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Thursday October 31

CULTURE CAPITAL FINALISTS: Six finalists for the 2008 European Capital of Culture have been named. They are Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool, Newcastle/Gateshead and Oxford. "The rivalry between the cities has been fierce, owing to the benefits previous holders of the title have received. The UK's last City of Culture - Glasgow in 1990 - saw a massive increase in tourism as a result of winning the title." BBC 10/31/02

A GROWING RIFT BETWEEN EUROPE AND AMERICA: Are America and Europe growing further apart culturally? Politically, relations have been getting worse in recent years, but culturally a gap seems to be widening as well. "The more the European masses appear to be hooked on American popular culture, the more bitterly their elites decry the U.S. as the profitable but cynical pusher." Commentary 10/02

WHY WE LEARN? What is the purpose of an education in America today? Is the purpose to get a job, get into college? Is it to create reflective citizens who are capable of self-government, both in the realm of politics and emotion? Is it to instruct students in the rules of society and in the love of learning? Is it all of the above? And if it is, what is preventing us from attaining those goals on a broader, more universal scale?" A panel of thinkers on education gets together to debate the future. Harper's 10/02

IGNORING THE ARTS: The state of Massachusetts has always been a haven for progressive politics and a leader in arts support, but this year may be different. Artists are concerned about the commitment of the two leading gubernatorial candidates to public arts funding in a year when the state cultural council saw its budget slashed by more than 60%. Neither candidate has even a vague outline of a position on the future of the arts, and the arts community doesn't seem to have the political clout to change that. Boston Globe 10/31/02

BRIT TRASH (AND WE LOVE IT): There was a time when English cultural exports to the US were civilized, intelligent. No more. "The most powerful British influences on American culture today are ferociously crass, unvarnished, unseemly - and completely unapologetic about it. They are, in fact, one of the latest assaults on what was once quite a civilized country." The New Republic 10/28/02

Wednesday October 30

THE NEW ARTS SCHOLARSHIPS: With corporate donations shrinking and government support declinign, arts groups across America are looking for new benefactors. And many are finding them in colleges and universities. "The colleges are providing not just rehearsal facilities, technical support and audiences but also money for new works." The New York Times 10/30/02

A CULTURE PLAN: Portland Oregon arts groups hired a consultant to justify their aspirations to build a "Lincoln Center West." But the consultants came back saying it wasn't a smart idea. Instead, they said, address overcrowding in the city's main arts buildings, and spend $200 million-plus on renovations and mixed-use facilities. The arts groups love it. The Oregonian 10/28/02

Tuesday October 29

IN PRAISE OF GENERALISTS: Of course we want students to be focused. We want them to excel. But specialization without a broad general education leads to myopic thinking. So maybe we ought to come up with some program of broad general graduate study, suggests Catherine Stimpson. Chronicle of Higher Education 11/01/02

Monday October 28

RETHINKING UK ARTS FUNDING: Has British public funding of the arts backfired on itself? "The English system of funding has fallen victim to the necessity of political justification. Everything has to have a catch phrase - outreach, cultural diversity, accessibility. All these things were inherent in the best companies anyway - but it has led to tremendous bureaucracy. What can be done? Are there lessons to be gleaned from abroad about the way we fund our arts?" The Guardian (UK) 10/28/02

THE UNIVERSAL SNOB: Snobism has been democratized, writes David Brooks. "Everybody can be a snob, because everybody can look down from the heights of his mountaintop at those millions of poor saps who are less accomplished in the field of, say, skateboard jumping, or who are total poseurs when it comes to financial instruments, or who are sadly backward when it comes to social awareness or the salvation of their own souls. We now have thousands of specialized magazines, newsletters, and Web sites catering to every social, ethnic, religious, and professional clique." The Atlantic 11/02

MORE THAN JUST A HAMBURGER BATTLE: When a storefront on the 473-year-old central square plaza of Oaxaca, Mexico recently came vacant, presevationists were apalled to discover that McDonald's was the intended new tenant. "Should a multinational giant, in return for investment in one of Mexico's poorest states, be ceded space in the very center of a culturally distinctive city?" Los Angeles Times 10/28/02

