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Wednesday, April 30, 2003

The Dark Side Of Official Diversity? "The days when arts organisations could be seen promoting 'traditional' arts to 'traditional' audiences are over. Phrases like 'reflecting diversity', 'breaking down barriers', 'building new audiences' and 'exploring ethnicity' trip off the tongues of arts funders and practitioners. Arts organisations are now seeking to fund and showcase diverse artists, and are employing 'specialist ethnic agencies' to promote arts events to specific communities. From one point of view, this represents a refreshing opening up of British cultural life. But the practice of organising policy on the basis of people's identities - which is a growing trend - has a dark side." spiked-online 04/29/03

Colorado Cancels Grants Deadline Anticipating darstic cuts in its funding, the Colorado Council on the Arts cancelled this year's filing date for funding (It was supposed to be April 30). "This agency has been all but eliminated. It is no longer business as usual. We will be eliminating most of our programs as a result of these cuts. Nobody can expect us to do a $2.5 million job with only $200,000." In January, the council awarded 97 grants totaling $689,000 to various programs statewide. Last year, it gave out about $1.3 million in 154 grants. Durango Herald (Colorado) 04/30/03

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

NJ Arts Supporters Fight Funding Cuts New Jersey arts supporters flood the state capital as debate begins on cutting or eliminating arts funding. "Altogether, funding for art groups and historical programs accounts for about $40 million each year. With the money, the groups maintain they are able to provide education programs and support to local historical groups. The cultural and arts money also is used to fund groups such as theater troupes and even print books. Proponents maintain the money is repaid to the tune of $1 billion each year. At issue is the economic effectiveness of the programs." Bridgeton News (New Jersey) 04/29/03

Investigators Probe $1 Million Salt Lake Arts Funding Irregularities Salt Lake County investigators are looking into charges of "$1 million of allegedly misspent taxpayer funds in the county's Center for the Arts Division. Officials admit the investigation has uncovered more than $1 million in discrepancies, blaming most of it on shabby accounting practices. Whistle-blowers have also alleged, however, the unauthorized taking of equipment from county facilities and liberties taken on expense reports for entertaining and other questionable spending practices." Salt Lake Tribune 04/27/03

Monday, April 28, 2003

Florida's New Dark Age? "Florida's age of enlightenment comes to an end this week. The Legislature is still working out the final figures of a $53 billion state budget, but for arts groups the message is all too clear: This is the beginning of a new dark age. The Legislature seems to think that a fair level of sacrifice for the state's cultural groups is something near 100 percent. The Florida House of Representatives has proposed an arts budget of $6 million, or 78 percent below last year's level. The Senate's budget eliminates arts funding altogether." The Sun-Sentinel (South Florida) 04/27/03

Florida Arts Cuts Rolling In Florida arts supporters can see the cuts in arts funding by the state legislature rolling towards them. It's not a question of will there be cuts anymore but whether there will be any arts funding left after the House, Senate and Governor get done. Last year the arts got $28 million. This year? Orlando Sentinel 04/26/03

  • The Tally So Far Across America states are cutting or eliminating arts funding. Here's a list of the damage so far Orlando Sentinel 04/26/03

Sunday, April 27, 2003

Edinburgh Festival Selling At Record Pace Though many arts events are hurting for money and patrons, the Edinburgh Festival is selling tickets at a record clip for this summer's offerings. "Already, £1.26 million has been generated, more than half of last year’s total sale of £2.3 million, a sum which almost certainly represents a significant year-on-year rise." The Scotsman 04/27/03

Power Board - Who Directs Culture Artistic directors and managers come and go. But the power behind them is in boards that oversee arts organizations. "Their numbers include hard-charging entrepreneurs, top executives, retired moguls, heiresses and the occasional full-blown celebrity, and they operate in a chandelier-lighted, by-invitation-only realm full of fiduciary responsibility and social opportunity. In this largely white and mostly over-50 world, lunches with Frank Gehry and cocktails with David Hockney are entirely possible and getting tickets is never a problem. But it's likely to cost a five-figure donation, maybe six, every year, just to get a foot in the door. And the price of admission is rising fast." Los Angeles Times 04/27/03

