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Tuesday October 31

  • ASIAN ARTS MECCA: A Taipei official has pledged to make the city "the cultural city of the Asia-Pacific," beginning with a year-long arts festival of work from 10 nearby countries. "The Europeans know their neighbors well - they learn each others' languages, histories, and literature and they work together to form a cultural power house. Someday, perhaps, our children will not only learn English and French and German but also confidently speak Vietnamese and Korean, read Sanskrit and write Chinese." China Times 10/31/00
  • DEFINING THE ARTS: At a forum on the future of the arts, Australian artists launch "a withering attack on the government, the arts media, populism and the boards of the performing arts companies. One cited the image of Nicky Webster's 'Dream' at the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympics as a metaphor for a bland and hypocritical culture that says it embraces diversity but does otherwise. 'You cannot present to the world your culture as the dream of a white 10-year-old school girl'." The Age (Melbourne) 10/31/00

Monday October 30

  • I COME TO PRAISE THE CITY: "The modern city is a city of houses many ethnes, many cultures, many religions. [It] is too fragmentary, too full of contrast and strife; it must therefore have many faces, not one.... The lack of any coherent, explicit, image may therefore, in our circumstances, be a positive virtue, not a fault, or even a problem." The New Republic 10/30/00
  • NOT SO GREAT? " 'A History of Britain with Simon Schama', is this year's big-budget blow-out to maintain the BBC's stature as the carrier of High Knowledge. Now it's time to come home, to let history put the Great back into Great Britain. Great, because every step of Schama's grand tour of digs and cathedrals, battlefields and museums, is filled with self- congratulation. Self-congratulation for the historian, for the corporation and, above all, the 'nation'." But can we trust it? New Statesman 10/30/00

Sunday October 29

  • LABEL THIS - PLEASE! It's been 13 years since a conservative movement succeeded in getting warning labels afixed to recordings thought to be potentially offensive. And what's happened to labels? "These days, if you mean business in the market, you'd better have a sticker." The labels have come to signify edgier work and - not surprisingly - that's the music kids want to listen to. So what, really, is the point of labels? Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 10/29/00
  • CLOSE TO GREATNESS: Whether it's Jimi Hendrix's guitar or Leonardo's snuff box, we've always had a fascination for relics. "Russell Martin’s new book, "Beethoven’s Hair," is a wonderful contemplation of how relics can become bridges between people separated by time, culture and death. "Beethoven’s Hair" also gives us a long, inspiring look at passion in several forms." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 10/29/00

Friday October 27

  • NEW HEAD OF LINCOLN CENTER: New York's Lincoln Center "is poised to name one of its own, Gordon J. Davis, the chairman of Jazz at Lincoln Center and a former New York City parks commissioner, to lead the organization through the nation's biggest arts rebuilding project." New York Times 10/27/00 (onetime registration required for entry)
  • BLAME IT ON PO-MO? Post-Modernism has got a bad name. "Mind you, most of them are never quite sure what postmodernism might be, but they know that it's evil. Indeed, all of the contemporary world's ills can be sheeted home to its pernicious influence." And yet, ultimately, civilization will continue. Sydney Morning Herald 10/27/00
    • FINALLY, A PRACTICAL DEFINITION OF POST-MODERNISM: According to John Barth: "Postmodernism consists somehow of being able to tie your necktie in a perfect full-Windsor knot while telling somebody what the stages are in tying a necktie - and at the same time discoursing on the history of men's neckwear from the court of Louis XIV to the present and still not screwing up the knot." Chicago Tribune 10/27/00

Thursday October 26

  • NO TIME TO SAVE: "There's an interesting debate on the streets of Beijing. On one level it is about ripping down old neighbourhoods and replacing them with gleaming new developments. On another it is about Western ideas of what China is - or was - and what it ought to be. Beijing is changing so rapidly it is hard to keep track of the speed with which whole suburbs are transformed. Greed and speed are conspiring to obliterate the old before any evaluation of what might be worth preserving." Sydney Morning Herald 10/26/00

