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Friday, January 31, 2003

NEA's New Poet/Chairman Confirmed The National Endowment for the Arts finally has a new leader, after a year. Outspoken poet (they seem to be everywhere these days) Dana Gioia takes over in February after being unanimously confirmed for the job by the US Senate. "The NEA has been leaderless for too long. I am looking forward to a strong chairman who understands the values of artists, because he is one, and who understands the role of cultural policy, and above all who will invigorate the agency." Washington Post 01/31/03

British Culture Minister Says UK Should Be More Like Germany England's culture minister has written an article in a German newspaper saying England ought to be more like Germany when it comes to culture. "England has a great cultural tradition past and present. (But) perhaps in Britain we simply lack the passion of the Germans to debate culture. We shouldn't be so shy about talking about culture. British politicians should not be shy about giving culture a high priority in public debate. "Germany is one of the biggest cultural powers in Europe. Britain too. So I hope that the courage that Germany has proved itself to have in the debate about grasping cultural identity will also rub off to some extent on to your English cousins." The Telegraph (UK) 01/29/03

Thursday, January 30, 2003

Gioia Confirmed As New NEA Head Poet Dana Gioia has been unanimously confirmed by the US Senate as the ninth Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. "Leading the National Endowment for the Arts is a great privilege and an enormous responsibility. Both the arts and arts education face many challenges at present, and the Endowment has much to do." NEA Press Release 01/29/03

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Scottish Arts Exec Calls For Arts Funding Inquiry After a disappointing announcement of flat funding for the arts by the Scottish government, "the chairman of the Scottish Arts Council has called for a public inquiry to stave off financial catastrophe in the arts and to nurture the sector for future generations." The Scotsman 01/29/03

Delusions Of Greatness What do we mean by greatness? "The distinction is easier to identify in the performing arts than scientists might credit. Greatness is by definition rare, and fast becoming rarer. Perhaps because so much of the art of interpretation is fakable on film, the magnetism of high performance has been dulled and mediocrity can pass, on first impression, for mastery, while genius is obscured by cheap gesture. Since human nature abhors a vacuum, greatness gets bestowed on whoever catches the public eye." London Evening Standard 01/29/03

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Big Cuts In Scottish Arts The Scottish government's new budget hacks away at arts budgets. The Scottish Opera, "which has had a number of financial crises in recent years, said it was 'dismayed' last night to receive, in real terms, a budget cut and it is expected that it will have to cut the number of operas it has planned. All three of the other national arts companies, and the National Theatre plan, also emerged as cultural casualties in the new budget announced yesterday." Glasgow Herald 01/29/03

Standing Complaint Standing ovations have become the automatic response for all too many performances. Doesn't matter whether they've earned it or not. "This un-thought-through enthusiasm has become - pardon the expression - a knee jerk response. Call it ovation inflation, it is yet one more example of our society's tendency to supersize every experience, emotion and commodity." OpinionJournal.com 01/29/03

Salons - We're Having A Party "Since the mid-nineties, various Toronto artists have attempted, in fits and starts, to revive the salon tradition by repositioning it as a multi-media drop-in, not a formal symposium. Artists in the city quickly realized that showing works in private homes can be a lot less trouble than begging (and paying) dealers for space or negotiating the byzantine, committee-driven world of publicly funded galleries." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 01/28/03

Monday, January 27, 2003

Art Or Money - Can't We All Just Get Along? The struggle between the vision of art and the business of art is neverending. But in tighter economic times, the battles seem more dramatic, more public. "What conclusion can be drawn from this eternal square dance between the powers of money and the powers of art? Artistic directors can't be slaves to money, but they can't be defiantly unrealistic, either." The New York Times 01/28/03

Tuition Hikes Could Discourage Arts Studies Critics say that the British government's plan to raise university fees for students will make arts courses unaffordable. Students will be encouraged not to study the arts because their earning potential after graduation is lower. "The colleges will find themselves in a dilemma because arts courses - with expensive materials and practical tuition - are inevitably costly to run, and yet by charging more affordable fees to attract more students, colleges stand to get less government support." The Guardian (UK) 01/27/03

