgments of quality and taste are replaced by a marketing distinction between mainstream and nonmainstream, based primarily on sales figures, what's hot and what's not, and who's 'into' it."  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 09/10/00
  • WINNING FRIENDS... "It's amazing to see - after more than a decade of decimation - one arts leader after another fail to grasp the fact that it's hardball, not the soft sell, that succeeds in Washington." Hartford Courant 09/10/00
  • THE SEASONS BRING... "According to the literary critic Northrop Frye, each of the four seasons of the Northern Hemisphere has given rise to a correlative genre: satire belongs to winter, comedy to spring, romance to summer and tragedy to fall. Our present civilization has little appetite for tragedy, but a wispy shadow of Frye's theory persists, as the coming of autumn sends children back to school and putatively serious movies back into the multiplexes." New York Times 09/10/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

Friday September 8

  • MORALITY R US: The US Senate is holding hearings next week on violence in the entertainment industry. The buzz is about what Hollywood film executives might be hauled in to testify. 09/07/00

Wednesday September 6

  • FOLLOW THE MONEY: The entertainment industry is pumping big money into politics. "The Democrats have collected $5.8 million from the television, movie, and music industries, ranking it fourth on the campaign donation list. That figure outpaces the Republicans by $2.1 million, which ranks the entertainment industry eleventh." The money figures to influence policies on recording, intellectual property and content regulation. Wired 09/06/00
  • LOOKING FOR LOOPHOLES: Australia’s major performing arts companies are lobbying the government to refund the GST paid on all their tickets since the new tax went into effect earlier this year, on the grounds that they should all be granted exempt status as “charitable institutions.” The Age (Melbourne) 09/06/00

Tuesday September 5

  • MYTHS OF THE NEW: One of the dominant myths of our time is that all art that preceded modernism's shock of the new was mediocre, overseen by a dour old-boy network, needlessly preoccupied with realistic representation, calculated to avoid inflaming barely curtailed passions, contrived to ignore simmering class hatreds, and devoutly uninterested in the sort of true truth of human experience, concealed and overt, that had been explored by Sigmund Freud. Feed 09/01/00
  • COMMON TONGUE: English is becoming the common language of education worldwide. "The development is unprecedented. Not even Latin, the European scholarly language for almost two millennia, or Greek in the ancient world before it, had the same reach. For the first time, one language, English - a bastard mixture of old French dialects and the tongues of several Germanic tribes living in what is now England - is becoming the lingua franca of business, popular culture, and higher education across the globe." Chronicle of Higher Education 09/05/00

Monday September 4

  • SPERM RACE ANYONE? The Ars Electronica Festival in Austria likes to be controversial. Organizers "spent the weekend trying to dampen the outcry from local right-wing politicians over a "Sperm Race" exhibit set up in the city's main square - and also defending the festival from the charge that it was not doing enough to confront the threat posed by Joerg Haider's right-wing Freedom Party." Wired 09/04/00

Sunday September 3

  • BASIC SERVICES: "Whether in the complexes built by labor unions, radical fellowships or the city's Housing Authority, New York - uniquely among American cities - has for more than 80 years insisted upon culture as a part of the social compact, something as essential to the working class as affordable rent and medical care. Such ventures have proved essential to New York's prominence as a cultural capital, while remaining oddly invisible - because few New Yorkers realize the vast extent of union developments or recognize that public housing here defies the stereotype of fetid, crime-ridden projects." New York Times 09/03/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • ARTIVISTS IN SF: " The Bay Area - indeed, all of California - is under siege by nouveau- riche pilgrims who apparently have little use for indie rock, dance clubs, dance studios, alternative art galleries, underground theater or one-screen repertory movie houses. But San Francisco's arts community isn't taking this invasion lying down - unless one counts going limp during arrest." San Francisco Chronicle 09/03/00
  • SPORTS FOR CULTURE: An increase in Massachusetts' hotel-motel tax to benefit building a new stadium for the Boston Red Sox will also mean millions of dollars in aid to the state's cultural groups. Boston Herald 09/03/00

Friday September 1

  • HIGH.RENTS: Artists are being forced out of San Francisco by the high-rent dot-coms. "Estate agents in San Francisco say that in the past 12 months rents for prime start-up space have doubled from about $45 per square foot to $90 per square foot. According to official statistics less than 1% of commercial real estate in San Francisco is unoccupied. The organisations that can least afford higher rents have been hardest hit. Non-profit organisations such as charities and the city's artistic community are being forced out of their space." London Evening Standard 09/01/00
  • SPEAKING OUT IN SALZBURG: Since he resigned and then unresigned, Salzburg Festival director Gerard Mortier has been uncharacteristically quiet about the new ultra-right-wing elements in the Austrian government. Until last week. "When I go out of my office and I see members of the right-wing party in the office next-door, I feel it in my stomach, like a pain." Los Angeles Times 09/01/00
  • PASSING THE GRIME TEST: Londoners are apparently breathing easier these days; air pollution in the city is the best it's been since the Industrial Revolution. How do they know? Scientists have been monitoring the walls of St. Paul's Cathedral to test for acidification and stone condition - since 1720, an inch of stone has dissolved from the cathedral's balcony. London Evening Standard 08/30/00
  • FOLLOWING THE BREADCRUMBS OF THE PAST: We seem to be perpetually fascinated with the past; trying to figure out how Stonehenge was built, whether or not the Romans and Greeks read out loud or silently to themselves, how King Tut died. The only way historians and archeologists have back into the past is the order on which things were built and the clues left behind. What kind of trail are we leaving for our successors? The Atlantic 09/00