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Thursday November 30

  • STALLING IN BOSTON: Arts boosters in Boston look around the country and see cities encouraging development of arts facilities. But in Boston, plans for new arts initiatives seem to have stalled out. "In Boston, it seems, ambitious dreams to incorporate the arts into major development plans have generally failed." Boston Herald 11/30/00
  • POE'S MYSTERIOUS CODE: For 159 years, a cryptogram, offered by Edgar Allan Poe, has baffled puzzle solvers. "Solving it became the holy grail of the art, with Poe fanatics convinced it would unlock a secret message from beyond the grave." Now a Toronto software engineer has cracked the code, and it turns out that... The Globe & Mail 11/300/00

Wednesday November 29

  • AS BAD AS ALL THAT? Is American culture going to the dogs? Morris Berman thinks so: His book "Twilight of American Culture" paints "a copious chamber of cultural horrors: corporate publishing and the death of small bookstores, New Age platitudes and spiritual nostrums, ignorant college students and their jargon-ridden post-modernist mentors ... you get the idea. For blame, Berman trots out The Usual Suspects: globalization, corporate domination, endless greed, insidious marketing, the media circus, and of course, the stupidity and gullibility of the American public." Really? The Idler 11/27/00
  • THEATRE IN AUSTRALIA: "In the 1970s and early 1980s Australian theatre was seen as part of an integral social debate about national identity and self confidence. The advent of serious arts funding came out of clearly articulated statements on the importance of the arts, and our politicians were well versed in the reasons why a funded arts environment was important to a social system. The arts were seen as a necessary expense, like roads or water." Now we should enjoy the rewards. Sydney Morning Herald 11/29/00
  • CEZANNE AS BUSINESS MODEL: "University of Chicago economist David Galenson charts the sea change from artistic tradition to reinvention, using the auction prices of paintings as his measure of value. Correlating the price of a work of art with the age of the artist at the time of the painting's execution, Galenson mapped the patterns of success and innovation over the past century in art history. His essays describe French and American painting, but their relevance is much broader." Salon 11/28/00

Tuesday November 28

  • BRINGING ARTS TO EDUCATION: Every study shows that children who receive instruction in art and music are more focused, get better grades and score higher on standardized tests than children who don't. So it was something of a small triumph for sanity when the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development earlier this month announced a $4 million pilot program to help bring arts instruction to kids living in public housing. Baltimore Sun 11/28/00
  • GETTING PERMISSION: A new Russian initiative aims to educate Russian artists about intellectual property and copyright. "Even though Russia signed up to the international Bern Convention on copyright in 1994, it is taking time for the copyright mentality to take root. This has led to confusing and often farcical situations, such as Russian theater companies being forced to cancel tours abroad because they never bothered to get permission to stage the foreign play they intended to bring." St. Petersburg Times (Russia) 11/28/00

Monday November 27

  • REVIVING NEA SUPPORT: Since taking the helm of the National Endowment for the Arts in 1998, chairman Bill Ivey has been largely responsible for the NEA’s renewed support in Washington. The Senate approved a $7 million budget increase this year in part due to Ivey’s promise to spread NEA dollars around the country and increase access to the arts in rural areas. Nando Times (AP) 11/26/00
  • THE NEW CAPITALISM: "With Russia’s government strapped for cash, the country’s sprawling network of great arts institutions is being forced into the unfamiliar world of commerce. The Russia Museum is one of the winners, organising an ever-expanding network of souvenir shops, a web site, and this year a record 15 foreign exhibitions. None of this has come easy to Russia’s museums and theatres. For 70 years the former Communist regime paid their entire budget, and also taught that private enterprise was a sin." The Scotsman 11/27/00

Sunday November 26

  • THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES: "By now, the pattern is familiar: Americans invent a piece of pop culture but don't seem to fully accept it until the British adapt, refine and sell it back as something new." San Francisco Chronicle 11/26/00
  • CONSIDER THE ARTIST MANAGER: Artists have no problem with paying managers commission when they [the artists] aren't earning money but as soon as they do, some of them become resentful, forgetting the blood, sweat and tears you have put in over the formative years. Every manager dreams of discovering and nurturing that talent, not out of vanity but through entrepreneurial ambition. They have careers to pursue, but people seem to think they are doing it for fun." The Observer (London) 11/26/00