Wednesday October 25

  • THE MIGHTY PR MACHINE: Massive public relations campaigns drive the visual arts industry in much the same way they do politics and advertising, so it might be worth asking just what the word "public" means in the art world today. "Broadly speaking, artists and curators have typically thought of the public (if at all) as an anonymous mass, ill-equipped and naive, that needs to be "educated," while the public has tended to see artists as arrogant, self-regarding and even downright silly. There is some truth, I think, in both views." The Age (Melbourne) 10/25/00
  • THE NAME GAME: UCLA has agreed to restore the name of its concert hall to Arnold Schoenberg Hall, in honor of the great composer who taught on campus in the ‘30s and ‘40s. When the university announced a new dedicatee last month, record industry exec Mo Ostin, a slew of public protests ensued. "The Schoenberg renaming is not the first of its kind. I am told that the cinema at UCLA's film school was de-plaqued, dumping a pioneering faculty member for a recent donor. Evidence from other US campuses suggests that the practice is widespread. Not since Stalin revised the great Soviet encyclopedia have famous persons been erased with such zeal." The Telegraph (London) 10/25/00

Tuesday October 24

  • PROTECTING INDIGENOUS WORK: Some 2,500 indigenous artists from 26 countries across the world are on their way to to Noumea, New Caledonia for a festival. "But many of the local Kanak artists have decided actions speak louder than words, and have voted to boycott the international festival which begins today and includes a delegation of more than 100 Australian indigenous artists. New Caledonia's paucity of copyright legislation is at the heart of the dispute." Sydney Morning Herald 10/24/00
  • ART AND NEWSPAPERS: London's Guardian newspaper has hired an artist-in-residence. He is Michael Atavar, and "playing the role of idiot savant outsider, he may illuminate some aspect of our work, or he may add previously unimagined meaning to it. Then again, he may just shrug and wander off. It really doesn't matter. In a giant shift of culture, we're trying not to be prescriptive: so no deadlines, no brief, and no project as such." The Guardian (London) 1024/00
  • SMARTER FOR THE ARTS? A new Canadian study is investigating whether arts education helps children do better in math, reading and writing. The study is also looking at race and socio-economic factors that may play a factor in a child's involvement in the arts. CBC 10/24/00

Monday October 23

  • SAYING HIGH TO LOW: "Just last week, architect Daniel Libeskind suggested that contemporary museum designers could learn a lot from shopping malls. Contemporary experience is riddled with such categorical confusions. The commonplace becomes the aristocratic, an elite finds its values affirmed in the everyday. As much as debate on high and low culture seeks to affirm their difference, increasingly what emerges is a recognition of their equivalence." The Age (Melbourne) 10/23/00
  • LIVE HERE: A century ago in Paris, "when artists couldn't find a place to live, they would look for an uninhabited building and claim their right, under French law, to squat." The practice has been making a comeback, and today there are some 15 artist squats in Paris. "Some cater to visual art, others to music and still others to theatre." CBC 10/23/00

Sunday October 22

  • ARTISTS' DIRECTIVE? Singapore's minister for information and the arts called on his country's artists to "balance artistic integrity with social responsibility, as they develop the arts scene here. 'Artists sometimes appear to forget that they have audiences... Great art can be shocking or startling, but perhaps it is more important it be compelling and intelligent. It can be bold and daring, but it should also be sensitive and searching.'' Singapore Straits-Times 10/22/00
  • WAR OF THE BUTTS: "Last year, Damien Hirst made a tidy sum by producing a limited edition design for Camel cigarettes. Now, the anti-smoking lobby, having seen the wonders a little artistic street-cred can do for the tobacco industry, has decided to beat the cigarette barons at their own game. An exhibition will open in London next month displaying the work of 20 contemporary artists commissioned to produce images to encourage people to give up." The Independent 10/22/00

Friday October 20

  • ARTS FOR LESS: Australian performing arts audiences stand to receive about $2 million in refunds, following the Australian government’s decision to exempt arts organizations from the GST tax it imposed earlier this year, thereby initiating a retroactive refund of all qualifying tickets purchased since July 1. Sydney Morning Herald 10/20/00
  • THE END OF THE VEGAS LOUNGE LIZARD? The Las Vegas lounge lizard is slithering away. More and more of the Vegas lounges are closing, and the lounge singer - as true a symbol of Vegas as any - is being replaced (mostly by magicians and illusionists). Chicago Tribune (AP) 10/20/00

