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Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Art For Dummies? Yee-Haw! John Weeks applauds attempts to "bring art to the masses" by explaining it in simple terms. "We're all familiar with those books like 'Auto Repair for Dummies' and 'Computers for Dummies,' and it seems like there is a growing movement to accommodate dummies of all kinds. Apparently, the trend has finally spread to the arts world. This is exciting. Art truly can extend its reach if it makes itself more accessible to America's largest demographic group, namely idiots. Now, when I say 'idiots,' you know I don't mean you and me. Well, yes I do, but I mean it in a loving, affectionate way." Los Angeles Daily News 09/30/03

America: Tallying Up State Arts Cuts In America, state budget season has ended for another year, and the arts didn't make out very well. "State art spending dropped from $409 million in fiscal year 2002 to $355 million in 2003, and, with State deficits projected to balloon from $60 million to $80 billion this year, arts funding will fall another 23%, bringing the 2004 total to around $274 million." The Art Newspaper 09/26/03

Monday, September 29, 2003

Pass It On - The Gift Of A Mentor Last year Rolex initiated a program of arts mentorships, placing outstanding younger artists with older star qartists. "It began with a star-studded advisory board that included Frank Gehry, Christo and Jean-Claude, and Jessye Norman. Then the company arranged for nominations to be made by distinguished panelists working in anonymity, choosing potential protégés from a pool of 96 candidates in 39 countries. There was prize money, too: $50,000 for the mentors and a $25,000 stipend for the protégés. And of course, a Rolex watch for each." The New York Times 09/30/03

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Group Think America's performing arts service organizations are planning their first-ever joint meeting. "At the First National Performing Arts Convention, to be held in Pittsburgh June 8-13, groups such as OPERA America, Theatre Communications Group, Dance/USA, the American Symphony Orchestra League, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters and the National Alliance for Musical Theatre will hold their own meetings and also gather together to address topics including arts research, audience development, arts education, governance and ethics, arts journalism and new-work development." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 09/28/03

Wanted: An Arts Mayor For Toronto Toronto is electing a new mayor, and the five major candidates for the office gathered to talk about the arts. "The first Great Toronto Arts Debate was refreshingly free of all that embarrassing 'world-class city' rhetoric that has marked civic politics since the eighties." And there was acknowledgment that the arts were important for the city's future. But what does that mean, exactly?
The Globe & Mail (Canada) 09/27/03

The Selling Of (New) Money The US is about to introduce a new $20 bill. To acquaint the public with the new-look money, the government is spending "$33 million on advertising, marketing and education programs to promote the new bill, and it has hired a public relations firm and, in a first, a product placement firm and one of Hollywood's top talent agencies to put the $20 bill on the publicity circuit. By the time the new bill joins the currency flow next month, it will have appeared virtually everywhere but on the ballot for California's recall election." The New York Times 09/28/03

Kushner: Of Art And Politics Playwright Tony Kushner on the responsibility of artists in challenging time: "You can't find any important work of American art, in theater or anywhere else, that doesn't have a very powerful political dimension. [But] whatever you do with your day job—and writing plays is what I do—is no replacement for activism, which is a necessary part of being a citizen in a democracy." Seattle Weekly 09/24/03

A Nation Of Artists Divided In his short time in power, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez has led his country in what some call a leftist revolution, and what others call a needless class war. As clashes between Chávez supporters and opponents intensify, the nation's artists have found themselves in unexpected conflict with each other. "Once faithfully leftist and mostly detached from political life, Venezuela's modern art community is now deeply divided over Chávez and his populist program. A new brand of political art has emerged in Caracas, produced by acclaimed painters best known for vast abstract canvases and murals. In recent months, the protest that has played out in a haze of tear gas has become clearly visible in paintings." Miami Herald (WPS) 09/27/03