SO WHO IS DANA GIOIA? Nominated by President Bush to be chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, Dana Gioia is "a writer with a background as a businessman. He is a registered Republican who voted for George W. Bush and for his father before that. His poetry is not political. His criticism, essays and reviews are not polemical. Rather, Mr. Gioia appears to be someone with a wide range of artistic and intellectual interests who is passionate about making poetry more accessible to the public. Yes, his essay Can Poetry Matter?, which appeared in The Atlantic Monthly in 1991 and then in a collection of his essays, angered academics because he accused them of making poetry an insular enterprise." The New York Times 10/28/02

Sunday October 27

THE DANGER OF LOWBROW: Most people consider lowbrow entertainment to be a guilty pleasure, certainly not terribly enriching, but not particularly harmful, either. But Michael Berkely thinks that our appetite for mindless entertainment is destroying serious, challenging art: "Labels and classifications tend to lead to preconceptions; in any case, a huge amount of art defies category. But I do differentiate between entertainment and what I call Hard Art, between Big Brother and Wozzeck, if you like." The Guardian (UK) 10/26/02

Friday October 25

GIOIA IS A GEM: George Bush's choice of poet Dana Gioia as the new chair of the National Endowment for the Arts is a terrific one, writes J. Bottum. "Mr. Gioia is the kind of person for whom the job of chairing the NEA was first created. He is a major figure in American letters, an experienced business executive and a man with a passion for great art. There's something satisfyingly ironic in this." OpinionJournal 10/24/02

GETTING DOWN: How do American arts groups cope with a down economy? "Museums make cutbacks, reduce budgets, lay off personnel. Symphony orchestras search for new donors, new ways to get cash. A theater group pulls back its cast sizes. A big city opera cuts salaries of its top directors. This is the drama of making the arts work in a slowing economy... Seattle Post-Intelligencer (AP) 10/24/02

  • TOUGH TIMES IN ATLANTA: Atlanta arts groups are facing deficits and tough times. "Even arts groups with healthy, balanced books are worried about running up deficits in the current economic environment. Since most lack endowments, they are dependent on earned income - namely ticket sales. One false move at the box office could spell disaster. With that in mind, some organizations have adopted conservative measures." Atlanta Journal-Constitution 10/24/02
  • SEATTLE SLOWDOWN: After spending more than a billion dollars on building new arts facilities, Seattle arts groups are finding a slowdown in attendance and financial support... Seattle Post-Intelligencer 10/24/02

Thursday October 24

BUSH APPOINTS NEW NEA CHAIR: President George Bush has nominated poet Dana Gioia as the next chairperson of the National Endowment for the Arts. "Gioia, 51, won this year's American Book Award for his third book of poems, Interrogations at Noon. His best-known book, Can Poetry Matter?, is a study of poetry in modern American culture." Nando Times (AP) 10/24/02

RETURN ON INVESTMENT: A new study of the Denver arts scene reveals what several other recent surveys have concluded on a national level to be true for the local area as well: the arts are a darned good investment of public funds. "Cultural revenue was $208 million, half earned through ticket and other sales and the other half through contributions and cultural tourism generated $139 million, including attracting 860,000 visitors from outside the state." Denver Business Journal 10/22/02

HIGH ART'S LOW AMBITIONS: Robert Brustein is pessimistic about modern culture. "We are witnessing the not-so-gradual disappearance of what used to pass for American high art, whether we are talking about performing arts or serious literature or classical music or the visual arts. When ruled entirely by profit, the quality of art is bound to the client and so is any openness to risk or to adventure. The days are over, I think, when publishers took chances on good writers who were unknown or difficult in order to bring distinction to a list dominated by bestsellers." Partisan Review 10/02