Thursday October 19

  • NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN: The head of the Canadian province of Alberta's government arts funder has a new formula for awarding grants, and the arts groups don't like it: "When I first arrived, grants were based on how much money you spent, and my view is, that just encouraged profligate spending. I said, no, grants should be based on revenue. So there's a huge incentive to go out there and raise money in the community, to sell tickets, to do whatever you have to do." CBC 10/18/00
  • ARTISTS ARE THE FIRST TO GO: With rising rents and artists being evicted from their work spaces, "San Francisco is in danger of becoming a place where art is presented but no longer created. Everybody knows what the problem is: lots of money and new development increasingly putting cutting-edge culture out on the streets. Can the city prevent further erosion of its diverse artistic heritage? Some say it may be too late." San Francisco Chronicle 10/19/00
    • MIGRATION: Where are the artists leaving San Francisco going? "Some are moving to New York, traditionally the mecca for artists. A number of artists and gallery owners are relocating to Los Angeles, a sprawling megalopolis where warehouses and apartments are far more plentiful and less expensive, and the gallery scene is popping." San Francisco Chronicle 10/19/00
    • THE HAVES GET HAVIER: While leading-edge ensembles and artists struggle to keep their heads above water financially, the good times - and the bucks - are rolling at the city's major arts organizations. San Francisco Chronicle 10/19/00
    • OTHER CITIES/SAME SCENARIO: Other cities - such as Chicago and Seattle - in the midst of economic good times are having the same problems with high rents displacing artists. San Francisco Chronicle 10/19/00
  • AUSSIE TAX BREAK: The Australian government has decided to exempt high-art organizations from the 10 percent GST tax it began imposing earlier this year. The decision "effectively puts organisations including the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Victorian Ballet, Playbox and Opera Australia in the same tax-exemption category as charity groups and school fetes." The Herald Sun (Australia 10/19/00
  • MILLENNIUM DOME WINS AWARD: London's Millennium Dome might have been an enormous political, financial and popular flop, but it was a hit with builders. The British Construction Industry Association has given the Dome its top honor. The Dome's "roof covers twice the area of any comparable structure in the world and was built in just a year, for a lower cost per unit area than the cheapest retail shed." The Telegraph (London) 10/19/00

Wednesday October 18

  • GREAT NO MORE: The Bolshoi Theatre is a wreck - physically, artistically and on just about any other term you want to consider it. Things have deteriorated so far that last month the Russian government stepped in to seize control. But is it too late? The Scotsman 10/18/00
  • CULTURE SQUEEZE: San Francisco’s explosive economy, and skyrocketing rents, are threatening the city’s vibrant arts scene. "Artists feel under siege - and many fear that the city that once sent a generation of young people on the road following Jack Kerouac in the '50s, turned the world on to the Summer of Love in the '60s and nurtured the creation of the Pulitzer-winning AIDS drama ``Angels in America'' in the '90s is in danger of becoming one big office park with Victorian architecture." San Francisco Chronicle 10/17/00
  • WHEN FLATTERY GETS YOU NOWHERE: A regularly outspoken critic of the Royal Opera House’s former management, Raymond Gubbay has applied to run the institution after Michael Kaiser’s departure. In his application Gubbay called the Opera House "the preserve of the rich, the influential and those concerned with corporate entertainment." London Times 10/18/00
    • I CAN FIX THIS: Gubbay "calls for a higher status for the Executive Director which would put him or her above the Music Director and the Artistic Director of the Royal Ballet. He also wants more performances, longer production runs and cheaper seats." London Evening Standard 10/18/00

Tuesday October 17

  • NEA INCREASE ASSURED: The US Senate passes a $7 million increase in the budget for the National Endowment for the Arts - its first significant increase since 1992. Backstage 10/16/00
  • ENGLISH AMONG MANY: The English language has spread so far around the world that many expect it to be the dominant language of the future, the international language. But will it be? It's not at all certain - just as one example, "people who expect English to triumph over all other languages are sometimes surprised to learn that the world today holds three times as many native speakers of Chinese as native speakers of English." The Atlantic 11/00

