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Monday, August 30, 2004

Clear Channel Takes On The Arts Media giant Clear Channel is getting into the arts in a big way. "Starting next year, Clear Channel Communications Inc. plans to send a large wooden version of the Trojan horse on a tour of U.S. museums as a frontispiece to an exhibition on ancient Greece and Troy. Clear Channel's empire-building in the arts extends further — to touring Broadway musicals, where its omnipresence as a producer and presenter can mean trouble for competitors and cause wariness even among its partners. Cultural gatekeepers, including art critics and museum directors, have begun sounding a warning: Beware of a conglomerate bearing art." Los Angeles Times 08/24/04

Friday, August 27, 2004

Brazil Proposes Culture As Basic Human Right Brazil's Minister of Culture has challenged the 35 member countries of the Organization of American States (OAS) to include culture on the list of basic policies to promote economic development and foster social inclusion. "Government policies for culture can no longer be secondary, fragile, peripheral. They represent the social and infrastructure policies of the 21st century." Brazzil.com 08/27/04

Artists Mobilizing Against Bush As the Republican convention opens in New York, "political fervor is being translated into art in mediums that range from painting and sculpture to Web art to political ephemera. At the moment, President Bush and the G. O. P. are the chief art-world targets: no one seems to have a critical word to say about the failings of the Democrats." The New York Times 08/27/04

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Debating The Meaning Of Scottish Culture Is Scotland's culture in crisis? Certainly following the fortunes (and, more often, misfortunes) of the country's arts institutions of late gives the impression of a culture in difficulty. But is it really? Or is something more fundamental going on? The Scotsman 08/27/04

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Where Is San Jose's Medici? No region has ever attracted as much capital or created as much wealth as Silicon Valley in the 1990s. But unlike great historical centers of money and creativity, San Jose has not developed its culture. "If San Jose is to realize its destiny as one of America's major cities, cultural development needs to be taken as seriously as economic development. The potential of local organizations is enormous. What they lack is the sustained private investment and unabashed ambition for greatness such funding allows." San Jose Mercury News 08/22/04

Monday, August 23, 2004

Senior Discount? But Do You Really Need It? Aiming to bring more lower-income senior citizens through its doors, London's South Bank Centre has begun a pilot program that gives the over-60s discount only to those seniors who can prove they need it. Britain's largest pensioners' group, unsurprisingly, is not amused. The Guardian (UK) 08/24/04

Looking At What's Original (And How You Decide) This summer the Globe Theatre in London produced Shakespeare using the original olde English pronunciations. And at the Proms, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment performed Wagner in period-instrument configuration. "Both were revelatory. Both pointed toward new ideas for staging Shakespeare and Wagner, and both perhaps suggested new ideas about the very nature of spoken and sung drama today." The New York Times 08/23/04

Ship Of Media Art An odd mix of participants – "ambient DJs, academics, experimental arts promoters, nutty conceptual artists, hard-bitten journalists and certifiable, electronic nerds" - recently boarded a ship to hash out issues in electronic arts. "Like some variant on the archetypal 'ship of fools', the International Symposium for Electronic Arts 2004 decided to transport itself by boat from Helsinki (Finland) to Tallinn (Estonia), creating a hothouse for performers, discussions and socialising." The Telegraph (UK) 08/22/04

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Denver's Darwinian Proposition With the addition of a new Clyfford Still Museum project, Denver's list of cultural projects has grown large, with a half-dozen major fund-raising efforts threatening to bump into one another. The city's mayor is unconcerned. In the city "there is an unending level of needs. Does that mean you turn away a new opportunity? No. It comes down to some form of Darwinian selection. What a community truly cherishes and values, it will support." Rocky Mountain News 08/22/04

Defending History (But What About The Historians?) A year-and-a-half after Keith Windschuttle published his book The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, the Australian academic world is "still anguishing over its impact. It is terrified of what he will do next. Windschuttle struck at the heart of the accepted view of Australian colonial history in the past 30 years - that the settler society had engaged in a pattern of conquest, dispossession and killing of the indigenous inhabitants. The facts, he said, did not stack up." The Australian 08/22/04

Friday, August 20, 2004

US Arts Funding Still Wobbly It's been three years of cuts in arts funding at the state and local level in America. So are things about to get better? A look around the country doesn't give much reason for optimism. Back Stage 08/20/04

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Artists Against Bush There is an awful lot of anti-Bush art making the rounds these days. "You don't need a conspiracy theory or an imminent Republican convention to explain why there is so much Bush-bashing entertainment today: Mr. Bush is in power. The opposition is generally more motivated, but perhaps not as galvanized as it seems to be this year." The New York Times 08/20/04