Did US Congress Just Outlaw Dance Clubs? "Dancing, or at least clubs that offer dancing to electronic DJ music, could be in the fast lane to extinction thanks to an act of Congress. Last week it passed the Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act, also known as 'the RAVE Act,' as part of the larger PROTECT Act. The RAVE Act strengthens existing 'Operation of a Crackhouse' legislation, under which owners of a property are held responsible for any drug use on their premises. Penalties for violating the Crackhouse statute can include fines of up to $500,000 for an individual or $2 million for a corporation, a potential 20-year prison sentence and asset forfeiture. When used against a real crack house, where individuals gather for the specific purpose of doing drugs, the law makes sense; when applied to music venues where a determined patron can always find a bathroom stall or dark corner to imbibe a chemical, it's lunacy." San Francisco Chronicle 04/27/03

Baghdad - Land Of Opportunity (For Marketing American Culture) Ever in search of new markets to conquer, American culture is set to flood into Iraq. "From Dan Rather to Britney Spears, Fox News to MTV, Madison Ave. to Hollywood, fashion magazines to new school textbooks, every extended limb of American pop culture is stretching to grab Baghdad." Toronto Star 04/26/03

Beijing Closes Theatres Beijing has closed all of its theatres, cinemas and Internet cafes in an attempt to contain the outbreak of SARS. CNN 04/27/03

Florida House Votes To Slash Arts Funding Florida's legislature takes its first steps to kill or drastically reduce state arts funding. "The House wants to slash arts funding to $6 million - down from $28 million - while eliminating the Corporations Trust Fund, which comes from a tax on corporations and helps fund Florida arts programs. The Senate would keep the trust but allocates nothing for arts programs. The bill, which passed on a 67-44 vote, was immediately sent to the Senate. It is expected to come into play during budget negotiations." Tallahassee Democrat 04/25/03

  • Wiping Out Florida's Arts Trust "Both the House and Senate passed bills Thursday eliminating the trust fund for the arts and putting the money into the state's general-revenue pot. The only difference between the bills: The House budget includes $6 million from general revenue for the arts. The Senate version: zero. The House version now goes back to the Senate. If the Senate approves, the bill would go to Gov. Jeb Bush for his signature." Miami Herald 04/25/03

Friday, April 25, 2003

Iraqi Artists Fight To Keep Their Buildings "In Iraq — where the fine art is considered some of the best in the Middle East — artists were both coddled and repressed. They were given studios and supplies even as their work was censored and they were forced to paint and sculpture the ubiquitous images of a heroic Mr. Hussein." Now, other Iraqis want their buildings, their studios. "Culture was controlled by the regime. This has caused many of the new political leaders to view cultural organizations as a remnant of the old regime." The New York Times 04/25/03

Thursday, April 24, 2003

America's Arts Squeeze Across America, arts organizations are pressing their supporters for more help as budgets bust. "The year 2003 is proving a major challenge for advocates and fundraisers. Even with the greatest hearts and keenest minds pushing the arts-funding message, the going is tough if the money just isn't there." Backstage 04/24/03

Survey: Seattle Loves Arts A new study reveals that: "Seattleites love their performing arts, with more than two of three residents attending at least one such event every year. And Seattle's support is strong across all almost all demographic groups, including age, sex and economic means. Yet among those who attend arts events in Seattle, only one-quarter make an annual financial donation to even one arts organization. And almost two-thirds of those who frequently attend make no such contribution." Seattle Post-Intelligencer 04/24/03

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Cincinnati Boosts Arts Spending While cities and states across America are cutting their arts budgets, Cincinnati is doubling its arts spending. "Even as budget cuts are forcing the elimination of entire city services, city leaders are doubling government support of the arts. City Council will vote today on a plan by Councilman Jim Tarbell to divvy up an unprecedented $2.2 million in grants to 17 organizations, including $350,000 to the opera to help fix up the north wing of Music Hall. "I will admit that I don't know much about the opera, the symphony or the ballet - though I do enjoy going to them. It has just seemed to me that the city must recognize its growth potential, and the arts provides the biggest growth potential I can think of'." Cincinnati Enquirer 04/23/03

Public Protest Across US Over Education Cuts US state governments with budget problems have been proposing cuts in education. But the public outcry is strong. "Since January, hundreds to thousands have protested in Arkansas and California, Maryland and New Jersey, Texas and at least 15 other states. The crowds in Frankfort and in Oklahoma City topped 20,000. New Yorkers hope a May 3 event will draw 30,000 in support of public schools. "The scale of the protests is as large and as extensive as we've seen since the '82-'83 recession. And now, schools are more reliant on the states. So when the states cut back, the impact on local school districts is more severe than anything we've ever seen." Los Angeles Times 04/22/03

New Jersey Artists Protest Cuts New Jersey's arts council says that Gov. James McGreevey's proposal to cut the state's arts budget by 50 percent rather than eliminating it is not enough. "Of the cuts McGreevey made in the budget - which include social service programs and higher education - the loudest outcry has been from arts groups, who have made daily pleas at performances, waged letter writing campaigns and sent a barrage of e-mails to lawmakers." Newsday 04/23/03