Monday October 16

  • THE ETERNAL QUESTION: What is art? The Age newspaper goes out and asks artists and the general public to give their definitions (in one sentence). No two answers were the same. The Age (Melbourne) 10/16/00
  • PLAYING KEEP-AWAY WITH THE CENSORSHIP RULES: Australia's politicians have gone on a rampage of legislation tightening censorship rules. "Film censorship rules have to be tightened next time they come up for review. Censorship of magazines has already been tightened. Porn has been squeezed. A review of video games is under way." But a survey of Australians says that Aussies don't see much need for these clampdowns. Sydney Morning Herald 10/16/00
  • ARTS SECRETARY UNDER ATTACK: "After nearly three-and-a-half relatively smooth years as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, everything seems to be going wrong for Chris Smith at the same time. The future of the National Lottery is in doubt. Tomorrow the BBC is launching its new 10pm BBC News, against his wishes. The Millennium Dome is an ongoing disaster. There has been widespread criticism of the performances of subsidised institutions such as the National Theatre and the Royal Opera House." The Independent (London) 10/15/00
  • ARTS LEADER ATTACKS "LAZY" COLLEAGUES: "Graham Sheffield, artistic director of the Barbican Centre, in London, has broken with convention to launch an unprecedented attack on his colleagues. It is the first time someone that from inside the arts world has publicly alleged that weaknesses and unaccountability in world-famous institutions such as the National Theatre and Royal Academy were failing the public." The Independent (London) 10/16/00
  • WHO'S THE CULTURAL CAPITAL? Melbourne likes to think of itself as the cultural capital of Australia. But is the city's position slipping? "Melbourne used to love itself and support itself, but that's happening in Sydney now, where there's a sense that it's trendy to be at the theatre." The Age (Melbourne) 10/16/00

Sunday October 15

  • THE NEW CRITICS: "After more than a century of professional literary criticism, when the erudite few lorded over discussions of artistic merit, the rules have changed. Thanks to the Internet, anybody can now join ongoing - and very public - evaluations of books, recordings, films and many other materials, with a potential audience of millions of readers. Washington Post 10/15/00
  • ART OF BUILDING: "During the past decade, new American performing arts facilities have been popping up like mushrooms after a rain, but architecturally they've been a pusillanimous lot. When not actively nostalgic, as in Fort Worth's Bass Performance Hall, they've tended to favor a kind of buttoned-down corporate look, as in Seattle's Benaroya Hall, or shopping-mall lite, as in Fort Lauderdale's Broward Center and West Palm Beach's Kravis Center." Dallas Morning News 10/15/00
  • BIG TROUBLE WHILE BIG SPENDING: Ireland's Arts Council has been wracked with turmoil this year - board resignations, demoralized staff, and everywhere criticism even as the council was laying plans to spend £100 million over the next three years. Sunday Times (London) 10/15/00
  • THE WAR IS OVER? Eight years ago Pat Buchanan was calling a "cultural war" in the United States. But this presidential campaign "the blistering cultural issues of the early '90s - federal funding of the arts, naughty pictures, tart-tongued, disrobed performers - are on today's back burners. The anti-arts, far-right-wing Buchanan voice lost. They thought it would be easy, the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts based on arguments of pornography and blasphemy. And they lost." Philadelphia Inquirer 10/15/00

Friday October 13

  • THE DECLINING YEARS (EARLIER THAN YOU THINK?): Does intellectual ability decline with age? Does our brain begin to lose its tone after the age of 30? That's the age when physicists and mathematicians are thought to have passed their prime. On the other hand, historians often don't make their best contributions until they've reached their 60s. Feed 10/12/00
  • LAS VEGAS, CITY OF EXILES? Las Vegas, hungry to prove that it has a sophisticated side, is the first American city to join an international program for writers escaping terror or turmoil. Los Angeles Times 10/12/00