Scotland's Arts Crisis Scotland was supposed to be in the middle of a "Golden Age" for the arts now. And yes, theatres and concert halls are full. But underneath there's a crisis. "Devolution was supposed to herald a golden age for the arts in Scotland, but there has been no cultural renaissance. Plans for a Scottish national theatre have stalled, numerous arts organisations are being forced to cut their creative output to make ends meet, and there are fears of a talent drain to England, where regional theatre is benefiting from £25m worth of government funding." The Guardian (UK) 01/28/03

  • The Boat Has Sailed On Scottish Arts "Scotland’s new government missed its historic chance to boost the arts; and now its error has been compounded by spectacular increases in arts spending in England - an 81 per cent cash increase since 1997, compared with 32 per cent in Scotland, further enhanced by the spending associated with the major push by Newcastle, Liverpool and other northern cities to be named European City of Culture 2008 - which in turn has led to fears of a new cultural exodus from Scotland to the south." The Scotsman 01/28/03

American History In Sound The first 50 recordings to be named to a new American National Registry of Sound have been chosen. "The registry, which began life yesterday with 50 inaugural inductions, is meant to call attention to the problems of preserving this country's recorded legacy. The recordings chosen include significant troves of folk music, famous speeches, ethnographic recordings and a few representative classical, jazz and pop selections that are already widely familiar to audiences. The recordings were required to be more than 10 years old and be culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." Washington Post 01/28/03

Packard Foundation Cuts Back Its endowment shrinking, the Packard Foundation is following other foundations and "is announcing today a more narrowly focused mission and a 2003 grants budget of $200 million. The organization gave out $616 million in grants in 2000 and $250 million last year. 'There has been significant investment in time and energy to talk with grantees about how to move forward in what is a difficult funding environment for everyone'." San Jose Mercury-News 01/27/03

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Arts Are More Than "Targets," "Benchmarks" and "Outcomes" Where is Scotland's vision for the arts that is creative? As far as the government goes, "the dead hand of Treasury control has fallen on the arts, subjecting it to the same criteria that it applies to every other branch of public spending. A presumption has grown up that culture can answer to 'targets' and 'benchmarks' in the same way as hospitals and schools, that unless creativity can be measured against 'outcomes' and 'deliveries' then it does not deserve to be funded." Scotland On Sunday 01/26/03

La Scala-on-the-Schuylkill Philadelphia's venerable Academy of Music is reopening after the Philadelphia Orchestra moved out and a major renovation was completed. The hall looks great. And some theatre producers are enthusiastic about getting into the building. But with the touring show business down, is there enough business to justify the Academy's operation? Philadelphia Inquirer 01/26/03

Juilliard At 100 Juilliard is the top arts school in America. A new documentary looks at the school as it turns 100. "What is perhaps most interesting about the documentary is the unflinching way it confronts the darker side of this famous place. Not that it isn't ultimately celebratory, and rightly so. One comes away almost awed by the devotion and intensity with which the teachers, and the self-motivated students themselves, go about the business of making the best better, a process that goes on every day in the fortress-like building on the corner of Broadway and 65th Street. One has to wonder if an atmosphere like this, despite all the superb teachers and students and alumni, doesn't breed a kind of hard-edged competitiveness that fails to serve all music or dance or theater equally well." The New York Times 01/26/03

Warhol Foundation Sends A Message - Now More Than Ever While many foundations are cutting back arts grants, the Warhol Foundation has increased the amount it is giving away this year by 20 percent. "It isn't that the foundation is such a smart investor, although putting lots of money into bonds has helped. And it isn't just that the foundation continues to profit from sales of Warhol's work. "We wanted to send a message. Even in bad times, a lot of people have a lot of money. Sometimes they can do more, spending some of that money in bad times than in more plentiful times." Los Angeles Times 01/26/03

Crossover - Getting Artists To Think About Science How do you get people to think creatively about science? The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation believes the arts can help. "Sloan's Public Understanding of Science and Technology program spends $8 million to $10 million a year funding a slew of projects in film, theater, public television, books, radio, and new media. "We need people going back and forth between the [science and lay worlds]. And I thought the best way is through media such as film, TV, and theater. It's very powerful." Boston Globe 01/26/03