Wednesday October 23

BUST FOLLOWS BIG BOOM: In the four years between 1997 and 2001, Orange County California experienced an arts boom, says a new study. "According to the survey, the take from paid admissions to museums, performances and arts festivals soared 58.6% during the boom economy - from $29.5 million in 1997 to $46.8 million in 2001. The number of paying patrons rose 37%, from 1.45 million to 2 million. Donations to operating budgets grew 65.1%, from $29.8 million to $49.2 million. With total income up 56.2%, the arts groups raised their spending even more aggressively - by 58.9%. The number of full-time employees increased 40%, from 417 to 585." And then came the slowdown after 9/11... Los Angeles Times 10/23/02

Tuesday October 22

CANADIAN ARTS DOWN: The 1990s were a terrible decade for Canadian arts institutions. A new study reports that attendance and funding were down, while expenses went up. The number of performances and exhitions fell. "Total attendance dropped by five per cent in the decade, to roughly 13.3 million from 14 million. At the same time, rising costs resulted in virtually all the country's largest performing arts organizations - the Stratford and Shaw Theatre Festivals excepted - reporting deficits." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 10/22/02

WHEN PARIS WAS EXTRAORDINARY: What was it that made Parid the explosion of art it became between the two World Wars? "If you wanted three words to define the extraordinary period in the arts in Paris between 1918 and the end of the 1920s, they would be 'energy', 'colour' and 'iconoclasm'." The Guardian (UK) 10/18/02

Monday October 21

AMERICANS FOR THE ARTS SUES BANK OVER STOCK PORTFOLIO: The Washington-based arts advocacy group Americans for the Arts has filed a lawsuit against a bank charging it with negligence and breach of fiduciary duty. The group says the bank failed to diversify a stock portfolio trust consisting entirely of Eli Lilly stock, leading to the loss of $81 million from the trusts in nine months. Nando Times (AP) 10/20/02

Sunday October 20

THE FOUNDATION OF OUR SUPPORT: Across America charitable foundations are cutting back their grants as their endowments shrink with the stock market. The cutbacks figure to have big consequences on cultural groups that have also seen their funding from corporations and governments fall. But aren't times of economic stress precisely the times when foundations should step forward with more help, rather than less? It's a matter of giving philosophy... San Francisco Chronicle 10/18/02

THE SORRY PLIGHT OF THE NEA: The National Endowment for the Arts has been without a leader for ten months now. There's no sign of a replacement, though the rumored shortlist has been the same for months. Last week an internal reorganization by the acting head of the NEA caused a stir, but the agancy has so little clout these days no one's much paying attention. Chicago Tribune 10/20/02

CLASSIC CONFLICTS: More musicians are also showing up as critics in Philadelphia's music scene. Is this healthy? "It's the classic journalism-school question. How do you stay neutral as a reporter when the best way to cover a certain community is to be part of it? You can't easily reconcile these things." Philadelphia Inquirer 10/20/02

Friday October 18

ARGENTINA - ART IN A TIME OF CRISIS: "The Argentine economic crisis, in statistical terms at least as severe as the Great Depression, has profoundly altered the arts in this country - but not in the way one might expect. Despite the crisis, or more likely because of it, new performance and exhibition spaces have opened, artistic groups have formed and attendance at cultural events has stayed the same or increased." The American Prospect 10/16/02

WASHINGTON'S KENNEDY CENTER GETS UPGRADE: "To make it easier for the millions of visitors who visit each year, the Kennedy Center is embarking on the largest performing arts construction project in the country - estimated at $650 million - to connect the center to the Mall. Most of the money was approved by Congress and the bill was signed by President Bush." The New York Times (AP) 10/17/02

AN ARTS PLAN FOR PORTLAND OREGON: A report says that Portland Oregon needs $200 million worth of new and renovated arts buildings over the next ten years. Arts leaders has expected the report to recommend building a single large arts complex, but the recommendation calls for a series of projects. "It was very clear early on that a Lincoln Center West was far beyond what was necessary or realistic for the community." The Oregonian 10/17/02