Thursday October 12

  • MAJOR SUPPORT: The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation has awarded $250,000 to a young Singaporean violinist to further her career. The award is the first of the bank's Youth Excellence Initiatives. "To aspirants, she will show that there will be support if you have the talent.'' Singapore Straits-Times 10/12/00
  • SHOCK OF THE SAME OLD SAME OLD: A new book charges that the contemporary art world has become far too narrow-minded. "Shock art is the safest kind of art that an artist can go into the business of making today. The real mavericks of our time have been working quietly and carefully for years in their studios producing wonderful work few people have seen. And that even though the NEA is not the cause of the various ills we've seen, it is to a great degree an embodiment of the problem." Salon 10/12/00

Wednesday October 11

  • SOME COMMITMENT TO THE ARTS: Boston's mayor likes to boast of his commitment to the arts. But a new report suggests that Boston's Office of Cultural Affairs is in disarray. Last month a request for a three-year grant to the Boston Office of Cultural Affairs from the state was rejected by a panel. The city was further embarrassed when the state panel gave the Boston agency the lowest rating of all 36 applications by arts organizations across the state. Boston Herald 10/11/00

Tuesday October 10

  • IN SEARCH OF THE BIG BREAK: The Big Break - it's what performers live for. It's what makes their careers. But what about those very talented musicians whose Big Break never comes? What are the forces that conspire to be that Big Break? Philadelphia Inquirer 10/10/00 

Monday October 9

  • So what experience does either of the US presidential candidates have in the arts? AL GORE "favors public funding for the arts, has a passion for van Gogh—and relaxes by painting abstractions." While GEORGE W. BUSH  "takes a moderate stance on government support and has a taste for American Western art." ARTNews 10/00
  • THE CHEAPENING OF APPLAUSE: "New inductees into the world of performing arts can't seem to differentiate between what is merely mediocre and what is truly exceptional. This is can be seen clearly at the end of every performance I have attended over the last 2 years. Every performance, good, bad, or ugly received a standing ovation from the audience. Every one. Ultimately, this cheapens the performance." *spark-online 10/00
  • ART OF CONVERSATION IN CANADA: "What I've been thinking - just to while away the gaps in the dinner banter about Toronto real-estate prices - is that there can't be many other nationalities that can devote three hours to watching an opera and then, by way of commenting on the experience, step amid the throng of fellow opera-lovers from the theatre foyer into the crisp, clear air, and, pondering the immensities of beauty and life and death that are still swirling around the memories of so stunning a performance, ask what parking level the car is on." The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 10/09/00

Sunday October 8

  • FIGHTING THE DOT-COMMIES: San Francisco's dotcom companies are hiring guards to protect their offices, which have recently been vandalized by protestors. "The uprising against "dot-commies", who are blamed by residents for ruining the city's mellow reputation and artistic heritage, is led by two protest groups, the Yuppie Eradication Project and AARGG! (All Against Ruthless Greedy Gentrification)." The Telegraph (London) 10/08/00
  • FIXING THE ARTS LOTTERY: The British government arts minister who has advocated Richard Branson taking over the running of the national arts lottery was formerly on Branson's payroll. Ananova 10/08/00 
  • THE ARTS IN DENVER: How big a deal are the arts in Denver? A new study paints the picture - the arts are the city's seventh largest employer. They had a $844 million local economic impact last year, up 31 percent since 1997. Rocky Mountain News 10/08/00

Friday October 6

  • FUNDING BOOST FOR NEA: US Senate approves $7 million increase in budget for the National Endowment for the Arts. It's the first funding increase in eight years. Washington Post (Reuters) 10/06/00
    • DETAILS of Congressional funding for America's cultural institutions (including money to build an exhibit at the National zoo for farm animals? "This will raise the lowly mule, chicken and pig to the same status as the zoo's celebrated cheetahs and mountain lions.") Washington Post 10/06/00
  • OUT DAMN DOT: Artists in San Francisco march on city hall to protest high rents and evictions due to the Dot-com boom. Los Angeles Times (Reuters) 10/05/00
  • SEE YOU IN THE FUNNY PAGES: A writer uses the dissemination of comic books as a model to imagine a brave new world where artistic products are distributed solely according to their merit and interest. *spark-online 10/00
  • OLYMPIC ARTS: The Olympics are over and the Sydney Games are judged a success. But there was an arts festival attached to the games too (as required by the IOC). How'd it go? Sydney Morning Herald 10/06/00
    • HIGHS AND LOWS: Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli and French ballerina Sylvie Guillem pulled in audiences - the Asian Youth Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony and Australian Ballet attracted disappointing houses. Sydney Morning Herald 10/06/00