Friday November 24

  • THE POLITICS OF ART: There's a federal election going on in Canada, but none of the candidates or parties seems to want to talk about culture or the arts, a $22 billion industry in which the government has some major investments. Ottawa Citizen 11/24/00
  • TOO TOUGH FOR US: Protests as Canada's Ontario Film Review Board bans the explicit French film "Baise-moi" from the province. "If there's a perception that the board is becoming more hard-line - this decision comes after the board turned down a re-released version of Penthouse's Caligula last year - there are others who feel the board is too lenient." Toronto Star 11/24/00
  • BIG JOB: Gordon Davis takes over the running of Lincoln Center at a particularly awkward time: the aging arts campus requires about $1.5 billion of restoration work. And while it's going on, where are the center's organizations supposed to do their work? Boston Globe(Newsday) 11/24/00

Thursday November 23

  • MUSIC TO THE STUDIO EXECS’ EARS: After reviewing Hollywood’s marketing and advertising practices, the Federal Trade Commission sent a letter to Congress stressing the Constitution’s protection of the entertainment industry and urging voluntary self-regulation by the studios, rather than federally enforced sanctions. "The letter elicited a collective I-told-you-so (and probably a sigh of relief) from Tinseltown types. "We always believed that both the content and the marketing of movies were protected under the First Amendment." E! Online 11/22/00
  • REASONABLE PROTECTIONS: "Citing 'significant legal limitations' and 'substantial and unsettled constitutional questions,' FTC Chairman Robert Pitofsky concluded that the agency would face considerable difficulties bringing cases against Hollywood under existing federal trade laws." Los Angeles Times 11/22/00
  • HOW WE MAKE CULTURE: Is there such a thing as "the culture?" "In some ways our thinking about nature on the one hand and 'the culture' on the other has undergone a reversal within a matter of decades. It used to be that the cultural aspect of ordinary reality was, by definition, the part most amenable to human transformation, whereas the natural aspect was seen as having a dynamic of its own, which was largely out of our hands. 'The culture' is today the more fearsome realm, or at any rate the more convenient scapegoat, and the notion that we have only limited influence over it appears to be widespread." The Atlantic 11/00

Wednesday November 22

  • IF THE SELLER PROFITS FROM OUR WORK, SO SHOULD WE: Australian artists want a percentage of the sales price when their work is sold at auction. To reinforce the "request" they've announced a 12 month moratorium on allowing images of their work to be reproduced in auction catalogues unless the auction house pays a five percent copyright fee. The Age (Melbourne) 11/22/00
  • NEW ARTS COMPLEX FOR DALLAS: Dallas unveils plans to build a $250 million performing arts center downtown. "The latest plan calls for a 2000-seat lyric theater for the Dallas Opera and other musical groups, and an 800-seat theater to replace the temporary Dallas Theater Center stage on Flora Street." Dallas Morning News 11/22/00

Tuesday November 21

  • AN "INFORMATION MAP OF THE WORLD": New online encyclopedias turn to users as contributors, hoping to create real-time maps of all of current human knowledge. One site has 60,000 contributors from 90 countries. "These sites appear at a time in the Internet's history when its utopian ideals linger as tenuously as the fun money investors doled out over the past two years." The Standard 11/20/00
  • FESTIVAL FEUD: What started out as a dispute over rent for Laguna Beach's famed Festival of the Arts and Pageant of the Masters show has escalated to a threat to move the festival and a campaign by the artists to remove the festival's board. "Artists are usually more accepting of change. This came as a surprise to me that this particular group of artists doesn't have the willingness to look at the possibilities." 11/20/00
  • WHO OWNS IMAGES? Some San Francisco muralists are suing Bill Gates' giant photo image company Corbis because Corbis is selling photos of murals in the Bay Area. The images include copyright notices but the owner is listed as the photographer and not the muralist. 11/20/00

Monday November 20

  • BRITAIN'S LOTTERY WINNINGS: Britain's lottery funding for the arts has recently come under fire for some of its dodgier projects. But "for the first time since the great days of Victorian self-confidence, Britain has been pouring money into what you might call cultural assets. Museums, galleries, stadiums, botanical gardens, new and refurbished public buildings have been popping up all over the country. The idea behind the National Lottery was that it would finance all those good things that often get squeezed out of government budgets." The Economist 11/16/00
  • IT'D BE DIFFERENT IF IT WAS GREAT ARCHITECTURE: It will cost $1.5 billion to repair New York's crumbling Lincoln Center. So instead, why not just tear it down and start over? "It’s time to start thinking hard about tearing down Lincoln Center and building up a new, much better one—an architectural masterpiece that will signal New York City’s miraculous recovery over the last decade and its renewed confidence that it will be the capital of the twenty-first century as it has been of the twentieth." City Journal 11/00

