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Thursday, September 30, 2004

If You Are A Terrorist, Your Grant Will Be Denied "The Ford Foundation, a major arts-supporting organization, checks its applicants and grantees daily against terrorism watch lists ... yet this is not unique: Philanthropies must now comply with laws designed to prevent terrorists from using not-for-profits to finance their activities. The question is how aware arts groups are of the practice." Back Stage 09/29/04

Rushdie To Congress: Leave Readers Alone Objecting to the government "noseying into what should be personal creative space," author Salman Rushdie presented the U.S. Congress with a petition signed by 180,000 people, calling for the repeal of provisions of the Patriot Act that give investigators access to individuals' book-buying and library records. BBC 09/30/04

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Mistaking Cheerleading For Education Populism is one thing, but the new Museum of the American Indian seems so taken with the idea of pleasing the masses that it has actively ignored any serious discussion of the role of native peoples in the history of America, says Timothy Noah. "The new museum stubbornly refuses to impose any recognizable standard of scholarship, or even value, on the items in its galleries... The museum's curators regard the very notion of a Native American cultural heritage as anathema because it clashes with the museum's boosterish message that Native American culture is as vibrant today as it ever was. This isn't a museum; it's a public service announcement." Slate 09/29/04

Do We Really Need Critics? In an age when fewer and fewer people read newspapers, and even fewer want to be told what to think about their choice of entertainment, who exactly are arts critics writing for? Increasingly, it seems that the only people who read reviews are other critics and the people being reviewed. "So are critics necessary? Many are genuine experts in their field, whether it be art, music or literature, and they offer erudition as well as opinions. But some, notably in the performing arts, clearly savor their power, a power that comes from burying, not from praising... And there lies the problem: most people who buy a ticket for a play or a movie or an opera or a ballet want, above all, to enjoy themselves." International Herald Tribune 09/30/04

Journalist Sacked For Controversial Paintings? A British journalist is claiming that she was fired by London's Daily Mail because of her sideline as a Stuckist painter. Stuckism is a widely-reviled art movement founded in 1999 "to promote contemporary figurative painting with ideas and oppose the pretensions of Britart - particularly anything involving dead animals or beds". The newspaper denies that Jane Kelly's dismissal had anything to do with her artwork, but isn't saying why they would fire one of their top writers, either.
The Guardian (UK) 09/30/04

Anxious Times Breed Uncertainty For Presenters For presenters of international performing artists, the task has never been easy. "And the challenge has become ever more daunting in an age of finicky audiences, straitened budgets and international uncertainty." San Francisco Chronicle 09/29/04

What Does Denmark Know That Canada Doesn't? While much smaller countries like Denmark put serious money into exporting culture, there isn't nearly enough funding to promote Canadian artists and writers abroad. "Our top performing arts companies have to focus instead on surviving, because government cutbacks have left them without enough money to operate at home, let alone travel." But culture may be the most important export Canada has to offer the world. Toronto Star 09/29/04

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Because If We Edit Them, Then The Terrorists Have Already Won? A little-known corner of U.S. trade law is being challenged in court on First Amendment grounds by a group of editors and publishers. "The regulations, meant to keep Americans from trading with enemies, require anyone who publishes material from a country under trade sanctions [Cuba, for instance] to obtain a license before substantively altering the manuscript. The publishers say that keeps them from performing typical editing functions like reordering sentences and paragraphs, correcting grammar and adding illustrations or photographs." The New York Times 09/28/04

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Make Up A New Law A new California law will require file-swappers in the state to register a legitimate e-mail address, or be charged with a misdemeanor. Critics are already charging that the law is merely an attempt to sidestep the intricacies of copyright law, and charge file-swappers with a newly invented crime. But the bill's passage is a major victory for entertainment industry lobbyists, who plan to use the win as a springboard to launch similar efforts in other states. Wired 09/28/04

The Arts, Delivered Fresh In Under An Hour The Arts Council of Wales has rolled out a £2 million proposal to fund Welsh arts organizations outside the capital city of Cardiff. The stated goal of the plan is to ensure that no resident of Wales lives more than 45 minutes from what it calls "top-class" arts experiences. The Stage (UK) 09/28/04