States Supersize Copyright Laws Numerous US states are introducing their own "enhancements" of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The new laws may make using a number of digital devices illegal. "By and large, the state bills don't lay out specific devices that would be deemed illegal. Most follow along the lines of the proposed Tennessee statute, which would criminalize "any communication device which is connected in such a manner that would permit the unauthorized receipt, interception, acquisition, description, transmission or re-transmission of a communication service." Wired 04/23/03

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Florida Arts Supporters Protest Funding Cuts Staffers from arts organizations and their supporters from all over Florida, left their offices Tuesday to go to the state legislature and appeal against proposed arts funding cuts. "At a time when thousands of Floridians face losing vital medical treatment to budget cuts, arts officials know they face an uphill battle. But a major part of their argument for legislators is that the arts are vital to propping up the state's sagging economy. The arts are tourism, the arts are economic development. Every dollar that the state invests in the arts generates $41. It's an investment, not a handout." St. Petersburg Times 04/22/03

  • Previously: Florida Contemplates Eliminating Arts Funding Florida arts groups are barcing for the worst - that state arts funding will be eliminated. "Even in the dark days of the early 1990s, when the National Endowment for the Arts was under attack, no state government joined the chorus to eliminate arts funding within its own borders. Florida in particular was among some that increased support to compensate for the reduced role of the NEA. But that was before the economic shudders of the dot-com bust, the Sept. 11 attacks, Wall Street scandals and wars on terrorism and Iraq caused tax revenue collections to plummet." However, "this is not an economic issue. The legislators have turned it into a policy issue." The Sun-Sentinel (Florida) 04/15/03
Monday, April 21, 2003

'Titanic' In Kabul What popular culture to Afghans want, now that the Taliban is gone? "Most of the pop culture bubbling up in Afghanistan in the post-Taliban era is centered on neighbor India. Postcards of Indian stars and their bare bellies decorate everything from taxis to books. Hindi music blares from Internet cafes and car stereos. Bollywood action films are the hottest movies playing. The American exceptions are odd: Michael Jackson; any Hollywood action film, particularly those that went straight to the Third World before they officially hit the video market; and, of course, 'Titanic'." Chicago Tribune 04/21/03

More Women Leading Arts Organizations "Statistics show that women have made great strides in leadership in the arts. In New England, women run 58 percent of museums today - compared to 25 percent in 1978. The number of women directing art museums nationwide has increased from about one in seven in 1989 to about one in three today, according to the American Association of Museum Directors. But some caution that the gains may not be as significant as they appear." Boston Herald 04/21/03

Recipe For A "Golden Age" Baghdad in the 9th Century was in a Golden Age, a time when "its civilization shone more brightly than any other, when its philosophers, mathematicians and doctors led the way intellectually." But it was a time made possible by opening up to the outside world. Baghdad was "the Tokyo of its day. Many of the ideas it snapped up were foreign. Yet the Arabs adapted them brilliantly. The hospital was a Persian idea from as early as the sixth century, under the name 'bimaristan.' But in Baghdad the institution became much more sophisticated, with special wards for internal diseases, contagious cases and psychiatric patients." The New York Times 04/21/03

Major Foundation Endowments Decline - And So Do Grants The Pew Charitable Trusts are major investors in the arts. But the decline in the stock market has sharply reduced the grants that Pew will give this year. "At the end of 2002, Pew's endowment was valued at $3.75 billion, down 23 percent from its year-end peak of $4.89 billion in 1999." Philadelphia Inquirer 04/21/03

Bay Area Mid-Size Groups Feel Squeeze Bay Area arts groups of all sizes are having difficulty in the current economic slowdown. But mid-size groups are especially hard hit in times like these. San Francisco Chronicle 04/21/03

  • Previously:

    San Francisco Area Arts Hurting For Money, Support A bad economy is hurting Bay Area arts groups and artists. "The big four - the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Ballet and American Conservatory Theater - are straining to cope with dwindling donations, volatile endowment funds, cuts in government grants and smaller, choosier audiences. 'The arts have become a victim of the sour economy. Everybody's ox is being gored. No one is exempt from the red ink'." San Francisco Chronicle 04/20/03

