Friday, February 28, 2003
Battling Cuts In St. Paul
1000 Minnesota artists and arts advocates descended on the state capitol in St. Paul this week to lobby legislators to amend Governor Tim Pawlenty's plan to cut arts funding 22%. The state faces a $4.23 billion deficit for the next biennium, and the governor has pledged not to raise taxes or cut K-12 education spending, making cuts in all other areas a near-certainty. The annual arts lobbying event had never before drawn more than 400 attendees, and legislators were largely receptive, if somewhat skeptical of their ability to spare the arts from the budget knife. St. Paul Pioneer Press 02/28/03
- Previously: NJ Arts Groups Organizing Protests Against Eliminating Arts Funding New Jersey arts groups are mobilizing protests in response to Governor James McGreevey's proposal to eliminate state arts funding. Arts supporters plan a big rally for May 15 - about the time the state legislature is expected to vote on the budget. "A vocal supporter of the arts in the past, McGreevey has expressed regret about the need for his proposal to slash arts funding. He has urged arts leaders to come up with alternatives." Trenton Times 02/25/03
Wednesday, February 26, 2003
This Is What Passes For Good News In Massachusetts
That gale-force wind that just rushed up from the Northeast was the Massachusetts Cultural Council letting out its collective breath. The MCC, which saw its budget slashed 62% last year by acting governor Jane Swift, will apparently face no further cuts this fiscal year. Governor Mitt Romney's new budget restores none of last year's cuts to the MCC, but neither does it trim the council further. "The fact that Romney's education adviser Peter Nessen also chairs the MCC board likely bodes well for the organization." The MCC's annual budget now stands at a proposed $7.3 million. Boston Herald 02/28/03
Museum Car Picks Up Driving Fine
It now costs £5 to drive into the center of London. But officials at one museum were surprised to get notice of a fine for the museum's 105-year-old Daimler that has not been on the road since 1947. "We were surprised to get the paperwork because the Daimler has not moved under its own power for decades," said Andrew King, curator of the Bristol Industrial Museum, where the car has been on display for 25 years." The Telegraph (UK) 02/27/03
Tourism Chief: Failure To Invest In Arts Harms Economy
A former Scottish tourism chief says Scotland's failure to invest in the arts will hurt the country's economy. "As soon as an arts organisation looks for money, it is described as eating up money for a group of people who can well afford the ticket price. That view has far too much credence in government and needs to be challenged; government needs to identify the arts as an important component of what we are as human beings. Instead every penny towards the arts is questioned, almost begrudged." The Scotsman 02/26/03
How Should Arts Money Be Split up?
A recent report by the Boston Foundation said that 65 percent of arts donations went to two percent of the area's cultural organizations - the ones with budgets of more than $20 million. This has led some to call for spreading the wealth among the rest of the arts organizations. But leaders of two of Boston's largest arts groups say the portion of funding for major groups is right because they serve the widest audiences. "That chart doesn't show audience served. That's the number one point." Townonline.com 02/26/03
How Not To Sell Public Art To The Masses
In Milwaukee, plans for a major work of public art by sculptor Dennis Oppenheim have been shelved after a public outcry against the decidedly modernist piece. James Auer is disappointed by the plan's defeat, but thinks he knows what the problem was - lack of proper salesmanship. "Perhaps we can retreat, regroup and give some thought to a few general rules about introducing a major work of art by a top talent to a public that is wary of modernism in general and conceptualism in particular." Auer specifically suggests involving the local media early on in the process, rather than making formal announcements about new artworks which have already been approved. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 02/25/03
Tuesday, February 25, 2003
Why Cut The Arts?
