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Monday, June 30, 2003

Strikes Threaten French Arts Festivals French arts workers, angry about a reduction in their work benefits, are staging strikes, threatening major summer arts festivals. "The first three days of a July opera festival in the southern city of Aix-en-Provence have already been pushed back, with director Stephane Lissner warning that the entire three-week event could be in jeopardy. Also at risk is the Festival d'Avignon, one of Europe's most prestigious drama festivals due to begin on July 8. The event drew 98,000 theater-lovers last year, according to culture ministry figures." Expatica 06/30/03

  • Strikes Could Cripple Festivals "Summer festivals in France and throughout Europe have become big business. Last year about 900,000 spectators attended a staggering 650 music, dance and theater festivals across France. French tourism has already suffered this year from the sharp drop in the value of the dollar, the political fallout from the war with Iraq (which France opposed) and fears of the SARS virus. In cities like Avignon and Aix-en-Provence festival organizers and local business rely heavily on the income from the summer festivals, and the cancellations could be financially disastrous." The New York Times 06/30/03

Sunday, June 29, 2003

The Ups And Downs of Philanthropy "Two New York-based not-for-profit research organizations, the Foundation Center and Grantmakers in the Arts, have issued a report showing that while the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks had a deleterious effect on arts and culture philanthropy during 2001 and 2002, the drop in giving wasn't as steep as first feared. Meanwhile, a new survey... suggests that charitable giving by corporations slackened in 2001, but then, in a surprise, rose dramatically in 2002." Still, these numbers don't mean that arts giving isn't at disturbingly low levels, and the scramble in dozens of U.S. states to fix deficits by slashing arts funding is making matters even worse. Backstage 06/27/03

Zeroing Out The Arts In California The budget crisis in California is dire, so dire that the Democrats in control of the State Senate are seriously considering a proposal to completely eliminate the State Arts Board, which issues $18 million in grant money to California artists each year. The wholesale destruction of the board, which draws $20 million from the public coffers annually, wouldn't go far towards eliminating the Golden State's eye-popping $38 billion deficit, but Senate leaders say there may be no way around it. Los Angeles Times 06/29/03

Saturday, June 28, 2003

Oh Canada - Knock It Off! "Normally, the job of any Canadian arts journalist is to provide readers with an endless chorus of hurrahs, to be a booster, a fan, a tireless glee-clubber for all things Canuck." But really - this relentless pushing of all artists Canadian is at best tiresome, and at worst... Enough with the Diana Krall and Celine Dion soundtracks playing endlessly through all our public spaces... The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/28/03

Good Old-Fashioned Entertainment Outsells Empty Flash Last weekend, the latest Harry Potter book outsold Hollywood's biggest movie. This disproves the idea that kids need the fast-cut media rush to be entertatined, writes Frank Rich. "We live in a blockbuster entertainment culture, where the biggest Hollywood movies, most of them pitched at teenagers, saturate the market for a week or two, then vanish with little lasting trace on the collective consciousness. There's not enough time for the word of mouth that might allow something special but not instantly salable to find a mass audience, so why should a big studio take the chance? It's easier just to churn out the proven formulas and franchises, dumb and dumberer with each installment. This disposable blockbuster machinery is the antithesis of the career trajectory of the 'Harry' series." The New York Times 06/29/03

Where Art Means Business Asheville, North Carolina used to be a manufacturing town. Now it makes arts, and resident artists think of themselves as leaders of the local economy. "We're running a business here, not a charity. I might not be making a product that you can load into a truck. Our product may be intangible, but it adds to the quality of life. And I'm not polluting either." USAToday 06/27/03

Friday, June 27, 2003

How Gay Is Gay? "Openly gay and lesbian artists - writers, directors, actors, composers - are more visible than ever in 2003 America. Indeed, when two men can share a kiss on national TV in celebration of their 25-year relationship and the Tony they have just won, it seems as if a milestone of acceptance and assimilation has been reached. And, certainly, gay characters are more in evidence than ever before on stage, screen, and TV. When a mainstream newspaper like USA Today runs an article asking, 'How 'in' is it to be gay? Let us 'out' the ways,' something must be afoot." Backstage 06/27/03

NEA - A Slight Increase? While US state arts agencies are being pared back or eliminated, the National Endowment for the Arts is lining up for a slight increase. The House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee is proposing to increase the National Endowment for the Arts budget to $117.5 million for fiscal year 2004 - up $1 million from the current year.
Backstage 06/26/03