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Why Do We Fear Experts? Just when did we become so distrustful of people who know things? "Unfortunately, this skepticism has metamorphosed over the decades into a determination that no one with special knowledge or experience is worth listening to. If Rembrandt were alive today, he'd be reviled by art students who don't know how to prepare a canvas. Beethoven would be booed by experimental composers who couldn't identify the key of C major on a bet, while Duke Ellington would be denigrated by rappers who couldn't pick out a simple melody, much less aspire to the harmonic empyrean." St. Louis Post-Dispatch 04/20/03

San Francisco Area Arts Hurting For Money, Support A bad economy is hurting Bay Area arts groups and artists. "The big four - the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Ballet and American Conservatory Theater - are straining to cope with dwindling donations, volatile endowment funds, cuts in government grants and smaller, choosier audiences. 'The arts have become a victim of the sour economy. Everybody's ox is being gored. No one is exempt from the red ink'." San Francisco Chronicle 04/20/03

  • Doing The Numbers All five streams of financial support are down for Bay Area arts groups - corporate, government and individual donations, ticket sales and endowment income. San Francisco Chronicle 04/20/03

Milwaukee Schools Slashing Arts Education Milwaukee's public school district is having a budget crisis. So how does it propose solving it? In part, by decimating its arts programs. "Although the district's financial officers will not submit a proposed budget to the School Board until May 1, a preliminary analysis shows that the district will likely lose 21 art instruction positions and 13 music positions. The cuts would reduce the district's costs by more than $2.4 million. It seems pretty obvious to us right now that the arts are where there are going to be some big cuts." Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel 04/20/03

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Colorado State Arts Budget Depends On Cigarettes? The Colorado legislature, which had been debating whether to cut state arts funding, voted to restore some of it, but there's a but (or is that "butt?"). Funding for the interlibrary loan program and the arts council would be contingent on the state receiving its tobacco payments." Denver Post 04/15/03

Florida Contemplates Eliminating Arts Funding Florida arts groups are barcing for the worst - that state arts funding will be eliminated. "Even in the dark days of the early 1990s, when the National Endowment for the Arts was under attack, no state government joined the chorus to eliminate arts funding within its own borders. Florida in particular was among some that increased support to compensate for the reduced role of the NEA. But that was before the economic shudders of the dot-com bust, the Sept. 11 attacks, Wall Street scandals and wars on terrorism and Iraq caused tax revenue collections to plummet." However, "this is not an economic issue. The legislators have turned it into a policy issue." The Sun-Sentinel (Florida) 04/15/03

Monday, April 14, 2003

Kennedy Center - Right Building, Wrong Place? So there are big plans to improve the Kennedy Center and connect it up with the rest of the city. Great, writes Charles Paul Freund, but the Kennedy Center still lacks that element crucial to a great cultural institution... Reason 04/03

Debating NY Arts Cuts New York Gov. George Pataki proposes cutting the state's arts budget as part of a series of cuts of the state budget. "He wants to trim the grants to arts organizations by 15 percent, from about $44.4 million to $37.8 million. But critics want far deeper cuts. The grants totaled more than $50 million a decade ago but have ebbed and flowed with the state’s economy. New York spent more than any other state on the arts last year, according to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies." Democrat & Chronicle (Rochester, NY) 04/14/03

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Visa Difficulties/War Cancellations Take Toll On Arts Groups In Minnesota, "immigration difficulties and terror worries have led to the cancellation of scores of events since Sept. 11, 2001. Other artists have canceled in protest of U.S. policies, adding to the mounting financial and artistic costs." The Star-Tribune (Minneapolis) 04/13/03

Gioia And The Bureaucracy When he quit business, new NEA chairman Dana Gioia says he vowed not to be involved with bureaucracy again. "Appointed to his four-year term by President Bush, Gioia sees the bureaucratic dimension of his job as 'a necessary obstacle. There's no other way of administering these grants... except through a bureaucracy.' The key, he says, is to remain 'conscious of what your mission is. The constituency of the arts endowment is not merely artists. It's all Americans'." Philadelphia Inquirer 04/13/03

  • Rosenthal To Gioia: Fund Artists Over Institutions LA Times reader Rachel Rosenthal doesn't like NEA chairman Dana Gioia's emphasis on only funding arts institutions at the expense of artists. "Yes, art should be taught in school; yes, it's good to reach out; yes, art should be part of the fabric of social life. But by denying direct support to artists, what you are doing is forcing individual creative artists to mold their output to fit the tastes and policies of existing presenting organizations (theaters, galleries, concert halls) instead of following their own muse. This is a distorting and painful situation for most creators, and it favors interpretive artists: actors, musicians, curators." Los Angeles Times 04/14/03