Why are the nation's governors and legislatures talking about zeroing out (or at least severely slashing) arts funding, when such cuts will be less than a drop in the bucket of spending cuts and tax increases most states will need to balance their bloated budgets this year? The arts are always a popular target for conservative policymakers, but on a fiscal level, the proposed cuts make no sense. Not only does public support of the arts tend to result in more money flowing back into state and local coffers than going out, but the cuts will, in the long run, likely have a negative impact on the economic quality of life in the affected states. Los Angeles Times 02/26/03
NY Mayor Reinvents So-Called "Decency Council"
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is reinventing former mayor Rudy Giuliani's so-called "Decency Council" - the Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission. "The commission, largely ignored in recent years, was reconstituted by then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani as a decency panel in April 2001 after the Brooklyn Museum of Art exhibited works he found offensive. But Bloomberg apparently has another model in mind: a 'working board' full of established art enthusiasts, some of whom just might write out a hefty check in a pinch." New York Daily News 02/25/03
NJ Arts Groups Organizing Protests Against Eliminating Arts Funding
New Jersey arts groups are mobilizing protests in response to Governor James McGreevey's proposal to eliminate state arts funding. Arts supporters plan a big rally for May 15 - about the time the state legislature is expected to vote on the budget. "A vocal supporter of the arts in the past, McGreevey has expressed regret about the need for his proposal to slash arts funding. He has urged arts leaders to come up with alternatives." Trenton Times 02/25/03
Massachusetts Bracing For More Arts Cuts
Massachusetts' governor will propose a state budget this week, and arts groups are fearful. Last August, former acting Gov. Jane Swift slashed the Massachusetts Cultural Council budget by 62 percent - from $19.1 million to $7.3 million - the most drastic cut to an arts agency nationwide. The agency eliminated 27 percent of its staff positions, dismantled eight of its 13 grant programs and cut funds distributed through the remaining programs by about 62 percent." Now the state faces a $3.2 billion deficit, and further cuts are being planned throughout the state... Boston Herald 02/25/03
Monday, February 24, 2003
Leadership Void - Arts Jobs Go Begging
"Filling the top jobs at major cultural institutions has become increasingly difficult. The pool that you fish in is a very small pool, and that pool is shrinking. As the jobs become more difficult, there is a shrinking group of people, and the pool is not being replenished by people coming up from the ranks. At the same time, these posts have grown in visibility and importance to the local economy." Oh yes - the salaries to run the big organizations are tiny compared to corporate America. Philadelphia Inquirer 02/25/03
Working On A Piece Of Lincoln Center
A fix-up of New York's Lincoln Center is said to cost $1.2 billion. Many are skeptical the money can be raised and the designs agreed upon by the arts center's many constituents. So maybe another way to get the project underway is to take a piece of it and make it real. With that in mind, plans are being developed to open up West 65th Street and make it more accessible and inviting. Even this plan costs $150 million, and in this fundraising climate... The New York Times 02/25/03
Are Our Public Universities Endangered?
"Slashing support for public colleges, of course, is part of the ebb and flow of economic cycles. In bad times, state lawmakers use public higher education to balance their budgets, knowing that the institutions can raise tuition rates. Then, in good times, lawmakers funnel money back to the colleges to make up for the down years. It has worked that way for decades. But this time might be different." Is a wave of privatization of public universities in the works? Chronicle of Higher Education 02/24/03
Arts Are Worth Investing In
"Do the states have budgetary problems? Absolutely. Do they need to sacrifice because of the shortfalls? Absolutely. Do important programs need to be trimmed? Yes, without question. But wipe out arts budgets altogether? No. The arts are a medium into our future. They are our vehicles for introspection, enlightenment and pleasure. They can't be manufactured, reproduced or legislated. We need to identify the new artists, nurture their gifts and support them, irrespective of how difficult it will be to afford them." Hollywood Reporter 02/24/03
San Jose Economic Impact Study Measures Arts
A new economic impact study in San Jose "estimates the non-profit arts industry contributed $177 million to the San Jose economy during the 2001-2002 fiscal year. The study also says the industry contributed almost 6,000 jobs." So how come the city's arts institutions are in such financial danger? The city's arts leaders are meeting to plot a strategy. San Jose Mercury-News 02/24/03
- Creativity? Check. Inspiration? Check. Good Business? That Too...
