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Thursday, May 29, 2003

Killing Florida Arts Funding Florida takes a slice-o-matic to its state arts budget. "The Florida Legislature approved a budget that slices annual cash for the state's arts facilities from $29 million to $8.7 million." Tampa Tribune 05/29/03

Is There Really A Harlem Renaissance? "In the past few years, fueled by a real-estate boom and the $300 million budget of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ), a community-development organization, the arts as well as the neighborhood have been revived in Harlem. 'Harlem is the new Greenwich Village. People are rediscovering it. It is what I remember the Village being in the '70s - a little edgy with an element of danger, but exciting, full of life and soul'." Christian Science Monitor 05/29/03

The Closing Of The American Mind (Round II, College Edition) The culture wars are raging on college campuses. "The left has been attempting to brainwash students for years, and it's only now, it seems, that the intolerant tide is flowing both ways. Students are facing off, left and right, along the ideological divide, declaring hard and fast the prejudices of their respective political extremes. This, it appears, is how so many of them are leaving school: not eager idealists, fertilized with learning and rife with critical thinking, but blinkered ideologues and hardened partisans, indoctrinated in conflict, deaf to inquiry, groomed and ripe for politicking." Los Angeles Times 05/29/03

Kaiser's Prescription For Bad Times: Do More The Kennedy Center's Michael Kaiser says that in hard times arts organizations need to do more, not less. "When an organization has a little bit of a problem, it is the first reaction of the board and staff that tends to make the problem worse. Their natural reaction is to pull in and say, 'We have to do less.' Organizations get into a vicious cycle. They cut back a little bit on art and marketing. They get a little bit less revenue the next year, and they cut back a little more. And they have less. They have less, they have less, they have less." Chicago Tribune 05/29/03

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Washington DC's Building Boom Washington is in the midst of a building orgy, as $2.4 billion worth of new museums, theatres and other arts projects go up. "The grandest plans are taking shape at the Smithsonian Institution, the world's largest museum complex, which is adding two new museums — the National Museum of the American Indian, on the National Mall, and an immense hangar-style addition to its popular National Air and Space Museum adjacent to Dulles International Airport in nearby Virginia." The New York Times 05/29/03

Charitable Giving To Arts Plummets "With the stock market, the economy, and corporate earnings all lagging, charitable giving is in a huge slump. Total U.S. giving by individuals, companies, and foundations is likely to fall this year by about 22%, or about $47 billion, to $165 billion, estimates Charity Navigator, a New Jersey-based organization that tracks and rates charities according to their financial efficiency. Museums and other nonprofit arts organizations are being slammed the hardest: Gifts to such organizations are expected to fall by one-third, to $8 billion this year, down from $12 billion in 2002. The reason arts organizations are being clobbered so hard is pretty obvious. When faced with having to pare their giving, most people and companies reduce arts donations before they cut back on support for organizations such as the Salvation Army." BusinessWeek 05/28/03

Bodies Found At Stonehenge Archaeologists have found the bodies of six people near Stonehenge, close to where another body was found last year. "The remains of four adults and two children were found about half a mile from that of the archer, dubbed The King of Stonehenge by Britain?s tabloid press. Archaeologists said he came from Switzerland and may have been involved in building the monument. MSNBC (AP) 05/23/03

Arts Generates $85 Million In Montana A new study by the Montana Arts Council reports that the arts generate $85 million a year in economic activity in the state and are responsible for almost 2000 jobs. Billings Gazette (Montana) 05/28/03

Some Questions About What Foundations Actually Give Away "Profligate spending may not be the rule for charitable foundations, institutions founded by wealthy individuals to fund good causes - and take advantage of hefty tax breaks. But recent disclosures about the lavish habits of a few foundations have turned up a more common, and perfectly legal, scandal: the small portion of their assets that foundations actually give to charity. Under federal law, private foundations must donate a mere 5% of their assets each year to remain exempt from virtually all federal and state income taxes. But even that modest requirement is undercut by rules that let foundations count administrative expenses, such as rent and salaries, as part of the 5%." Yahoo! (USAToday) 05/28/03

Americans for the Arts Sues Over $100 Million Lilly Bequest Americans for the Arts was promised $100 million from the estate of Ruth Lilly. But the bequest was made in Eli Lilly stock and the stock declined precipitously. So the organization is suing the bank managing the money. "The lawsuit alleges that National City Bank of Indiana, instead of selling the stock shortly after the creation of the trusts in January 2002, held on to the stock through most of the year, a period when the share price tumbled from $75 to $47. The result, he says, "was a decline in the overall value of Ruth Lilly's gift to Americans for the Arts of some $25 million." Backstage 05/28/03