Thursday October 17

THE VISA PROBLEM: What's the point of the Americans declining or delaying visas for prominent foreign artists? How can it be seen as anything other than an insult? "How would Americans respond if another country announced that Steven Spielberg or Bruce Springsteen would have to sit out an awards ceremony so that background checks could be completed to make sure they weren’t terrorists? Would we think that reasonable? Would we assume that no insult was intended against the United States?" 10/16/02

NOT SO CUTTING EDGE, AND THE WEATHER CAN BE DODGY, BUT... The 17th annual Melbourne Festival is opening. "There are far too many festivals in the country now, the word has been overused and de-vitalised in a way. Melbourne has held up very well . . . it has brought performances and performers to Melbourne that we otherwise wouldn't see." The Age (Melbourne) 10/17/02

Wednesday October 16

KENNEDY CENTER TO SUPPORT MINORITY ARTISTS: Washington's Kennedy Center has announced a new program designed to strengthen American arts groups operated by minorities, which often find themselves marginalized by the larger arts scene. The program will be unique in that it will not simply throw money at groups deemed worthy, but will attempt to 'loan out' the expertise of the Kennedy Center's top people, with regular consultations, strategy sessions, and technical and financial advice. Washington Post 10/16/02

SEASONAL DISORDER: Fewer Americans are buying season tickets for arts events and buying more single tickets. "This trend, exacerbated by the economic slowdown, may have enormous effects on what is presented, who attends and how performing arts groups manage their budgets. In classical music, more seats are being sold overall — 32 million attended the symphony nationwide last season, up from 27 million a decade ago — but for shorter series and on shorter notice, often through the Internet." The New York Times 10/16/02

ART VS. APATHY: There is an increasing disconnect between people who spend their lives enmeshed in the world of art, and people who don't, and the gulf is marginalizing an entire industry. "In my experience, the art people speak only to art people, and believe, from this unrepresentative sample group, that people who read an intelligent newspaper -- sensitive people like judges or cabinet ministers or television producers -- are arguing daily with their husbands over the tea and toast about whether the paper's art critic has really understood the limitations of postpainterly abstractionism. In fact, for many if not most of my acquaintances who aren't actually artists, newspaper articles about the art world have a status only marginally higher than that of the bridge column. They are perceived as serving a niche equally small." The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 10/16/02

COPYRIGHTS AND THE VOX POPULI: The Digital Millenium Copyright Act was hailed by musicians' unions and the recording industry for protecting copyrighted material, and excoriated by consumer advocates for being draconian and unreasonably restrictive on the rights of music and video buyers. The two sides could not be further apart on the issues, and now a period of 'public comment' is set to begin later this fall. There will be town meetings and solicitation of public opinion, and at the end of it all, the Librarian of Congress will rule on what sorts of exceptions exist under the DMCA. Trouble is, most observers believe that the legislation leaves no room for exceptions, regardless of what the public wants. Wired 10/16/02

SOUTH AFRICA ON THE MOVE: For awhile after apartheid ended in South Africa, the country's creative artists fell silent. It was if they needed to take a pause and think. But in today's South Africa, art flourishes - "there are new festivals, new production companies, one-man shows in small towns, powerful amateur productions by kids in townships that will astound you. This is the renaissance." The Guardian (UK) 10/16/02

Tuesday October 15

NARROW DEFINITIONS: Does multiculturalism slot cultures into narrow categories from which it's hard to escape? In other words - should traditional native art be practiced only by natives? Or traditional Celtic craft produced only by... well, you get the point..."Please. If there is one thing we have discovered about globalization, surely it's that no culture can survive without support from outside itself." The Globe & mail (Canada) 10/15/02

AMERICA'S COPYHISTORY: American copyright law has become more and more restrictive over the years. And big corporate American copyright-holders complain about piracy of their material internationally. But historically Americans were enthusiastic pirates themselves. Back in the 19th century "American law offered copyright protection — but only to citizens and residents of the United States. The works of English authors were copied with abandon and sold cheap to an American public hungry for books. This so irritated Charles Dickens — whose Christmas Carol sold for 6 cents a copy in America, versus $2.50 in England — that he toured the United States in 1842, urging the adoption of international copyright protection as being in the long-term interest of American authors and publishers." The New York Times 10/14/02