"If you can't be convinced that the arts deserve support for how they enrich our lives, how they feed the creativity that leads to the genius of high technology and other endeavors, or how they create a quality of life necessary to attract and keep a great workforce, consider simple economics." San Jose Mercury-News 02/24/03
Sunday, February 23, 2003
Philanthropy Survey Suggests Troubling Trends
The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s third annual survey of “America’s most-generous donors” shows a huge drop in giving – the total for the largest 60 givers declined from $12.7 billion to $4.6 billion. “A troubling sign of the slowdown: a growing tendency among donors to make long-term pledges rather than outright cash gifts. Some donors also are delaying payments on previous pledges, and fund raisers see an increasing reluctance among wealthy people to make new giving commitments of any sort." Chronicle of Philanthropy 02/21/03
Breathing A Little Easier In Michigan
Michigan arts groups appear to have escaped the full blow of the budget-cutting axe which has been decimating arts funding in other states, at least for now. In the first round of budget-cutting designed to balance the state's books for the fiscal year already underway, the state will trim 1.5% from the amount allocated to the arts, and the state arts board plans to apply the cut evenly to all its grant recipients. But another, much larger, round of budget cuts will be announced in March, and as one arts administrator points out, "Arts grants can be very tempting to legislators." Detroit Free Press 02/21/03
Thursday, February 20, 2003
Putting The Corporate Brand On The Arts
The movement towards corporate support of the arts in the face of dwindling public funding is nothing new in the US, but the overt nature of the partnerships has been ratcheting up considerably in recent times. From new concert halls named for corporations like Disney and Verizon, to publicly touted partnerships between theatres and clothiers, the arts seem to be increasingly going the way of the sporting world in terms of corporate culture and product placement. Not everyone likes the idea, but in an era when most cultural organizations are gasping for breath, few have the temerity to argue against any system which will provide them with new revenue streams. Boston Globe 02/23/03
Sydney Opera House Closure Requires Intricate Dance
The Sydney Opera House Theatre will have to close for a big renovation - probably in 2005. Opera Australia, the Australian Ballet and the Sydney Dance Company will all be affected. So "what will happen in the Sydney performing arts scene when the Opera Theatre of the Sydney Opera House closes for renovation?" Sydney Morning Herald 02/21/03
Texas Commission On the Arts Braces For Cuts
After a seven percent cut in its budget the Texas arts council cut some programs. State agencies have been asked to trim 12.5 percent. And there's at least one recommendation to do away with a freestanding arts commission and its employees altogether. With a state deficit of $10 billion, arts supporters are bracing for trouble. Midland Reporter-Telegram (TexaS) 02/20/03
States Hack Away At Arts Funding
Several US states propose eliminating arts funding. Others - like Virginia - are considering major cuts of 50 percent of their arts budgets. "As a result of these cuts, many arts councils and nonprofit cultural groups will lose matching funds from private donors and the federal government. The $3.9 million cut in Missouri, for example, will mean the loss of about $1 million in federal matching funds." The New York Times 02/20/03
- Minnesota Joins The Party
Minnesota is facing a staggering $4.5 billion budget deficit, and the state's new Republican governor has promised to get rid of the imbalance without raising taxes. So it came as no surprise to anyone in the state's arts community when Gov. Tim Pawlenty's budget proposal included a sizable slash in arts funding. While the proposed 22% cut is far from the "zeroing out" being suggested in some states, Minnesota has always prided itself on its commitment to the arts, and artists are preparing a massive lobbying effort to defeat the plan in the state legislature. St. Paul Pioneer Press 02/20/03
Standing Up For The Little Guy
"Among Boston's arts groups, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Now there's a new effort to balance the scales. Local arts leaders hope a 40-member task force set to be announced today by the Boston Foundation will generate fresh momentum on a problem the city has failed for decades to address. The task force will work from a study to be released today by the foundation that shows that while big bucks continue to flow into a handful of the city's largest cultural institutions, donations have been declining for more than 500 Boston-area arts organizations." Boston Herald 02/20/03
Wednesday, February 19, 2003
Saving The Culture
A government agency is warning that Great Britain "faces a cultural crisis if the government does not set up tax breaks to prevent important art going overseas." The government has been scrambling recently to prevent several important works of art from winding up in the hands of US museums and collectors. So far, the only thing preventing the art export is a set of temporary bans, but officials say that the only permanent solution is to provide financial inducements for the art to stay in the UK. The US already has such a system. BBC 02/20/03
New Mexico Legislature Votes To Restore Arts Education