Saturday, January 25, 2003

Copywrongs - Locking Up Happy Birthday It's a myth that copyrights are owned by creative artists. Big companies own them. Take "the ubiquitous 'Happy Birthday,' whose tune was composed by Mildred Hill, a kindergarten teacher in Louisville, in 1893, was copyrighted in 1934 by her sister Jessica Hill, after the ditty with new lyrics attached appeared in the Broadway musical The Bank Wagon and had been used by Western Union for its singing telegram. Rights to the song changed hands several times and today they are owned by Summy-Birchard Music, which in turn is owned by AOL Time Warner, for which it earns $2 million a year in royalties for public usage. (Don't worry about singing it around your dining table; AOL Time Warner has not figured out how to collect on that yet.)" Toronto Star 01/25/03

Friday, January 24, 2003

Arts Funding Cuts In The Real World What does the 62 percent cut in Massachusetts' state arts funding mean in real terms? "Almost no arts organization - from giants such as the Boston Symphony Orchestra to the smallest local arts groups - has avoided the knife. While no group has lost all its state funding, each has been given less money. These include programs that provide after-school art classes and low-price tickets for students. Some of the toughest cuts are being felt at the council itself. Eight of its 12 core programs have been cut and it has laid off 11 of its 41 full-time employees." Boston Globe 01/24/03

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Medical Journal Argues Arts Are Good Medicine An editorial in the British Medical Journal argues that "the government should divert 0.5 per cent of its £50 billion health care budget into the arts, equivalent to an additional £250 million for the sector. Where health professionals are trained, they should be surrounded by art. They should regard it as one of their duties in later life to see that hospitals, for the benefit of patients, their relatives, visitors and staff, contain art." The Scotsman 01/24/03

London To Cut Arts Funding In Favor Of Sport London theatres are protesting the London arts councils' decision to drastically cut arts funding and give the money to sports. "The ALG, which gives £27 million a year to a wide range of community groups and social service providers, said the changes were necessary if it was 'to properly meet the needs of Londoners'." Arts groups say the cuts will force some groups to close. The Guardian (UK) 01/24/03

The Kennedy Center's New Toll Plaza Jack Shafer thinks the proposed new $400 million plaza for the Kennedy Center looks like little more than...a New Jersey-style toll plaza. Why is it being built? "Isn't the design a tad reminiscent of something out of Albert Speer? It shares the Kennedy Center's coldness and its monumental bombast." Slate 01/23/03

Dreaming Of A New Lincoln Center New York's Lincoln Center is planning a renovation/expansion. What should the new campus achieve? "The goal is still to expose the American citizen to art and music, but the emphasis has changed. Arts institutions no longer see themselves as beneficent agents of acculturation and middle-class homogenization. Instead, they are scrambling to adapt to a crowded entertainment market and recast themselves as democratic, youthful, relevant and diverse. As Lincoln Center rebuilds, its planners are searching for ways to open it up, make it more visible, transparent and permeable." Newsday 01/23/03

Kennedy Center Makes Plans Washington's Kennedy Center has approved a $650 million plan for a "four-block plaza, to be built over existing roadways and flanked by the new glass-and-steel buildings, one housing rehearsal and office space and the other for an educational center and interactive exhibits on the performing arts. 'It puts us in reality where we were supposed to be all along, as a monument in Washington'." The New York Times 01/23/03

  • And About Time, Too! Benjamin Forgey is wondering what exactly took the Kennedy Center so long to unveil the new plan to remake its architecturally embarrassing digs. But better late than never: "From opening day 31 years ago right up to the present, the big box on the Potomac has remained a huge urban faux pas -- an outpost of culture separated from the city by a deep moat filled with speeding cars. The plan unveiled yesterday, conceived by architect Rafael Viñoly, does a lot to correct the mistakes." Washington Post 01/23/03

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Hamburgers Over Art In NY Parks? New York's Parks Commissioner is trying to get evict artists from selling their work in the city's parks. This at the same time he's been proposing awarding a prime park space to a hamburger franchise. "He said artists and other vendors have overrun popular park sites and that his letter was in support of City Council legislation that would allow the department to restrict sales in the park." Newsday 01/22/03

"Art Agent" Busted In Florida A man posing as an agent for visual artists has been arrested in Miami, after scamming several American and Canadian artists out of their work, having promised them cash and publicity that never materialized. Michael Harrison, who operated under a false name that hampered his pursuers for some time, told his 'clients' that his brother had been killed in the 9/11 attacks (he hadn't,) and convinced them to send their best work as a donation to a non-existant foundation in his brother's memory. Edmonton Journal 01/22/03