Director: Smarter Funding Would Help Arts Thrive Deriding the politically safe notion of "false egalitarianism" in arts funding, Canadian Opera Company General Director Richard Bradshaw called Monday for more and better public and private funding to create an environment in which the arts can thrive. "We're seeing phenomenal generosity in Canada at this moment, but most of that generosity is being directed towards buildings and the issue of funding what goes on inside those buildings remains in crisis," he said. Toronto Star 09/28/04

Monday, September 27, 2004

Non-Profit Exec Salary Growth Slows In what may be a response to the government's announcement that it will begin paying closer attention to such things, the rate at which the chief executives of U.S. non-profit companies rose at their slowest rate in ten years in 2003, according to a new survey. Executive pay rose 3.66%, with a median salary of $291,356. That rate of increase was still nearly double the national inflation rate of 1.9%, however. Chronicle of Philanthropy 09/30/04

Separate Art From Its Owner's Reputation? Not Likely. The controversial Flick collection currently on view in Germany has, temporarily, at least, "put Berlin on the map with cities like London and New York. But it has also come at a steep cost. There is no promise of a gift to Germany from Mr. Flick, who can take back the art when his loan expires in seven years, and is free to sell work while the exhibition naturally inflates the value of his collection." According to Michael Kimmelman, the Germans have made a major mistake in assuming that the art could ever be viewed by the world without being sullied the taint of its ownership. The New York Times 09/27/04

  • Previously: Collecting Great Art With Blood Money "A spectacular exhibition of contemporary art opened in Berlin yesterday, amid a picket by Jewish protesters, with its billionaire owner accused of exploiting art to redeem his family's Nazi past." The quality of the works in the collection is not in question, but the motivations of their owner, Christian Friedrich Flick, are being picked over by press and public alike. The Flick family fortune, which made the art collection possible, was built on slave labor in the explosives factories of the Third Reich. The Guardian (UK) 09/22/04
Sunday, September 26, 2004

America's Global Art Program The U.S. State Department's Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation might be America's best (and least known) method for building global good will. The program, now in its fourth year of existence, "assesses proposals for funds to local cultural heritage projects put forward by US ambassadors in 121 countries rated medium and low in the UN human development index." The annual budget is a paltry $1.2 million, but considering where the money is going, that kind of cash infusion can go a long way. The Art Newspaper 09/26/04

The Art Of Activism Artists and musicians are no strangers to politics, of course, but this year, the Bush vs. Kerry presidential campaign has drawn the activism of an unusual number of musicians, actors, and other performers. Some of the newfound activism can be chalked up to Hollywood's usual inflated sense of its place in the world, but the trend is far more widespread than a few loudmouthed movie stars. "So, is this an unprecedented convergence of art and popular culture in the 2004 election, or does it just seem that way? And more important, will it make a difference to voters?" Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 09/26/04

  • Modern Politics, Media Beget Modern Activism The presence of a never-sleeping, always-hungry mass media beast may have a lot to do with the current bumper crop of high-visibility activists in the arts. In the years before all-news cable channels and the internet, artists who wanted to get involved may have figured that their efforts would be best concentrated behind the scenes. But in an age when getting your message in front of the public is all too easy, the allure of putting one's face on a political cause is apparently all too tempting. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 09/26/04

Digging In The Same Pockets Big arts organizations are always in competition with their counterparts in the same city for the limited pool of donors available. Usually, all sides manage to keep it civil, but this season, the Canadian Opera Company has been embroiled in a nasty behind-the-scenes spat with the National Ballet of Canada over the timing of a major fundraising event by the ballet. Toronto Star 09/26/04

No, It's Not Just A Big Pastry It's rare that a national government will get directly involved with a major art exhibition, but Denmark's leaders have apparently decided that the country's artistic riches offer the best way to promote tourism and knowledge of Danish culture. Thus, Canada's largest city is now playing host to "SuperDanish: Newfangled Danish Culture, a mammoth showcase that features 13 artistic disciplines, 143 individual events, over 200 artists, and 85 education programs that will reach 3,000 students." It's partly about exporting culture, of course, but SuperDanish is also an exercise in extroverted self-discovery for a country that is just beginning to diversify. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 09/25/04