Sunday November 19

  • MAINTAINING A GOOD IDEA: Five years ago Britain set up the lottery-supported Heritage Fund, setting forth £1.5 billion in spending on arts and cultural projects. "Who could have imagined in 1990 that so many longstanding conservation problems would be resolved or that such bold initiatives would have found funding? Without it, the world would have been a much duller place. Yet, just as the achievements of the fund are becoming clear, so are the dangers that surround it." The Telegraph (London) 11/19/00
  • SAVING THE NEA: NEA chairman Bill Ivey on the NEA's travails in the past decade: "Our supporters in Congress, in the administration, and around the country in state arts agencies and arts organizations have become a lot more sophisticated and organized around their advocacy efforts. Some of that came from the need to protect the agency when it was under attack a few years ago. In the long run, I think we'll look back and say [those] attacks were actually beneficial to the Endowment." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 11/18/00
  • HOW DO YOU CENSOR THE UNCENSORABLE? "Film censorship nowadays is a mess: it has neither legal nuance nor intellectual force, and instead it relies on a vague outrage about the unacceptable. Anyway, the new freedoms instituted and exercised right now by the internet are making a mockery of regulation." The Telegraph (London) 11/19/00
  • USING THE ARTS FOR COMMUNITY REGENERATION: In Britain's "vast, scorched, abandoned" industrial outposts, traditional industries are in full retreat. "What can save these places? Enter the good fairy of the arts with her magic wand and her bag of enchanted lottery dust. Hey presto - cultural regeneration!" But wait just a minute..." The Sunday Times (London) 11/19/00
  • ART MEETS VEGAS: Art museums aren't the only higher artform to discover Las Vegas. The performance offerings are changing too, and serious artists are beginning to see a new market (and one backed with plenty of cash). Orange County Register 11/19/00

Friday November 17

  • THE VALUE OF ART: "The tragedy is that American culture is increasingly Postmodernist, whether we identify ourselves as pragmatists or as persons of faith, as defenders of tradition or as progressives. To ask about the practical value of the fine arts is to trivialize them as thoroughly as the rabid academic deconstructionists who argue that standards and canons are simply tools of oppression and that all art is ultimately political. Both sides seek to subsume art to base political purposes. The Right wants to use art to 'remoralize' the society, and the Left wants to use it for social therapy, to encourage 'oppressed' groups." American Outlook 11/00
  • DEBATING CENSORSHIP: It was a dull US presidential election. But the one issue that seemed to get people stirred up was a discussion of violence in the entertainment media. Not such an easy issue to get one's arms around, though, writes Norman Lebrecht. "For half a century the very word 'censorship' was so closely associated with totalitarian regimes that it can no longer be uttered except in inverted commas." Culture Kiosque 11/17/00

Thursday November 16

  • LEGISLATING TASTE: It's election time in Canada, so of course silly season is in full flower. An Alliance Party member says the party believes that the federal government ought to only fund art that at least one-third of Canadians can be proud of. "There certainly is no censorship implied. I would just like to think the money was going to be wisely spent and would benefit the majority of the population." CBC 11/15/00

Wednesday November 15

  • MEDIA SEGREGATION: Despite promises made by US TV networks last year to integrate their programming more and include more black, hispanic and Asian performers, it still has not happened, says a coalition of civil rights groups. Ottawa Citizen (AP) 11/15/00

Tuesday November 14

  • CRITICIZING FROM WITHIN: Last month the director of London's Barbican criticized his fellow arts institutions for the manner in which they were run. Now another arts leader has turned on his colleagues. "It used to be unknown for subsidised institutions to condemn each other." But now, "with the attacks now coming from within, the pressure will be on the notoriously non-interventionist Culture Secretary Chris Smith to take a closer interest in the performance of national institutions." The Independent 11/12/00
  • MORE MONEY/LESS CLOUT: The Scottish government announces long-awaited financial aid for Scotland's arts institutions. But the welcome news of money is overshadowed by a downgrading of the arts portfolio to a lesser position in the government. "The apparent reversal of culture and sport is no accident, but signals a 'rethink of the administration's priorities'. Pies, Bovril, and football - you know, the things ordinary people are more interested in - will have priority over Puccini, Beethoven, and Fauré." Glasgow Herald 11/14/00