The Arts As Urban Renewal As cities go, Detroit does not have a good reputation. Decades of urban blight and civic mismanagement left the city in a hole which it has only recently begun to climb out of. But when the Detroit Symphony opens its new $60 million expansion of Orchestra Hall this week, it will represent the latest push by the community to revitalize the urban core. For the DSO, the project means a chance to continue playing downtown, and to do so in one of the finest performance complexes in the nation. For the project's major benefactor, who admits that he was never much of a music fan, it means an opportunity to jumpstart the turnaround in one of Detroit's most blighted neighborhoods. Detroit News 09/27/03

Thursday, September 25, 2003

The Gates Of Venice Experts are coming to agreement that the only way to save Venice from flooding is to build large gates to keep high water out of Venice's lagoon. "The nearly €3 billion ($3.4 billion) scheme will comprise about 80 hollow gates embedded in the seabed at the three inlets to Venice's lagoon. When not needed, the gates will rest on the seabed, full of water. But when high tides threaten the city, compressed air will force water out of the gates. This will cause them to rise and act as a barrier to water trying to enter the lagoon. Will the gates justify their large cost?" The Economist 09/26/03

Revisionist Soviet Cultural History In the old Soviet Union, "culture was a matter for the central committee and the Politburo. What kind of modern art should be allowed? Was jazz decadent? Which foreign plays should be staged? Even to pose these questions was all but unimaginable in the West; yet they were matters of state in the East. When Nikita Khrushchev, in a moment of notorious philistinism, denounced abstract modern painting during a visit to the Manezh gallery in Moscow in 1962, it changed the future course of Soviet art, breaking countless careers in the process. What Richard Nixon, LBJ or Harold Macmillan may—or may not—have thought about modern art was hardly a scratch on the canvas." The Economist 09/26/03

Downsizing The "World's Largest Lawn-Care Service" The Bush administration is trying to downsize the federal park service with a plan to outsource many of its services. "Two years ago, the Park Service became a prime target for privatizing some civil- service jobs after the president's former OMB director, Mitch Daniels, referred to it as 'the world's largest lawn-care service.' In addition to riling agency defenders, Daniels' characterization has rankled historians, archaeologists, maintenance workers, and rangers who could be supplanted." Christian Science Monitor 09/24/03

Isabel's Arts Impact "After weathering Hurricane Isabel, arts groups and entertainment promoters are wearily assessing the damage and warily looking to the future. Many had to cancel or reschedule performances when concert halls were damaged and electricity and phones went out. The downed phone lines also temporarily halted subscription and single ticket sales that are crucial to arts groups' financial health at this time of year." In addition to physical damage, arts groups in the affected area are having to cope with an audience base made up of storm survivors for whom an evening out is the last thing currently on their minds. The Daily Press (Hampton Roads, VA) 09/25/03

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Rise Of The "Illegal" Artists There's a growing movement of artists who break copyright laws on purpose. "According to a growing number of 'illegal artists', copyright infringement has become the moral affront of choice - and the cause of "cease and desist" letters and profitable copyright suits. Artists are now appearing in court to defend their entitlement to borrow or 'footnote' the work of other artists." The Age (Melbourne) 09/25/03

Convention Center Trumps Arts "A proposed arts complex for Vancouver's waterfront has been pushed aside in favour of expanding a trade and convention center. The city announced Friday it will shelve plans for the arts complex." CBC 09/23/03

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Finding Spirituality In Shopping Where is the new spiritual center of Britain? A shopping complex. "Shopping — in the sense of the ceaseless search for the next object that will thrill for a moment and satisfy for a minute — is the main interest of people without purpose. The problem with the British is that they are not even very good at shopping, just as they are not very good at their other passion, football, to judge by the results. For to be good at shopping requires discrimination, which itself requires some mental cultivation. And it is precisely the lack of this that makes British shops (on the whole — of course, there are exceptions) so deeply dispiriting." The Spectator 09/29/03