The New Mexico House of Representatives has voted unanimously to restore arts education in public schools. "Arts education has been shown to enhance many aspects of a child's intellect, including critical thinking and creative problem solving," said the bill's sponsor. "The bill was supported by members of both parties." Santa Fe New Mexican 02/19/03
Cynical Critics vs. Thin-Skinned Artists
One of the most frequent complaints artists make about critics is that they always get the last word, and rarely have to face the people they tear down in print. Critic Russell Smith recently had a chance to buck that trend, facing off against nearly a hundred angry Toronto artists whom he has offended in some way or other. In Smith's view, the problem is that too many artists simply believe they ought to be immune to all outside assessment. "It was interesting that none of my interlocutors wanted to attack any other newspapers for their art coverage - because most newspapers don't cover visual art at all. I honestly think that some of my critics prefer that." The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 02/19/03
Tuesday, February 18, 2003
Looking For Money In Unusual Places
"Product placement has long been a tradition in movies, but as performing arts organizations scramble for funding in a tight economy, will Hamlet be next to hold a Coke can onstage?" That's just one idea being looked at by arts groups facing severe cuts from the budget knives of cash-strapped states. It seems to be a fact that public arts funding is going away, at least temporarily, for many smaller organizations, and administrators are looking at everything from product placement to individual sponsorship of productions to make up the difference. Boston Herald 02/19/03
Struggle For The Soul (Pocketbook?) Of Bertelsmann
Media giant Bertelsmann is locked in a power struggle among owners and management. "The new generation took Bertelsmann into television and the internet and promised that before long the privately owned and secretive organisation would be transformed into a transparent, publicly traded multinational with stock market listings in the US and Europe by 2005. Yet the modernisation process has been an uneasy one, compounded by the deepest advertising recession in 30 years and a number of questionable acquisitions." The Guardian (UK) 02/18/03
The Inevitability Of Arts Education Cuts
California is facing big budget cuts, and San Francisco alongside it. So state and city governments are making cuts wherever they can. And what's likely to get cut? In the schools - arts education. Why? because it's easier than cutting general teachers. "The cuts will come with apologies and heart-wrenching statements from City officials, SFUSD leaders, and school site decision makers. They will give the arts their verbal support and let us all know how much they love the arts and how important arts are to the education of our youth, but then will say, 'What choice do we have'?" San Francisco Classical Voice 02/18/03
Censorship Or Sensitivity?
A student newspaper at Boston College is being accused of censorship by a theater group at the school, after the paper refused to publish an ad for an upcoming production, because the ad featured a swastika. The play being advertised "is about a fictional university professor who is drawn into the Nazi movement." The paper suggested to the theater that the ad be edited, with text replacing the swastika, and that version will run in the next edition, but there is still much debate over whether the paper should have run the ad without changes. The paper's editors point out that they are under no obligation to run every ad submitted, referencing the fact that "the paper doesn't run ads for abortion clinics, out of respect for BC's Catholic affiliation." Boston Globe 02/16/03
The Israeli Academic Boycott
A boycott of Israeli universities and their academic by-products is underway across Europe, organized by European and American academics who revile the Sharon government's hardline policies in the occupied territories. One of the main targets of the boycott is Neve Gordon, who fires back that "Israeli universities continue to be an island of freedom surrounded by a stifling and threatening environment. In the past two years the Israeli media, which was once known for its critical edge, has been suppressing critical voices... To fight the anti-intellectual atmosphere within Israel, local academics need as much support as they can get from their colleagues abroad." The Nation 02/14/03
Sunday, February 16, 2003
Philanthropy Takes A Dive
"The 2002 Slate 60, the annual list of charitable gifts and pledges from the country's top philanthropists, totaled $4.6 billion, less than half of 2001's total of $12.7 billion." The good news is that two of the biggest gifts last year in America were art-related. Walter Annenberg's bequest of $1 billion worth of art to the Metropolitan Museum led. And "Ruth Lilly, heiress to the Eli Lilly pharmaceutical fortune, came in at No. 2 with a $520 million pledge to various arts organizations, including a $100 million gift to Poetry magazine." Slate 02/17/03
Christo Hits Another NYC Roadblock
Cities are governed not only by mayors and councils, but by community groups and boards large and small, each determined to preserve their own little piece of political turf. This can make speedy decision-making quite a headache, which the artist Christo is finding out as he attempts to secure permission to mount a major installation in New York's Central Park. While most of the legal hurdles facing the project have been cleared, there is mounting opposition in upper-class neighborhoods adjoining the park. The objection doesn't seem to be to the art itself, but to the way in which the proposal was presented. In other words, no one asked the Upper East Side if it was okay. The New York Times 02/16/03