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Singapore: Guggenheim-Dreaming Singapore has seen an explosion in arts activity in the past decade. "The number of performing arts activities here has ballooned from about 1,900 in 1993 to more than 5,000 last year, and attendance for ticketed performing arts activities has risen by more than 200,000 to more than a million in the same period." So plans are being made to build more - and hopes are building to attract an international musem... The Straits-Times (Singapore) 06/27/03

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Florida's 80 Percent Arts Cut Florida's new budget was signed into law this week, and it means an 80 percent cut in arts funding. "The budget, signed into law Monday, provides nearly $5.9 million for the state's arts organizations, down from the $28 million they got last year and a far cry from the $35 million they'd requested for the coming year. Add to deep budget cuts the difficulty arts groups have raising money, and the result is a collective gasp." Daytona Beach News-Journal 06/25/03

Minnesota Cuts Arts Employees The Minnesota State Arts Board budget has been cut 61 percent, so eight of 19 employees were laid off Monday. The cuts represents "a 42 percent cut in the staffing of an organization that has supported art and artists in the state for a century." St. Paul Pioneer-Press 06/25/03

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Another Plan To Ax California Arts Council The latest budget proposal in the California state legislature calls for the elimination of the State Arts Council. San Francisco Chronicle (AP) 06/24/03

Monday, June 23, 2003

Chicago Philanthropy Down A survey of Chicago foundations reveals that their giving will decline this year. "The survey indicates an average decline in grantmakers' assets of 15 percent in the most recent fiscal year. But requests for money from non-profits showed no letup. According to the survey, donors are responding by awarding fewer grants, but of somewhat larger amounts. They also are giving more toward general operating expenses, rather than specific programs of non-profits, allowing the groups more flexibility in the use of the funds." Chicago Tribune 06/23/03

Arise, Sir Iggy! Last week the French government made rocker Iggy Pop an Officer of Arts and Letters. Really? Iggy's cool, but is he really a high-cultural luminary worthy of honors from the French Ministry of Culture? "Iggy's kudos appear to be utterly serious, as part of an attempt to seem as cool as possible. The further out of style a ministry is, the more it must stretch to 'get game,' and incongruous results are almost guaranteed. The problem is not uniquely French..."
OpinionJournal.com 06/24/03

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Is Corporate Philanthropy On The Rise Again? "Overall corporate giving decreased in 2001, according to the American Association of Fundraising Counsel, which will release 2002 estimates Monday. But anecdotal evidence suggests that Philanthropy Inc. is growing again. Despite the struggling economy, many socially responsible companies are not only matching past giving, they're increasing it." The Star-Tribune (Newhouse) 06/22/03

Not So Simple, Is It, Orrin? "Earlier this week, Utah's Sen. Orrin Hatch was caught using unlicensed software on his website. While his staff scrambled to fix that problem, Web surfers discovered his site had a link to a pornographic website... To be fair, the dirty link isn't Hatch's fault. A lot of expired domain names are being snapped up by porno sites." Still, the two incidents are being gleefully cited by privacy advocates as further evidence that Hatch's sweeping pronouncements about destroying the computers of illegal downloaders were ill-conceived and hypocritical. Wired 06/20/03

  • Previously: Vandalism As Copyright Enforcement Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) believes he has a solution to the problem of illegal file-swapping and downloading of copyrighted material: destroy the computers! Hatch wants technology developed which would disable or destroy any computer attempting an illegal download. The fact that such a plan would be in blatant violation of U.S. anti-hacking law does not seem to concern the senator, but the plan does not seem to have much support among Hatch's colleagues. BBC 06/18/03

Why Is Artistic Success Measured By Money? How do we judge the success of an arts institution? The new heads of London's National Theatre and the National Gallery - Nicholas Hytner and Charles Saumarez Smith - co-hosted a conference addressing the question of "how we judge whether culture is a success. Both worry that the vocabulary of praise in the arts world has become entirely financial (how many came?) and social (is the work educational? is the audience diverse?). While recognising the importance of these measures, they seek a new language which will recognise the worth a theatre or gallery has simply by existing." The Guardian (UK) 06/21/03

Friday, June 20, 2003

Israel's Ongoing Culture Cuts Israel's culture budget has been cut nine times in two years. "Economic uncertainty hovers over the nation's cultural institutes and has grown larger with a new cut in the budget that was passed last week. Announcements about the size of cuts in the culture budget were contradictory. Millions of shekels were added to the budget and were then subtracted with a stroke of the pen."

