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Friday, January 30, 2004

Plenty of Mouth, But Not Much Money A new poll of residents of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area found overwhelming support for the area's thriving cultural scene, with 85% saying that the arts improve the cities' quality of life, and 92% saying that the arts have significant value for children. But when pressed further, poll respondants revealed a distinct split between general expressions of support for the arts, and the type of specific support which translates into ticket sales and contributions. "Only a quarter of those who attended an arts event in 2001 made a financial contribution to an arts group that year. Less than a third of those surveyed rated government support for the arts as 'very important.'" St. Paul Pioneer Press 01/30/04

Gambling On A Funding Source In Madison, Wisconsin, local leaders are promoting a referendum which would allow limited casino gambling within the city limits as a method of generating new revenue to support the arts. Gambling initiatives are not uncommon in the Midwest, and with countless Native American casinos already in operation across the region, there is usually little backlash against such proposals, particularly in difficult economic times. But ArtsJournal's Andrew Taylor reports that, in Madison, many local arts groups are openly campaigning against the gambling initiative, believing that the casino's very existence will do more harm than good to their bottom lines. The Artful Manager (AJ Blogs) 01/29/04

Place des Arts Wins Big In Court Montreal's Place des Arts won a major court battle yesterday, when Canada's Supreme Court ruled that the arts center had not engaged in strikebreaking practices when it responded to a 1999 technicians' strike by telling its tenants that they would need to supply their own technicians in the future. At the time, Place des Arts was fined $5000 for the tactic, but the center won an injunction in 2001, and the legal fight progressed through the courts to the nation's highest judicial panel. The technicians' union was stunned by the ruling, but said that its members will continue to abide by a standing truce until a new agreement can be negotiated. CBC Montreal 01/30/04

  • Skunk Urine Is Not An Approved Negotiating Tactic Place des Arts has a long history of trouble with at least two labor unions, and the Supreme Court decision may not mean that the unions are out of options, according to labor experts. Still, the decision is unlikely to do anything to smooth the relationship between the venue and the unions, which has gotten decidedly ugly at times. As recently as 2000, members of the stagehands' union were sued by Place des Arts for dumping skunk urine on the premises, releasing rats in the lobby, and disrupting performances with heckling and noisemakers. Montreal Gazette 01/30/04

Melbourne Festival Takes A Hit The Australian state of Victoria has slashed its contribution to the Melbourne Festival by AUS$1 million. The festival receives a recurring grant of $2.5 million, but that has been supplemented in recent years with a "top-up" grant which the festival expected to amount to $4 million this year. Instead, the top-up grant will be $3 million. The cut was not unexpected, and the festival has been negotiating with the government for some time over budget issues. The Age (Melbourne) 01/28/04

Thursday, January 29, 2004

It'll Cost $30,000 Less Than The Ivy League It is an issue so divisive that British Prime Minister Tony Blair came dangerously close to losing his government over it this week: how to properly fund the UK's impoverished universities, while maintaining a reasonable level of access for students of varying economic backgrounds. "Past governments have preferred to posture, expanding the universities while allowing them to decline." But Blair proposed, and then eased through Parliament, a controversial plan calling for major tuition hikes, which are expected to generate £1 billion of new revenue for the system by 2009. The Economist 01/29/04

The Economy, The War, and... um... Maybe The Arts? Please? The arts don't often register even a blip on the national political radar screen these days, but that didn't stop the American Arts Alliance from asking presidential candidates to sign a "Pledge for the Arts," and to detail what their hypothetical administrations would do to promote and support America's cultural scene. John Kerry was the first to sign, and he was followed this week by Wesley Clark, Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich, and Joseph Lieberman. President Bush did not respond to the Alliance's request, although one could assume that he intends for his new proposal to boost funding for the National Endowment for the Arts to speak for itself. Backstage 01/29/04

