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Friday December 29

  • A DAY WITHOUT ART: Today is "No Art Day" in Singapore, an occasion for people to reflect on the role of art in Singapore Culture. But "the irony of No Art Day seems to be lost on some artistes, who do not see the point of making such a statement when most Singaporeans remain apathetic towards the arts." Singapore Straits Times 12/29/00
  • WORKING FOR THE CAPITAL OF CULTURE: Okay, so maybe Liverpool isn't the first place you think about when you think about culture. But the city has been named the European Capital of Culture for 2008 and the city is fixing up. "Museums and galleries are expanding, public buildings are being spruced up after years of neglect, a theatre has come back into the limelight after three dark years, and the city's symphony orchestra is looking forward to a stable financial future under a new conductor." The Guardian (London) 12/29/00
  • CHINESE REVIVAL: China spent a good part of the 20th Century distroying its past, particularly during the years of the Cultural Revolution. But history has become hot among today's Chinese youth, and a revival of things of the past is underway. International Herald Tribune 12/29/00

Thursday December 28

  • SELLING ART: Our cultural institutions have been pushed to attract ever greater audiences to justify their success. "It's a difficult moment because, on some level, not-for-profits are being asked to be very entrepreneurial. At the same time, there's a growing awareness that if this is pushed too far, then the issue of cultural and artistic integrity can be compromised." Los Angeles Times 12/24/00
  • TA's OF THE WORLD UNITE: Last month teaching assistant graduate students at New York University voted to unionize. "The vote was immediately translated into an attack on the very framework of academic collegiality, and the board's decision to allow the vote was denounced by other universities facing similar union threats. Loudest in their condemnation were Yale University officials, who have succeeded for almost a decade in thwarting a graduate organizing effort on their own campus." Village Voice 12/28/00
  • MAKING IT BIG: Which artists are we likely to hear from in the next year. The BBC takes a look. BBC 12/28/00
  • PROSPECTS FOR PEACE: Hollywood weighs a new Bush administration. Sen. John Ashcroft, Bush's nominee for attorney general, gets mixed reviews. Variety 12/28/00
  • NEW YEAR SHOWCASE: Boston's New Year's Eve celebrations - First Night - is an aretist showcase. A thousand artists in 250 performances at 50 venues for an expected audience of 1.6 million. Boston Herald 12/28/00
  • THE COMPUTERS UNITED: All those millions of home computers out there laying idle much of the time could be put to good use while their owners aren't working on them, say researchers. "With about 300 million PCs connected to the Internet but idle 90 percent of the time, there's huge potential for scientific projects utilizing distributed computing power, researchers argue in a report." Minneapolis Star-Tribune (Scripps Howard) 12/28/00

Wednesday December 27

  • AGING THROUGH THE AGES: "If André du Laurens's tract on the subject is to be believed, growing old must have been a positively blissful experience back in 1594." So what happened? Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 12/27/00

Tuesday December 26

  • FIRST NIGHT ALMOST LAST: Boston's First Night New Year's Eve celebrations are the biggest in the country, with hundreds of performances and artists participating. But last year, "to match large-scale celebrations planned in other major U.S. cities, First Night doubled its budget last year from $1.3 million to $2.7 million and spiffed up programming to include extras such as three days of cultural events, citywide laser shows and five fireworks displays." Out-of-control costs nearly sank the popular event. Boston Herald 12/26/00
  • THE ART OF APPEARING PRESIDENTIAL: A new exhibition at the Smithsonian in Washington DC shows how artists through the past 224 years depicted presidents of the United States. New Jersey Online (AP) 12/26/00

Friday December 22

  • PROTECTING PERFORMERS: "A global treaty to protect actors' rights is on hold because of a disagreement over movie royalties." CBC 12/22/00
  • AS LONG AS THE NAME REMAINS: Manhattan’s landmark Rockefeller Center is being sold for $1.85 billion private investors. "For the first time since the family built the center 70 years ago, in the midst of the Depression, the Rockefellers will have no involvement with the 10 landmarked office buildings, Radio City Music Hall or the Rainbow Room." New York Times 12/22/00 (one-time registration required for access)