Ha'aretz (Israel) 06/20/03

Scotland's Arts Plan Scotland's culture minister has unveiled his government's new arts policy, and has ruled out a bailout of the troubled Scottish Opera. "Last month, senior figures in the arts warned that without a substantial cash injection, national companies - notably Scottish Opera - and some theatres might have to cut the number of productions this autumn." The Scotsman 06/19/03

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Senator Hatch The Destroyer Uses Unpurchased Software Himself Earlier this week Utah Senator Orrin Hatch advocated allowing companies to damage computers on which they found copyrighted material that hadn't been purchased or licensed. It "may be the only way you can teach somebody about copyrights," he said, before suggesting that "the technology would twice warn a computer user about illegal online behavior, then destroy their computer." So take your best shot at Hatch's own computer. Turns out he uses unlicensed software on his own computer... Wired 06/19/03

  • Previously:

    Vandalism As Copyright Enforcement Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) believes he has a solution to the problem of illegal file-swapping and downloading of copyrighted material: destroy the computers! Hatch wants technology developed which would disable or destroy any computer attempting an illegal download. The fact that such a plan would be in blatant violation of U.S. anti-hacking law does not seem to concern the senator, but the plan does not seem to have much support among Hatch's colleagues. BBC 06/18/03

The Creative Economy The economy is changing. And the most highly-desired jobs? Those with creative outlets, flexibility, a sense of individuality. "Creative individuals no longer need to be isolated, romantic souls who've given up worldly success for the sake of their art. We must abandon our prejudices regarding the sources of economic value. The production of wealth comes not simply from labor or raw materials or even intellectual brilliance. It comes from new ways to give people what they want. By matching creativity and desire, the economy will renew itself." Wired 06/03

Latinos Now Biggest US Minority For the first time Latinos are now the largest minority population in the US. "Figures released in Washington placed the Latino population at 38.8 million in July 2002, an increase of nearly 10% from the 2000 census. The bureau estimated the African American population at 38.3 million. Each group accounts for a little more than 13% of the overall U.S. population." Los Angeles Times 06/19/03

Study: Playing An Instrument Helps Fight Alzheimer's Want to stave off Alzheimer's? Then make your mind active, says a new research report. "Those who played board games had a 74 percent lower risk and those who played an instrument had a 69 percent lower risk. Doing crossword puzzles cut the risk by 38 percent. Using the mind actually causes rewiring of the brain, sprouting new synapses - it may even cause the generation of new neurons. So psychology trumps biology." Washington Post 06/19/03

Why Are High-Culture Audiences So White? Why are there so few African-Americans at Pittsburgh's high-culture events? Audiences for the symphony and for theatre are mostly white, as they are in most American cities. One reason? "You're comparing a population that has half as much income as another group, and it's not surprising that you'd see this showing up in [the spending of] discretionary income," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 06/19/03

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

South Bank Blues "Artists shudder when they mention South Bank's Royal Festival Hall; there is no concert hall like it in the rest of the civilised world." Indeed, London's South Bank has been a major cultural failure that has bedeviled generations of administrators. What's the problem? "The arts centre is a 1950s conceit, based on new-town shopping malls where one stop covers all needs. It does not fit the specialised tastes of the 21st century." London Evening Standard 06/18/03

Does UK Arts Policy Value The Right Things? "There are many in the arts world who believe that the government's obsession with education and diversity has actually obscured what artists aim to do - produce wonderful work. But are "access" and "excellence" mutually exclusive? Are there too many strings attached to arts funding? Has the government been too utilitarian in its view of the arts, valuing its economic and social by-products, from tourism promotion to crime reduction, over its intrinsic worth?" England's arts ministers take on the questions. The Guardian (UK) 06/19/03

When Benefactors Default (What Should Happen?) Recently the Metropolitan Opera took the unusual step of prying off a donor's name from its building when the promised gift failed to arrive. So "what can be done when donors can't meet commitments? Nonprofits can bring lawsuits to force donors to pay up, but seldom do so. Lawsuits are unproductive if the donor does not have the funds and usually spell public relations disaster for both parties. The public, off-with-his-head (or in Vilar's case, off-with-his-name-plaque) approach may be the last, necessary resort in some cases, but it's not likely to win future support from the donor if his fortunes recover. It also may have a chilling effect on prospective donors. OpinionJournal.com 06/19/03