Monday October 14

THE DOWNSIDE OF AN ECONOMIC CASE FOR ART: It might have been effective at first to make economic arguments for the arts in Australia. But "it's the kind of language that turns our society into 'the economy', of citizens into 'the consumers' and our public funds into 'taxpayers' money'." And it results in creatively "arid" programming, say arts administrators attending a weekend conference. Sydney Morning Herald 10/14/02

WHY THE RIGHT NEEDS TO GET CULTURED: There's no denying that artists, historically, have tended towards the left side of the political spectrum, and as a result, right-of-center politicians have developed a bad habit of ignoring cultural issues completely. But "culture is now a huge earner, overtaking coal, steel and the motor industry. It is also a vital social issue as millions contend with shorter working weeks and long retirements. It cries out for a policy rethink. To ignore culture in the 21st century spells electoral suicide." London Evening Standard 10/14/02

WHAT'S A MAYOR TO DO? Seattle's $127 million redo of its Opera House is about $28 million short. So the city's mayor had a choice - loan the project money (with the risk of never getting it back) or see construction shut down. He chose to come through with the cash, and now he's being attacked. "People are seeing the contrast again between the mayor's cutbacks in funding for human needs, fire and policing, and instead giving tens of millions to buildings." Seattle Post-Intelligencer 10/12/02

CAN ART END AN EMBARGO? The 42-year-old embargo of Cuba by the U.S. government looks shakier than ever these days, and most observers consider it a matter of time before relations between the two countries begin to heal. This is bad news for the consistently hard-line Cuban immigrant community centered in Miami, but the growth of Cuban culture in the U.S. is one of the driving forces behind the push for the embargo's removal. In fact, Cuba's contributions to the American arts scene are becoming more and more noticable, and "both the United States and Cuba... are using culture as a political tool aimed at bypassing politics and reconnecting the two peoples." Dallas Morning News 10/14/02

Sunday October 13

WHAT ECONOMIC RECOVERY? Even as the government continues to insist that America is on the road to better economic times, the stock market continues to take large chunks out of some of the nation's heaviest wallets, and that uncertainty is causing severe pains to U.S. arts groups, and not just from their dwindling endowments. In the last months, Alberto Vilar and Ted Turner, two of America's biggest arts supporters, have warned of possible defaults on their pledges to various groups, and countless more heavy hitters in the philanthropic world are said to be in similar financial straits. Even worse, the continuing tide of corporate scandals is making CEOs cautious about spending their money on arts groups, and that doesn't seem likely to change anytime soon. The New York Times 10/11/02

  • CONTRARY TO POPULAR BELIEF, the arts actually represent a darned good investment for state and local governments. A new study "found that the nonprofit arts industry (museums, theater companies, performing arts centers, orchestras, dance companies, arts councils) generates $134 billion in economic activity nationally every year," yet these programs are nearly always the first to have their funding slashed or yanked completely when a difficult economy threatens. And that's not going to change until arts groups make a concerted and organized effort to demonstrate the financial gains of government support to the people who decide where the money goes. Boston Globe 10/12/02

CAN'T IT JUST BE ART? MAYBE NOT: In an age when it doesn't seem to be enough for art to just be pleasant or thought-provoking or challenging, arts proponents are lined up around the block to promote music, art, dance, and the like as a veritable balm for the soul, a healer and soother of the stresses of modern life. The latest example was the global series of concerts commemorating the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl by Al-Qaeda terrorists, and while the sentiment of the organizers was clearly in the right place, Peter Dobrin worries that we are "preaching to the choir. The harder task is to convince spiritual have-nots that they are have-nots, and to give to them something more human to reach for." Philadelphia Inquirer 10/13/02