Thursday December 21

  • CULTURE BEFORE FOOD: For the first time, Norwegians now spend more of their incomes on culture than on food and alcohol-free drinks. In 1999 the average Norwegian family used 12.3 per cent of the family budget on culture and leisure activities. Norwegians still use the largest part of their budget on housing (culture is third). Norway Post 12/21/00
  • THE CRITIC CRITICIZED: When you're a critic everyone loves to criticize you. One critic looks over the criticism that came his way this year. "The eminent critic and playwright Robert Brustein took me to task for reporting that his fashionably coifed crony David Mamet was in a 'slump' because he had written an awful novel that couldn't find a US publisher. (Good thing I didn't know about the 'poetry' and the vanity CD.)" Boston Globe 12/21/00

Wednesday December 20

  • NEW ARTS CENTER FOR MIAMI: The Miami-Dade County Commission has approved a $255 million contract to build a performing arts center first proposed 21 years ago. The center is scheduled to open in 2004 and will be home to five resident companies - the Concert Association of Florida, the New World Symphony, the Florida Grand Opera, the Miami City Ballet and the Florida Philharmonic. Miami Herald 12/20/00

Tuesday December 19

  • CULTURAL BILL OF RIGHTS: Cultural observers are wondering how the arts will fare in a Dubya administration.  Yesterday at the National Press Club in Washington, Bill Ivey, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, unveiled a working paper for a "Cultural Bill of Rights", a moral manifesto intended "to deepen our national conversation about the value of art and cultural heritage to our democracy." Washington Post, 12/19/2000
  • REASON FOR OPTIMISM: NEA Chairman Bill Ivey outlined a "cultural bill of rights" in a speech Monday and said Americans have reason to believe the Bush administration will be supportive of the arts. "He cited increased spending on the arts under the Bush's governorship in Texas as a cause for optimism [and] noted the increase in the NEA budget to $105 million for this year, the first since 1992, came as a result of a bipartisan effort in Congress." New Jersey Online (AP) 12/18/00

Monday December 18

  • WHAT'S WRONG WITH BERLIN? As the intrigue of Berlin's cultural life winds on, several prominent artists who have approached to work in the city have declined. Why? "Berliners should be asking themselves what is wrong with their city." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 12/18/00
  • PROFITING BY IDEAS: As centers of research, universities have a wealth of knowledge to profit from. "But successfully exploiting them is another matter. With some notable exceptions, the businesses set up by universities to commercialise their intellectual property have lost millions in recent years." Sydney Morning Herald 12/18/00
  • CULTURAL POLICY NEEDS MORE THAN TALK: A new culture minister in New Zealand got everyone's hopes up for some government attention as 2000 dawned. "Then there was a giddy anticipation from the cultural sector, which behaved like an ignored child showered with attention. As the year ends, the reality has sunk in that if politics exhibits any art it is the art of pragmatism." New Zealand Herald 12/18/00

Sunday December 17

  • WHAT DOES EUROPE KNOW ABOUT ART? "Cultural protectionism is in vogue throughout Europe, evidence of a growing fear that the continent's old national cultures are under threat. The EU's role is significant. Although it claims to act benignly, serving as a mere facilitator of culture, its policies display somewhat different, culturally integrationist aims. It believes in the propagation of an official European culture." The Telegraph (London) 12/16/00

Friday December 15

  • NATIONAL MEDAL OF ARTS recipients named by Clinton this week. Winners include Maya Angelou, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Itzhak Perlman, and National Public Radio’s Cultural Programming Division. New York Times 12/15/00 (one-time registration required for access)
  • YES MINISTER: As minister of arts you get to decide who gets money to do what. "It's the feel-good job that basically comes down to deciding which arts companies, projects and artists you're going to assign money to, the job that makes you look popular even when your other job doesn't." And yet there are the downsides too... The Age (Melbourne" 12/15/00