Gambling On The Performing Arts Civic leaders in Las Vegas are trying to diversify the city. They want to build a new performing arts center. "With the billions of dollars in revenue the industry takes in every year, you would think it would be easy for gaming to foot the bill for the $125 million project. But that isn't happening. The Performing Arts Center Foundation got the city of Las Vegas to donate five acres of prime downtown real estate to the project. But rather than assuming responsibility for bankrolling the project, the casino industry has found a way to pass it off to the car rental agencies which, unlike gaming, already are heavily taxed and naturally opposed to the hike." Las Vegas Sun 09/23/03

The Anne-Of-Green-Gables Copyright Act There is a proposal in the Canadian parliament to extend copyrights for previously unpublished works for 14 to 34 years for authors who died between Jan. 1, 1930 and Jan. 1, 1949. Why? "It's called the 'Lucy Maud Montgomery provision' because the creator of the popular (and lucrative) Anne of Green Gables novels died in 1942, and it is her heirs who wish to retain control over her unpublished writings." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 09/23/03

Monday, September 22, 2003

Licensing Improves London's Underground Performers A scheme to license performers in London's Underground is a success, and will be extended. "A trial period in which only officially approved buskers were allowed to perform in designated areas will continue until the end of the year. Organisers said there had been an 82% decrease in 'busking-related' police call-outs during the trial. There was less need for police to eject or arrest performers who blocked safety zones or abused staff, they said." BBC 09/23/03

Sunday, September 21, 2003

If Only They'd Known... This month, a politician from Canada's Liberal Party sent out a mailing to artsy types, urging them to vote Liberal, because the party truly cares about the arts. This was news to Martin Knelman. "Prior to that moment, few people in or out of the cultural world had any notion at all just what Dalton McGuinty's view of arts and culture might be... If the arts are so important, why have the Liberals had so little to say that hardly anyone of my acquaintance knows anything at all about their policies?" Of course, none of the major parties have had much to say about the arts lately, but at least no one else is parading around like some sort of cultural savior. Toronto Star 09/21/03

Looking For Crumbs In California This summer, the California Arts Council's budget was slashed from $16 million to $1 million, a near-zeroing out of the state's commitment to cultural spending. But at least one San Francisco legislator isn't accepting the cuts: Mark Leno is attempting to restore about half of the council's original budget through what he calls a "'minimal' entertainment-related fee -- not a tax, he's quick to point out -- to directly fund the council." San Francisco Chronicle 09/20/03

Friday, September 19, 2003

The Denver Culture Tax In 15 years, a Denver tax initiative that set aside .01 percent of sales collections for cultural groups has pumped more than $300 million into arts and culture... Denver Post 09/19/03

Thursday, September 18, 2003

A Festival For The Anti-JLo's "In a postliterate age the New Yorker Festival stands as the maypole of a dedicated and ferocious demographic, fanatics who view the author Zadie Smith as far more dynamic and adorable than J.Lo..." The New York Times 09/18/03

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Banking On The Arts Two of Canada's largest banks have announced plans to make major contributions to a number of Ontario arts organizations. The Art Gallery of Ontario and the Royal Ontario Museum will each get CAN$2.25 million from the bankers, and the National Ballet School of Canada will get CAN$1.5 million. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 09/17/03

Non-Profits Taking Big Economic Hit America's non-profit corporations, including many arts groups, are being forced to make painful cuts in the face of declining public funding, stagnated individual giving, and tumbling foundation spending, and the situation may not improve for quite a while, even if the economy continues its current rebound. Government funding is the second-largest source of revenue for non-profits, and at the moment, with states strapped for cash and the federal government charting a course which does not include much state aid, the public subsidy situation is dire. USA Today 09/16/03

Senate Rejects FCC Rules Changes "The Senate approved a resolution Tuesday to repeal media ownership rules critics say could lead to a wave of mergers and ultimately stifle diversity and local viewpoints in news and entertainment. Defying a White House veto threat, the Senate voted 55-40 to undo changes to Federal Communications Commission regulations governing ownership of newspapers and television and radio stations. Those rules already have been placed on hold by a federal appeals court." Wired (AP) 09/16/03