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

A Kilkenny To Rival Edinburgh? Edinburgh, Shmedinburgh... There's a serious new festival rival to the Scottish behemoth. It's Kilkenny, where "what used to be a local arts week has transformed into an international festival that is becoming a viable alternative to its bigger, brasher Scottish counterpart. Last year, Kilkenny acquired a dynamic new director in the shape of Claudia Woolgar, who has tilted the festival towards eastern Europe." The Guardian (UK) 08/18/04

Ireland's No Atlantis The Irish National Museum dismisses claims in a new book that Ireland is the mythic city of Atlantis. An archaeologist has "linked Newgrange passage tomb and the Hill of Tara with ancient remnants of the mythical Atlantis- first described by Greek thinker Plato. But National Museum director Dr Patrick Wallace said today that there was no archaeological basis to associate Ireland with the utopian land." Irish Examiner 08/18/04

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

And On The Left We Have... Culture Who best to represent your city to visitors? How about taxi drivers? The city of Liverpool thinks so. It's looking for drivers who "will be expected to speak about Liverpool's theatres, galleries, concert halls and the city's artistic heritage: 'There's the Playhouse, where the young Beryl Bainbridge trod the boards and Blood Brothers was first done'." The Guardian (UK) 08/18/04

Culture Disobedience (Will Anyone Be Swayed?) "Artists are mobilizing in historic numbers for the Republican National Convention, volunteering for duty in the Imagine Festival of Arts, Issues, and Ideas, the Unconvention, and other specially organized programs that offer opportunities to sing, act, dance, joke, and otherwise comment on the current state of the disunion. Progressive culture vultures may thrill at the gargantuan menu of politicized performances, screenings, exhibits, stand-up marathons, and concerts planned around the four-day coronation of George W. But if Michael Moore's $100 million-plus blockbuster can't breach the country's red-state/blue-state mental divide, what can we reasonably expect from an army of fringe acts sprinkled with mega-star cameos?" Village Voice 08/17/04

Balancing Books In The Desert For a trio of Arizona arts groups, the news is good: "The Phoenix Symphony, Arizona Opera and Ballet Arizona all announced last week that they closed fiscal 2003-04 with surpluses." Arizona Republic 08/15/04

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Turning Around The Bolshoi "The years following the collapse of the Soviet Union were not kind to the estimable Moscow theatre, particularly its opera wing. Short of funds and lacking the kind of dynamic leadership Valery Gergiev brought to the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, the Bolshoi often seemed to be going through the motions." But in the past few years the Bolshoi has undergone a dramatic transformation... Financial Times 08/12/04

Be This - New Role-Play Park A new theme park opens in Florida. The park enlists visitors in role-playing - players assume the identities of firefighters or cops or... and play out a scenario. "The $40 million entertainment complex is billed as the first indoor role-playing theme park in the United States for kids and the beginning of a national rollout for the concept. It's modeled after a similar park in Mexico." Miami Herald 08/12/04

Edinburgh - Too Big To Be Good? The Edinburgh Festival is huge. Enormous. Gigantic. So it's a big success right? Maybe not, writes David Benedict. "We're talking art, not merchandise, so why are we so hung up on size? Shouldn't we be vaunting quality over quantity? Not at Edinburgh. Less is no longer more. This is the festival most easily mistaken for a marathon, and every year some schmuck attempts to beat the record for the number of events crammed into 24 hours." New Statesman 08/12/04

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

New Funding For NY Arts? The New York State Legislature is considering setting up a new funding source for the arts. "The state Assembly has approved a bill establishing an arts fund that would receive money when individuals mark a personal income tax return check-off. The funds would go to the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), which funds arts programs statewide." Backstage 08/11/04

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Schwarzenegger Terminates Arts Funding Increase California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed an increase in his state's arts budget. "Last year, state funding of the California Arts Council, a state agency that gives grants to local groups, fell from $17.5 million to $1 million. Last week, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger used his line item veto power to take out what would have been a $1 million increase in arts funding by the Legislature, leaving the allocation at just over $1 million. The cuts have made the California Arts Council last in the United States in per capita funding." Sacramento Bee 08/10/04

Can The President Be Copyrighted? The extent to which copyright law plays a role in the increasingly divisive debate over politics and the media which reports on politics is exemplified by a new documentary focusing on the Iraq invasion. Filmmaker Robert Greenwald wanted to use a clip of President Bush ham-handedly defending the invasion on NBC's Meet the Press, but his request was denied by NBC, which owns the content that goes out over its affiliate stations. But if networks can truly withhold such content from public use, the public persona of a president who chooses to hold very few public press conferences, and who speaks mainly in controlled (and copyrighted) settings is in serious danger of manipulation by the handful of companies that control Big Media. Wired 08/04

Monday, August 9, 2004

Cleveland Seeks Funds For An Arts Festival The city of Cleveland does not have a large, annual, tourist-attracting arts festival. It would like to have one. And plans are well underway for the launch of the "Festival of Arts and Technology". And all it will take to start it up is $1 million from the Cuyahoga County general fund. But that's not chump change in a metro area of Cleveland's size, and the county authorities are taking a close look at the plans before signing on. The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 08/09/04