Execs Needed In Milwaukee Executives of several of Milwaukee's high-profile arts groups have stepped down recently, leaving something of a power void at the top levels of the city's cultural scene. The latest to resign is Judy Smith of the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, who has reportedly been exhausted by a massive fundraising effort she was spearheading. In fact, many of the Milwaukee execs have left their posts not because of controversy or dissatisfaction with their work, but because they were simply burned out by the intensive fundraising work required during an economic downturn. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel 06/17/03

Vandalism As Copyright Enforcement Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) believes he has a solution to the problem of illegal file-swapping and downloading of copyrighted material: destroy the computers! Hatch wants technology developed which would disable or destroy any computer attempting an illegal download. The fact that such a plan would be in blatant violation of U.S. anti-hacking law does not seem to concern the senator, but the plan does not seem to have much support among Hatch's colleagues. BBC 06/18/03

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

An Arts Agenda: How About Depoliticizing Arts Subsidy? Britain has a new arts minister. There doesn't seem to be much for Estelle Morris to do, though. But then again... under Labour, the arts have been shackled to the "grand, if vague, strategy of social inclusion and urban regeneration." Okay, it's time to jsutify cultural subsidies again. "The sting is that those who can't or won't play this game - and a game it usually is, on all sides - will be denied their ration of subsidy and starved into death or submission. Just about everybody who works in the arts is sick of the administrative grind of compliance and cynical about it, too - once you've ticked the boxes marked education project, chair-lift and minorities quota, you know your cheque will be in the post and your accountant can help you channel the money into something more meaningful." The Telegraph (UK) 06/18/03

Fireworks or Art? An Easy Decision For One Town Budget woes are affecting even the smallest towns in America. In tiny Susanville California, the city manager's first crack at a $6.1 million budget included cutting the city contribution to July 4th fireworks. The town's mayor has other ideas: "The Arts Council, they get $7,500 a year? I think fireworks is more beneficial than the arts council. They used to get much less than that before. That's pretty generous." Lassen County News (California) 06/16/03

Florida Arts Cuts = Unhealthy State The state of Florida recently cut its arts budget by $22 million. Now arts groups across the state are trying to figure out what that means to them. "I think the Legislature made a very disturbing statement in terms of priorities, that the arts are disposable. One sign of a healthy state is one that supports the arts." Gainesville Sun (Florida) 06/17/03

Monday, June 16, 2003

Education - Your Ad Here As schools across America cut back on classes and programs, corporations are seeing opportunity and stepping in with funding. And, of course, opportunities to market their products to children. Critics don't like the trend. "Children are more susceptible in school because they tend to believe that what they learn there is valid. So a commercial message in schools, no matter how subtle, gives an aura of responsibility and truth. Companies acknowledge they are trying to reach their current and future customers, but say their programs promote goodwill and help cash-strapped schools." Washington Post 06/15/03

California's Dollars-For-Arts Protest As a protest against California's cuts in arts funding, arts supporters are being asked to mail the Art Council dollar bills with the names of state senators written in red on the bills. "The suggested donations would be part of a protest against Gov. Gray Davis' proposed cuts in the council's budget. Grappling with the state's fiscal crisis, he has suggested trimming that budget from $22.4 million to $8.4 million." Los Angeles Times 06/16/03

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Gioia: Better Times Ahead NEA chairman Dana Gioia spoke to the Theatre Communications Group meeting in Milwaukee last week and said he "took the NEA chairmanship on the condition that President Bush was committed to rebuilding the agency, and he pointed to a 50% increase in NEA theater funding this year as evidence that better times are ahead." Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel 06/14/03

Is Britain's New Labour Party Destroying The Arts? "New Labour has wrecked culture in the sense of encouraging the lowest common denominator. It is total populism. That's the reason why so many of us [in the arts] hate them - not just for our political differences." So says playwright Tariq Ali, joining a chorus of cultural figures in the UK decrying the ruling party's abandonment of high culture. Part of the anti-Labour venom is surely a result of Tony Blair's unpopular support for the American war in Iraq, but the split runs deeper than a single issue. Where Labour was once thought to be the political ally of the serious art world, it seems increasingly clear to many artists that New Labour isn't interested in anything but making the masses happy. The Guardian (UK) 06/14/03

Fash Bash Crash Fash Bash, the massive annual fundraising event staged by the Detroit Institute for the Arts, has been cancelled by the museum after a sponsor for the event could not be found. Fash Bash raised better than $500,000 for the DIA in 2001, but primary sponsor Marshall Field's pulled its support after that year to focus on similar shows in Chicago and Minneapolis. Without a large corporation to pick up the tab, last year's event actually ended up costing the DIA money, a disaster which the museum was determined not to repeat. Detroit News 06/14/03