  • Previously: What Does FCC Deregulation Mean? "Despite the disingenuous if not wholly cynical blather of FCC Chairman Michael Powell, Monday's vote is antithetical to promoting diversity and will allow, if not guarantee, that Americans are served an ever-more-homogenized news and entertainment product by the same handful of gigantic entities that already control the majority of the most popular venues and channels. If you doubt it, all you have to do is turn on your radio." St. Paul Pioneer-Press 06/02/03
Tuesday, September 16, 2003

The MassMOCA Revival North Adams, like many towns and cities in America, has tried to revive itself by developing an arts industry. And there are signs that opening the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art has proved to be a big boost. MASS MoCA is drawing about 120,000 visitors a year, putting it in the top tier of modern art museums outside New York. There's a little frontier spirit here; there are opportunities for people, like the early days of SoHo. You don't want it too perfect. Artists are small business operators; each new mill building that's renovated for artists brings about $1 million into the local economy. If a few more buildings are done it will make this a very interesting town."
Hartford Courant 09/14/03

70 Cultural Groups Propose Homes At Ground Zero More than 70 cultural groups have proposed setting up homes in the World Trade Center project. "The development corporation has not set a date by which a decision would be made. Site plans include a museum, a performing arts center and smaller cultural spaces. The proposals will be evaluated by the corporation, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts." The New York Times 09/16/03

Monday, September 15, 2003

Iraqi Artists Get Back To Work Iraq's artists are feeling energized. "In the theaters, at least, young actors have embraced a measure of new freedom. The dozens of young actors and directors at the National Theater scrambling to ready plays for a festival next month have seized with enthusiasm an artistic freedom unknown for 25 years in Iraq. Their palpable energy is echoed elsewhere in the fine arts, where a cadre of younger Iraqi painters and sculptors have emerged from the shadows of a generation of state-funded artists who lived comfortably under the old regime - so long as they hewed to a narrow and apolitical path. For the artists discovering a new space in post-Hussein Iraq, liberation from a totalitarian government has wrought a cultural revolution." Boston Globe 09/15/03

Is US Weak And Culturally Bankrupt or Merely Asleep? "Over the last two years, many commentators have accepted the premise that Al Qaeda attacked the United States because it believed the country was weak. Where they disagree is over the accuracy of the terrorists' presumed perception. Was the United States, as the president implied, merely a sleeping giant which, once roused, would demonstrate a fearsome power? Or was the United States in fact tired, decadent, adrift - its military might only a hollow shell, inside of which its vaunted economy, culture, and political system were rotting? Even during the booming `90s, doubts about America's future were widespread." Boston Globe 09/14/03

Sunday, September 14, 2003

WTC - Rebuilding By Culture? Cultural groups are vying to relocate to downtown New York at the site of the World Trade Center. "Why are established uptown entities like New York City Opera and the 92nd Street Y now willing to consider a downtown location? Why are prominent theater people urging that a national theater be built there? The answer can be found in part in Bilbao and Barcelona, Spain, and Manchester, England, as well as in Los Angeles and Detroit. By giving new urgency to notions of transformation, the destruction that took place on Sept. 11, 2001, has brought home to downtown Manhattan the phenomenon of urban renewal through culture." The New York Times 09/15/03

Old Doesn't Necessarily Equal Good There was a time, not too long ago, when any building more than a few decades old was likely to be sneered at as a dinosaur. More than a few architectural gems fell prey to a hasty wrecking ball, and many cities around the world are worse off for the loss of culturally significant buildings which were momentarily considered eyesores. But now, the pendulum may have swung too far the other way in Britain, with the heritage movement becoming so powerful that any criticism of old buildings is considered heresy. Patrick Wright would like to see some sort of balance, some acknowledgement that there are still a few old dinosaurs out there that simply aren't worth saving. The Guardian (UK) 09/13/03