An Ode To The Brooklyn Academy "In New York, there is nothing to match the Brooklyn Academy of Music, affectionately known by its acronym BAM. Its three tiers hold around 2,000, but the embracing curve of its interior makes it seem intimate. What I love most about BAM is the sense that, like Topsy, it just growed. It doesn't seem engineered. So many 'arts centres' - the Barbican and the Lowry not least - are really arts ghettos, plonked down and squashed into the middle of nowhere to suit the exigencies of the town planner." The Telegraph (UK) 01/22/03

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Debating Censorship In Singapore Censorship is common in Singapore. But a new set of guidelines concerning censorship are about to come out. "Surveys suggest that a majority of Singaporeans are basically conservative and still want the Government to be responsible for deciding what their children should see and hear. But as our people become more cosmopolitan, there is also a group which argues that Singaporeans should decide for themselves what they want to see, read and hear and what they want their children to read, see and hear." The Straits-Times (Singapore) 01/21/03

Slash And Burn In Massachusetts The state of Massachusetts made the biggest cuts in arts funding of all states in 2002 - slashing its budgest 62 percent. Now arts leaders are surveying the damage - reduced and discontinued programs, a few closings, and more difficulty raising money in the private sector...Arts groups just hope that this year's budget won't be cut even more. Boston Herald 01/21/03

Monday, January 20, 2003

Going It Alone Most people like to go to performances with someone else. Indeed, many consider going it alone to be some sort of personal failure. But David MacFarlane has discovered the benefits of single tickets. "Most importantly, going out alone means you can do whatever you want to do when it comes to responding to a performance." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 01/20/03

Sunday, January 19, 2003

Down Year For Denver Arts Falling attendance, a downturn in funding, program cutbacks and layoffs. Last year marked a downturn in the financial fortunes of Denver arts groups. Rocky Mountain News (Denver) 01/18/03

  • Denver's Capital Campaigns Go Underground "Although arts groups openly discussed their multimillion-dollar drives at this time last year, now fund-raisers are guarding their plans like children hoarding Halloween candy. Others are either scaling back their plans or holding off altogether." Rocky Mountain News 01/18/03

Saturday, January 18, 2003

Copyright Forever "In effect, the Supreme Court's decision makes it likely that we are seeing the beginning of the end of public domain and the birth of copyright perpetuity. Public domain has been a grand experiment, one that should not be allowed to die. The ability to draw freely on the entire creative output of humanity is one of the reasons we live in a time of such fruitful creative ferment." The New York Times 01/18/03

The Culture Minister With Lots Of Big Opinions Kim Howells, the UK's minister for tourism, film and broadcasting has been pronouncing on culture - that the Turner Prize winners are a disgrace, and that rap music incites violence. Does he "regret shooting his mouth off so regularly, or does he see it as his role to make challenging statements on cultural themes? "I haven't really been shooting my mouth off. What I'm concerned about is a coarsening of sensibilities. People think that makes me a fuddy-duddy." The Guardian (UK) 01/17/03

Lots Of Buyers But Not Enough Funding - What's Wrong With This Picture? People are lining up to go to Scottish arts events. But there's a funding crisis. "What explains this bizarre paradox? Money is cascading into arts events, yet nothing is more wearisomely familiar at this time of year than ferocious in-fighting among arts organisations and angry rhetoric about 'mean' and 'philistine' politicians starving theatres, opera houses and galleries of vitally needed funds. Yet, all around, more money than ever is going into the arts. So what is going wrong?" The Scotsman 01/18/03

Copyright Extension - What We Lose Lawrence Lessig, who argued to overturn the extension of US copyright before the US Supreme Court, writes about the Court's rejection of his arguement. "Missing from the opinion was any justification for perhaps the most damaging part of Congress's decision to extend existing copyrights for 20 years: the extension unnecessarily stifles freedom of expression by preventing the artistic and educational use even of content that no longer has any commercial value." The New York Times 01/18/03

  • What's Next "Some on the public interest side are tempted to lament what could be called the 'Dred Scott case for culture,' unjustifiably locking up content that deserves to be free. In fact, the ruling gives public interest activists both motivation and ammunition in the continuing battle against the excessive expansion of the power to control information and culture." Salon 01/17/03