Friday, February 14, 2003
Making Repatriation Personal
The movement pushing on governments and museums to return art and artifacts looted by the Third Reich to their original owners has picked up steam in recent years, and a number of high-profile repatriations have occurred. But to Anne Webber, who runs the Commission for Looted Art, the recent successes are merely the tip of the iceberg. Her organization is currently working on over 100 cases of appropriated art, with plenty more waiting in the wings. Asked why it has taken so long for this cause to be taken up, Webber replies that the families have been trying to regain their possessions for decades, but "for a long time there was no one to help them." The Telegraph (UK) 02/15/03
Wednesday, February 12, 2003
An Arts Alternative
Should anyone be surpriseed that popular culture holds such a firm grip on teenagers? It's all around. Unavoidable. A ten-year-old program in San Francisco offers kids an alternative - an art alternative. Art and Film for Teenagers "offers Bay Area teens Friday night art movie screenings; Saturday outings to galleries, museums and commercial films; group trips to the symphony, opera and ballet (often three or more times a week); dinner parties and picnics, and an opportunity for mingling with peers passionate about the arts - an antidote to adolescent isolation." San Francisco Chronicle 02/14/03
Creatives Vs. Bean Counters - Who Should Prevail?
The "combination of financial foundering and artistic success sums up the challenge of running an arts organisation. Which do you put first: the art or the accounts? Given that it is tough to find curators, opera administrators or artistic directors who are as good at managing as they are at having creative ideas, who do you put in charge: a bean counter who can balance the books, or the visionary with no head for figures?" The answer, every time, has got to be... The Guardian (UK) 02/13/03
Grant Denied Because Of "Unpatriotic" Comment
An arts group in Whitesburg, Kentucky has been turned down for a $300,000 grant to create an exhibition hall for film documentaries and old radio programs because county officials objected to a remark they said one of the group's members made on his radio program. County officials called the remark - that "America has killed more innocent people than any other country in the world" "unpatriotic," but the disk jockey says he doesn't remember saying it. NJ.com (AP) 02/12/03
NY Warns Venues To Drop Added Ticket "Fees"
New York State is going after venues that add on fees to ticket prices. "When the consumer sees a ticket price advertised for $100, that should be the price you pay. We don't want the consumer exposed to a situation where they are led to believe that the ticket price is $100 and then you get to the box office only to be told that there's a $1 restoration or a $2.50 convenience charge or whatever the venue calls their added-on fee. If the theatre feels it needs a dollar to go to a restoration fund, that's their business, but they should advertise that the ticket costs $100 or $101, whatever the total is. The rest is accounting."
NY City Council Overturns Mayor's Veto Of Cell Phone Ban
Last year New York's City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting use of cell phones in theatres and concert halls. The mayor vetoed it. Wednesday, the council voted 38-5 to override the veto. Henceforth, in New York City, "talking on a cell phone, dialing, listening or even having one ring during a performance will constitute a violation punishable by a $50 fine." Wired 02/12/03
Arts Council To Give Arts Funding Big Boost
The Arts Council of England says it will "nearly double" the amount it gives to individual artists, increasing spending to £25 million per year. The council also said it "would increase funding of the groups it already supports by a further £70 million, to £300 million by 2006. The Arts Council says the drive is designed to place 'the arts at the heart of national life'." BBC 02/12/03
- New Name, New Logo, Less Staff - Arts Council England Relaunches
The Arts Council of England has relaunched itself as Arts Council England, with a new logo and 100 fewer staff. Now there will be just the Arts Council, with regional offices, one telephone number and one application form for artists, replacing more than 100 different grants schemes." The council says the changes would "save almost £20m over the next three years, and £8m a year after that, all to be ploughed back into the arts." The Guardian (UK) 02/13/03
Tuesday, February 11, 2003
Yahoo Cleared In Nazi Memorabilia Suit
"In what might end a three-year legal fight, a Paris court Tuesday threw out accusations by French human rights activists who said Yahoo should be held legally responsible for auctions that were once held on its website of Nazi paraphernalia. The court ruled that Yahoo and its former chief executive, Tim Koogle, never sought to 'justify war crimes and crimes against humanity' as they were accused of doing by human rights activists, including Holocaust survivors and their families." The suit was a complicated one, since France does not allow the display or sale of racist material. At one point, a judge had ordered Yahoo to block French users from viewing or participating in auctions of Nazi material. Wired (AP) 02/11/03
A Real Deal On Culture?