Thursday December 14

  • DIRECTING OUR RESOURCES: "The issue is not whether classical ballet is a great art form; let's postulate that it is. The question is about the role of art in the community. Should public money be used to help perfect an elitist exercise so that all may benefit by watching it, or should it be used to promote sundry inclusive art forms (Make-A-Circus, as one example) so that all may benefit by participating in them?" San Francisco Chronicle 12/14/00
  • HOLLYWOOD AND THE GOP: "For the TV industry, a Republican administration is generally welcomed, since the GOP largely believes in letting the marketplace, not regulation, rule the day. Overall, entertainment toppers are concerned that the reputed ills of Hollywood may be the one issue a nearly evenly divided Congress can agree on." Variety 12/14/00
  • PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW: Australian painters, sculptors, composers, authors, film makers and other artistic creators have finally won the right to "stop their work being mistreated or wrongly attributed under laws passed last week. It has taken seven years, two governments and a handful of ministers to get rights most of the rest of the Western world has long taken for granted." The Age (Melbourne) 12/14/00
  • SYMPHONY SPACE EXPANDS: New York's innovative Symphony Space, home to a variety of arts programming, is expanding to take over and renovate the Thalia Theatre next door. The New York Times 12/14/00 (one-time registration required for access)
  • EARNING IN THE ARTS: What are graduates of Australia's universities earning? First-year dentists get $50,000. "At the other end of the scale, visual arts graduates and linguists remain in the doldrums. Between 30 and 40 per cent of those graduates looking for work are still unable to find full-time work four months after leaving university. Assuming they got work, graduates working in art and design could expect to earn $28,000, well below the national average." Sydney Morning Herald 12/14/00
  • A CULTURE MINISTER WHO MATTERS: Canada's popular culture minister has quietly let it be known she might want to leave her job and that has Canadian artists worried. "It's not that nobody else can do the job. It's just that it's a rare combination, somebody who has got a really deep-seated commitment and belief in the cultural product, and political savvy and clout all at once. There are a lot of politicians who say they have both, but actually having it is something else." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/14/00

Wednesday December 13

  • CULTURE COST: So how are kids supposed to be exposed to the arts when it costs so much? "Two adults taking two children to a big show won't see much change from $250. To put that in perspective, most people earn less than $800 a week. After tax, groceries, mortgage and car costs, it's hard to see where the 'Annie' tickets are going to come from." Sydney Morning Herald 12/13/00
  • IT'S JUST AS EASY TO DATE A RICH ONE: Earlier this week the National Gallery of Australia appointed Melbourne multi-millionaire Harold Mitchell as its new chairman. Yesterday Mitchell launched a $10 million arts and health foundation, which will distribute a minimum of $500,000 in grants a year for arts and health projects in the first five years. Sydney Morning Herald 12/13/00
  • The Guardian's critics trade beats for a week "Critics are experts in their fields, but is that always a good thing? Or can a fresh pair of eyes offer new insights?":
    TV critic does opera
    Dance critic does a gallery The Guardian (London) 12/13/00
  • CULTURAL CORRIDOR: For a decade Los Angeles has been talking about establishing a "cultural corridor" to link its major cultural institutions on Grand Avenue. Now it may finally have come up with an idea that works. "The plan - meant to integrate the center with the new Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, both under construction along the avenue, and the Civic Center to the east - was presented to the board of directors Monday." Los Angeles Times 12/13/00

Tuesday December 12

  • DOING FOR THEMSELVES: One of Australia's biggest arts donors says the arts community has to stop asking for money all the time. "In the Aboriginal communities today, they're saying that 'if we keep getting handouts, we'll never be able to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps'. And the arts has got to see life the same way." The Age (Melbourne) 12/12/00