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Lincoln Center Construction Boss Quits The chairman of Lincoln Center's redevelopment project has resigned, calling the project "wasteful and badly managed." The resignation is another blow to the troubled performing arts complex, which saw the New York Philharmonic announce it was leaving two weeks ago. Peter Lehrer said as he resigned Lincoln Center: "A lot of money has been spent on planning with not enough to show for it." The New York Times 06/13/03

Oakland Mayor Backs Off Artist Evictions "Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown has dropped plans to evict artists from the popular downtown Alice Arts Center to make room for the expansion of his arts charter school." The artists had been protesting the possible eviction. The center served 50,000 people a year through classes and performances.
San Francisco Chronicle 06/12/03

U.S. Arts Cuts To Top $100 Million Budget cutting, petty politics, and a flat economy are combining to force many U.S. states out of the business of funding art, and the cuts may total $100 million or more. "In the last 12 months, 42 states have cut their funding to the arts, wiping 13% off the total amount of funds available. But organisations are bracing themselves for an even more difficult 12 months ahead." According to ArtsJournal editor Douglas McLennan, while the cuts are devastating for arts agencies, even more frightening is the message: "What the government is saying right now is that culture is not important for us to fund." BBC 06/12/03

  • Massachusetts Cuts Spread The Pain Grant checks were sent out in Massachusetts this week to the 31 artists selected for funding by the state's Cultural Council. But the 62% cut in the council's funding means that the grants are less than half of what they were last year. Still, the council decided that it would be better to fund as many artists as possible than to keep the grants high and cut more individuals out of the process. Boston Globe 06/12/03

  • Next On The Cutting Block: Missouri "The Missouri Arts Council could lose about 75 percent of its budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. A bill signed by Gov. Bob Holden authorizes the council to use money from the Missouri Cultural Trust, intended as an endowment to leverage private arts funding, for the new budget year. The council will receive no money from general revenues." Kansas City Star 06/08/03

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Can Colorado Arts Council Survive? Now that the Colorado Arts Council has seen its budget cut to $40,000 and its director fired, can it survive? "The council, a key player in the state arts community for 36 years, is barely hanging on. In order to survive, it must learn to get by with volunteers and donations from new sources. But the council also needs a commitment from [Governor Bill] Owens and other state leaders that they will support it and increase its funding when the economy turns around." The Coloradoan (Fort Collins) 06/11/03

Rekindling The Art Of Cambodia "During Pol Pot's four-year reign of terror, up to 80 per cent of Cambodia's artists perished in a purge of the intelligentsia more far-reaching than anything wrought by Mao or Stalin. With them went much of the performance repertory of classical theatre and dance, as well as an enormous variety of folkloric arts. But the Khmer Rouge failed to extinguish Khmer culture." And it has struggled back... Financial Times 06/11/03

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

The Arts Tax? If states are slashing their discretionary spending on the arts, maybe the way to save arts funding is to use dedicated taxes for the arts. "There is a variety of indirect taxes for the arts, which are more prevalent than we realize and have proven quiet successes. These taxes bring consistent funding for the arts through the back door and are not as much subject to the fate of appropriations-based government support, which can be a real roller-coaster ride." OpinionJournal 06/11/03

Foundation Spending On Arts Decreases A new report describes trends in foundation spending on the arts. Last year foundation spending on the arts decreased 3/5 percent to just over $4 billion. "Arts funding accounted for 11.8 percent of overall foundation grant dollars in 2001; nearly nine out of ten foundations in the sample supported the arts in 2001; and museum activities received the largest share of grant dollars in the 2001 sample (34 percent), followed by performing arts (30 percent)." Philanthropy News Digest 06/10/03

Brazil's Flourishing Culture In A Times Of Political Challenge Brazil is a country much occupied by political challenges. Yet the country's culture is vibrant and diverse and challenging. "In the city's 80-odd venues, you find international commercial hits - what Araujo calls 'fast-food theatre' - such as Beauty and the Beast and Grease. But there is also a wide range of alternative theatre at amazingly low prices. The most intriguing venues come under the acronymic title of SESC. There are six of these scattered around Sao Paulo; they are multi-purpose arts and leisure centres housing theatres, galleries, sports facilities, internet cafes and meeting places. They are financed by a small tax levied on workers in retail trades, and are available to the general public." The Guardian (UK) 06/10/03