Bush Proposes NEA Boost "President Bush will seek a big increase in the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts, the largest single source of support for the arts in the United States, administration officials said on Wednesday. The proposal is part of a turnaround for the agency, which was once fighting for its life, attacked by some Republicans as a threat to the nation's moral standards." The president's proposal is for a hike of $15 million to $20 million in the fiscal year beginning in October 2004. The New York Times 01/29/04

Looking For Respect (And Some Cash, Please) In Louisville It hasn't been a good year for the arts in Louisville, what with the local orchestra making cuts, and countless other arts groups struggling mightily in the new, and frequently donation-less, economy. The city already has a Fund For The Arts, but larger groups in the area complain that they don't get their fair share of the fund's allocated dollars. So what can be done? A conference of arts leaders and supporters came up with a number of ideas to boost the city's cultural scene, and the first order of business seems to be convincing more Louisvillians that they have an arts scene worth supporting. Louisville Courier-Journal 01/29/04

Training Your CEO It has long been the dirty little secret of the arts world that the majority of the people running the show don't actually have any particular training in how the arts world works, or how running an orchestra differs from running, say, a textile mill. It's not that most of these leaders are incompetent people, merely that they are almost forced to learn their job through trial and error. A new program in the UK is aiming to make better administrators out of the folks who run the country's arts groups, and possibly to attract better leaders to the industry. The Guardian (UK) 01/29/04

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

How America Is Missing The Point As new technology continues to make the sharing of information ever simpler and ever faster, many countries around the world are actively seeking out the best ways to make use of the new tools, and the newly available information. But not in the U.S.: in fact, America is doing everything it can to stem the flow of information, putting in place dozens of new regulations designed to protect "intellectual property." It's a typically American idea to think that we can engage the world on our terms alone, bullying and regulating it into submission, says Thomas Goetz, and one that's been tried before. The trouble is, it doesn't work. Wired 01/28/04

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

The Crumbling Wall Of China Thanks to centuries of erosion, decades of tourism, and countless incidents of vandalism, the Great Wall of China is barely a third of its original impressive self. "It is the clearest indication yet that booming China is failing to use its new wealth to conserve what ought to be a source of national pride. Renovations that have been carried out have ended with clumsy exploitation, such as at Badaling, where tourists can ride toboggans and cable cars, eat at a KFC outlet and have their picture taken with camels and life-size cutouts of Mao Zedong." The Badaling section of the wall alone attracts more than 10 million visitors per year. The Guardian (UK) 01/27/04

Manhattan, You Can Stop That Snickering Anytime Now "In an effort to revitalize Staten Island and make it a cultural destination for all New Yorkers, the city has invested $8 million to develop and expand Staten Island's Snug Harbor Cultural Center (SHCC), an 83-acre complex that mixes art, music, and theatre... The infusion of cash -- half of the money has already been spent to restore the venerable, 750-seat Music Hall -- marks a major shift in the center's mission, vision, and purpose." Backstage 01/27/04

AGO's Big Week To Be Marred By Protest "Visitors to this week's unveiling of Frank Gehry's much-anticipated redesign of Toronto's Art Gallery of Ontario will find themselves on the receiving end of a protest against the planned $190-million renovation and expansion." The same community activists who railed against the AGO's last expansion, in the early 1990s, are claiming that the AGO's process has ignored community concerns, and will "likely will be in violation of a 1989 agreement and bylaw brokered by the Ontario Municipal Board that... commits the AGO to holding its expansion at what transpired in 1993." Not surprisingly, the AGO disagrees with that interpretation. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 01/27/04

Monday, January 26, 2004

Rewarding Midwest Diversity "The Joyce Foundation, a Chicago-based philanthropy with nearly $750 million in assets, on Monday night [awarded] grants of $50,000 each to four Midwest cultural groups for the commissioning of works by artists of color." Recipients of this year's awards are Chicago's Goodman Theatre, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. The awards are slated to continue for at least two years, at which time the foundation will reevaluate the program. Chicago Tribune 01/26/04