Our Cultural Leaders - Where's The Considered Debate? Clive Davis is disappointed by the behavior of Britain's cultural leaders over the issue of the war. "At a time when cultural figures should have been leading a considered debate, Britain’s cultural elite (and a fair part of America’s too) responded with a mixture of hysteria, self-righteousness and wilful ignorance. If you think I am exaggerating, consider just some of the evidence. Exhibit 1 is the poetry (for want of a better word) of Harold Pinter, a once-respected figure who has turned into the literary equivalent of a sad old man with a 'The End Is Nigh' sandwich board." The Times (UK) 04/14/03

Denver - More Interest In Arts Than Sports A new study reports that in Denver "more people in the Denver area patronize the performing arts than professional sporting events, according to an unprecedented new study of attitudes and attendance patterns. It also shows that among the primary performing-arts disciplines, theater far outdraws dance, opera and the symphony." Denver Post 04/13/03

Saturday, April 12, 2003

US States Sharpen Their Arts Budget Cuts Across America, states are considering drastically reducing or eliminating arts funding. "State arts funding plunged from $410 million two years ago to around $350 million in 2002-03, and this year looks to be worse. But the proposed cuts have a long way to go before they become law, and by the time they are approved in early summer, reductions may be significantly less severe. In fact, some believe the dramatic announcements are calculated to shock the arts community into accepting more modest cutbacks." But it's not all a bluff... The Art Newspaper 04/11/03

Florida Arts Facing State Budget Axe No matter whether the Florida senate, house or governor wins out, Florida's arts groups will see drastic reductions in the state's arts budget. Proposals range from a 50 percent cut to cancelling out funding altogether. Arts officials are outraged: "People use the state money to leverage for other grants and local contributions. I see this as a panic reaction to Florida's economy at the moment.
Obviously, we find this hurtful. It doesn't pay attention to how many dollars arts groups circulate in the community. This just makes a tough job harder."
Tampa Tribune 04/12/03

Friday, April 11, 2003

Your Ad Here It seems like every public space and event has a corporate sponsor these days. "The marketing idea behind this trend is consumer impressions. The more often we see a company's name, the theory goes, the more likely we'll trust that company and, in turn, buy its products or services when the opportunity arises. Thus, we get corporate names on the sports facilities and concert venues we attend, ubiquitous product placement in the movies, TV and cable shows we watch, even in the air we breathe (thanks, Fuji blimp)." But instead of complaining, maybe we should see this as an opportunity. "The biggest untapped avenue for sponsorship may just be us. Individuals. You and me..." Los Angeles Times 04/11/03

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Alaska Pols Looking To Kill Public Art Program Alaska state legislators are attempting to abolish the state's public art program. Anchorage Daily News 04/04/03

Workers Want Art, Music In Workplace A new survey of workers in the UK suggests that "60 percent of employees feel that music or art in the workplace would prove both motivational and inspirational. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents – who either worked full-time or part-time – said that they would like to see art in their workplace, however, only 48 percent said that their employer invested in workplace art." HR Gateway 04/10/03

Florida Lawmakers Vote To Slash Arts Funding Florida's Senate votes to zero out state arts funding. "Gov. Jeb Bush in January recommended slashing more than 50 percent from last year's $27.9 million funding for the arts. The House also voted unanimously Tuesday for its budget, which offers only slightly better prospects: $6,115,000 in state funding for museums, arts in education, cultural program support and other programs. In the next two and a half weeks, Senate and House committees will work out a compromise budget to send to Bush." Florida Today 04/08/03

  • Funding Cuts Threaten Florida Culture The chair of the Miami-Dade Cultural Affairs Council writes to protest proposed cuts in Florida's state arts budget. "The Senate is proposing zero dollars for the state's Division of Cultural Affairs' grants programs and the elimination of the Cultural Institutions Trust Fund, one of three so targeted out of the state's 450. For years, the Trust Fund has provided a stable, dedicated source of funds for the state's arts grants programs. The House's position is $6.1 million in cultural support, a 78 percent reduction from the current year. Gov. Bush's fiscal-year 2004 budget of $12 million for culture is a 57 percent reduction from the FY 2003 state budget. These cuts are disproportionate to other reductions proposed to address the state's budget crisis." Miami Herald 04/04/03

Apparently, Only Politicians Find Arts Expendable States across the country are slashing their arts budgets to the bone in order to patch holes in their overall revenue streams. In Massachusetts, cuts to the arts are nothing new, but a recent survey suggests that the residents of the Bay State do not view these cuts as a positive development. 94% of those surveyed "consider the arts to be as important a part of basic education as math and English, and that 92 percent favor state funding for arts programs in public schools. Eighty-seven percent said that nonprofit cultural organizations were important to the quality of life in their communities, and 84 percent said they favored state funding to support public programs of cultural organizations." Boston Globe 04/10/03