Toronto: It Takes Money To Get To The Next Level If Toronto wants to get to the next cultural level, says a new government report, the city must increase its per capita spending on the arts to $25 from its current $14.64. "Culture Plan for the Creative City, commissioned from the city's culture division 18 months after the province created the amalgamated city of Toronto, contains 60 recommendations designed to push the Ontario capital "to the next level" following last year's commitment of almost $240-million from the federal and provincial governments to capital works for the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Canadian Opera Company, among others." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/10/03

Monday, June 9, 2003

Glasgow - Where's Your Culture Now? So many cities were anxious to be named European Capital of Culture because of what the title did 13 years ago for Glasgow. The city was touted for its rebuilding. "But what happened to Glasgow? It is 13 years since the high point of its renaissance and the media spotlight has moved elsewhere. Along with the re-emergence of England's regional cities, Edinburgh has been buoyed by devolution and an accompanying cash influx. Glasgow has fallen off the radar." The Guardian (UK) 06/08/03

Trying To Lure The Young With Arts Cincinnati is losing its 20-somethings, who are moving out of the city. But instead of trying to lure new businesses to the city in an effort to keep its younger citizens, the city is promoting lifestyle and the arts. "New plans promote sidewalk cafes, hip local music and an energized entertainment strip. Attention to arts, culture and downtown living are replacing old ideas about building new department stores and riverfront towers. 'I would love to see a Cincinnati that has sidewalks full of people after the offices close, that has local music all the time, that has people attending arts events on a regular basis'." Cincinnati Inquirer 06/09/03

Sunday, June 8, 2003

Foundations Protest Proposed New Giving Rules American charitable foundations are protesting a proposal in Congress to force them to give away more money each year. "U.S. giving by foundations, corporations, and individuals will fall this year from $212 billion to $165 billion, a 22% drop. For arts organizations in particular, Charity Navigator predicts even worse news: Giving may decline by as much as one-third, from $12 billion in 2002 to $8 billion in 2003." Backstage 06/08/03

Colorado Arts Commission Fires Director Completing its gutting of the Colorado Coucil on the Arts, the CCA's director was fired Friday. "The action effectively completes the elimination of the current CCA staff, a move that could also cost the state an additional $614,000 in federal funds from the National Endowment for the Arts because it only distributes its grants through viably functioning state arts councils. On Wednesday, Owens ordered that no more than $40,000 of the council's 2003-04 budget of $814,000 could be spent on payroll, utilities and all other operational costs. A year ago, the office had seven staff members, each making more than $40,000, Holden said. Since then, the CCA's state funding has been cut from $1.9 million to $200,000, and the staff had been cut to three even before Friday." Denver Post 06/08/03

  • Previously: Colorado Governor Slashes At Arts Staff First Colorado Governor Bill Owens is instrumental is slashing the state's arts budget from $1.9 million to $200,000. Now Owens is telling the arts council that it mustn't spend the money on itself. "Currently, he said, 82 percent - $165,000 - is allotted to infrastructure. Owens asked that only $40,000 be used." Rocky Mountain News 06/05/03
Friday, June 6, 2003

Liverpool? Why Liverpool? Liverpool isn't the capital of anything, least of all culture. "Nobody can seriously hold that Liverpool has more 'cultural assets' than London, Edinburgh, Manchester or Birmingham. Its theatres, galleries and museums do not outrank theirs. Liverpool had The Beatles, the beat poets, a river front and fine buildings which the city fathers have so far failed to demolish. But everyone has left who was not screwed to the floor. Liverpudlians are legendarily cussed and given to drinking. That is not culture. Nor can London's army of Scousers talk: why are they reading this and not back home saving their city and reading the Post?" London Evening Atandard 06/06/03

Ode To Liverpool. Yes, Liverpool, Damn it. Liverpool has been a blighted hulk for a long time. Now it's been named the European Capital of Culture, and maybe that will help pick up the city and return it to its former glory. "A hundred years ago the city was the gateway to the empire, the port from which nine million emigrants sailed off to the promised lands of the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand." It was then "Britain's only really multicultural city which teemed with Lascar seamen from the Indies, the descendants of African and Black American sailors, Jews from the Pale of Settlement, and the largest Chinatown in Europe. It was a city with its back turned against the land, one which barely inhabited the country it was nominally part of." The Guardian (UK) 06/05/03

Thursday, June 5, 2003

Colorado Governor Slashes At Arts Staff First Colorado Governor Bill Owens is instrumental is slashing the state's arts budget from $1.9 million to $200,000. Now Owens is telling the arts council that it mustn't spend the money on itself. "Currently, he said, 82 percent - $165,000 - is allotted to infrastructure. Owens asked that only $40,000 be used." Rocky Mountain News 06/05/03