Now That's a Mayor Who Supports The Arts The under-construction Dallas Center for the Performing Arts gets a very public boost this week, with a donation of $1 million from the family of late Dallas mayor Annette Strauss. "Supporters of the $275 million performing arts center hope to raise $257 million in private funds for its design and completion, with the rest coming from city bond money. The center's opening is targeted for 2009. The Strauss family contribution brings the amount of private donations to $140 million." Dallas Morning News 01/26/04

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Mimic 'Em Taking on Ticketmaster is not generally considered a sound business plan. The ticket-selling behemoth seems to be everywhere, and artists, venues, and rival companies which have tried to break free have typically been stymied or flattened. "But even with annual revenues around $700 million US, Ticketmaster only controls less than seven per cent of the global ticketing industry, a sector that is growing at 7.5 per cent a year," and two Calgary-based entrepreneurs are making a real stab at grabbing a share of the remaining 93%. "Since its September 2000 launch RepeatSeat has grown quickly. Last year it handled $7 million in transactions, up from $5,000 the year before." Calgary Herald 01/26/04

Bono & The F-Word: The Next Cultural Battleground Ever since the FCC ruled that the pop singer Bono hadn't violated any obscenity laws by uttering the word "fucking" on a live awards telecast, with the rationale being that he used the word as an adjective, conservative watchdog groups have been up in arms. Congress is considering a bill which would ban such language outright from the public airwaves, and the Supreme Court may even have to weigh in eventually. Such histrionics often miss the point, says Brian Lambert, and the fact is that the Supreme Court is already on record concerning what constitutes obscenity. Not that such niceties as facts have ever stopped culture warriors on either side of the political divide... St. Paul Pioneer Press 01/25/04

Nobody Knows Art Like Customs Inspectors "The definition of art is not something that anyone would lightly undertake. Nor would it normally be left to a US customs official to decide. But that is exactly what happened in October 1926," when an extraordinary legal battle erupted over a Constantin Brancusi statue being brought into the U.S. "The point was that ordinary merchandise was subject to duty at 40 per cent, while art was not. And the customs official on duty at the time happened to be an amateur sculptor – just the sort of person to have bumptiously confident views about matters aesthetic. He took one look at the Brancusis, concluded that they weren't art, and levied $4,000 duty." The Telegraph (UK) 01/24/04

Always Get Written Permission For Your Corpse Art Dr Gunther von Hagens is not a popular man in the art world to begin with, having made his name by embalming human corpses with plastic, skinning them, and then displaying them with organs exposed. But Svetlana Krechetova is no ordinary art critic: according to a lawsuit she has filed against Hagens, the good doctor used her father's body without permission, after corrupt mortuary staff told her that the body had been cremated. Hagens is also facing charges that he recently accepted the bodies of executed Chinese dissidents. The Observer (UK) 01/25/04

The Dangers Of Copyright Protection The current push by musicians, writers, and publishers for ever-increasing levels of copyright protection seems to have taken on a life of its own, and it may just be threatening everything we take for granted about the freedom of information. "In less than a decade, the much-ballyhooed liberating potential of the Internet seems to have given way to something of an intellectual land grab, presided over by legislators and lawyers for the media industries." New York Times Magazine 01/25/04

Castro & The Librarians "A bitter, months-long dispute within the American Library Association - the largest nation-based organization of librarians in the world - continues as to whether to demand that Fidel Castro release 10 imprisoned independent librarians found guilty of making available to Cubans copies of George Orwell's 1984 and the United Nations' Declaration of Human Rights." The ALA had the chance, at its recent convention, to call for the release of their Cuban colleagues, but a motion to this effect was overwhelmingly defeated in favor of a tepid statement of "deep concern" over the imprisonments. Chicago Sun-Times 01/25/04