  • Truth About Consequences "Who got robbed? You did. I did. Who won? Endlessly greedy media barons will now collect billions from works that should have long since entered the public domain. Like public lands and the oceans, the public domain is controlled by no one - a situation that infuriates people who believe that nothing can have value unless some person or corporation owns it. The public domain is the pool of knowledge from which new art and scholarship have arisen over the centuries." San Jose Mercury-News 01/17/03

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Big Greed Over A Lovable Bear Winnie the Pooh earns about a billion dollars a year for Disney - about the same as Micky Mouse. But the lovable bear "would no doubt scratch his fluff-stuffed head in disbelief at what's going on" with the rights to his likeness and stories. But the family that acquired rights from Pooh creator AA Milne in 1930, is "embroiled in an epic legal battle with the Walt Disney Co. over the merchandising rights to the world's most beloved bear." The family "accuses Disney of cheating it out of royalties for nearly two decades" and want their contract with Disney voided so "they can shop Pooh around to competing entertainment companies. Disney vigorously disputes the allegations." Fortune 01/03

Copyright Issues Back To Congress The US Supreme Court's decision not to overturn the Digital Millennium Copyright Act throws the issue back to Congress. "The ruling could fuel fair-use debates over the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, digital-rights management systems and the regulatory mechanisms surrounding them. Some of the technological mandates being sought in Congress and at the FCC would put fair use in grave jeopardy." Wired 01/16/03

Should Media/Tech Companies Be Determining Our Copy Rights? Earlier this week "representatives of the music and tech industries pledged to oppose government-mandated technology to stop consumers from copying copyrighted songs and video. Instead, the technology and music companies agreed to collaborate on creating their own technical solutions to preventing the swapping of copyrighted materials. Press releases announcing the deal called the agreement 'groundbreaking.' At least one news organization followed suit and labeled the agreement a 'landmark' in its headline." But is it a good idea to let the companies themselves decide which rights the public ought to have? Salon 01/15/03

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Supreme Court Refuses Copyright Challenge The US Supreme Court, while conceding that a 1998 extension of the Copyright Act might not be good public policy, has rejected the idea that the law is unconstitutional. "The 7-to-2 decision came in the court's most closely watched intellectual property case in years, one with financial implications in the billions of dollars. A major victory for the Hollywood studios and other big corporate copyright holders that had lobbied strenuously for the extension, the ruling had the effect of keeping the original Mickey Mouse as well as other icons of midcentury American culture from slipping into the public domain." The New York Times 01/15/03

  • Justice Stevens' Dissent "If Congress may not expand the scope of a patent monopoly, it also may not extend the life of a copyright beyond its expiration date. Accordingly, insofar as the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, 112 Stat. 2827, purported to extend the life of unexpired copyrights, it is invalid." US Supreme Court 01/15/03

  • Justice Breyer's Dissent "The economic effect of this 20-year extension - the longest blanket extension since the Nation's founding is to make the copyright term not limited, but virtually perpetual. Its primary legal effect is to grant the extended term not to authors, but to their heirs, estates, or corporate successors. And most importantly, its practical effect is not to promote, but to inhibit, the progress of 'Science' by
    which word the Framers meant learning or knowledge."
    US Supreme Court 01/15/03

Top Editor: Serious About Reinventing New York Times Culture Coverage Howell Raines, the executive editor of The New York Times, has made it his mission to reinvigorate the paper’s cultural coverage. "He called the culture section the 'crown jewel' of the paper and added: 'It is as much a part of our signature identity as the foreign report'." Already the changes have begun...
New York Observer 01/15/03

  • Kantor To Head NYT's Arts & Leisure? Word is that "Jodi Kantor, New York editor of Web magazine Slate - has emerged as the top candidate to become editor of The New York Times 'Arts & Leisure' section." Kantor is 27 and has been at Slate for four years. The move signals NYT executive editor Howell Raines' seriousness about a new direction for the paper's culture page. New York Daily News 01/15/03

The Debate That Wouldn't End "New York's wide-ranging civic conversation about the World Trade Center site degenerated into rhetoric that ricocheted off on all sorts of tangents at the start of the second round of public hearings on the fate of Ground Zero." Officials in charge of the process seem to be trapped by the dual expectations of the public that a) public opinion will not be ignored, and b) something will eventualy rise on the WTC site, even though whatever it is will not come close to satisfying all constituencies. Washington Post 01/15/03