Britons spend £3 billion a year on culture." According to one study, "the amount spent by UK adults on going to the theatre, cinema, concert or art gallery is more than 15 times that spent on tickets to Premiership football matches in a season (classical musical ticket sales at £359 million a year account for almost twice the revenue of Premiership tickets). Yet how many of us are getting our money's worth?" The Observer (UK) 02/09/03
Monday, February 10, 2003
Cultural Council Comes Back After Disastrous 9/11
The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council lost everything on September 11—and "not just their offices in 5 WTC, the databases, the archives, the stage on the plaza. An artist in their residency program died in his studio on the 92nd floor of Tower One. Others had harrowing close calls. A tech crew was mopping the plaza stage for that night's dance performance as debris started falling. Another artist made it safely down the steps from the 91st floor. And executive director Liz Thompson was on the last elevator out of Windows on the World." Now they're into a new home. "They didn't just survive—they bounced back, stronger and more necessary than ever. Founded 30 years ago to help revitalize a moribund downtown, they face that challenge anew, but this time with a long track record of arts advocacy behind them." Village Voice 02/11/03
Economy Cuts Into Manhattan Arts
In New York, a down economy and cuts in arts funding are starting to make a visible impact on the city's arts institutions. "Museums, theaters, concert halls, opera companies, public gardens and zoos throughout the five boroughs are cutting performances, exhibitions, days of operation and staff members. This is only the beginning, arts executives say. 'It's like a patient whose health is slipping. The strong will reduce what they do and the weak will have to take more drastic measures'." The New York Times 02/11/03
Sunday, February 9, 2003
Channel Crossing - Sport Of 19th Century Artists
British and French artists of the 19th Century competed with one another, collaborated and spurred one another on - indeed, there was much to-ing and fro-ing. "The artistic and literary relationship between France and Britain - which also included a French fascination and infatuation with Walter Scott, and with Shakespearian themes - was much more a matter of give and take than, say, the British artistic love affair with New York between the mid-1950s and the late 1980s, in which British art played a largely subservient role." The Guardian (UK) 02/10/03
Friday, February 7, 2003
No More Money - So Deal With It, Says Culture Minister
Despite harsh public criticism in the past few weeks, the Scottish culture minister says there will be no injection of cash to help the arts. Nor will there be a bailout of the Scottish Opera, which is in dire financial condiction. And what of the National Theatre plan? That, says the minister, will still go ahead, and he hopes to attend first performances there while he is still in government. But with a static arts budget, observers are skeptical. The Scotsman 02/09/03
Thursday, February 6, 2003
It seems like critics are more out of step with audiences than they have been in a long time. Critics' favorite movies aren't the big box office hits. Reality TV has captured viewers' hearts, but not the critics. And pop music critics consistently pick albums and artists that don't sell well. "So what gives? Should critics really worry about staying in sync with the masses? Should they start grading on a curve?" Hartford Courant 02/07/03
Wednesday, February 5, 2003
Censorship Or Convenience?
Pablo Picasso's striking anti-war painting 'Guernica' hangs at the United Nations in New York, a sobering tapestry greeting visitors to the offices of the U.N. Security Council. But yesterday, as U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke to the Security Council, 'Guernica' was nowhere to be seen, concealed behind a blue curtain and a row of flags. The U.N. insists that the cover-up was in reponse to the needs of television cameras, but Peter Goddard reports that it "may have been prompted by U.N. realization that images of the mural's vivid anti-war message were televised world-wide when it appeared as a backdrop to the Jan. 27 interim report by chief weapons inspector Hans Blix." Toronto Star 02/06/03
The Arts Of Protest
Increasingly, artists seem to be speaking up about politics and the looming war with Iraq. "I don't think it's an accident that in totalitarian societies they always arrest the artists first, though we don't seem particularly dangerous. I think the responsibility of the artist, each of us in our way, is to tell the truth. And the truth generally involves a great deal of ambiguity, and in times of war ambiguity and paradox are the first things to go. People want simple black and white answers." The New York Times 02/06/03
No New Copyright Legislation Likely This Year?