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Boston's Controversial Arts Commissioner Quits "Boston cultural affairs commissioner Esther Kaplan has abruptly resigned after five years as Mayor Thomas M. Menino's liaison to the city's arts and cultural community. Neither Kaplan nor Menino would discuss what led to the resignation... News of Kaplan's departure surprised many in Boston's tight-knit cultural community, but only a handful expressed disappointment... Over the years, the heads of midsize and large arts groups privately complained that Kaplan functioned more as an advocate than a leader, focusing her energy on grass-roots and neighborhood efforts, sometimes at the expense of those with far bigger audiences." Boston Globe 01/24/04

Friday, January 23, 2004

Reassuring The Arts Crowd. Or Not. Hélène Chalifour Scherrer fears that she may have gotten off on the wrong foot with Canada's arts community, and she wants to make amends. The newly appointed Heritage Minister, who (apparently unintentionally) terrified arts leaders when she told a reporter that sports was the part of Canadian culture that interested her the most, is taking great pains to point out that she also loves opera and theater. She also wants everyone to know that her lack of experience in the arts won't affect her ability to run the ministry: "Culture is a tool. And you need a vision to be the guardian of the Canadian identity. You don't necessarily have to know what books were published last week." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 01/23/04

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Small Town, Big Plans Butler, Pennsylvania is a former farm town about 40 miles north of Pittsburgh, which in recent years has grown to be a distant suburb of the Steel City, with the result that Butler's residents are now desirous of something more of a civic identity than grain elevators can provide. "In response, the local arts council has designed a five-year plan to develop Butler Cultural Village, a one-block area in downtown Butler" which will bring together the town theater, orchestra, and a new museum in one complex. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 01/22/04

No Boost For Florida Arts Florida arts advocates hoping to rebound from deep cuts in state funding last year got no help from Governor Jeb Bush's 2004 budget proposals. "Buried in general revenue appropriations is $8.5 million recommended for arts grants. That's below Bush's $12 million recommendation last year, although slightly above the $6 million actually approved by the 2003 Florida Legislature." South Florida Sun-Sentinel 01/22/04

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Prairie Art Central Sedan, Kansas is a prairie town that not long ago looked like it was dying. But the town has reinvented itself as an art colony. "As word spreads, artists have begun arriving. Some are refugees from what they say are overcommercialized art scenes in places like Santa Fe, N.M. One, Stan Herd, a pioneer of environmental art, has built a monumental stone work called "Prairiehenge" on a hilltop outside town." The New York Times 01/22/04

Scottish Poll Finds Little Public Funding Support For Arts A poll conducted by the Glasgow Herald finds that there is little public support for public funding for opera, classical music and ballet. "Out of five art forms, opera and ballet polled lowest, with only 2% of respondents wanting to see money spent on them above the others. More than 35% of those questioned believed theatre should have the most funding, with 31% voting for traditional Scottish music. The poll echoes recent research by the Scottish Arts Council showing a large appetite for drama in Scotland. Around 38% of adults polled by the SAC attended a theatrical event at some point during the previous year, 15% a classical music event, 13% an opera or operetta, 10% a ballet and 20% a traditional music event." Glasgow Herald 01/21/04

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Marketing Arts Like Sports Marketing of the arts is getting more aggressive. And one of the models arts organizations are looking to is...professional sports. "People have always assumed that the sports audience and the arts audience are two entirely different entities. But our surveys have shown that people who go to professional sports events are the most likely to attend professional arts events. It's about having a robust social life, and as more people realize that there is a crossover of these two audiences, we'll see this type of marketing increase." The New York Times 01/20/04

Charities Report Income, Expenses Up A survey of American charitable institutions reports that while many organizations raised more money in 2003, their expenses were also higher. "While 64 percent of the 236 organizations across the country that responded reported more income, 66 percent said they had higher costs for health and liability insurance as well as for wages and salaries and other expenses. More than half of the respondents reported being in "severe" or "very severe" financial stress." The New York Times 01/20/04