15 Yards For Unintentional Satire This week, the National Building Museum in Washington will confer a major award for urban design on... the National Football League. Seriously. A collection of billionaires, who specialize in extorting money from cash-strapped cities which they then use to erect concrete bowls full of seats that no one but the economic elite can afford to rent for a few hours, is receiving an award for responsible and forward-thinking urban planning. And did we mention that many of these stadia are not in urban areas at all, but in suburban sprawlville? And did you see that tacky monstrosity of a kickoff show they mounted on the National Mall a couple of weeks back? Linda Hales did, and she's not pleased with the NBM's decision. Washington Post 09/13/03

Friday, September 12, 2003

Boston's New Arts Neighborhood Any native Bostonian can tell you that the South End is not exactly the glamorous section of town. But a newly revitalized neighborhood in Southie, long populated by local artists and recently discovered by gallery owners, is proving once again that art can change the image and culture of even the most run-down areas. "The gallery boomlet has occurred despite the sputtering economy of the last two years, thanks to the housing market, which has been white hot in the neighborhood, drawing artists and people who want to put art on their new walls." Boston Globe 09/12/03

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Big Concerns About Miami's New $265 Million Arts Center Flaws in Miami's new $265 million Performing Arts Center, currently under construction, could "compromise its crucial sound quality, delay its opening and drive up its cost by up to $50 million, officials overseeing its construction and management charged Tuesday. These are issues affecting what the building looks like, what it sounds like, what it feels like." Miami Herald 09/10/03

Report: Canadian Arts Groups Up, Symphony Orchestras Down Canadian symphony orchestras have had a few difficult financial years. But "theatre, music, dance and opera entered the new millennium with a healthy financial surplus, thanks to record revenues of $543.7 million," according to new government figures. Toronto Star 09/10/03

Government Report Criticizes Kennedy Center Management The General Accounting Office criticizes the Kennedy Center for inadequate management of its construction projects. "The report, which focused on the center's construction of new parking and exterior areas, said what originally appeared to be a $28 million job wound up costing about $60 million more and created only about half as many new parking spaces as estimated. The GAO said the poor management raised questions about how officials will handle the massive additions planned for the center over the next 10 years." Washington Post 09/11/03

Robert Redford On Art Robert Redford gives the annual Nancy Hanks Lecture at the Kennedy Center Tuesday night. Redford "the iconoclast, the Hollywood director who founded the Sundance Institute to raise new generations of filmmakers outside the corrupting influence of the studios and commerce, has the most sweetly arcane ideas about art and artists. He believes, for instance, that art is good for the soul, that it can keep kids off the streets, and that it can correct the ill drift of society. He knows Hollywood puts money before art, but is consoled by the fact that without art they can't make money. He's also impatient with efforts to silence artists, with the ridicule heaped upon those who express political views when they should know that such talk is better left to highly paid, professional, partisan political pundits." Washington Post 09/10/03

Another Try At Reinventing The Chicago Theatre The "storied but troubled" 3,800-seat Chicago Theater has been the scene of many failed attempts to make it profitable. A new deal would transform the theatre into a "center for the performing arts active 200 nights a year." Chicago Sun-Times 09/10/03

In Canada - 30 Percent More Artists... And Increased Funding The number of artists in Canada has grown 30 percent in the past decade. "The Canada Council's government funding has increased almost 70 per cent in the past seven years, reversing the effects of several years of deep cuts. More money, more grants; more grants, more art: Art lovers should rejoice at the news, shouldn't they?" The Globe & Mail (Canada) 09/10/03

Tuesday, September 9, 2003

On The Internet - The End Of Free? The culture of the internet has been that most things are free. But the music industry lawsuits suggest those days are coming to an end. "These lawsuits certainly tell consumers that `free' ultimately has a price. Originally, there was this perception that consumers would not pay for content — entertainment or information — over the Internet. But that perception is changing." The New York Times 09/09/03