Art Is For The Elite? Don't Tell The Brits A new survey of workers in the UK pokes a few holes in the notion that the arts are of interest only to wealthy elites, or beyond the monetary and cultural reach of your average blue-collar guy. Among the survey's findings: "Workers would rather have ticket concessions for art events than gym membership; nearly nine out of ten workers enjoy arts events in their free time; and just under half of those surveyed had visited the theatre in the last year (43%), while over a third of workers had been to a museum (37%), art gallery (34%) or concert (33%)." BBC 04/10/03

Wednesday, April 9, 2003

Visas To get Artists Into US Getting More Difficult To Acquire It's getting more and more difficult and expensive (and arbitrary) trying to get artists into America to perform. "In general we are talking $1,000 for the performer's petition, plus $1,000 for the technical staff petition, plus a $130 per-application fee each. That's $2,260. Plus, the AGMA and IATSE unions now charge $250 per letter of support. That's $2,760. You either have a huge budget that can accommodate that kind of extra money, or you're doing less international work, or you're more motivated to collaborate with partners." Village Voice 04/08/03

Tuesday, April 8, 2003

Boston Aims For The Middle The lack of mid-sized (300-to-500 seat) venues has long been a problem for theater troupes and other performers in Boston. But now, a new economic redevelopment plan promises to fill the gap with a wealth of renovations and restorations in the city's Midtown district. Still, a number of significant hurdles remain to be cleared before the projects can be completed. Boston Herald 04/07/03

This Year's Arts Pulitzer Winners The New York Times on this year's winners of The Pulitzer Prizes for Letters, Drama and Music:
• Fiction: ' Middlesex ' by Jeffrey Eugenides
• General Nonfiction: ' "A Problem From Hell" ' by Samantha Power
• Biography: ' Master of the Senate ' by Robert A. Caro
• History: ' An Army at Dawn ' by Rick Atkinson
• Poetry: ' Moy Sand and Gravel ' by Paul Muldoon
• Drama: ' Anna in the Tropics ' by Nilo
• Music: ' On the Transmigration of Souls ' by John Adams
The New York Times 04/08/03

Monday, April 7, 2003

What Will Happen If Oregon Zeroes Out Arts Funding The Oregon state legislature is considering zeroing out the state arts commission. Arts commission director Christine D'Arcy says her agency would try to reinvent. "You could see the commission continue as a service agency rather than a grant maker. We?re clearly looking at partnerships, revenue resources. I would say there is a lot of creative thinking under way." Salem Statesman Journal (Oregon) 04/07/03

Arts As Economic Engine "In an era when public and private coffers are depleted, it's easy to ask why arts investment should be a priority." Real estate consultant Wendi Wheeler writes: "Culture helps build community by influencing commercial and residential development, which in turn attracts workers and residents. When companies make decisions to relocate, they seek markets with concentrations of talented workers. In turn, the power of industry to attract talented workers depends largely upon a city's quality of life." Minnesota Real Estate Journal 04/07/03

Sunday, April 6, 2003

Gioia: Two More "Hard" Years For State Arts Dana Gioia wants to use his position as chair of the National Endowment for the Arts as an advocate for arts funding. "The arts in America are enormously vital, and I think the public support remains strong. What we are facing right now is a very severe - but temporary - budget crisis for the arts brought on by the recession. On a state level, it looks like we have two hard years to manage through. Luckily from a federal level, the NEA budget [$115 million] has actually grown, and our position in helping state and regional councils will be firm.I see my role in Washington to be a national spokesman for arts funding. ... I refuse to believe that arts funding is a controversial issue in the United States." Hartford Courant 04/06/03

US Government Investigating Artists Who Protest? The family of an outspoken member of a San Francisco hip hop band says the musician has allegedly been investigated by the US government. "The mother, whom Michale Franti declined to name for her safety, said plainclothes investigators appeared at her door on March 16, showing pictures of the band performing at an anti-war demonstration the previous day in San Francisco, Franti said. They questioned her about entries made in her son's checking account, his travel records for the past several months, and his general whereabouts." San Francisco Chronicle 04/04/03