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS: "Arts organizations in Alberta have mixed feelings about proposed facelifts for the Jubilee Auditoriums in Edmonton and Calgary. The $30-million renovation project will spruce up the theatres, which are home to more than 50 arts groups. At the same time, however, the projects will put those same groups out on the street for a full calendar year." Among the groups slated to be temporarily homeless is the Edmonton Opera, which says there is no other hall in the city suitable for fully staged opera. CBC Arts Report 10/12/02

ATTACKING ART, LITERALLY: Cultural terrorism - the destruction of public art and artifacts in the name of political gain - has yet to reach American shores, but is a major concern around the world. "The shelling of the Bosnian National Library in Sarejevo in August 1992, by Serbian nationalists dug in the hills surrounding the city... and the fire it caused, destroyed thousands of priceless manuscripts and books, as well as gutting a historic and beautiful building." And who could forget the Taliban's destruction of the massive Bamyan Buddhas in Afghanistan as the world's cultural leaders pleaded with them to stop? Such acts of wanton destruction are often minimized when placed alongside terrorist attacks on human life, but the cold reality is that the cultural death toll may be more permanent than the human one. Toronto Star 10/12/02

Thursday October 10

COPYRIGHT CASE GETS A HEARING AT THE SUPREME COURT: In a landmark case which could change the way copyright law is administered in the U.S., the Supreme Court is hearing arguments on the issue of whether Congress may extend current copyrights past their original expiration, as it did in 1998, and keep popular images, songs, and art out of the public domain, where they could be used by anyone without permission or payment. The suit was filed by Internet archivist Eric Eldred, who "runs an Internet archive called Eldritch Press, which includes such books as Nathaniel Hawthorne's 19th-century classic The Scarlet Letter. But the 1998 law would have forced him to pay to publish works from the '20s such as stories by Sherwood Anderson and some poems by Robert Frost." Washington Post 10/10/02

  • FREE SPEECH, SURE, BUT PROFIT, TOO: So what's at the heart of the Eldred case? Money, pure and simple, although one might be hard-pressed to describe the plaintiff himself as much of a hardline capitalist. But the essence of the law being challenged is that it prevents the public, and, by extension, private companies, from using such beloved symbols as the face of Mickey Mouse or the text of The Great Gatsby for personal gain and profit. Of course, the copyright extension law which sparked the case came about only after determined lobbying by wealthy copyright holders, so the greed runs both ways. The New York Times (AP) 10/09/02
  • DANCING ON THE EDGE OF LEGALITY: "If current copyright laws had been on the books when jazz musicians were borrowing riffs from other artists in the 1930s and Looney Tunes illustrators were creating cartoons in the 1940s, entire art genres such as hip-hop, collage and Pop Art might never have existed. To acknowledge this landmark case, an exhibit will celebrate 'degenerate art' in a corporate age: art and ideas on the fringes of intellectual property law." Wired 10/10/02

MUCH MORE OF THIS, AND IT'LL BE JUST LIKE THE U.S.: "Toronto's financial support of its major cultural institutions has declined by 35 per cent in the past decade at the same time as the regional economy grew by 40 per cent, a city report says... The report points out the difficulties that Canada's largest city has had maintaining its commitments since amalgamation, the shifting of responsibilities from the provincial government to the municipalities, and the lack of any additional significant taxation powers beyond the traditional property levy." The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 10/10/02

Wednesday October 9

DECLINE IN VALUE: American arts organizations are facing a triple whammy - declining corporate support because of the economy, cuts in government support, and - because of the battered stock market - substantial declines in the value of endowments. "This has been the most challenging time for our cultural institutions in my memory. We're seeing erosions between 15 and 60 percent in the market value of endowments at arts institutions nationwide." The Star-Tribune (Mpls) 10/09/02