What Makes A Metro? In Washington, D.C., as in so many cities across the U.S., a battle for the soul of the region is being waged between those who live in the suburbs, and those who reside in the urban core. But the combatants may be missing the point: "There is a panache and prestige to being downtown -- baseball owners nationwide have learned that, theaters and nightclubs have capitalized on it and retailers who fled cities after the 1960s riots are rediscovering it. And there is an ease and convenience to the burbs -- as retailers, football teams and movie theater chains have long known." In other words, cities and their surrounding areas have changed in the last 50 years, and both sides need each other more than they care to acknowledge. Washington Post 09/26/04

An Artists' Haven In The Midst of A Man-Made Hell The little town of Terezin, in the Czech Republic, is known throughout Eastern Europe by the strangest of descriptions: "best of the Nazi hells: a ghetto with a swing band, a concentration camp with shoe stores and cafes... At a time when Jews were banned from going to school, Terezin became their university: 2,430 lectures took place, on such topics as the Jews of Babylon, the theory of relativity, Alexander the Great and German humor." For many, Terezin was merely a waystation on the horrible road to Auschwitz, and yet, its denizens have had an outsized impact on Jewish art and culture in the region. Philadelphia Inquirer 09/26/04

Artists Rallying Where Governments Fear To Tread The ongoing genocide in Sudan has gotten precious little attention from some Western governments, and even less from North American media outlets. In response to what they see as an outrageous abdication of national responsibility, a group of musicians and actors is mounting simultaneous live shows in six Canadian cities, featuring "live music and a mock debate of the UN Security Council using the actual minutes from recent UN meetings on Darfur." Toronto Star 09/25/04

Thursday, September 23, 2004

For Cleveland Arts School, A New Era In the early 1960s, decades before the link between arts education and academic success was established, Cleveland educators turned a settlement house into an arts school. Now the Rainey Institute aims for another transformation, this time to expand its reach. The Plain Dealer 09/23/04

Live Performance In A Culture Of Convenience "Unlimited cultural choice might have evolved with utopian hope that all of us would be better and more diversely informed and entertained. But it's devolved into a dystopia of cultural myopia, a place where you can find your own little silo of truth, oblivious to the cacophony of ideas blaring around you." Getting out of the house to attend a live performance can shatter that complacency -- and make us better citizens. St. Paul Pioneer Press 09/19/04

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

NY Actors To Get Health Care Subsidy New York actors, musicians, and performers could keep their health care coverage even when they're between jobs, under a new bill signed into law by the governor this week. The bill isn't a panacea for performers - any individual making more than $19,345 per year isn't eligible, for instance - but it's being hailed as a major step forward in quality of life for performing artists in the state. The New York Times 09/23/04

Post vs. McGruder, Round 2 The Washington Post has pulled a week's worth of installments of Aaron McGruder's controversial comic strip, The Boondocks, and forbidden one of its editors from linking to the strips in an online forum. The strips in question depict rap mogul Russell Simmons introducing a new reality TV show entitled "Can A N***a Get A Job?" It's not the first time the Post has pulled McGruder's strip from its pages - a previous plotline which seemed to question the sexuality of National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice was scrapped in 2003. DC Art News 09/22/04

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Is Australia About To Join America's Arts Reality? "There have been an unprecedented number of inquiries in the past eight years into aspects of the arts [in Australia] - inquiries that have produced tangible financial benefits. Yet what's lacking has been any bigger picture or debate from either side of politics about the role of art in contemporary culture... There has been little public debate on the broader question of whom performing arts companies should answer to in an environment of shrinking public funding and increasing need for sponsorship dollars." Sydney Morning Herald 09/22/04

Why Can't Politicians Pick Good Art? Scotland has a new Parliament building, and amidst all the talk of cost overruns and such, some brave sould have dared to broach the subject of how the place ought to be decorated. An MP named Stone was placed in charge of "a committee to acquire art for the new building, and the results are now on view. It is not much. James Stone’s committee did ask the main committee... for £3 million. They were given a derisory £250,000 to spend. This mean-spirited decision was both a failure of courage and of imagination." The Scotsman (UK) 09/21/04

Monday, September 20, 2004

Pay Us Anything! Just Come Watch The Show! All across the UK, opera companies, theaters, and orchestras are testing cut-price ticketing schemes designed to lure first-timers to performances they ordinarily wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole. "So it is £10 at the National Theatre, £5 for students at the Royal Shakespeare Company's new Albery season, a third off for two operas or more at English National Opera, £5 at Welsh National Opera, and 'pay what you can' nights at the Bristol Old Vic." Slashing ticket prices may smell a bit of desperation, but the strategy is working: the National Theatre had 50,000 new patrons last season, and a third of those have returned this year. The Guardian (UK) 09/20/04