San Diego Sushi Stale After AD Resigns Vicki Wolf, longtime director of Sushi, San Diego's leading cutting-edge performance venue, has resigned. Wolf's departure, which is said to be motivated by "personal reasons," leaves Sushi "artistically rudderless at a crucial point in its 24-year history. Sushi's home, the distinctive and historically designated Carnation Building, has been sold to housing developers who plan to build high-rise condominiums on the footprint where artists now do their work." San Diego Union-Tribune 04/04/03

Embedded Critics - Coming Soon To Your Local Theatre If you can have embedded war correspondents, why not embedded critics? Dominic Papatola investigates a "new" CNN program: "The writer, G. Ima Toady, will receive unprecedented access to the theater's production process, including rehearsals, literary department briefings, budget meetings and the twice-weekly castigations of former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura by artistic director Joe Dowling. The arrangement 'will allow CNN viewers to view, up-close, the difficult and sometimes bloody process involved in creating theater,' said Sid Bedingfield, executive editor of the CNN News Group. 'No journalistic institution has ever been this close to the action'." St. Paul Pioneer-Press 04/06/03

Hollywood and Washington: Fatal Disconnect or Forever Bound Together? "It is times like these that have prompted John McCain to observe, 'If Washington is a Hollywood for ugly people, Hollywood is a Washington for the simple-minded...' Everywhere you turn there are sightings of a nationwide backlash against celebrities." But Frank Rich argues that, while celbrity liberals may seem (and probably are) awfully out-of-touch with reality, the verbal grenades they're lobbing at the Bush administration aren't any more absurd than those regularly being heaved the opposite way by folks like Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter. Furthermore, the backlash isn't terribly likely to have any lasting effect, and may actual serve to fire up the stagnant left. The New York Times 04/06/03

Art And War In Israel No one ever expects war to have a positive effect on a society, but in Israel, where war and violence are as much a part of life as eating and breathing, the arts are becoming a major unintended casualty. The combination of political pressures, frayed public nerves, and economic doldrums are threatening the artistic infrastructure of the region in a fashion which ought to alarm arts advocates worldwide. And yet, in a time when the world, and particularly the Middle East, seems to be perpetually at war, the problem goes largely unnoticed by the larger global community. Los Angeles Times 04/06/03

In Defense of Bureaucracy When an LA Times columnist derided the California Arts Council as being of little use to real artists last week, arts advocates were stung by the attack. Laura Zucker defends the industry's reliance on large support and fund-raising staff: "The creation of art doesn't happen in a vacuum. It is impossible to separate grants aimed at making art from those that support staff, fund-raising efforts, marketing and technical upgrades. If a wonderful work of sculpture goes unseen because there are no curators to discover it, no access to exhibition space or no marketing plan to advertise and promote the exhibition, what has been accomplished?" Los Angeles Times 04/05/03

  • Previously: Nothing From Nothing Leaves Nothing The recent slash in California's arts funding isn't worth all the hand-wringing, says Christopher Knight, simply because the state wasn't really doing anything helpful for actual artists even before the cuts. In the 1990s, artists learned that the way to get funding from an increasingly hostile set of lawmakers is to tie absolutely everything they do to education and social services, which results in mandates that funding be spent on repetitive and pointless programs rather than on the creation of actual art. "Why the inverted priority in the real world? No mystery: Artists don't have advocates in Sacramento. The arts bureaucracy does." Los Angeles Times 03/26/03

How Do You Get To Diversity? "The arts rarely appeal to a truly diverse audience. Are tastes in multicultural Britain so far apart or is it the same old problem of 'us' and 'them'?" In other words, when is elitism necessary to insure good art, and when does it become an impenetrable dividing line between the cultural haves and have-nots? Liz Hoggard finds that it's much easier to define the problem than to present any real solutions. The Observer (UK) 04/06/03

'A' For Publicity, 'C' For Relevance New NEA chief Dana Gioia has been making the rounds of the nation's newspapers and magazines this week, playing up the idea of a newly invigorated NEA, and stressing that he intends to return the endowment to the days when it was a real power on the national arts scene. But for all Gioia's enthusiasm, his seeming devotion to 'safe' art that doesn't bother anyone probably means that the NEA won't be on the cutting edge anytime soon. But of course, being on the cutting edge of modern art isn't Gioia's goal. His job is to keep the NEA from the cutting edge of the Congressional budget knife. Chicago Tribune 04/06/03

New Leadership Reinvigorates Boston Scene Three high-profile Boston arts organizations have recently come under new management, and while that's the type of upheaval that can potentially lead to a downgrade in quality, at least in the short term, the opposite has been the case, according to Ed Siegel. The new Boston arts leaders "have responded to the challenge by seizing the moment. The Boston Symphony Orchestra, the American Repertory Theatre, and the Boston Ballet are all in the midst of seasons that are energetic, daring, and smartly crafted." Boston Globe 04/06/03