AWARDS CUT BACK: The Toronto Arts Awards have canceled three of its nine prizes this year, including those for visual arts, writing, and a lifetime achievement award. Organizers say they weren't able to raise the money for them, even though they carry only a $2,500 prize each. "From its inception 15 years ago, when each award was worth $10,000, the prizes have declined to the current situation, where the winner receives no money but is allowed to spend $2,500 on a 'protégé' award to an up-and-coming artist of his or her choice." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 10/09/02

Tuesday October 8

THE RIGHTS OF CREATIVITY: This week's arguments in front of the US Supreme Court about the constitutionality of the copyright laws is really a battle over how we as a society will get to use our creativity. Opponents of the 1998 extension of the copyright law - which include "dozens of the nation's leading law professors, several library groups, 17 prominent economists, and a coalition of both liberal and conservative political action groups - say it serves no legitimate public purpose, violates the clear intentions of our nation's founders regarding copyrights and is unconstitutional." SFGate 09/26/02

  • BUT PROPERTY IS PROPERTY: Alex Beam is irritated by those who believe public domain is a right of society. "We accept without question that certain intellectual property, like books, should eventually belong to the public. Why? My friend Dean Crawford builds houses and writes novels. Would we confiscate his rights to a home he built after 70 years? Of course not. Would we restrict his freedom to sell a home to whomever he chooses? No." Boston Globe 10/08/02
  • HIGH STAKES: To the plaintiffs of Eldred v. Ashcroft, the future of the public domain for intellectual property is at stake. "If we lose, then you can say goodbye to any meaningful public domain." Wired 10/08/02

ISRAEL - OUT OF THE LOOP: Artists have stopped going to Israel. "In the past two years, ever since the outbreak of the second intifada, a virtual blockade has been set up between the cultural world of the West and Israel. Performers and ensembles are canceling performances here, and even more are not even booking dates. The situation is so bad that the impresario business, which had specialized in bringing international acts to Israel, is on the brink of collapse." Ha'aretz (Israel) 10/08/02

ORANGE COUNTY DELAYS CONCERT HALL: The Orange County Performing Arts Center is pushing back the opening of its new $200 million concert hall by a year. But it's not because fundraising has dried up, says the center's management. "About $100 million has been raised or pledged since the campaign began nearly three years ago. But, amid a plummeting stock market and other economic woes, only $3.5 million in new donations has been announced in the last 12 months." No, the reason is acoustical: "Because of its complex acoustical engineering, they said, the 2,000-seat hall requires a break-in time of three to six months to 'tune' it for peak sonic performance, and pushing to keep to the original schedule would have risked getting off to a bad start. 'A lot of cities have looked at the Philadelphia experience and are making sure they have plenty of time for the tuning period'." Los Angeles Times 10/08/02

Monday October 7

CHALLENGING THE MICKEY MOUSE LAW: This week the US Supreme Court will hear a challenge to "a 1998 law that extended copyright protection an additional 20 years for cultural works, thereby protecting movies, plays, books and music for a total of 70 years after the author's death or for 95 years from publication for works created by or for corporations." Plaintiffs will argue that the extension removes thousands of important creative works from public use. Baltimore Sun (AP) 10/07/02

VISA CASUALTIES: The Afro-Cuban Allstars Band is the latest in a now-burgeoning list of foreign artists who have had to cancel American appearances because they were unable to obtain visas to enter the country. "The visa requirements have created a huge back-up in the approval process and resulted in the cancellation of concerts and the loss of millions of dollars in bookings." San Jose Mercury-News 10/06/02

OF CRIMINALS AND ARTISTS: A controversial theory suggests that artists and criminals have a lot in common: they both break the rules. Both "express a primal rage. Love, hate, fury, despair and passion can be given utterance with brushes and pens, or with guns and knives. Artists enjoy seeing themselves as raffish outsiders, people of dubious morality." The Observer (UK) 10/06/02

Sunday October 6

NEA REORGANIZATION: The National Endowment for the Arts is undergoing a major organizational restructuring. Some worry that the changes are being made while the NEA is still without a permanent chairperson. The reorganization seems to favor traditional institutional arts over those that are less established, and are being directed by an interim chairwoman. 'It struck several of us as unusual that an acting chairman would be making what seems to be a comprehensive organizational change when she's not the chairman. Normally that is something an interim chairman doesn't do'." The New York Times 10/05/02