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Israeli Ambassador Vandalizes Swedish Art Israel's ambassador to Sweden vandalized an art work at Stockholm's Museum of National Antiquities Friday. Over the weekend, the Israeli cabinet supported its ambassador. The ambassador was "thrown out of for vandalising an art work showing the photo of the suicide bomber who killed 21 Israelis at a restaurant in northern Israel in October. Israel has demanded that Sweden dismantle the installation, but its request has been refused." Yahoo! (AFP) 01/18/04

For A Pete Rose Solution - Try Looking At Museums Baseball is trying to decide if Pete Rose Ought to be in the Hall of Fame. For guidnace, baseball ought to look to the museum world. "Museums make no moral judgment about their artists. Just imagine the personal lives of the artists who are represented at museums. We know Jackson Pollock was a drunk. We know Picasso had no regard for women artists, and he said women were either "goddesses or doormats." Heck, if you believe Patricia Cornwell's recent book, museum-worthy artist Walter Sickert was Jack the Ripper. But museums know they shouldn't be presenting the artists as good people, only their work as beautiful or important." Townonline (Massachusetts) 01/18/04

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Presidential Candidates And The Arts The American Arts Alliance is asking presidential candidates to state their positions on the arts. "We have an agenda for the American Arts Alliance: federal funding for the arts, tackling issues around artists from foreign countries wishing to perform here, and tracking all legislation that affects arts groups, such as nonprofit accountability reform. For 2004, we feel it's important to engage candidates in the presidential race -- in all parties -- a little bit more than they have, say, in the past on the subject of the arts. So we sent each of their campaigns a letter asking them to make a pledge -- a commitment to encourage the creative development and appreciation for the arts." Backstage 01/15/04

Austin Arts Outdraw Sports A new national study reports that "despite a flagging economy and a stubborn reputation for elitism, Austin Texas's performing arts outdraw sports events and live music, while their audiences are more diverse than is commonly assumed. Those are among the findings of a national study on attendance and attitudes toward theater, dance, symphony, opera and related arts in five cities." Austin Statesman 01/15/04

Talking The Talk "Newly appointed [Canadian] Heritage Minister Hélène Chalifour Scherrer made her first official appearance in the cultural community Tuesday, sweeping into Toronto on short notice to meet with leaders of major arts organizations." Arts officials were impressed with Scherrer's seeming willingness to work closely with them to preserve Canada's cultural diversity at a time when the government has said that there will be no new money available for the arts. Scherrer's appointment had originally been met with uncertainty from arts organizations, as her background is primarily in sports, but her Toronto sweep is likely to enhance her popularity, particularly when compared with that of her predecessor, who was frequently criticized for a lack of direct engagement. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 01/15/04

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Cultural Workforce In Canada Peaked In 2001 The number of workers employed in cultural jobs in Canada peaked in 2001, says Statistics Canada. "The agency says there were 578,000 people employed in the cultural sector in 2001. That number dipped the next year to just over 577,000, which represents 3.7 per cent of the country's total labour force." CBC 01/13/04

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Missouri Raids Trust Fund To Pay For Arts "Missouri appropriated about $3.9 million last fiscal year for arts agencies in the state. This year, the general revenue appropriation was zero. The government dipped into a cultural trust fund to pick up much of the slack. Still, many arts organizations are cutting back and wondering what the future holds." Jefferson City News Tribune (Missouri) 01/13/04

Monday, January 12, 2004

Tennessee - Holding Steady On The Arts During the "fat" years, Tennessee's arts funding didn't grow much. But then when the eceonomy slowed, arts funding didn't get cut back much, either. Heck - Tennessee spends more on the arts than California now. Could Memphis be the new San Francisco of the South? Memphis Commercial Appeal 01/10/04

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Iraq's Street Of Ideas "As Iraq considers its future after Saddam Hussein, Mutanabi Street in Baghdad is resuming its role as one of the capital's main marketplaces of ideas. If the daily violence in much of Baghdad, Fallujah, Tikrit and other areas illustrates ways in which the U.S. occupation is failing to improve Iraqis' lives, Mutanabi Street's Friday morning book market is an exhibit of the political and intellectual revival under American rule." Newsday 01/07/04