Thursday October 5

  • BUILDING A BETTER CONGRESS: Think of all the lawyers and business-people who populate Congress. But in the 20th Century there was only one architect served in Congress. Why not more? Hard to say - "The creative process of architects is a constructive, inclusive process - therefore more diplomatic than the aggressive and adversarial methods of engagement in politics ... Yet they have always seemed to be supporting actors at best or bit players at worst, in the various dramas unfolding on society's main stage..." Boston Globe 10/05/00

Wednesday October 4

  • THE POST-MODERNIST WEB: "In the postmodern realm of cyberspace no 'grand' narratives, all-encompassing stories, or over-pervasive myths either impose their guidance or legitimate specific approaches. We do not encounter in cyberspace such good old stories as the dialectic of the Spirit, the hermeneutics of meaning, the emancipation of the rational/working subject, or the creation of wealth." *spark-online 10/00
  • MUSIC CONSERVATORY ONLINE: A Canadian man has come up with software that allows teachers to teach music in real time over the internet. Keyboards plugged into computers allow immediate interaction between teacher and student, even if they're thousands of miles away. CBC 10/04/00

Tuesday October 3

  • PLAYING TO THE CROWDS AT THE EXPENSE OF SCHOLARSHIP: The US's National Endowment for the Humanities has been supporting popular traveling exhibitions in an attempt to reach out to audiences. "To many scholars, the idea that the endowment supports barn photography with enthusiasm while it considers cutting scholarly projects represents a terrible shift in priorities. And to these scholars, the shift couldn't come at a worse time, since the agency is already short on cash, with a budget of only $115-million." Chronicle of Higher Education 10/02/00

Monday October 2

  • PIERRE TRUDEAU AND THE ARTS: Artists reflect on Trudeau's arts legacy. "Although he was not responsible for the initial commitment of the federal government to fund Canadian artists, he certainly made sure they were well supported during his years in office." CBC 10/02/00
  • WORLD ARTS CONFAB: "The Canada Council for the Arts unveiled its plans yesterday to host a World Summit on the Arts and Culture. Two thousand representatives of arts councils and funding bodies from more than 50 countries will meet in Ottawa this December." CBC 10/01/00
  • TEAM PLAYERS: How many artists' work would benefit from a good partnership? The New York Times 10/02/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • THE ART OF COMMUNICATING: "The answer to the problems facing humankind in the 21st century was not more action, but more talk. Not lectures, nor speeches, nor poetry, nor prose, nor song, nor stories, nor debates, nor testimony, nor prayer, nor trials, nor sales pitches, nor talking cures, nor motivational speakers. Only one type of speech was called for: Facing a new millenium, in the age of the internet, what was needed was more conversation." The Idler 10/02/00
  • POLITICIANS AGREE ON VIOLENCE AND MEDIA: Aren't politicians supposed to disagree? So what's with all the concern over violence and the entertainment industry? "When you actually look back through the public record and study the candidates' various utterances on this topic, the striking thing is how similar - virtually identical, in fact - their stated positions are." Hartford Courant 10/01/00

Sunday October 1

  • RALPH'S/FOOD 4 LESS CONCERT HALL? Big donors are essential to financing art these days, particularly arts buildings and big opera productions. But the largesse as often as not comes with strings. Slapping a picture of your most prominent donor in the program is one thing. But renaming your home or producing art because a donor wants to fund it is something else. Los Angeles Times 10/01/00
  • THE ARTS MAYOR? Chicago's Mayor Daly doesn't just pay lip service to the arts. "He has realized that good arts and entertainment is good for the city, and, in a non-artsy way, he has given the arts of Chicago a public and accessible forum." Better yet, his attentions are resulting in things happening for the arts. Chicago Tribune 10/01/00
  • THE PATHOLOGY OF HISTORY: Is England "an average nation with a fairly typically chaotic past?" You might think so given the lack of care with which modern-day Britons view their own history. But a new book and BBC series seek to take a fresh look at the country's identity. Sunday Times 10/01/00