Why Digital Rights Management Is Anti-American The idea that copyright protection must evolve to encompass the new digital media seems like a reasonable one on the surface. After all, no one ever really denied that Napster users were stealing music, right? But David Weinberger says that, as usual, politicians and corporate America have taken a legitimate issue and wildly overreacted, proposing a scheme with no consumer leeway and no ability to make changes later. "There are times when rules need to be imposed within [the] marketplace, whether they're international laws against bootleg CDs or the right of someone to sue for libel. But the fact that sometimes we resort to rules shouldn't lead us to think that they are the norm." Wired 05/28/03

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

A City Celebrates As It Works To Recover A Glorious Past It's the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg, Russia's cultural jewel and one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The city is trying to shake off the indignities of its Soviet past, when it was forced to change its name and its culture was pressed into service of the Lenin crowd. "The race to restore its imperial luster and secure its crown as the cultural capital of Russia has been helped significantly by being, in a sense, Putingrad — the hometown of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. Anniversary events today included a wreath laying at the Bronze Horseman and the opening of a grand entrance to the Hermitage from the Palace Square." The New York Times 05/28/03

Should Melbourne Theatre And Concert Hall Merge Projects? Should the Melbourne Theatre Company combine its planned 500-seat theatre with a proposed 1000-seat recital hall planned for across the street? The local state government thinks a marriage may be in order... The Age (Melbourne) 05/28/03

Poor Artist? Lemme Help Most artists are poor. "Imagine the dissonance your average starving poet feels surrounded by moneyed book-lovers and big-wig sponsors at your local writer's festival. Or the supreme weirdness of the novelist nominated for a glitzy award like the Giller Prize, with its debauched evening of champagne, tuxes and gowns. I have heard the experience likened to being a street-level prostitute, yanked into a limo by a group of corporate man-gods, and treated to the good life for one queenly booze-and-bonbon-addled night. Before, of course, a bouquet is shoved into your arms as you are simultaneously shoved back into the street to face cold, familiar reality." Lynn Coady proposes a small "corrective measure" to help. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 05/27/03

Monday, May 26, 2003

Scotland's Funding Crisis Scotland's major cultural groups are warning that "without a substantial cash injection in the autumn, national companies and some of the country’s best-loved theatres will be forced to cut productions and could even face the prospect of closure. 'Inevitably you come to a point where certain organisations - including the national companies - are forced to cut back on the number of productions'."
The Scotsman 05/26/03

Some Brain Disorders Might Improve Artistic Abilities New research suggests that "some types of dementia may release new areas of creativity, which grow and develop as language skills decline." An artist in her early fifties was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, a rare type of inherited dementia, but though some of her other abilities declined, her work as an artist got markedly better. "Whatever the mechanism, our patient represents a remarkable example of how a truly talented individual can continue to evolve and create in the face of a degenerative brain disease." The Independent (UK) 05/26/03

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Artists In Schools "With public education struggling to stave off steep budget cuts and forced to cope with the extra emphasis on standardized testing, it has become difficult if not impossible for schools to add their own art, music, drama and dance teachers. Partnerships [with arts organizations] are sometimes hailed as an alternative to these arts classes. Adding to the desirability of partnerships is that the arts organizations pick up most of the tab for the program; they, in turn, have diverse sources to go to for funding, which has provided a significant impetus in the growth of such programs. But what do partnerships deliver? Are their promises fulfilled? Who really benefits? Until recently, it was hard to answer these questions." Orange County Register 05/25/03

Critics? What Use Are They? "The relationship between artist and critic is an age-old battle between process and product, actor and observer, status quo and innovation. To an artist, a critic can feel like a thorn in the side, an impartial evaluator, a necessary evil to be rationalized accordingly — or one of the malicious, impotent little men and women with nothing better to do than play God with their destinies." Los Angeles Times 05/25/03

Saturday, May 24, 2003

Future Doctors Studying Art The number of medical students taking "literature, art interpretation and other humanities courses has surged over the past decade. They are trying to awaken their feelings and intuition as a way to connect with patients who often feel as though they've been reduced to a collection of symptoms. Educators say the distilled emotions and insight in the arts offer students a crash course in the old-fashioned skill of the bedside manner. Art, they say, is a textbook on the human condition." Los Angeles Times 05/24/03