Cirque du Soleil Scouting Olympians "The Cirque du Soleil is reassuring coaches and athletes that it will not be poaching Olympians in the prime of their career, as acrobatic talent scouts head to Athens next week to scope out the scene. But despite Cirque's best efforts, some coaches still resent its presence... Cirque recruiters routinely attend gymnastic championships, as well as dance and theatre festivals. Cirque has been sending scouts to the Olympic Games since 1996. Coaches are also scouted, and he knows of three top Canadian coaches who are working for Cirque." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 08/09/04

Marketing The Hip-Hop Culture "Many former and current hip-hop producers and performers... have turned their attention away from the Top 40 and toward Madison Avenue. While hip-hop performers have been running marketing divisions as part of their business, [hip-hop capitalists] are building successful full-service agencies with a roster of clients that they run apart from their other businesses." The New York Times 08/09/04

Sunday, August 8, 2004

Schwarzenegger Snubs The Arts, Again The state of California, which houses more than 10% of the population of the U.S., has a State Arts Council with a budget of only $1 million, the lowest per capita level of arts funding (by far) in the nation. And last week, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger used his line-item veto to remove an additional million dollars of arts funding approved by the state legislature. The cuts have left California arts leaders in despair, with one civic leader saying that the disappointment "was not about that million dollars, it was about what it represented." Sacramento Bee 08/08/04

  • Feed An Artist: Travel California California's State Arts Council may be destitute at the moment, but not everyone in the Golden State has forgotten about the arts. An unexpected windfall is on the horizon, in the form of contributions from the sales of a fast-selling California travel book created especially to generate revenue for the Arts Council. San Francisco Chronicle 08/08/04

Rockers For... Well, Against Bush, Anyway "Provided the planet survives long enough for us to observe these muddled times from a safe distance, music historians might someday credit George W. Bush's presidency with giving rock 'n' roll activism its biggest boost since the Vietnam War... it was big news last week when heartland hero Bruce Springsteen — one of those performers who's always come across as political without being overtly so — stepped into the coming U.S. election fray by announcing he would join such disparate types as R.E.M., John Fogerty, Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews, Death Cab for Cutie, Bonnie Raitt, Jurassic 5 and Babyface in a series of anti-Bush concerts to be held in American 'swing states' this coming October." Toronto Star 08/08/04

Exporting Art, On The Government's Dime Washington choreographer Dana Tai Soon Burgess has spent his summer in Peru, touring with his own company and working with the country's own national troupe. "What made Burgess's Peru trip possible was the State Department's American Cultural Specialists program. The program, which sent 66 artists abroad last year, promotes cross-cultural exchange through the arts... [The] program is one contemporary example of the federally sponsored international tour, a practice that was at its height during the Cold War period and has always functioned with a combination of public and private funding." Washington Post 08/08/04

Thursday, August 5, 2004

A Gesture Worth All The Marbles? (Probably Not.) "It's not quite the Parthenon marbles, but Oxford University is sending back to Greece a small cultural treasure with roots almost as ancient, in honour of the Olympic games. At the closing Olympic ceremony in Athens on August 29, a British former Olympic fencer, Dame Mary Glen-Haig, will recite lines in a poetic form first heard there 2,500 years ago... The treasure is a Pindaric ode - a strict verse form which is regarded as one of the most perfect and most imitated in poetry." The Guardian (UK) 08/06/04

Newspaper Pulls Nude Art Ad The Baltimore Sun recently refused to run an ad for a local art gallery which featured a "stamp-sized, black-and-white reproduction of a nude," citing the conservative bent of the paper's readership. The owner of the gallery is puzzled: after all, the Sun regularly runs ads for strip clubs and massage parlors. Furthermore, "on its news pages, The Sun has repeatedly published artistic images of nudes, including paintings and sculptures by Henri Matisse, Michelangelo's David, and renderings of Honore Balzac by Auguste Rodin." Baltimore Sun 08/04/04

Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Is NY's Mayor Shortchanging The Arts? Whe New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced plans this summer to reinvigorate the city's school arts curriculum, teachers and school administrators were thrilled, and observers dared to hope that the long, devastating slide in New York's arts education program might finally be reversed. But upon closer observation, it appears that there may be a key ingredient missing from Mayor Bloomberg's plan: the money to implement it. The New York Times 08/04/04

Hoping Art Can Rise Like, Well, You Know The city of Phoenix has announced a multi-pronged strategy aimed at nurturing the arts in the urban core. Under the terms of the proposal, a loan fund wuld be created expressly for the purchase and renovation of downtown buildings by artists, artists would be given economic incentives to locate downtown, and a portion of the city center would be designated as an official "arts district." Arizona Republic 07/30/04