The Guardian's critics trade beats for a week "Critics are experts in their fields, but is that always a good thing? Or can a fresh pair of eyes offer new insights?":

  • MOVIE CRITIC DOES VERDI: "The experience of watching opera renders superfluous the cinema critic's expertise in assessing the composition of a 'shot'. Often force of habit had me complaining for a fraction of a second: surely this set-up is wrong?" The Guardian (London) 12/12/00
  • MUSIC CRITIC DOES THE DALMATIONS MOVIE: "Yes, but it's only a story. Don't take it so literally. Try and be an echt film critic. You see, I've got the vocabulary." The Guardian (London) 12/12/00

Monday December 11

  • CENSORSHIP TO LEARN FROM: In Singapore artists anounce a new website on which they will post work censored by the goverment. Surprisingly, the government does not object: "The archive hopes to 'compile case studies, so we know what were the reasons for the censorship, and to learn from it. We hope that it will promote understanding and meaningful dialogue on artistic freedom and responsibility." The Straits-Times (Singapore) 12/10/00
  • WATCHING HOME-GROWN: A new law in Korea mandating that a percentage of the films theatres show should be Korean seems to be working. Screening of Korean films has soared. Korea Times 12/11/00
  • TRADING PLACES: Exploring how critics do their jobs, The Guardian newspaper in London has had its critics swap jobs for the week. "Critics are experts in their fields, but is that always a good thing? Or can a fresh pair of eyes offer new insights?" The Guardian (London) 12/11/00

    • Theatre critic Michael Billington: "We theatre critics have it easy, both physically and intellectually, compared to our art-reviewing colleagues." The Guardian (London) 12/11/00

Friday December 8

  • TOO OLD TO COMPETE? Oxford University is one of the world's great universities. "Yet today there is also a sense of malaise, both inside and outside the university: a belief that Oxford finds it difficult to adapt to changing educational and social needs, a fear that it can no longer maintain its pre-eminence." Prospect 12/00

Thursday December 7

  • WHO NEEDS ART CRITICS? Here and there in a few major periodicals one can find art critics who realize they are writing for a mass medium and general audience, and not for a rarefied elite of cultural academics, museum docents and fellow critics. But then there are those who conduct themselves as though the masses who have lined up in such volume for recent Vermeer, Monet and Cezanne exhibitions were beneath contempt for their lack of art history degrees. Chicago Tribune 12/07/00
  • CONTROLLING THE CRITICS: It's tough to Intimidate theatre or art critics. But Hollywood and the fashion idustry have so much control over their products (stars) that an indiscreet word (or even question) can put your access (and your job) in jeopardy. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/07/00

Wednesday December 6

  • BEATING UP ON UNCLE SAM: At an international conference in Ottawa on arts issues, delegates slam "the Uncle Samming of the world, noting that movies and TV have now displaced aeronautics as America's number-one export industry. America's trade negotiators are less likely than ever to understand that culture, for most nations, is about identity, not dollars. Bill Ivey, head of the National Endowment for the Arts, and Jonathan Katz, the well-informed head of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, let it be known that they were feeling a little beaten up." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/06/00
  • LEARNING TO GIVE: In this unprecedented age of philanthropic generosity (a recent study found US arts donations up 43% last year), Europe still lags way behind the US in private support of the arts. "There are two indigenous deterrents. The first is a woeful lack of professionalism in the field of fund-raising. The second, more serious, impediment is the composition of the boards that govern arts institutions." The Telegraph (London) 12/06/00
  • THE ARTS COMPLEX: "As an architectural expression, the Canadian arts complex is an expression of madness. Envisage the entrance to the National Arts Centre in Ottawa - or rather, try and find it. I can't. I have performed for paying audiences at the NAC intermittently for 25 years, and I've never been able to figure out how they get in. No sign. No lights. No visible box office. To a stranger, the NAC might be the American Embassy, where every visitor is a potential terrorist." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/06/00
  • ART IMITATES LIFE (OR NOT): Last year a London artist won a £1,500 grant. But rather than spend the money on supplies or even food, she invested in the dot-com stock market. The stocks trade under the ticker symbols ART and LIFE. "They're both doing really badly. But ART is doing better than LIFE, which is a good lesson for me." Red Herring 12/05/00