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Silicon Valley Braces For More Cuts The severe cuts to state arts funding being pushed by California governor Gray Davis are hitting Silicon Valley particularly hard, and arts organizers in the San Jose area are bracing for yet another hit in what has already been a dismal year. Some area organizations may lose nearly all of their funding next year, and survival seems to be dependant on the generosity of private donors. San Jose Mercury News 05/22/03

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

The Female Roma Was Rome named after a woman? "A fragment of writing by Stesichorus, a Graeco-Sicilian poet who wrote not long after Rome's founding, suggests Rome was named after a Trojan woman called Roma." Discovery 05/20/03

Arts Funding Cuts Hurt Economy Americans for the Arts president Robert Lynch wonders why governments are cutting arts funding just when it's been shown that investment in the arts helps the economy. "When governments reduce their support for the arts, they are not cutting frills. They are undercutting a nonprofit industry that is a cornerstone of tourism, economic development and the revitalization of many downtowns. When governments increase their support for the arts, they are generating tax revenues, jobs and the creative energies that underlie much of what makes America so extraordinary. Every time our governments, at any level, talk about reducing support for the arts, Americans should demand to know: Who will make up for the lost economic activity? Who will provide the 8-to-1 return on investment that the arts provide in the form of federal, state and local tax revenues? Who will replace the jobs that the arts support?" Detroit Free Press 05/21/03

Politics In Art? We're Shocked, SHOCKED! "After grilling Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence M. Small yesterday about the changes to a photography exhibit on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a Senate panel asked the Smithsonian to clarify its policy on exhibition captions. The controversy... started last month when the National Museum of Natural History acknowledged that it had moved a show of photographs by Subhankar Banerjee and also had changed the captions because they contained language that advocated no oil drilling in the refuge." Washington Post 05/21/03

Making Art And Finance Get Along The biggest complaint of artists about the society around them is usually that the people holding the pursestrings just don't "get it." Arts administrators, for their part, are continually frustrated by what they see as an unwillingness on the part of creative types to accept basic fiscal realities. But at a small liberal arts school in New England, Katy Davy is trying to change the paradigm, with an approach to education that stresses critical thinking across multiple disciplines, and promotes fiscal responsibility as the friend of the arts and academia, rather than as an unpleasant complicating factor to be stepped around. Boston Globe 05/21/03

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Iraqi Artists - How To Cope With Freedom? Being an artist in Saddam Hussein's Iraq was to live under creative oppression, worrying about what was required to work or even survive. Many artists wonder if they will ever be able to develop their own voices after years of tyranny. "My professional life was lived during the years of Saddam Hussein. I developed my style of writing during these years and now it's become my style, set in concrete. Maybe only the new generation can reclaim the Arabic language." The New York Times 05/20/03

California Governor Proposes To Take Meat Cleaver To Arts Budget After having its budget chpped 50 percent this year, it looks like the California Arts Council is in for another huge cut. "Looking to close an overall deficit now estimated at $38.2 billion, Davis is calling for cuts that would slash the CAC's funding from $22.4 million this year to $8.4 million in the 2003-04 fiscal year." In 2001 the CAC's budget was $32 million. Los Angeles Times 05/16/03

NAJP Chooses New Arts Journalism Fellows "The National Arts Journalism Program (NAJP) at Columbia University has selected this year's fellows. In a departure from previous years, all seven of the critics and arts writers chosen for the program will participate in a research project - Reporting the Arts II - which will follow up on a 1999 study which measured arts coverage in 10 cities across America. This year's fellows include: Caryn Brooks, arts and culture editor, Willamette Week; Willa Conrad, classical music critic, Star-Ledger (Newark); Paul de Barros, jazz and world music critic, The Seattle Times; Bill Goldstein, books editor, The New York Times on the Web, and contributing editor, WNBC-TV; Laurie Muchnick, book editor, Newsday; Valerie Takahama, staff writer, Orange County Register; Lily Tung, segment producer and writer, KRON TV (San Francisco)." National Arts Journalism Program 05/19/03

Monday, May 19, 2003

Foundations Upset At Potential Law Changes The US Congress is considering a bill that would force charitable foundations to give away five percent of their assets each year. This would result in a big increase in money going to charities (and arts non-profits). "The bill has created a furor in the philanthropic world, with foundations warning that they could be forced to squander their assets and spend themselves out of existence. Its supporters, however, say it will actually rein in wasteful spending ? on salaries and overhead ? as it gives charities needed help in a time of withering government budgets and growing economic pain." The New York Times 05/19/03