Minority Report - Theatre, Film More Viable For UK's Minority Writers Are drama and film more inclusive and more liberating art forms for the non-western writer than straight-up literature? Helon Habila and Courttia Newland chew over the idea. The Guardian (UK) 01/08/04

Thursday, January 8, 2004

Performing Arts For Sale! The American Association of Performing Arts Presenters holds its annual meeting in New York. "The conference functions as something of a freewheeling art marketplace where those who program (buyers) and those who perform (sellers) can get to know one another's work. The principal conduit for all that creative networking is more than 1,000 performances around the city, continuing through Tuesday, when the association's members scurry back to their artistic homes to program the 2004-5 season and beyond." The New York Times 01/09/04

$9 Million To Protect Sydney Opera House About $9 million in new security measures are being installed at the Sydney Opera House, to protect against terrorism. "NSW premier Bob Carr rejected suggestions the Opera House was the country's prime terrorism target but added: 'We live in an era where anything can be considered a target.' About four million visitors entered the Opera House every year, making it difficult to protect." Adelaide Advertiser 01/09/04

Brilliance From Autism "Historical figures including Socrates, Charles Darwin, and Andy Warhol probably had a form of autism, says a leading specialist. Professor Michael Fitzgerald, of Dublin's Trinity College believes they showed signs of Asperger's syndrome. BBC 01/08/04

The War On Terrorism (and Foreign Artists?) New U.S. customs rules put in place by the Bush administration have the potential to severely limit the ability of foreign-born artists to tour North America, and Canadian organizations are worried that their cultural trade will be directly affected by the actions of the American government. Artists who were born outside of certain pre-approved countries "can expect to be detained [at the U.S. border] under the new U.S. Homeland Security regulations for digital fingerprinting, photographing and a short interview, even if their work visas have been pre-approved by U.S. authorities." Many performers are unwilling to risk such humiliating treatment, and are cancelling planned trips to North America. Toronto Star 01/08/04

Government Arts Funding On The Rise (In Canada) Even as America's state governments slash their arts funding to the bone or beyond, Canada is moving in the opposite direction. "Government spending for the arts and culture has continued to rise, with Ottawa coughing up more than $3-billion for the first time during the fiscal year 2001 to 2002... all three levels of government contributed that year to the fastest rate of increase in cultural spending in a decade, with Ottawa, the provinces and cities together providing $6.8-billion in 2001-2002." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 01/08/04

Wednesday, January 7, 2004

US State Arts Funding Cuts Not As Bad As Feared Florida, California and Michigan are among the states that drastically cut public arts funding in the past year. But it could have been worse nationally. "Many other state arts agencies were expected to suffer comparable reductions this year, but did not. Sixteen states kept their cuts to less than 10 percent, and in 18 other states the arts budget actually increased or stayed the same." The New York Times 01/08/04

US Visa Tangles Make Booking Foreign Artists Increasingly Impractical It's getting impractical to book Foreign artists to perform in the United States. "According to many involved, the new security checks are downright Orwellian - delays last up to six months, applicants must appeal to a congressman to get an update during the process and there are no avenues of appeal. Moreover, administrators are overwhelmed by some 70,000 to 200,000 applications per year, with most of the backlog occurring at the FBI. The sweeping reorganisation of government branches under the Department of Homeland Security has also meant bureaucratic growing pains." Financial Times 01/07/04

The Paradox Of Glamour Philanthropy As arts groups across North America struggle to find the funds to stay afloat, Kate Taylor notes that there is a basic fundraising problem which is largely to blame: "It is easier to get people to donate millions to build museums, concert halls and theatres than the thousands needed to keep programming in their galleries and on their stages... There is, however, some more cheerful middle ground worth examining, in the form of arts stabilization funds, schemes that can attract donors to activity rather than buildings by giving arts groups a different kind of capital." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 01/07/04