Philanthropists To Fly Coach "The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, one of several major philanthropies to take heat this year over high-end travel by board members, said it will no longer pay for first-class flights by its directors or most trips by their spouses." Directors will now fly business class or coach, depending on the length of the flight. Recent media reports had questioned the use of foundation funds to pay for first-class travel. Chicago Tribune 09/20/04

Suing To Save Orphan Art "Valuable resources are being lost to students, researchers and historians because of sweeping changes in copyright law, according to digital archivists who are suing the government. These resources -- older books, films and music -- are often out of print and considered no longer commercially viable, but are still locked up under copyright. Locating copyright owners is a formidable challenge because Congress no longer requires that owners register or renew their copyrights with the U.S. Copyright Office." The plaintiffs in the lawsuit want the right to create a digital archive of such "orphan works" for public use. Wired 09/20/04

Sunday, September 19, 2004

New Liability Law May Sail Through Congress Tech companies and consumer groups are trying to persuade the U.S. Congress to hold public hearings before it adopts the so-called Induce Act, which would hold companies that manufacture file-trading software liable for the illegal actions of its users. The issue of secondary liability is far more complicated than many of the bill's sponsors seem to realize, but Congress's desire to pass some sort of serious copyright reform quickly may trump the need for further debate. Wired 09/18/04

SoCal's Arts Center, Ten Years In The California Center for the Arts, in Escondido (near San Diego), is a beautiful 12-acre monument to culture, a $75 million dollar investment in community spirit and quality of life. Unless, of course, you take note of the millions of dollars in operating deficits, poor attendance figures, and occasional lack of direction, in which case you might consider the center a financial albatross around the city's neck. The center is ten years old this month, and a decade of varied success and failure has done nothing to quell the debate over the project. San Diego Union Tribune 09/19/04

Getting Past "The Tonto Syndrome" Americans have always had ridiculous notions of how the native population of North America looks, acts, and lives. In fact, the absurd stereotypes heaped on the American Indian are so pervasive as to be a cultural phenomenon in themselves. But you won't find any reference to such racist blather in Washington's new Museum of the American Indian, with organizers hoping that "the sheer beauty and tone of the place will dispel the inaccurate mythology, jokes and war whoops that visitors grew up with. That basically includes anyone who watched TV or had a social studies class in the 20th century." But is ignoring the misperceptions really the way to go? Washington Post 09/18/04

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Georgia's Struggle To Rebuild Its Culture The Republic of Georgia's culture is in tatters, and the young president has his eye on rebuilding. "Despite its devastated economy, Georgia boasts a rich cultural heritage and an operatic and choreographic tradition renowned worldwide. It produced Balanchine. And it is famous for its unique three-voice polyphonic singing. Nearly everybody sings in Georgia — usually at the dinner table — and culture is viewed as an crucial part of life by Georgians, who in the midst of the civil war in the early 1990s continued to flow to the opera to support their artists. Today, half the population of Georgia lives under the poverty line, but the opera still plays to sell-out audiences every night." Andante (AFP) 09/17/04

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Australian Political Party Pledges Major New Arts Funding There's a national election campaign going on in Australia. And what would the official opposition party do for the arts? "Opposition pledged to "ease the squeeze" on the ABC and turn around the decline in film and television production with $175 million in new arts funding. The ABC would get $105 million over four years, while the film industry would get an immediate $70 million injection, followed by a wide-ranging review into structural reform and private investment incentives." Sydney Morning Herald 09/15/04

Arts Mean Money For Scotland Scotland is locked in a debate about cultural funding, as high profile arts institutions say they are underfunded. Now a new study that measures the economic impact of the arts: "Every job in the arts community supports nearly another whole job elsewhere in the economy, the study by the Scottish Economic Policy Network revealed. It also shows that more than 4000 jobs are sustained by the annual funding provided by the Scottish Arts Council and in total the arts community supports £72.5m worth of income." Glasgow Herald 09/15/04

US Artists Vs George Bush It's not too surprising that many artists are more politically liberal than conservative. What is unusual this election year, though, is that so many artists are actively making their political views known and are working to defeat George Bush... The Independent (UK) 09/16/04