Today's Cheap Knockoffs - As Good As The "Real" Thing "To most people, counterfeiting means forged currency first and foremost. But counterfeiters are copying an ever widening range of products. For some time they have been churning out imitation designer fashion, software and CD s. Now they are copying medicines, mobile phones, food and drink, car parts and even tobacco. New technology has broadened the range of goods that are vulnerable to copying. It has dramatically improved their quality, as well as lowering their cost of production. Where once counterfeits were cheap and shoddy imitations of the real thing, today their packaging and contents (especially for digital products such as software, music CD s and film DVD s) often render them almost indistinguishable from the genuine article." The Economist 05/15/03

Will WalMart Decide What You Read Or Listen To? With the big mass retailers like WalMart now accounting for 40 percent or more of sales for books and music, their influence on what gets sold is growing. "But with the chains' power has come criticism from authors, musicians and civil liberties groups who argue that the stores are in effect censoring and homogenizing popular culture. The discounters and price clubs typically carry an assortment of fewer than 2,000 books, videos and albums, and they are far more ruthless than specialized stores about returning goods if they fail to meet a minimum threshold of weekly sales. What is more, the chains' buyers ? especially at Wal-Mart ? carefully screen content to avoid selling material likely to offend their conservative customers." The New York Times 05/18/03

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Is London's Boom Killing The Thames? "Everything that makes London look like London is being destroyed. Such is the cry of the latest panic over London's architectural landscape, this time inspired by Renzo Piano's plan to build Europe's tallest skyscraper, a 1,016ft glass shard, at London Bridge. In this instance the outcry centres on its impact on the river, and last month's public inquiry into the project heard a lot about the damage the tower threatened to do to the historic views of the Thames.
But it is already far too late. There are no historic views any more. As a journey downriver, from Hammersmith in the west all the way to Wapping and Deptford in the east, reveals, the damage has already been done."
The Observer (UK) 05/18/03

Minneapolis Library Troubles Aren't Over Yet Three years ago, voters in Minneapolis overwhelmingly approved a $110 million bond issue to build a new downtown library. But that was before the tech bubble burst, before 9/11, and before Minnesota's largest city became a primary target in a statewide budget-cutting push by Governor Tim Pawlenty. The city council is determined to move ahead with the project, and groundbreaking is set for this week. But a significant chunk of money must still be raised from private sources, and a shortfall could affect the design of the building and its surrounding area, and could even cause funding to be diverted from branch libraries elsewhere in the city. The Star Tribune (Minneapolis) 05/19/03

Dangerous Times, Dangerous Talk "The executive producer of this week's CBS miniseries, 'Hitler: The Rise of Evil,' was fired for publicly likening the climate in America in advance of the invasion of Iraq to the climate in pre-war Germany that allowed the rise of the Third Reich. Ed Gernon lost his job for drawing an analogy. Imagine being axed for expressing an opinion about a period in history when it was unsafe to express an opinion. If it weren't so nasty, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was all a publicity stunt." But it's no stunt, and the continuing backlash against anyone daring to badmouth the current administration has many in Hollywood drawing another analogy, to the old McCarthy blacklist. Denver Post 05/18/03

Saturday, May 17, 2003

US Congress Considering Artist Tax Break The US Congress is close to passing a law that would allow artists a tax deduction for donating their work to a non-profit institution. "The Artists' Contribution to American Heritage Act of 2003 (HR 806) would allow artists a charitable tax deduction 'equal to fair market value' for contributing 'literary, musical, artistic, or scholarly compositions created by the donor' to qualifying public institutions such as a library or museum. Under current law, artists may deduct only the cost of materials used to create the work." Backstage 05/16/03

Bush Allocates $125 Million To Teach History The Bush administration is spending $125 million to teach American history. Studies show that few colleges require study of American history, and that few students kn ow even the basic outlines of American history. Chicago Tribune 05/16/03

Humanities Lecture - Is That All There Is? Historian David McCullough gives this year's annual Jefferson Lecture, the "highest humanities honor the US federal government can bestow. The NEH, which curates annual lecture series, asks only that the Jefferson Lecture, for which it pays the speaker $10,000, be "original and substantial." Unfortunately, McCullough's lecture, while entertaining, was neither very original nor particularly substantial. It was meant, perhaps, to be inspirational, with a long peroration about the glories of history, the human drama, the importance of leadership, the lifting of the spirit, and much more repetitive flapdoodle. This stuff sounds good when well delivered, and McCullough has the natural, practiced delivery of a man who might do voice-overs for the History Channel. But for something so prestigious as the Jefferson Lecture it was all rather flimsy and diffuse." Washington Post 05/16/03