Tuesday, January 6, 2004

San Francisco's New Arts Mayor? San Francisco has a new mayor, and the city's cultural community is optimistic. "As Gavin Newsom takes center stage in City Hall with his swearing in Thursday, San Francisco's panoramic arts world awaits the new perspectives and conceptual shifts that may come with a new mayoral administration. Fingers are crossed - with some eyes skeptically rolling at the idea - that a kind of arts renaissance could be in the works for San Francisco in 2004 and beyond." San Francisco Chronicle 01/06/04

Monday, January 5, 2004

Non-Profit Blues The stock market might be up and the economy shaking off the doldrums, but America's non-profits won't be seeing much relief any time soon. "The non-profit sector tends to lag the rest of the economy; it is slower to show the distress of a recession or the benefits of a recovery. Analysts say the sector could continue to be weighed down for years, largely by fiscal woes of state governments, including Illinois', and the multiyear budgeting used by many foundations." Chicago Tribune 01/05/04

Sunday, January 4, 2004

St. Louis: Dry Spell For The Arts In St. Louis, "many arts groups barely have survived the recent lean years. Only five years ago, a 100-page report commissioned by the civic group St. Louis 2004 found that St. Louis boasted a healthy and relatively well-funded arts scene. But that was when arts organizations were reaping the benefits of a flush economy. Since then, foundations have seen their portfolios shrink, and corporations that once generously contributed have moved or have been bought, and the government has collected fewer taxes to share." St. Louis Post-Dispatch 01/04/04

City In Crisis - Can Culture Save Rio? "At this moment in history, there are two urgent questions, vividly focused in Rio: can this city, the jewel in Brazil's battered crown, halt the seemingly inexorable process of social disintegration as factions wage war on factions? Drug gangs versus drug gangs; drug gangs versus police; police versus apparently everyone (shocking but true, read on). And can culture, that last life raft of the idealistic, come to the aid of a community's identity, perhaps ensure its survival?" Financial Times 01/02/04

The New Arts Landscape Tighter funding, changed attitudes - it's tough to run an arts organization these days. Chicago-area arts administrators reflect on the new cultural climate: "There's a strong current of anti-intellectualism around these days, which becomes antielitism, and arts groups tend to be tarred with that charge unfairly. There should be some recognition of the arts as a socializing force. But at least the historical lack of government support for the arts in America means that we have not become dependent on it." Chicago Tribune 01/04/04

Next Wave Back On Track The Brooklyn Academy's Next Wave Festival has "served to celebrate innovative work begun in Europe or in Manhattan lofts and museum spaces." But its 20th anniversary festival last year was something of a disappointment for an enterprise that traditionally sought out the new and risky. This year's installment, however, re-establishes Next Wave's aesthetic direction, writes John Rockwell. And despite some financial hardships, the Brooklyn Academy takes the lead once again. The New York Times 12/31/03

Friday, January 2, 2004

Critics Are Not Cheerleaders "If patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels, boosterism is the first refuge of the second-rate." So says Cleveland arts critic John Kappes, who is getting more than a little sick of his city's provincial fear of responsible critical writing. Most of the letters he gets sing the same tune: "There isn't enough criticism. No, we mean there's too much criticism. And besides, we're sure they'd like it in New York." Real cities with a truly distinctive cultural scene do not give a flip what New York likes, says Kappes, unless the city is New York, and furthermore, they understand that critics are playing a role in the artistic process, and that their role should not require the use of pom-poms and human pyramids. The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 01/02/04

Promises, Promises "Britons want to be more cultured and attend more arts events next year, a survey suggests. About 90% of the 1,000 respondents said they would aim to see more theatre, opera and exhibitions in 2004. Only one in 10 went to the ballet or opera in 2003, despite research suggesting nearly 70% of UK citizens think they are 'cultured'." The high cost of tickets and the lack of enough spare time seem to be the major obstacles keeping more Britons from experiencing their local arts scene. BBC 12/30/03

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