Monday November 13

  • ARE WE DUMBING DOWN? "There simply is no clear evidence of any dumbing down except by the most crude and irrelevant criteria. The accusation is the final gasp of an upper-class male elite and their co-optees. They took it on themselves to define the distinction between high and popular culture and then police its boundaries. They were the high priests guarding the purity of the canon of cultural tradition. Even the language - high, low, low brow - demonstrates the snobbish elitism used to buttress their position of power. They've lost that, and now they've lost the debate." The Guardian (London) 11/13/00
  • PROTECTING THE RIGHT RIGHTS? Seven years after it was proposed, a bill designed to protect the basic rights of artists awaits approval by the Australian Senate this month. "The bill contains three basic rights: the right to attribution, the right against false attribution, and - the most contentious - the right to integrity. This would allow artists to protest against ‘derogatory’ treatment of their work - a book published with a chapter removed, for example, or a painting hung in the wrong position." Sounds great, but film and television groups have already expressed concern that the bill might discourage industry investment, and writers fear they’ll lose the modest bargaining power they already possess. The Age (Melbourne) 11/13/00
  • PARIS OF THE EAST: Shanghai’s artists are vying to recapture the city’s pre-Commmunist reputation as a thriving international art center - the "Paris of the East," as it was internationally known before the Cultural Revolution. One problem: government authorities would rather showcase high-budget imports like the recent 3000-cast member "Aida" rather than allow exhibits of the controversial art of China's politically conscious youth. The Age (Melbourne) (AFP) 11/13/00

Sunday November 12

  • CURE FOR INSOMNIA: "Sleep is the least desired effect of orchestras, ballet companies, theatre troupes and opera ensembles; nevertheless, it is a common phenomenon in concert halls and theatres everywhere. Many of showbiz's most influential powerbrokers are well-known shut-eye artists. Afterward, when they go backstage to congratulate the cast, they can truthfully say, 'Your performance tonight was invigorating'." National Post (Canada) 11/11/00
  • SAVING WINNIE THE POOH: In Winnipeg, Canada "children are breaking open their piggy banks, seniors are dropping off $20 bills and well-heeled Winnipeggers are brandishing their chequebooks so the city can buy the large oval-shaped painting of A. A. Milne's famous bear, honey pot in paw, at Sotheby's auction house in London next week." Winnie was inspired by a black bear bought in Ontario in 1914 and named after the buyer's hometown of Winn-ipeg." The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 11/11/00

Friday November 10

  • A HISTORY OF CRITICS IN AMERICA: A new show tries to trace the beginnings of America's art critics. "The stirring story of this development — at least, the New York part of it — is told by the academy in an entertaining hodgepodge of a show, 'Rave Reviews: American Art and Its Critics, 1826- 1925,' described as the "first comprehensive historical examination of American art criticism." New York Times 11/10/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • YOUR QUOTE HERE: Who are these movie critics who always have hyperbolic quotes to fling at even the trashiest sorry lot of a movie? "What I need to know is this: what do the critics get out of this? Is it just about getting one's name in the paper? Can it be that simple and stupid? I suspect it can..." The Guardian (London) 11/10/00
  • WHERE WE CAME FROM: "More than 95 percent of European men today descended from just 10 possible male ancestors, a new genetic study shows. Each of these father figures took part in one of three separate migrations that eventually populated the European continent." Discovery 11/10/00

Thursday November 9

  • RIGHT TO WATCH: "A new British poll on film censorship suggests four out of five viewers would rather censor their own viewing, rather than watch poorly cut films. The study, Making Sense of Censorhip, found that three quarters of those surveyed thought cuts in movies shown on television were the least appropriate methods of controlling content." BBC 11/09/00
  • THE MEANING OF ART: "Art, like beauty, has no essence: it cannot be defined or explained in purely rational terms. If anything, art-making and art-recognition are fundamentally irrational processes, based on intuition, or “what feels right”. There is a continuous battle raging between rational and irrational, order and chaos, creation and destruction, Classical and Romantic." *spark-online 11/00

Wednesday November 8

  • WHAT'S SO BAD ABOUT QUALITY? Time Magazine's Robert Hughes happily proclaims himself an elitist. "What I'm going to talk about is the idea of quality in art, which is a concept which over the last 25 years has taken a hell of a beating. Really good art is much more interesting than really bad art, and there's a lot of the latter and not a lot of the former. The idea of preferring high, articulate, demanding and beautiful experiences from the visual or aural or any other arts is seen as absolutely nuts. But is it damagingly elitist to prefer good baseball to bad baseball?'' Dallas Morning News 11/08/00
  • DREAMS OF DESTRUCTION: The quarterly magazine City Journal solicited plans from three architects to envision completely leveling and then rebuilding Lincoln Center from the ground up, instead of the performing arts center’s pending redesign. "The suggestion, however tongue-in-cheek, that the world's biggest and busiest performing arts complex be razed like Ilium left Lincoln Center at least officially nearly speechless." New York Times 11/08/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • A NEW CLASS OF TEACHER: "Affluence, once the preserve of the entrepreneurial class and the corporate sector, has now come to academe. Six-figure salaries, which used to be restricted to college presidents and a few senior faculty members in business and engineering, are no longer uncommon. The stock-market boom of the past two decades, rising home values, two-earner households, and external sources of income from royalties, lecture fees, and other sources have all given the academic world a new taste of prosperity." Chronicle of Higher Education 11/06/00