Tech and entertainment industry leaders say they don't expect new bills On copyright law to be introduced in Congress this year. It's possible that copyright issues have become become so murky that they lack consensus among various industries and "would keep Congress from acting on significant mandates. Initiatives likely to stall include those requiring electronics firms to install controversial copy-protection devices, restricting peer-to-peer file sharing or expanding the rights of consumers to copy their favorite movies and music." Los Angeles Times 02/05/03
Massachusetts Arts Funding Cuts Make Impact
Massacusetts' 62 percent cut in arts funding has had an impact on the state's arts programs. "How bad are things? The council asked the organizations it funds to detail the effects in a survey. The results: Cuts have eliminated programs, outreach, and jobs. One of the greatest blows is less access for students." Boston Globe 02/05/03
Arizona Also To Zero Out Arts Funding?
American state governments are going after arts funding with a vengeance. "In Arizona, where the state Commission on the Arts has received $5.1 million in each of the last two years, a joint legislative committee on Jan. 27 proposed zeroing out that spending in 2003-04. The committee also proposed emptying the state's $7-million arts endowment and spending the money elsewhere." Los Angeles Times 02/05/03
New Jersey Arts Groups Brace For Cuts
Cultural leaders are predicting that if New Jersey eliminates all its arts funding, as threatened, that 100 cultural organizations could fold. Arts groups would have to slash programs, and many would take a decade to recover. "The 20 to 30 arts leaders who sat through the half-hour meeting told the governor that the impact would go beyond quality-of-life issues." Studies have shown that the arts annually generates $1 billion in economic activity in New Jersey. Philadelphia Inquirer 02/05/03
- Previously: New Jersey Governor Proposes Elimination Of All State Arts Funding New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey has proposed elimination of the state's entire spending on the arts - $31.7 million in cultural funding in next year's budget. Cuts include "all $18 million from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts budget, as well as $3.7 million from the historical commission and the next $10 million installment for the New Jersey Cultural Trust, a public-private partnership meant to stabilize struggling cultural groups." Cultural groups are stunned: "We went to our own funeral today. We understand the fiscal crisis facing New Jersey. What we don't understand or accept is why we are being singled out (and) ... eliminated." Newark Star-Ledger 02/04/03
Thinking Big In Toronto
"The Toronto Arts Council yesterday unveiled an ambitious, 10-year program designed to raise the level of awareness of the arts in Toronto and, more important, to put the city's struggling arts organizations on a more financially stable keel." A recent study revealed that there is a gap of almost CAN$45 million between what arts groups in the city have, and what they need to function. The new program will create an ambitious and large-scale fundraising structure which will hopefully close that gap by 2012, if all goes according to plan. The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 02/05/03
Tuesday, February 4, 2003
That's Why They're Called "Non-Profit," Isn't It?
Everyone knows that the American economy is in the tank, and that such times call for belt-tightening all around, particularly at non-profits. But John van Rhein is frustrated by the recent slew of defeatist cost-cutting measures at arts institutions across the country. "Arts groups get into trouble once they allow their marketing departments to shape their artistic programs. To pull back and stop taking calculated risks can only be counterproductive in the long run." Chicago Tribune 02/05/03
Another "Cultural Strategy"...blah, blah, blah, blah, blah...