Tuesday December 5

  • THE DEVALUED CRITIC: Where do those amazingly obscure rave blurbs for this or that movie come from? With a proliferation of easy-to-access opinions on the internet, how does one sort out who's credible and who's not. *spark-online 12/00
  • STILL ROOM FOR TEACHERS? As the internet rises and distance learning increases, is there still room for old-fashioned teachers? "Perhaps it is inevitable that those whose business it is to flog Rabelais, Montaigne, and Neo-Platonic poetics to technology-savvy, career-conscious, and heavily indebted students should begin to wonder whether their role as teachers is superfluous. After all, teachers, in general, are the apotheosis of human inefficiency." Chronicle of Higher Education 12/04/00

Monday December 4

  • INTERNATIONAL ARTS: At a world conference on the arts in Ottawa, 50 "arts councils and funding bodies from around the globe voted unanimously yesterday to establish an international federation to foster the arts." CBC 12/04/00

Sunday December 3

  • ON AMERICAN CULTURAL DOMINANCE: An international summit on arts and culture hears Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien say US cultural dominance can be fought by being aware of one's cultural roots. Many of the delegates from 60 countries dispute the message: "You can't stop the transmission of U.S. culture, so it needs to be regulated." Ottawa Citizen 12/03/00
  • THE POLITICS OF ANONYMOUS GIFTS: These days it seems like corporate "adver-donors" want to get as much advertising out of a donation to the arts as they want to help the arts. But there are still those who support the arts out of a sense of wanting to do something worthwhile. Just why do people give anonymous gifts? Hartford Courant 12/03/00

Friday December 1

  • WORLD ARTS CONFERENCE: A major international conference with delegates from 60 countries has gathered in Ottawa to talk about protecting "the vitality of many of the world's cultures which are currently threatened by the dominance of U.S. popular culture, and a globalizing economy which is turning national cultures into commercial commodities." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/01/00

    • CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER ADDRESSES CONFERENCE: "Some people think because of the power of communication, the American culture is a problem around the globe. It's not a problem, as long as every nation finds a way to make sure that people are comfortable with themselves, they know who they are, they know their roots and they work to have their arts and culture well inside of themselves." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/01/00
  • GUGGENHEIM'S BIG FUNDER? When Guggenheim Museum execs announced progress on their new $67 million museum in Lower Manhattan this week, they suggested that an art-loving insurance executuve in Ohio was commiting $170 million to the project. The donation would be the largest ever to an American museum. But the executive's office isn't confirming the amount. "I know he [Lewis] definitely plans to give a substantial amount, but he hasn’t decided what it will be. Lewis would take into account the enthusiasm of the city [of New York] and the generosity of others before deciding on the amount of his gift." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 12/01/00
  • A DAY WITHOUT ART: Artists and theater groups in Singapore have declared December 29th "No Art Day" as a protest against the government’s restrictive censorship laws. "For 24 hours participants will refrain from making art, appreciating art, consuming art, engaging art, administering art, or any other activity that might be interpreted as an 'encounter' with art." Times of India (AP) 12/01/00
  • WITHOUT THE SOAP SELLERS: The history documentary "A People'S History" on the history of Canada has exceeded all viewership projections and has become the most-watched documentary in Canadian history. But the producer of the series says financing the project was too much of a struggle and that the way projects such as this are financed in Canada is broken. "Nothing will be financed unless it can be demonstrated to sell pop or soap. It just won't happen. The marketplace will not, operating by its own laws, produce what is necessary and good for our children and our society.'' Toronto Star 12/01/00