Artists Angry Over Plans For Arts School Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, a "self- proclaimed champion of the arts," has hundreds of artists mad at him. He's proposed expanding his Oakland School for the Arts, but he wants to expand it into a building that already houses artists, and the plan would evict them. "To displace working artists who are serving thousands of kids and adults for a school for the arts that will serve maybe 400 students at most is perverse. It makes no sense." San Francisco Chronicle 06/05/03

Wednesday, June 4, 2003

NY: Will Standardized Arts Education Requirements Help? Arts education in public schools in New York City is haphazard."It's completely hodgepodge. We have in some schools almost no arts, in many schools no music, schools that are not taking advantage of the cultural resources of the city, arts educators who may be asked to decorate the school for Halloween." Now the schools chancellor has proposed a standardized arts regime for the city. The New York Times 06/05/03

San Francisco - A Music Education Program That Works The San Francisco Symphony has been running its Adventures in Music education program for 10 years. So it's time to evaluate. "Among the findings: 86.9 percent of teachers and 85.5 of principals said students are more interested in music and the arts because of AIM; 68 percent of teachers interviewed said participating in AIM helped them find new ways of thinking about curriculum; and 58 percent said they believed the program made them better teachers." San Francisco Chronicle 06/04/03

Liverpool, Culture Capital. No, Seriously. "Liverpool has been named European Capital of Culture 2008 by UK Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell. The city beat five other hopefuls - Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Newcastle-Gateshead and Oxford - to win the coveted prize... The renewal of its waterfront, a World Heritage site, and cultural centres like Tate Liverpool strengthened its credentials. It is also home to the recently opened Film Arts and Creative Centre, FACT, the UK's only exhibition and performance space dedicated to film, video and digital art." The award is likely to generate some much-needed tourism dolllars for Liverpool, which is promising to mount a year-long festival of the arts. BBC 06/04/03

Tuesday, June 3, 2003

Artistic Success...On The Backs Of... An arts organization's biggest asset? Its volunteers. "Anyone who believed the media coverage of the arts might end up thinking that they were a haven for fat cats on inflated salaries, cushioned by state subsidy and Lottery grants. Talk to anyone who actually works for your local theatre, art gallery or stately home and you begin to see a more heartening picture of goodwill and altruistic dedication to the play, the music, the paintings. Every volunteer is a romantic at heart, hoping to be brushed by stardust." The Telegraph (UK) 06/04/03

Foundation Reform - Who Pays The Expenses? A proposal before Congress would force foundations to cover their administrative costs outside the five percent of their assets they're required to give away each year. "Foundation execs are in a flutter. They see the bill as a threat to the immortality of their institution, and perhaps of their founders' names. In their view, the bill demands that they either cut costs to the bone (at the expense of more difficult or adventurous projects) or go extinct. Susan Berresford, president of the Ford Foundation, has said the bill will force foundations "to eat into capital and the country will lose these... public assets for the common good'." Boston Globe 06/01/03

Court Rules Artists Can Use Celebrity Images Do artists have the right to use images of celebrities in their work? The California Supreme Court says yes. "The court said celebrities have the right to prevent their likenesses from being used simply to sell products, a doctrine illustrated by a 2001 ruling against an artist who sold T-shirts and lithographs with drawings of the Three Stooges. But in a unanimous decision, the justices said artists and publishers have a constitutional right to produce works that include an image, creatively transformed, of an actual person." San Francisco Chronicle 06/03/03

  • Celebs, Incorporated "The decision permits authors of fictional works to create characters based in part on celebrities, as long as the portrayals differ from the real people. Celebrities will continue to be able to demand compensation when their actual faces or names are used on coffee cups or other commercial merchandise." Los Angeles Times 06/03/03

How Did 9/11 Change The Arts? "It's going on two years now, and the work is just beginning. Artists found a daunting, inevitable theme for the 21st century in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. A spate of recent works -- in film, fiction, music and poetry -- suggests how broad and multivalenced the responses will be as this singular national trauma continues to sink in and penetrate our consciousness." San Francisco Chronicle 06/03/03