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Criticisms Of Aussie Arts Funding Increase The Australian government has pledged an increase in arts spending of $19 million over the next four years. But some are disappointed. A report last year recommended a $9 million a year increase. And there are strings attached to the money that is offered. "The Federal Goverment's pledge, which averages out to $4.75 million a year, falls a little short, and comes with strings attached - it is contingent on the states and territories matching the amount dollar for dollar." The Age (Melbourne) 05/16/03

Protesting Arts Cuts In New Jersey Some 500 arts supporters gathered in New Jersey's state capital to protest proposed cuts in the state's arts budget. The governor had originally proposed eliminating arts funding, but has recently suggested that half the cut might be restored. "This is a national calamity. It's going to leave us a poorer and dumber nation. And we're dumb enough." Trenton Times 05/15/03

In The (Culture) Zone A proposal in the New York state legislature would create culture zones in cities. "The program would provide for designation of culture-zone areas, and calls for tax incentives for owners to improve properties and provide low rents for artists. Local governments would receive the ability to identify specific geographic areas that would benefit from 'enhancements to the local arts community'." Backstage 05/15/03

A Colony Of Their Own The MacDowell Colony is one of about 100 artist colonies in the US that offer refuge for artists. "The 20 or 30 artists in residence at any given time gather each evening at Colony Hall, the large administrative building, for a family-style meal (served promptly at 6:30 p.m.) and informal activities such as pool and ping-pong. Other than breakfast, it's the only time they are likely to see one another. The rest of the day the "colonists," as the artists are called, scatter to some 30 studios that dot the rolling, wooded property. There they sculpt, paint, write, design, or compose. They don't even have to account for how they spend their time." Christian Science Monitor 05/16/03

Shake, Rattle And Ruhr Arts festivals, like flashy new museum buildings, can be tourist attractions for communities wanting to reinvent themselves. The Ruhr region in Germany, headquarters for coal, steel and heavy industry, has a new festival and a star to run it. But how do you get people to come? "It will take a long time to convince people to come to the Ruhr, And they won't come for the Vienna Philharmonic." So Gerard Mortier, who transformed the Salzburg Festival with new offerings, has put together a season of "23 productions with 129 performances in 15 spaces, along with additional concerts, a fringe festival and what promises to be an astonishing installation of a Bill Viola video spectacle." The New York Times 05/15/03

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Australia Bumps Up Arts Funding The Australian government has increased its spending on the arts. "Responding to the 2002 Myer inquiry into the contemporary visual arts and craft sector, the Government promised the industry an extra $19.5 million over the next four years. This is the first new funding the sector has received in more than a decade. It will be phased in gradually, rising from $3 million next financial year to $6 million in 2005-06." Sydney Morning Herald 05/15/03

New York Arts Orgs Warn Of Cuts If City Budget Passes New York cultural groups detail the cuts they will have to make if the city's proposed budget goes through with arts funding cuts. Closed galleries at city museums, new admission fees... "The report warns in particular that as many as 1,000 staff members would have to be dismissed under the mayor's budget plan, adding to the 450 jobs already eliminated in the 2002-3 fiscal year." The New York Times 05/15/03

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Artists In Post-Hussein Iraq Artists in Iraq under Hussein had mixed fortunes. Those in favor were treated well. Those who were suspected for anything were killed or imprisoned. Now artists wonder about the future. "Though they know their agenda is less urgent than restoring electricity or holding elections, the men agreed that Iraq's cultural rebirth will be crucial if the country is to prosper. There will be a place for Western influence, the men concluded, but they hope it is a tempered one." Chicago Tribune 05/13/03

More Arts Cuts In San Jose Last year the city of San Jose cut its arts funding 19 percent. This year there's another 24 percent cut coming. In a city with struggling arts organizations, the news is discouraging. San Jose Mercury-News 05/13/03

After Orchestra Fails - Can Miami Support Ambitious Arts Plans? After the Florida Philharmonic collapse, arts watchers in south Florida are wondering whether the region can support a new $263 million performing arts center, currently under construction. "The issue, arts experts say, is whether the South Florida arts donor base is too narrow: too heavy on the elderly, substantially but not wholly Jewish crowd, often from the Northeast, and too light on young professionals, local Hispanics and wealthy, part-time residents from South America." Miami Herald 05/13/03