This week, London's mayor Ken Livingston delivered a proposal for the city's "cultural strategy." And.... "I spent a dreary weekend ploughing through 'London: Cultural Capital's' 170-odd pages, all of them replete with the cliches of the current culturespeak. Meaningless pleas for excellence, creativity and access abound. Innocent trees have been felled to provide the paper on which Ken laboriously explains how he wants London to be green and prosperous, and its cultural diversity to be respected. The art of stating the bleeding obvious lives on in strategies and this one is jumping with it. Beyond the waffle, what is proposed?" The Telegraph (UK) 02/05/03
The Right Celebrity To Impress (Even At Covent Garden)
Frank Johnson goes to the ballet at Covent Garden and is amused at the buzz generated by a pair of celebrities in the audience. "It is not easy for people from popular culture to impress, amuse or interest people gathered for purposes of high culture. They must make us pleased that they share our pleasures or are taking the trouble to try them. Celebrity is not the same as fame. Posh and Becks are celebrities. So is — to choose just another example from popular culture — Sir Elton John. Miss Hurley, say, is just famous. Her presence at Covent Garden would interest, but not fascinate or delight, us." The Spectator 01/18/03
New Jersey Governor Proposes Elimination Of All State Arts Funding
New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey has proposed elimination of the state's entire spending on the arts - $31.7 million in cultural funding in next year's budget. Cuts include "all $18 million from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts budget, as well as $3.7 million from the historical commission and the next $10 million installment for the New Jersey Cultural Trust, a public-private partnership meant to stabilize struggling cultural groups." Cultural groups are stunned: "We went to our own funeral today. We understand the fiscal crisis facing New Jersey. What we don't understand or accept is why we are being singled out (and) ... eliminated." Newark Star-Ledger 02/04/03
Monday, February 3, 2003
Do Art And Opinion And Politics Mix?
LA Times art critic Christopher Knight recently began a review with the sentence: "The imbecilic plan for war with Iraq currently on offer from the Bush administration has yet to register much support from the American public." Predictably, letters protesting Knight's expression of a political opinion landed at the newspaper. Should a critic mix his political point of view with his judgment of art? Does it weaken the criticism? ArtKrush 02/04/03
In Zimbabwe - A Crackdown On Artists
"The arts in Zimbabwe are struggling for air in an even more repressive atmosphere than anything experienced in South Africa. 'It's well past censorship. It's rule of fear. It's total control'." The Telegraph (UK) 02/04/03
Bush Delivers Arts Budget Proposals
President George Bush delivers his funding requests for the arts to Congress. "The president followed through on his support for improving Americans' knowledge of the country's history by proposing $25 million for a humanities endowment initiative called "We the People." The president is concerned about our lack of understanding ourselves, our historical amnesia. By contrast, funds for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting that would help television and radio stations make the transition to digital transmission, supported in the past by President Bush, were eliminated in the new budget request." Washington Post 02/04/03
Missouri To Discontinue Arts Funding?
Missouri Gov. Bob Holden's proposes to eliminate funding for the state arts council, which "distributed as much as $5 million in the flush year 2001 to organizations as varied as the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra to the family folk festival in St. Joseph, Mo. Holden proposes that the council pay for arts programs by dipping into the Missouri Cultural Trust, a state savings account that matches private donations with public money." St. Louis Post-Dispatch 02/02/03
Where's Glenn Gould Avenue? And Why Isn't There One?
"I think I'd be the teensiest bit more receptive to the fiscal argument against supporting and celebrating Canadian arts, if those who make it so stridently made any attempt to support and celebrate the arts in ways that did not involve spending lots of money. The Roman Catholic Church seems to have less stringent regulations about canonization than we have about naming streets after our artists. How much does it cost to put up a street sign? How much does it cost to weave into the fabric of our cities and towns the evidence of real artists creating real art?" The Globe & Mail (Canada) 02/03/03
Sunday, February 2, 2003
Starving Scotland's Culture
There's a cultural crisis in Scotland. Funding for culture is down, and there seems to be little commitment on the part of the government to make culture a priority. "The Executive responds by arguing that it needs to concentrate on health and education. The urge to fund anything cultural has been sapped by the overspend on the parliament building, heralding in an almost Covenanter-like distrust of frivolity." Scottish arts are healthy now. But does the Scottish Executive plan to "starve Scotland back into the cultural night that preceded the Act of Union - and what an irony that would be." The Observer (UK) 02/02/03
The 50s Boring? Really?
The 1950s were boring. Dull. Nothing happened. Nothing changed. The mythology about the 50s is that it was a decade "so constricting that the '60s had to come along to blow things up." And yet - look at the art that was created then. "The '50s produced an amazing body of art, one that we revisit time and again not for kitsch or nostalgia, but for the sense of excitement it conveys." Boston Globe 02/02/03
Wanted: Someplace You Can Hear
Atlanta has an active arts scene. But the city is practically barren of good performance spaces. Those theatres and concert halls that do exist are acoustically dead. But a new arts center at Emory University holds out some promise the city might get its first real concert space, writes Pierre Ruhe. Atlanta Journal-Constitution 02/01/03