MacArthur Hands Out Some Expensive Party Favors "The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is giving special one-time grants totaling $21.5 million to 41 Chicago arts and cultural groups ranging from the city's largest museums to small community-based arts education groups." The grants come as the foundation celebrates its 25th anniversary, and includes a $14 million gift to National Public Radio, and $1 million each for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Lyric Opera, among others. The Plain Dealer (AP) 01/15/03

Preservation Blues "In Chicago, far too many 'everyday masterpieces' are being discarded like so much gristle. The city has a national reputation for being a vigilant protector of marquee landmarks designed by such renowned architects as Frank Lloyd Wright and Daniel Burnham. But Chicago is much less careful about safeguarding the lesser-known architectural gems, that give its neighborhoods their character. Hundreds are gone... even though the city, in a 12-year study it conducted that cost more than $1.2 million, identified them as architecturally or historically important. The demolished structures--more than 200--ranged from Spanish Baroque theaters to Georgian mansions to Queen Anne taverns." Chicago Tribune 01/15/03

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Some Public Interest In The Copyright Wars? Is progress being made in the battle over making copyright as "public-friendly" as possible? Perhaps. "Technologically speaking, at any rate - tomorrow is not on the side of the copyright control freaks. Information doesn't want to be free, but customers definitely want it to." And "at long last, tech companies are speaking up against the threat not just to their customers' rights but to their own ability to innovate and sell products. The entertainment people are hardly discouraged. They have far more clout than any other parties in this war, and they've used it." San Jose Mercury-News 01/13/03

The Rap On Learning "Teachers nationwide are using rap - the street-savvy, pop-locking, rhyming creations of Shakur, Geto Boys, Run-DMC and others - to teach history and English. Some colleges are even training future educators to weave rap into high school lessons. To some parents and teachers, the idea of mentioning Grandmaster Flash in the same breath as T.S. Eliot is wack. They reject the notion that rap, with its raw language and vivid depictions of violence, has anything in common with literature. But those who use it to teach say rap can be intellectually provocative, shedding light on the grand themes of love, war and oppression in much the same way as classic fiction." Los Angeles Times 01/14/03

Big Arts Cuts In California May Shutter Some Arts Groups California state budget cuts will mean a 50% drop in grants to arts groups statewide, from $16.4 million to about $8 million. Although the state arts agency budget is a "relatively modest item among the $20.7 billion in cuts proposed by Davis for 2003-04, the effects, would be dramatic among nonprofits that have already seen donations falter from foundations, corporations and individuals. 'People will have to close their doors. Artists will lose their jobs'." Los Angeles Times 01/14/03

Britain To Review Censorship Laws The British government is undertaking a review of the country's censorship laws. "It's very hard to escape the concern that violent videos, violent films, violent music, violent games do influence some of the more impressionable minds. I think there's a case for reviewing whether we should regulate more rigorously. There's certainly a coarsening of attitudes." The Telegraph (UK) 01/14/03

Monday, January 13, 2003

Tracking Down Those Arts Stats...(I Know There's Something Real There Somewhere) So - more people attend theatre in Los Angeles than buy tickets for professional sports. It's the kind of statistic that gets tossed around by those wanting to prove the relevance of an artform in the larger culture. But is it true? A LA Times reporter tracks down the truth. The real statistic isn't really about theatre. And it's an old one. Still, it originated from an actual study... Los Angeles Times 01/13/03

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Disney Breaks Ground On New Hong Kong Theme Park Disney initially expects the 310-acre park - the company's fifth - to draw at least 5.6 million visitors a year, one-third of them from the Chinese mainland. Attendance is expected to eventually reach 10 million annually. Disney head Michael Eisner: "This historic day brings with it the dawn of a new era in tourism for Hong Kong, and also marks a symbolic milestone in the partnership between Disney and China." Nando Times (AP) 01/12/03

Discovering Los Angeles - The New Avant Garde While seemingly nobody was looking, Los Angeles has become fertile ground for cutting edge art. "Today, seemingly all of a sudden, theater, dance, music and strange hybrids thereof are cropping up all over the Los Angeles basin. Many of the attractions are well known at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and around the country, although their proliferation represents a decided plus for Southern California. What is really exciting, though, is the steady evolution of an arts sensibility distinctive to this part of the country." The New York Times 01/12/03