Monday, May 12, 2003

Australian Artists Looking For Big Government Funding Increase Australia's artists are waiting for the government budget on Tuesday. Eight months ago, a report on Australia's visual arts and craft industry "urged the country's governments to cough up another $15 million a year to help the sector survive. The Federal Government was asked to contribute $9 million of that amount, with the states and territories providing the rest." Tuesday artists will know if the request has been answered... The Age (Melbourne) 05/13/03

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Critic: Surviving The Middle Dominic Papatola says the toughest thing about being a critic is surviving the middle. "Working the edges is the most satisfying part of this gig: Any critic who tells you there isn't perverse fun in writing a really nasty review is either lying to you or so generous he really shouldn't be in the business. And the experience of a truly sublime night of theater is worth enduring 50 bad ones. But what of those nights that are neither black nor white — the scores and scores and scores of shows that run in a spectrum from pretty bad to pretty good? Those are the ones that will kill you — or burn you out, anyway — and there are lots of them." St. Paul Pioneer-Press 05/11/03

Censored In America Think censorship isn't alive in America? Just look around, writes Linda Winer - a movie of an opera doesn't make it to TV, an talented actress gets blackballed for her political views, a movie about Castro gets canned... Newsday 05/11/03

Mid-Size Threat - Mid-Size Arts Take Biggest Public Funding Hit If states like New Jersey eliminate their arts funding it will be inconvenient for large arts groups. Most small groups won't notice because they're small, have small budgets, and don't count on public funding. But for mid-size groups... it's a life-threatening situation. Newark Star-Ledger 05/11/03

Arts Funding In Decline Arts funding across America is declining - in some states being cut altogether. "Although national state arts funding for fiscal year 2004 won't be known until current legislative sessions conclude, it is almost sure to be less than the $354 million in 2003, which was already 20.8 percent smaller than the high of $447 million in 2001." Denver Post 05/11/03

Thursday, May 8, 2003

Editor Attacks BBC Arts Coverage Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger blasts the BBC for the state of its arts coverage. He said "the BBC had experienced a 'terrible failure of nerve' in its commitment to the arts and he laid the blame on the corporation's board of governors." The Guardian (UK) 05/08/03

Why Should Pop Culture Diminish High Art? Does writing about Britney Spears in the newspaper diminish appreciation of "high" arts? "It is evident that many people working in - and treasuring - the serious arts still feel embattled. It seems to them as if there is a widespread philistinism around: a remorseless drive in favour of the predominant commercially successful mass culture." The Guardian (UK) 05/08/03

Site Specific In LA "Here and there around the United States, you may occasionally find the odd modern dance in a derelict hotel, a theater production on a city bus, or a concert on a public park carousel. But in Los Angeles these things happen regularly - if not quite predictably - thanks to a handful of committed practitioners who have built careers around the making of site-specific theater, dance and music." Los Angeles Times 05/08/03

States Find Arts Funding Melting Away States across America are cutting their arts budgets - last week Colorado whacked its budget by 90 percent. A number of states are in danger of not qualifying for money from the National Endowment for the Arts this year... All Things Considered (NPR) 05/08/03 (Audio file)

NJ Official Fights For Arts Funding New Jersey's secretary of state is Regena Thomas, and she's fighting for her department. "The secretary of state, appointed by Gov. James E. McGreevey, is in charge of promoting and preserving the arts, history and culture in New Jersey. But in the $23 billion state budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, the governor has proposed that her programs be largely abolished. The budget proposal calls for the $47 million allocated to her office to be cut by 87 percent. This will effectively shut down the State Council on the Arts, leaving New Jersey the only state without one, according to Ms. Thomas's office. It will also mothball the Historical Commission and the New Jersey Cultural Trust, although, like the council, each would continue to exist in name." The New York Times 05/08/03

Wednesday, May 7, 2003

NEA Fundraising Plan Runs Afoul Of Arts Advocate The National Endowment for the Arts want to fundraise privately, but one of New York's most important arts advocates - Norma Munn Chair of the New York City Arts Coalition - is strongly opposed. "As a matter of principle, I'm opposed to government using fundraising in the private sector to supplement an agency budget at the city, state, or federal level. It means they're competing directly with not-for-profits for precisely the same funds; and their clout and ability to publicize their efforts is a lot greater than other arts groups. It's a substitute for public funds and a move for privatization of funding that isn't appropriate." Backstage 05/07/03