Increase For Canada Council? The Canada Council is asking for a big increase in its funding. "Over the past three years, artists and arts organizations in 1,000 Canadian communities have received Canada Council funding. In 2002-2003, the Council awarded nearly $142.3-million in grants, prizes and payments to Canadian artists and arts organizations." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 09/09/03

Dallas - Sketchy And Conventional For $250 Million Plans for a new $250 million performing arts center for Dallas have been released. "For a document co-produced by the offices of Rem Koolhaas and Foster and Partners, spirited iconoclasts and high-tech adventurers respectively, it is surprisingly conventional. Leafy boulevards, fountained plazas, long axial vistas, these are the staples of old world urbanism rather than the concussive New American landscape. And for a plan that's been in the works for a year, it is surprisingly sketchy. The sources of this embryonic condition are various: an inexperienced client, philosophical differences among the planners, an untimely shakeup in Mr. Koolhaas' Office of Metropolitan Architecture." Dallas Morning News 09/09/03

Foster To Head Yerba Buena Kenneth Foster has been appointed director of San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center. "Foster, 52, comes to the Bay Area from Tucson, where for the past nine years he directed UA Presents, the University of Arizona's performing arts program. There his duties paralleled those he will take up at Yerba Buena: programming leadership, audience development, fund-raising, budget oversight and staff management." San Francisco Chronicle 09/08/03

Sunday, September 7, 2003

All About The Artists? What's Creative (Class) About That? Is Richard Florida's "Rise of The Creative Class" really about art? "It's not just that Florida relies on words like 'funky' and 'eclectic' to describe art scenes - words that tend to signal a passive enjoyment of the scene rather than genuine interest in art itself. Or that someone devoted to creative thinking uses empty phrases like 'thinking outside the box' and 'pushing the envelope' instead of proposing real innovations. It's true that Creative Class is dedicated more to a dissection of the economic situation rather than solutions for creating what Florida calls 'people climates' - that is, the kind of place that these creative-class types would like to live. But Florida tends to glide over the solutions (as well as some of the more outstanding problems) with vague recommendations such as 'invest broadly in arts and culture,' an idea he puts right up there with tax breaks for technology companies." The Stranger 09/04/03

The Disney Obsessives There is a group of people who have burrowed in to Disneyland and plan their lives around it. They "talk a lot about the Magic of Disneyland, that wonderful, childlike feeling of giving in to this world that Walt created, of letting the place make you happy. They want to hold on to that magic and feel it all the time, but it’s perhaps not as easy as when they actually were children. And so they become Talmudic. They go deep inside the history of Disneyland, study every inch of it." LAWeekly 09/04/03

Return Of The Girls "Girl culture" seems to be back as a force. "But what exactly is girl culture? On one hand, it's a shared set of values and behaviors among girls in their teens, 'tweens and early 20s. It's directly affected by consumerism, body image, mass media and the cosmetic, fashion and entertainment industries. Teen girls have tremendous pocketbook power, and companies are eager to tap into that exploding market. On the other hand, girl culture is also a resistance - rooted in 1960s and '70s feminism - to all those forces." Orange County Register 09/07/03

Canadian Arts - Weaning Off Tobacco Money Visible sponsorships of cultural events by tobacco companies (read: money for advertising) is over. "Whatever the individual solutions, the cultural community is largely resigned to the loss of tobacco money. In the past, some arts administrators did question the ethics of tobacco sponsorships; many others wondered why the federal government allowed itself to benefit from cigarette taxes but wouldn't let the arts take its share of the blood money. It's been a difficult debate in which anyone with a doctrinaire position, whether it was in favour of commercial free speech or rabidly anti-smoking, didn't seem to be addressing the complexity of the issue in an age when governments know smoking is deadly but also recognize they can't criminalize it." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 09/06/03

Baltimore's Theatre Gambit Baltimore is revitalizing an old 2,300-seat theatre, hoping to book some of the touring shows that bypass the city. The city's leaders are hoping that "the Hippodrome will do for Baltimore what Harborplace and Oriole Park did in the 1980s and '90s: catalyze economic development and attract thousands of people to the city, thus literally setting the stage for renewal of Baltimore's once bustling retail district. So far, the city's cultural gambit appears to be paying off." Baltimore Sun 09/07/03