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Taking The Artistic Temperature Of 9/11 More and more artists are making art about difficult events of the past few years. "In the week of the third anniversary of 9/11, it's worth asking how they're doing. For, ever so slowly, writers, film-makers and dramatists have begun to address the twin events that have dominated the start of the 21st century: the attacks on New York and Washington and the subsequent Iraq war." The Guardian (UK) 09/15/04

New Ideas For UK Arts Funding? Sir Christopher Frayling has some new ideas as he takes over as chairman of the British Arts Council. "Eighty per cent of the cash we give out goes to regularly funded organisations and a quarter of these take almost 90 per cent of the grants. Many of them have been on our books since 1947, and are receiving money in the same proportion. Too many people see the Arts Council as a cashpoint machine with a complicated pin number. We have got to be more than that. A lot of the most interesting developments in the arts are inter- disciplinary. So we could be looking at new categories for funding". Financial Times 09/14/04

Monday, September 13, 2004

Rattle Attacks Berlin Arts Funding Cuts The city of Berlin has a huge budget deficit and proposes to slash arts funding. Berlin Philharmonic music director Simon Rattle protests, describing the situation as "catastrophic" and "cultural dismantling" in an interview with the weekly Der Spiegel magazine. Sir Simon, who took over the orchestra two years ago, told the magazine: "I can see the hopeless situation of the city, but on the other hand, this cultural dismantling is an incredible shame for Berlin." BBC 09/13/04

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Pursuing The Enablers U.S. government officials are recommending that Congress amend the nation's copyright law to hold companies which "rely on copyright infringement to make a profit" liable for the actions of consumers who use their products. The new regulations, which are aimed squarely at file-trading enablers such as Kazaa and Grokster, are very controversial, with privacy advocates insisting that previous Supreme Court rulings prohibit such wide-ranging prohibitions. Wired 09/11/04

Thursday, September 9, 2004

American Cultural Exchanges Fall Off "The annual number of academic and cultural exchanges has dropped from 45,000 in 1995 to 29,000 in 2001. This means that far fewer American artists, including performing artists, are being given chances to ply their crafts on foreign soil. The study presumes that those figures have decreased even further in recent years. Back Stage 09/09/04

Broken Funding Process in South Texas San Antonio's Cultural Arts Board is under fire for the way in which it doles out money to the city's cultural organizations. Critics charge that the process does not allow for input from local artists, and that applicants are treated as if they are signing up for the welfare roles, rather than as organizations which contribute significantly to the community in exchange for public dollars. The cash-strapped San Antonio Symphony, which is preparing to relaunch itself after emerging from bankruptcy, even chose to bypass the Arts Board completely, preferring to appeal directly to the mayor and the city council for funds. Board members concede that changes are needed. San Antonio Express-News 09/09/04

No Logos On The Timpani? A new sponsorship deal between UBS, an international wealth management firm, and the Utah Symphony Orchestra is getting some attention in the music industry. Under the deal, UBS will contribute over $1 million to the orchestra, in exchange for which the company's logo will be featured prominently in program books and orchestra advertising, and will also receive special recognition at four concerts in the 2004-05 season. It's a more blatant marketing strategy than many orchestras have been comfortable with, but with corporate support ever more important for the survival of the industry, the deal may be a harbinger. Salt Lake Tribune 09/09/04

Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Culturally Olympicizing Now an ambitious plan for a kind of cultural Olympics. The World Culture Open is considered by its organizers to be "a combination of the Olympics and the Nobel Peace Prize to encourage and provide money for arts groups that emphasize cultural understanding, something they feel neither the United Nations nor other international groups do in a comprehensive way." The New York Times 09/09/04

Some Art Dealers Tread Into Presidential Politics "Art dealers are typically cautious not to offend their clientele by taking strong positions on controversial topics. This year, however, the rules have changed. Dealers and artists in New York have become visibly politicised and have been actively raising funds and campaigning for Democratic candidate John Kerry in the run up to the US presidential election on 2 November." The Art Newspaper 09/05/04

Foreign Student Applications Down At US Schools As it's become more difficult for international students to get entry into the United States to go to school, the number of students applying to US schools has dramatically declined. "U.S. graduate schools this year saw a 28% decline in applications from international students and an 18% drop in admissions, a finding that some experts say threatens higher education's ability to maintain its reputation for offering high-quality programs." USAToday 09/07/04