New York State Cuts Arts Budget 15 Percent New York State lawamakers have cut the state's arts council grants budget by 15%, or $6.6 million. "Legislators also cut NYSCA's administration budget by $196,000. The funding was contained in the education portion of the budget bill. Gov. George Pataki is expected to approve the cuts because he had recommended them in his proposed state budget introduced in January." Backstage 05/08/03

Reimagining Lincoln Center (On A Budget) All that wrangling about how Lincoln Center would get a $1.5 billion makeover seems so far awaay now. "Now the City Opera has decided to move downtown. Avery Fisher Hall is likely to be renovated rather than rebuilt. New York City, in perilous fiscal straits, appears unlikely to be able to fulfill the $240 million pledge that Rudolph W. Giuliani made for the project when he was mayor. The private sector is feeling the economic pinch before fund-raising has even begun. What's left of the redevelopment project? What part of it can Lincoln Center hope to accomplish? With the economic downturn, all the grand plans now seem like pipe dreams. The 11 private and public groups involved in the redevelopment have been forced to reassess." The New York Times 05/08/03

Korea: Giving Up On The Humanities? A professor at Seoul National Universityt laments that the humanities are not being studied in Korea. Humanities and literature have turned to 'cultural studies' that emphasize the interrelationship of ethnic identities, gender studies, postcolonial studies, and film studies. This means that the humanities and literature are now almost always explored and discussed in relation to their cultural and social implications, hegemony, ideology, and history. In many countries this cultural approach seems to succeed, at least partially, in bringing students' interest back to the humanities and literature. But alas! Not in Korea, where highbrow culture and traditional values are esteemed more than any other country on earth. Korea Herald 05/07/03

Tuesday, May 6, 2003

Vatican To Name Internet Saint The Vatican is apparently ready to name Saint Isidore of Seville as patron saint of the internet. The Pope alone may name a patron saint, but St Isidore is receiving stiff opposition from Archangel Gabriel and Saint Alfonso Maa de Liguori, an 18th century poet." So just who is St. Isadore?... News24.com (South Africa) 05/06/03

Monday, May 5, 2003

Adelaide Festival Begs For Money The financially-strapped Adelaise Festival has thrown itself on the mercy of the state government asking "for debts of about $1.2 million to be forgiven, and seeking additional cash, which it would match with corporate investment or other festival sponsorship. The total budget is likely to be close to $5 million, short of the $8 million spent by Peter Sellars last year. Without it, [the festival says] it will be impossible to provide the level of programming needed to shore up the festival's reputation - tarnished by community dismay at Sellars's determinedly radical event." Sydney Morning Herald 05/06/03

Can Miami Afford Its New $265 million Performing Arts Complex? Miami is building a new $265-million Performing Arts Center with a 2,200-seat symphony hall, a 2,480-seat ballet opera house and a 200-seat studio theater. Plans to fill the hall are grandly ambitious, envisioning a flowering of arts and culture that will benefit the region for years to come. "But can we afford it? With the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra, one of the PAC's crucial five resident companies, already threatening bankruptcy, a disturbing question is raised: Even after the center's construction is paid for, can South Florida come up with the money to run it?" Miami Herald 05/05/03

Is LA The New Oz? "Where once emigre artists coming to America headed for New York, now they seem to be landing in Los Angeles. "You can't prove it through government stats (the bureaucracies don't track artist émigrés), but the city's curators, gallery owners and the artists themselves are convinced that a new wave of foreign-born 'beginner' types is showing up in L.A. for art's sake. New York has remained the marketing center for visual arts, but L.A. has taken over as the production center." Los Angeles Times 05/05/03

Sunday, May 4, 2003

Where Will Federal Arts Money Go If State Arts Agencies Disappear? Forty percent of the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts - $116.5 million this fiscal year - goes directly to state arts agencies, which then pass most of it on to local arts groups and projects. But what happens if states eliminate their arts agencies? "By law we cannot write a check if there is no agency to write a check to," says NEA chief Dana Gioia. The Oregonian 05/04/03

Shocked® And Awed® We Are Americans rush to lock up the rights to anything. "So it's only natural that, by last week, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had received 26 applications for the use of 'shock and awe' for everything from hot sauces to bath toys." Baltimore Sun 05/04/03