The Right Sort Of Audience (How Absurd!) National Theatre director Nicholas Hytner thanks the British government for its generous funding. But it's time to stop asking artists to do the heavy lifting for social good, he writes. "There's evidently a thing called the young audience and everybody accepts that it's a good thing. And there's also a white, middle class, middle-aged audience and it's a very, very bad thing indeed. Until recently, the National Theatre's audience was getting worse reviews than some of its shows. Then somebody noticed some kids in the house with studs through their noses, and the reviews looked up. We have to call a halt to this. There's nothing inherently good about any particular audience. We mustn't judge the success of an artistic enterprise by its ability to pull in an Officially Approved Crowd." The Observer (UK) 01/12/03

Chicago's New Performing Arts Center - Will It Be Used? (Will It Be Paid For?) Chicago's new $53-million, 1,500-seat Music and Dance Theater Chicago is under construction despite a shortfall of $13 million. The theatre is designed to be a home to many of the city's mid-size arts groups, but there's some debate about how many of them will really use it. "Many of the groups lack the financial resources to make a go of it in this new space without a lot of new financial help. Some of them have struggled to pay their bills at the Athenaeum, which charges about as much per week as the new theater will charge per day." Says one critic: "I don't think we need that theater. But it's not about need. It's about being downtown and building a monument. So what can you do?" Chicago Tribune 01/12/02

Friday, January 10, 2003

City Of Boston To Raise Private Money For The Arts Boston mayor Thomas Menino has announced a plan where the city's Cultural Affairs office will raise money privately and redistribute it to arts groups. "The mayor described the campaign as a 'two-pronged' public-private partnership that would 'streamline distribution of Boston resources, generate new revenues to support arts and culture, and raise the visibility of the arts in the city' at a time when public funding for the arts has been slashed in Boston, throughout Massachusetts, and across the country." Critics wonder if this now means the city will be in competition with them to raise money for the arts... Boston Globe 01/10/03

Thursday, January 9, 2003

State Arts Spending Slipped Below Historic Trends in 90s Arts spending by American states soared in the 1990s. But did it really? "Adjusted for inflation, state spending from taxes, fees and other state revenue sources per person increased by an average of 2.0 percent per year between 1989 and 1999. However, this is below the long-term growth trend of 2.9 percent per year from 1949 to 1999." National Assembly of State Arts Agencies 10/02

Demolish Or Restore? Philly Looks To L.A. In Los Angeles, a number of decaying old movie palaces are being restored, thanks in large part to a private investor with a passion for old films. And the redevelopment has another big city 3,000 miles away paying attention. In Philadelphia, where downtown is bustling and decrepit old buildings are being torn down at a record rate to make way for new structures, time is running out on the one remaining classic movie palace in town. But will the city consider a one-screen throwback worth saving? Philadelphia Inquirer 01/09/03

Who's Next? Arts Groups Have No Idea. A startling new report from an Illinois group reveals a near-total lack of planning on the part of arts organizations nationwide for replacing their top executives. "Three out of four non-profit arts organizations report having no succession plans, even though nearly three-quarters of their aging top managers say they plan to quit within five years." And while it may be true that arts groups don't have the budgets to carefully groom successors from within, as is the norm in the corporate world, the recent rash of hasty executive departures from orchestras and museums points up the lack of foresight. Chicago Tribune 01/09/03

Tuesday, January 7, 2003

The Best Arts Charities In America Which are the best arts charities in the US? Worth Magazine ranks the top 24 in its annual list. Mind you, these are "best" in terms of how they run their non-profit status, not necessarily "best" for the art they produce... Worth Magazine 12/02

  • Did Worth List Have Eastern Bias? Only four of the organizations on Worth's list reside west of Chicago, and the list of 24 is heavily populated with New York area institutions. "Did Worth's conclusions reflect an East Coast-centric view of the arts world?" Los Angeles Times 01/07/03

Monday, January 6, 2003

Battle Of The Arts Center Chiefs A week ago Kennedy Center chief Michael Kaiser wrote a piece in the Washington Post warning of the current perilous state of the arts in America. This week, Lincoln Center chief Reynold Levy responds, citing healthy signs of arts activity all over America, and concluding by urging Kaiser to "leave the predictions of Cassandra and the wailings of Jeremiah backstage." Washington Post 01/04/03