Going After Europe's VAT Tax A collection of celebrity musicians is calling for drastic cuts to the European Union's "Value Added Tax" (VAT) on CDs and other recorded media, to bring the tax rate in line with what consumers pay for newspapers, books, and concert tickets. The VAT is similar to U.S. sales tax, and just as a state may set its own sales tax, an EU nation may determine its own VAT rate on a variety of products. VAT tax on CDs runs between 15% and 25%, while the rate on books is closer to 5%. BBC 06/03/03

Monday, June 2, 2003

America's Top Arts Cities Which American city is tops in the arts? If you said New York, you're wrong. At least according to AmericanStyle magazine. The Magazine ranks America's best arts cities. "The survey - something less than scientific, since its results are based on reader votes - purports to show that the Midwest is emerging as a new area of artistic influence. Chicago, for example, moved up to No. 1 from its No. 5 position in 2002. And newcomers in the top 25 include Milwaukee and Columbus, with Cleveland returning to the list for the first time since 1998." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 06/02/03

After The Building, What? Building a new performing arts center is only the beginning. After it's beuilt you have to invest money on what goes inside it. Mangers of the new Miami Dade performing arts center in Florida project it will take a $100 million to get programming and resident companies on sound footing once the hall opens. With the Florida Philharmonic recently imploding, some wonder if the community is ready to step up and make the investment required. Miami Herald 06/02/03

Sunday, June 1, 2003

Can Cultural Development Rejuvenate A City? There's an idea that culture can be used to "revive declining places, and the idea of urban living in general." But does it really work? "The origins of this vigorous, commercially-driven view of culture in cities are in the wider free-market revolution of the 70s and 80s. Large, abandoned city buildings have been converted into cultural facilities at least since the French Revolution, when artists took over empty churches and mansions. But the idea that such conversions should be centrepieces of urban renewal only took root, in Britain at least, with the discovery of the 'inner city' as a political issue in the late 70s and the growing official reluctance to address its problems through more traditional, and expensive, social reforms." The Guardian (UK) 06/02/03

US To Rejoin UNESCO - A Move To Try To Dominate Cultural Policy? Surprising just about everyone last fall, the Bush administration decided the US should rejoin UNESCO, the United Nations cultural agency. "The American contribution will be the first since 1984, when the US withdrew in protest against mismanagement, corruption, and Third World bias." How to interpret the move? "A careful analysis of statements made by administration officials and other politicians reveals that far from being a move towards multilateral collaboration, the decision to rejoin the organisation is seen by the Bush administration as simply another weapon in the US war on terror." The Art Newspaper 05/30/03

Montana Transfers Arts Money To Fund Emergency Medical Communications System Just as the Montana state legislature was closing its session, it passed an amendment that canceled $100,000 from the Montana Arts Council budget and transfered it to fund an emergency medical communications system.
Montana Standard 05/30/03

Florida Fallout From Arts Cuts After the Florida legislature hacked down the state's arts budget, "all across South Florida, arts groups are tallying their potential losses, which range from $1,500 to more than $500,000 per year. The fallout will include delayed construction projects, reduced services and, perhaps most damaging in the long run, cutbacks in educational programs for children. 'We can no longer count on state arts funds as a part of our annual operating budget. Because the grants are non-recurring and the trust funds are eliminated, we would do ourselves a fiscal disservice to rely on the state'." South Florida Sun-Sentinel 06/01/03

The "Art Of Everything" School " The Orange County Regisert's new arts columnist writes that art is everywhere: "Whether we realize it or not, art is all around us. From the purple, inflated gorilla grinning atop a Dodge dealership along the Garden Grove (22) Freeway to murals in downtown Santa Ana, Huntington Beach and Laguna to the big, red 'A' that lights up after an Angels win, aesthetic images surround us. The trick is taking the time to see. We may think of some of these as eyesores more than art, and we may bemoan the lack of 'real' culture here in Southern California, Orange County in particular. But the truth is, the rest of the country - and the world - looks in our direction when they talk about the cutting edge of artistic and visual production." Orange County Register 06/01/03

The President And The Arts Advocate How did an outspoken advocate of publicly funded art wind up as part of an administration which is, at best, indifferent to art, and at worst, opposed to anything remotely controversial? No one seems quite sure of the answer, but Dana Gioia is clearly not intimidated by the president who appointed him to the top job at the National Endowment for the Arts. Frank Rich thinks that the key to Gioia's success may be his refusal to get involved in "the ugly culture wars that the likes of Lynne Cheney and William Bennett embraced during the Gingrich revolution. Many of those battles were in one way or another about N.E.A. grants to artistic projects with sexual content, especially homosexual content. Mr. Gioia will have none of it." The New York Times 06/01/03

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