PROPER NOTICE: Do newspaper reviews matter anymore? "There was a time, artistic directors say, when reviews drove the box office. Troupes would add phone staff in the wake of a good review or brace for sparse houses when the notices fell like shards of glass. Those days have changed." The Star-Tribune (Mpls) 10/06/02

CULTURAL DISTRICT AS HOTEL FOR OUT-OF-TOWNERS: Pittsburgh has a thriving cultural district. But most of what plays there is imported. "The bulk of the Cultural District is a large-scale hotel for outside artists who visit and entertain us before going someplace else. While this allows Pittsburgh to have exposure to a broad range of talent and art forms it might never produce on its own, it does little to foster the local community of professional artists. This means the voice of Pittsburgh is not being heard in its own Cultural District, and the fundamental spirit of local theater culture is to be found only in its smaller companies." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 10/06/02

Thursday October 3

CULTCHA? IN QUEENS?..WHO KNEW? For artworld denizens of Manhattan, venturing out to Queens has been something of a safari experience. The borough has never been as hip as Williamsburg or other affordable non-Manhattan artist refuges. But the Museum of Modern Art's temporary move to Long Island City has some Manhattan-bound art lovers considering Queens in a new light. The New York Times 10/03/02

BUT THIS ISN'T BRIBERY, WE SWEAR: The epidemic of touring artists and musicians being denied entry to the U.S. by the Justice Department is reaching crisis proportions, and arts organizations are pleading with Attorney General John Ashcroft to lighten up, to no avail. Now, it appears that part of the problem is a new "expedited" system of visa processing, under which wealthy clients who are willing to kick in $1000 to the government can have their applications pushed through in record time. As a result, the arts groups which previously enjoyed expedited handling as a matter of course are left fuming on the bad side of the money gap. City Pages (Minneapolis/Saint Paul) 10/02/02

DANGLING SOME HOPE IN CLEVELAND: Cleveland, Ohio, boasts one of the world's great orchestras, and a better-than-average art museum. Other than that, however, the city is pretty much an artistic desert, with some of the lowest arts-funding levels in the nation. This week, Cleveland's mayor and city council president paid some lip service to the concept of funding the arts, but continued to insist that at the moment, there just isn't any money available. Furthermore, with statements suggesting that any future funding "must be contingent on showing the public that there will be a return on the investment," one wonders whether the pols have mistaken the arts for a money-making industry. The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 10/03/02

Wednesday October 2

FIGHTING AGAINST THE FUTURE: Major music and movie producers want to preserve their ways of doing business. That means convincing lawmakers to pass laws protecting against technology that can subvert their business models. Dan Gillmor observes that: "the companies that wail about `stealing' have themselves hijacked billions of dollars worth of literature, music and film from you and me. The public domain hasn't grown lately, and that's a betrayal of everyone but the tiny group of mega-companies that owns copyrights to old classics." San Jose Mercury News 10/01/02

ART OF THE SUBWAY: Cairo's subway system is polluted, noisy and crowded - not the sort of place anyone would willingly want to spend time. To help make it a little better, "this month the Cairo metro authority opened its halls to the Opera House to display art by local painters and let small orchestras play classical music in a bid to make travel more bearable." Middle East Times (AFP) 10/01/02

Tuesday October 1

A HISTORY OF INTELLECTUALS IN AMERICA: There was a time - however brief - that being an intellectual was thought to be desirable in America. "During the last 50 years anti-intellectualism has, by and large, disappeared. But then, so have intellectuals, too - well, almost. There have been many important elements of this devolution during the last 50 years." Chronicle of Higher Education 10/04/02

COMPETING TO REDESIGN LINCOLN CENTER: Lincoln Center chooses five star architects to compete to redesign the performing arts complex's public plazas. The New York Times 10/01/02