  • Previously: Why The Performing Arts Are In Danger Kennedy Center president Michael Kaiser warns that the performing arts are in danger, and issues a five-point call to action. "We have been scared into thinking small. And small thinking begets smaller revenue that begets even smaller institutions and reduced public excitement and involvement. No wonder so many arts organizations are announcing record deficits." Washington Post 12/28/02

Art Asking To Be Sued A new exhibition in New York shows artists who have purposely sampled and copied other artists' work. "All of the pieces either have run afoul of copyright owners in the past or could be expected to in the future." It makes the point that current copyright laws are overly restrictive of artists who use other artists work in their own. The New York Times 01/07/03

US Arts Funding Declines In 2002 A study by the National Assembly of Arts Agencies reports that for the second year in a row, state arts funding across America declined in 2002. This follows ten years of funding increases. "According to the study, 62% of the decline can be blamed on two states: California and Massachusetts. The study reports that, nationwide, legislative appropriations for fiscal 2003, including state appropriations, fell from $408.6 million to $353.9 million. California and Massachusetts had a combined loss of $33.9 million, making them the two states hardest hit by the faltering economy." Los Angeles Times 01/04/03

  • Colorado - Worst State For Arts Funding After recent cuts in state funding, Colorado has fallen to last in the US among the states. "Arts funding in the state dropped from $1.86 million in fiscal 2001-02 to $1.04 million for 2002-03, according to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. That represents about 25 cents per resident. The national average is $1.22, down from $1.42 in 2001-02." The Daily Camera 01/03/03

Sunday, January 5, 2003

50 Arts Events Not To Miss In 2003 What 50 arts/cultural events should you simply not miss in 2003? London's Observer does the rundown... The Observer (UK) 01/05/03

Looking For Insight - Artists Come To New York Last month a group of Vietnamese artists came to New York to get ideas and insights from the city's artists. "We're living in the twilight. It's not socialism, and it's not capitalism. Experimental artists like us have to do things for ourselves, but we have to do it quietly so no one will bother us." New York Times 01/05/03

Talking To The Funders Who Make The Decisions Toronto has a number of major arts projects currently looking for funding. In the current funding climate "is there enough money to go around and sustain all these projects? Or are at least some of them doomed to fail while others succeed? The answers to those questions will largely depend on two kinds of players — the arts philanthropists of Toronto and the professional fundraisers hired by various cultural organizations to lead their capital campaigns." Here's what they say... Toronto Star 01/05/03

Celebrating (And Saving) St. Petersburg St. Petersburg, Russia is a remarkable and historic city. It's listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it turns 300 years old this year. So the city is exporting the best of its culture to the rest of the world to celebrate. But "if musicians, dancers, historians, designers, poets, actors and more are reintroducing St. Petersburg to center stage, the attention comes in the nick of time. Buildings are crumbling. Population is declining. Tourism is stagnating. The cultural community is dispersing. And modernity - in the form of bold new architecture - is knocking aggressively at the door." Washington Post 01/05/03

Pressure To Perform As arts funding declines, ticket revenue becomes more important for arts organizations. But waht does that mean for the kinds of art they make? "We have to ask how are we going to be true to our artistic vision - the original reason nonprofit theaters were founded - and yet not be irresponsible to our community by going out of business. As funding sources become tighter and tighter, this is the conflict facing all artistic nonprofits." Philadelphia Inquirer 01/05/03

Building Brands, Building Audiences Getting the word out about your arts orgainzation is not just a matter of printing brochures, making banners and producing marketing spots. The modern arts organization is a brand, and that takes careful management. Too crassly commercial, you're thinking? Boston clients of one communications firm think not. "There are no contradiction between that kind of 'corporate' thinking and artistic risk-taking. Quite the contrary. If people get to recognize the organization, we will get to take more risks." Boston Globe 01/05/03

Thursday, January 2, 2003

Arts Building Boom - End Of An Era? There is a global 'rash' of new theatres and especially concert halls, but the fastest growth is in America, a conference of the International Society for the Performing Arts reported last month. Will the boom continue? Historically, "theatre-building is the sort of thing people do at the end of a golden era (as at the turn of the 20th century) when confidence is high and wealth is ample. Now, tax revenues are weak and wealthy donors less wealthy. The curtain may be about to fall, at least for an intermission." The Economist 01/02/03

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