Saturday, May 3, 2003

Assessing New York Arts Funding Cuts "In the past year's budget, New York spent more than any other state on the arts, $44.4 million. Now, with the state arguably facing the biggest budget crisis since the Depression, Governor George Pataki proposes to trim grants to arts organizations by 15 percent, to about $37.8 million. But critics want deeper cuts." Gotham Gazette (NYC) 05/02/03

San Jose Slashes Arts Grants States are slashing arts funding. So are cities. This week the San Jose City Council revealed that "grants for 2003-04 would drop 24 percent below last year's, to a total of $2.54 million." San Jose Mercury-News 05/02/03

McGreevey: New Funding Source For NJ Arts New Jersey Governor James McGreevey says he'll find a new dedicated sourse of funding for the arts. McGreevey had proposed eliminating arts funding altogether, but an intense statewide lobbying effort for the arts seems to have changed his mind. "The governor made the pledge Thursday during a private meeting with the leaders of several major arts institutions. While he did not specify any details about the funding source or how much money it might generate, administration officials have been considering plans to use a portion of proceeds from a proposed new hotel tax to fund the programs." Newsday (AP) 05/02/03

Friday, May 2, 2003

Criticism As Conversation Why is it that people expect reviews to have the absolute judgment on whether something was good or not? After a series of complaints about his critics' critical judgments, the arts editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer [no byline on the online story] feels a little clarification is in order. "Criticism is an argument, done more or less intelligently, that presents years of accumulated experience with a certain rhetorical panache. It is an educated opinion whose point is to further a conversation." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 05/02/03

Thursday, May 1, 2003

UK Lottery Losses - Arts Projects Over Budget And Poorly Planned In the UK, 13 of 15 lottery-funded arts building projects are over budget, leading to warnings from the national audit office. "The Arts Council stands to lose £10.5 million alone on the disastrous National Centre for Popular Music in Sheffield, which closed after just over a year." The Guardian (UK) 05/02/03

Can Culture Be Good (Or Effective) Diplomacy? A conference mounted by the National Arts Journal Program at Columbia University considers the role of American culture in diplomacy. "Would we, for example, be breeding goodwill toward the American way of life by spawning a generation of Iraqi rappers? Or how about appointing as cultural ambassador the documentary director Michael Moore, who used his Oscar moment to pillory the president, thereby making himself a poster boy for freedom of speech? Do we stick to commercial fare and disseminate movies in which American action heroes gun down large numbers of anonymous villains? Or should we funnel funds to an independent American cultural center in Baghdad, whose director might misjudge the local sensitivity to sexually suggestive images and curate a show of, say, the pornographic sculptures of Jeff Koons?" Newsday 04/27/03

Cincinnati - The Next Arts Mecca? Seriously - is there something in the water? From Cincinnati, the city that recently doubled its public spending on the arts, news that the city's Fine Arts Fund raised $10,003,550 in its 2003 campaign, 7.5 percent more than last year. This while fundraising for the arts in the rest of America has been increasingly difficult Cincinnati Enquirer 05/01/03

  • Previously: 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

Has Harvard Abandoned The Arts? "Unlike Yale, Cornell, Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard has no independent graduate school of the arts, nor any plans to fund graduate-level work in the practice of art. And ever since spring 2001, when the chair of the Visual and Environmental Studies (VES) department was dismissed and Summers was named president, the University’s commitment to the arts has come under fire. Critics argue that Harvard’s archaic reluctance to recognize and incorporate the arts into its academic mission may discourage talented prospective students from choosing Harvard and threaten its prestige." Harvard Crimson 05/01/03

A Thinking Woman's College Ups The Arts Ante Bryn Mawr College, just outside Philadelphia, is a famously intellectual place. But despite great achievement in many academic disciplines, the all-women's school has traditionally shunned such pursuits as education and the arts, perhaps because women have so often been pushed in these directions in the past as a way of keeping them from getting 'real' jobs. But this is the 21st century, where women are no longer expected to be only schoolteachers and housewives, and Bryn Mawr is adjusting its curriculum accordingly, adding an intensive creative writing and literature program in an effort to fill the artistic void. Chicago Tribune (Knight Ridder) 05/01/03

A Legal Right To Be A Thoughtless Fool Owners of an Irish movie theater have been informed that they are breaking national communications law by employing a signal blocker to disable their patrons' cell phones during screenings. The theater had installed the blocker as a response to an epidemic of moviegoers sending and receiving text messages on their phones, or even talking on them, while a film was playing. But as it turns out, such devices are illegal even to possess, and the use of one to block wireless transmissions carries a hefty fine. BBC 05/01/03

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