Thursday, April 3, 2003

As Dana Gioia Sees His New Job... In the latest of a series of interviews this week, new National Endowment for the Arts chairman Daniel Gioia says: "The worst thing I could do is come to Washington and pontificate on things artistic and political. I plan to serve by building a huge new consensus to support the arts. I am not going to do that by dividing people, by polarizing people. Arts education - by which he means broad-based proselytizing for the arts - is not a left or right issue, a Democratic or Republican issue. It's good civic common sense." Los Angeles Times 04/04/03

  • Who Is Dana Gioia? "He is a graduate of Stanford and Harvard who dislikes elitism, a newly minted member of a Republican administration who speaks a Whitmanesque language of populism and free expression. Gioia is also a poet who dresses like the successful businessman he once was (before retiring to be a full-time writer), and his poetry is as immaculate as his suit. Yet there is a strange dissonance between a man in a tie and a mind capable of imaginative excursions into the head of a young killer or the heart of a lonely woman. It's glib, however, to say he's a man of contradictions." Washington Post 04/04/03

Decline In Lottery Funding = Decline In Architecture? As lottery funding for the arts declines in the UK, "architects and planners are anxious that the fall in this source of funding could reimpose conformity and 'cheapest option' building which marked many big public projects in pre-lottery days." The Guardian (UK) 04/04/03

Is It Okay To Be Entertained While There's A War Going On? "Anecdotal evidence and a slumping box office indicate many Americans are feeling conflicted about the luxury of leisure. After two weeks of war, many are torn between an obligation to be informed and the need to take a break from it. Observers say that, people's short-term reactions will probably center on a desire to be entertained, rather than creating high art. They add that it will take years - even decades - before the fine arts respond either to the war or to cultural shifts brought on by it and, even more profoundly, by Sept. 11." Christian Science Monitor 04/04/03

LA's Uber-Underground "L.A.'s notoriously fragmented underground nightlife is coagulating more often lately, producing a new category, an über-category, if you will, of event where everyone - the Punks, the Desert People, the Anthropologists, the Beat Junkies and the Hip-Hop Kids and Artists - can find something." Los Angeles Times 04/03/03

Ticket Sales Down In Denver Sales of tickets for Colorado Ballet are down so much since the war began that the company has cancelled fiver performances. Elsewhere in Denver the impact is mixed... Denver Post 04/03/03

Gioia's Plan For The NEA New NEA chairman Dana Gioia is out talking about how he intends to strengthen the National Endowment for the Arts. "I go back to the original vision, which was to foster excellence in the arts and to bring art to all Americans. This doesn't seem to me a controversial mission. The average American wants art in their communities and their schools. It's not a program of the left or the right. It's mainstream American opinion. One of the major needs is to build a public consensus for the support of art and arts education, and we're going to do that by building a kind of inclusive coalition, by refusing to polarize." Boston Globe 04/03/03

Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Australia Ponders Arts Funding Cuts The Australian has concluded a review of its arts spending, and will likely make funding cuts for the country's major arts institutions. "The 15 institutions reviewed receive $75 million a year for depreciation of their buildings, equipment and collections. The institutions include the National Gallery of Australia, the National Library, the Australian Film Commission and the National Portrait Gallery, and all have been apprehensive since late last year when the Government confirmed a review of funding had started." The Age (Melbourne) 04/03/03

Tuesday, April 1, 2003

The Arts - Where We Go From Here? Challenges for the performing arts are everywhere. Musical America talks with notable figures in the arts world to get a view of the future... Musical America 2002

Instant Messaging Is Eroding Kids' Writing Skills Parent and many educators are becoming "increasingly alarmed by the effect of Internet communication on the writing skills of U.S. teens, who spend an average of 12 hours a week online, according to an America Online survey. Much of that time is spent exchanging 'instant messages' with software offered by AOL, Yahoo and MSN. This informal instant communication lends itself to linguistic shortcuts, shoddy grammar and inappropriate or absent punctuation." USAToday 04/01/03

Art Of Protest "In recent months, Bay Area peace activists have infused their dissent with creativity, bringing music, elaborate costumes, sculpture, guerrilla theater and performance art to numerous rallies, marches and vigils. The predominance of art has allowed activists to cross language and cultural barriers and has added spunk, humor and powerful visual images to events that used to be filled with long speeches and chanting. At times, the artwork has diffused tense confrontations with police." San Jose Mercury-News 04/01/03

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