Art And The Business Of Art There is "an emerging camp of artists who see today's shifting marketplace as one that can support the lives and work of artists—business-savvy artists. And their idea could change the face of fine arts higher education. 'This is not just about getting artists to sell their work; this is about helping artists live a life with art in it, which can mean anything from starting neighborhood arts projects to placing one's work in corporate settings to attract attention'." Village Voice 08/04/04

Tuesday, August 3, 2004

Barenboim: UK Government Is Failing The Arts Daniel Barenboim speaks out against the level of the UK government's support of the arts. "Music has become a specialised commodity for both performers and audiences. Young people do come to concerts - that is not the problem. The problem is that we have lost the intellectuals. And when that happens its role in society diminishes." He ascribed this decline to the reduction of music education. "Music is a strange animal, in that you cannot explain a Beethoven symphony in words. That doesn't mean that it doesn't have content, but if you reduce music education you not only get fewer musicians and audiences but also you take away the sense of content." The Guardian (UK) 08/04/04

Russian Artists Protest Housing Plan A plan to take away subsidized housing for artists in St. Petersburg, Russia has brought out the artists to protest. "A number of them arrived at the Legislative Assembly with banners bearing the slogans: "[Governor Valentina] Matviyenko, don't be grudging, buy paintings!"; "St Petersburg is for the rich, the bandits and the thieves"; "Culture's grave-diggers are Russia's grave-diggers"; "The artists' canvasses bind the feet of the city administration"; and also a quotation from Nekrasov - "There have been worse times, but none as mean!" "If the studios are going to be sold, then the artists will either have to leave for the West, or change their profession". St. Petersburg Times 08/03/04

Monday, August 2, 2004

Paris Artists' Building To be Cultural Center "An illegal Parisian artists' squat is to be transformed into an official and permanent cultural centre, designed as a counterpoint to more traditional galleries like the Louvre, at a cost of up to €7 million." The Guardian (UK) 08/03/04

Athens' Olympic Cultural Legacy "The Olympics is not, you might think, a cultural event. No one worries about the influence of Euro 2004 on the Portuguese art scene. But the return of the ancient games to Athens is a moment so rich in historical, artistic, architectural and even mythological associations that it becomes by definition a cultural as well as an athletic festival. Athens is staging a "cultural olympiad", a collection of exhibitions and concerts under the aegis of the Organising Committee of the Olympic Games. Meanwhile, even the new stadium and its surrounding complex aspires to be a work of art." The Guardian (UK) 08/03/04

The Art That Changed Minds... "Many artworks have sparked ideas, shaped sensibilities. The list of mind-changers in our history is a long, familiar one, from Machiavelli's The Prince and Monet's Impression: Sunrise to Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex. But to have a direct, political effect – provoke a war, shape a law, inspire a cause – is much rarer." Here are six works of art that had immediate impact on their times... Dallas Morning News 08/02/04

Sunday, August 1, 2004

Attempt To Pin Down Noah's Flood Foiled Four years ago scientists thought they had found evidence that could "solve the age-old question of whether the Black Sea's flooding was the event recounted in the Biblical story of Noah." But "the scientists who visited the underwater site last summer off the northern Turkish coastal town of Sinop couldn't arrive at any conclusions. The settlement, about 330 feet underwater, was 'contaminated' by wood that had drifted in, foiling any attempt to accurately date the ruin and thus date the flood." ABCNews.com (AP) 08/01/04

Financial Scandal At UK's Royal Academy "Brendan Neiland, an esteemed Royal Academy academic and articulate public champion of painting as an art form, has resigned after financial irregularities were discovered in his work. The academy said Professor Neiland, 62, had left his post as keeper [head] of its art school following an internal investigation. The inquiry uncovered an unauthorised bank account, as well as unauthorised deposits and disbursements." The Guardian (UK) 07/31/04

Cash-Strapped UK Universities Selling Diplomas A new investigation has revealed that some British universities have made a practice of trading diplomas for cash with students who would not have achieved passing grades on their own. "The 'degrees-for-sale' scandal stretches from the most prestigious institutions to the former polytechnics and includes undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, foreign and home students." The Observer (UK) 08/01/04

Reading Is Fundamental. Or Is It? Ever since the NEA released a report bemoaning the decline of literature's place in American life, defenders of the canon have leaped to reestablish reading as an essential part of life. And who could argue with that? Well, Mark Edmundson isn't arguing, exactly, but he does have a few quibbles with the approach: "Reading, you hear, is necessary to maintain democracy. It can produce informed citizens. Right, but couldn't public radio do the same thing? We hear that reading conveys knowledge; it delivers the bounty of the past to the present. Again, good, but in terms of pure rote knowledge, couldn't film and verbal delivery work nearly as well?" The New York Times 08/01/04

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