Tuesday November 7

  • PROMOTING A DISTINCT CULTURE: "In the international arena, Korean culture, long overshadowed by those of China and Japan, has received only marginal attention, often becoming subject to the view that regards it as a branch of theirs." Now an initiative to promote Korean culture in other parts of the world as a distinct entity." Korea Times 11/07/00

Monday November 6

  • ARTS INCUBATOR: San Jose has copied an idea used in the high-tech start-up world for arts funding. The plan goes like this: "Bring representatives of arts, neighborhood and social services groups together for a day; feed them good food and good ideas; let them listen, schmooze and think. At the end of the day, ask them for their ideas. Then pick the best and fund them - quickly." San Jose Mercury News 11/06/00
  • SO WHAT'S THE POINT? "What is the charter of the multi-artform Melbourne Festival? To offer choice and take the odd gamble? Or to project the ideas and tastes of the artistic director charged with pulling the event together?" Sydney Morning Herald 11/06/00
  • A REAL MIXER: "In a society which prides itself on being a melting pot, 17 per cent of Australia's performing artists, and 14 per cent of artistic directors, claim a non-English speaking background, a new report says. The roles these performers are offered are largely 'minor, tokenistic or stereotyped'." Sydney Morning Herald 11/06/00
  • BROUHAHA OVER THOMAS THE TANK: Can a dealer sell the original artwork used for films, books, or comics? There's been an established trade in such artwork for years. But now the copyright-holders for Thomas the Tank comic want to prohibit a dealer from selling art from the original comic. There could be larger implications. The Telegraph (London) 11/06/00
  • THE ARTS ONLINE: Last May Hartford's Bushnell Theatre began selling tickets online and now sells 10 percent of its seats that way. Predictions are that that number will double in the next year. "Now - for a growing number of theaters and cultural organizations - arts consumers can call up a Web site and instantly get tickets, see where they are sitting and be done with it. Click, click, done. Smart arts organizations realize that to compete in the entertainment marketplace they must be more willing to accommodate the needs and desires of their customers." Hartford Courant 11/05/00

Friday November 3

  • MAYBE THE BRIBE'S NOT BIG ENOUGH? There's a federal election going on in Canada, and the Liberal party, in power for a number of years now, is offering a bribe to the arts - $600 million in new arts spending, if the government is re-elected. Artists aren't impressed, though. The government's made promises before, but hasn't come through. CBC 11/03/00
  • SCOTTISH BOOST: Scotland's arts gorups, languishing for funding in recent years, got a pick-me-up this week, in the form of the "largest-ever increase in funding for the arts in Scotland. The £27 million package was revealed at the opening of the hastily rescheduled debate on the National Arts Strategy and its substance caught its beneficiaries, as well as its detractors, on the hop." Glasgow Herald 11/03/00

Thursday November 2

  • GOOD TIMES FOR PRIVATE ARTS SUPPORT: Spending by philanthropies on arts and culture increased by 47 percent last year, reports the Journal of Philanthropy in its annual ranking of the Philanthropy 400. Philanthropic support for arts and culture organizations on the list totaled $1.15 billion last year. Overall charities took in 14 percent more last year than the year before. (table at the end of story) Chronicle of Philanthropy 10/30/00
  • TECHIES, MEET FUZZIES: High-tech artwork is gaining more mainstream acceptance in the art world, yet artists themselves are still struggling with ways to navigate between the worlds of art and technology, both of which are crucial to their creative output. The collaboration between the two will be a focus of this week's ".art frontiers" conference in Silicon Valley. Wired 11/01/00
  • LESS MESS: Securing grants for future projects is about to become a lot easier for England’s artists after a recent promise by the Arts Council of England to simplify the funding-distribution process and reduce the layers of red tape artists have traditionally had to cut through. BBC 11/01/00

Wednesday November 1

  • REDISTRIBUTING THE WEALTH? A debate is going on in Australia about how to best spend money on higher education. "While Australia's best universities are well below Ivy League status, the lower end of the spectrum is well above America's worst." If making the best schools truly great isn't easily possible, should effort be made at general improvement? (In which case the best are diminished while the worst improve). Sydney Morning Herald 11/01/00