Atlanta's Cash-Flow Backup Arts organizations often find themselves in cash-flow difficulty, only to find banks reluctant to loan them money. "Low-budget arts companies in metro Atlanta can now apply to borrow from a new pool of money supplied by the Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund. The fund, which makes annual grants to nonprofit groups in a 23-county area, has announced that it is making $200,000 of its $6.5 million endowment available for an Arts Loan Fund." Atlanta Journal-Constitution 09/04/03

Friday, September 5, 2003

Tobacco Company To Sponsor Arts Despite Ad Ban In Canada a new ban on tobacco advertising has arts groups worried that they'll lose some major sponsoships. But at least one of the big tobacco companies - Imperial Tobacco - "has decided to keep funding the arts, despite a new federal law that bans tobacco advertising." CTV 09/04/03

Singapore Refuses To Do Away With Arts Licenses In Singapore arts events have to be licensed by the government's Censorship Review Committee on an event-by-event basis. Arts groups proposed doing away with licensing altogether. But the CRC has rejected the pleas, instead suggesting "that theatre groups apply for licences every two years instead of before every event." The Straights-Times (Singapore) 09/05/03

Arts Center Or Convention Expansion? A long-planned arts center in Vancouver is in danger after the British Columbia provincial government said it might want to use the land set aside for the center to expand the city's convention center. CBC 09/04/03

Wednesday, September 3, 2003

Deadly Year For 'Burning Man' The 'Burning Man' Festival, held each year in the desert north of Reno, Nevada, is a celebration of free spirits as much as it is an art festival, but this year, spirit was trumped by tragedy as a woman attempting to ride a giant "art car" was crushed beneath it. Burning Man's founder insists that the accident will not cast a pall over future editions of the fest: "Some see photos of people attired in giant rat costumes doing wildly unconventional expressive things and assume this means we're in some way irresponsible. Nothing could be further from the truth. This isn't an irresponsible party; it's a model city. If there are lessons to be learned from this that will improve public safety, we will implement them." Wired 09/02/03

Guns Don't Kill People, Short Stories Do "The case of an Oklahoma teen who was charged with a felony for writing a violent short story about attacking his school has been dismissed by a judge who ruled that prosecutors failed to prove the teen actually intended to commit the act... Now, after tens of thousands of dollars spent fighting the charge, Brian Robertson is free, but the accusation that he broke the law will stay with him. Under Oklahoma law, if a case carries on for more than a year, a felony charge remains on the defendant's record, even if the case is dismissed. The felony gets expunged from the record only if the defendant is acquitted following a trial." Wired 09/03/03

Tuesday, September 2, 2003

London - The Olympic Factor If London wins an Olympic bid it will transform the city. "If the Olympics were to come to east London it would never be the same again. At the moment, it is a very difficult area to grasp and get any sense of. The scale of the land holdings and their industrial use mean it is difficult to penetrate. The Olympics could bring great structures, miles of waterways and new open spaces to the east. Seen from new railways and fast roads, they will give an amazing new image to east London. This kind of scale of development is what it needs to define its own topography." The Guardian (UK) 09/03/03

Monday, September 1, 2003

Pricing Tickets To The Highest Bidder Later this year, Ticketmaster plans to start auctioning off tickets to the highest bidders. "With no official price ceiling on such tickets, Ticketmaster will be able to compete with brokers and scalpers for the highest price a market will bear. 'The tickets are worth what they're worth. If somebody wants to charge $50 for a ticket, but it's actually worth $1,000 on eBay, the ticket's worth $1,000. I think more and more, our clients — the promoters, the clients in the buildings and the bands themselves — are saying to themselves, `Maybe that money should be coming to me instead of Bob the Broker'." The New York Times 09/01/03

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