Monday, September 6, 2004

Building Support For The NEA, One Vote At A Time National Endowment for the Arts chairman Dana Gioia has spent the last year building political support for his agency, one politician at a time. "Conservative support for the agency is among the little-noticed political developments of this election year. In January President Bush asked Congress to increase the endowment's budget by $18 million for the 2005 fiscal year, the highest percentage increase in a quarter-century." The New York Times 09/07/04

Sunday, September 5, 2004

Infighting In Melbourne The city of Melbourne doled out nearly AUS$3 million in arts grants this past week, but controversy is brewing over the way the money was shared amongst the city's cultural groups. "While 109 organisations and individuals from almost 300 applications shared in an annual funding pool of more than $1.5 million, six major Melbourne arts organisations - the International Arts Festival, the Fringe Festival, the Comedy Festival, the Film Festival, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Circus Oz - shared $1.4 million in triennial funding." The funding decisions left some of Melbourne's smaller arts groups gasping for financial breath. The Age (Melbourne) 09/06/04

Electoral Distraction Tactic #467,323 "President Bush made only one reference to Hollywood in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention on Thursday night, and it was almost in passing, but he hit the moviemaking community where it lives." In one sense, it's merely a case of one candidate taking advantage of an easy target set up by his opponent. But the Kerry/Hollywood flap has proved to have legs as a political story, and may serve to highlight a larger clash of values, between what the GOP sees as the conservative "heartland" and what Democrats see as the star power of the mainly liberal world of big entertainment. The New York Times 09/04/04

Republicans And NYC Artists: Worlds Apart With thousands of Republican conventioneers flooding the streets of Manhattan this past week, a cynic might have predicted that it would be a slow week in the New York art world. The cynic would have been right: one gallery, owned by conservatives from Georgia, held a blowout party for Senator Zell Miller, but other than that, the city's galleries and museums were left out in the cold by a political party which is increasingly cut off from the art world. "While there were 4,853 delegates and alternates at the convention, only 133 delegates and their family members checked in at a desk set up in the [Metropolitan Museum of Art's] lobby to offer them special tours." The New York Times 09/04/04

Friday, September 3, 2004

Non-Profits Wait As Congress Mulls Oversight Changes The US Congress is considering serious reform in the oversight of non-profit organizations. "The overall drive to nonprofit reform began after the passage of the federal Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which Congress enacted in the wake of Enron and other accounting scandals. After revelations that a small number of charities, such as those handling the millions received after Sept. 11, 2001, had engaged in similar abuses and administrative waste, the drive quickly intensified." Backstage 09/03/04

Slovakia: A Culture Minister Who Gets It Slovakia's culture minister proposes that the country triple its spending on the arts by 2010. "Ignorance of culture is colossal; society is commercial, consumer-oriented and kitschy, and it seems this trend cannot be stopped." Slovak News 09/03/04

Thursday, September 2, 2004

Australia's New Culture Wars The Australian government has decided to focus on funding classical music this year. But the official opposition party denounces the policy, decrying what it terms the Government's "war on culture, citing alleged political appointments to the boards of the ABC and Canberra's new national museum." Sydney Morning Herald 09/03/04

New Ranking Of The World's Top Universities An annual list of the world's top universities puts Harvard at the top. "Of the world's top 20 universities, all but three — Cambridge, Oxford and Tokyo — are in the United States." The Economist 09/02/04

Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Homeland Security vs. The 12-Year-Old Choirboy "Some Oakland boys who like to sing are taking on the Department of Homeland Security over the fate of a 12-year-old Polish kid who, in all likelihood, does not have terrorist designs on the United States. Earlier this year, the 7-year-old Pacific Boychoir was contacted by the Youth Choir Foundation in Boston to gauge its interest in accepting 12-year-old Adam Kutny, a gifted alto who found himself somewhat stranded artistically after the choir he belonged to dissolved." The choir was interested, but the Department of Homeland Security has flatly denied Kutny a student visa, saying (bizarrely) that it cannot be certain that the school is, in fact, a school. Two senators, a congresswoman and the choir are battling the decision. San Francisco Chronicle 09/01/04

Between Rock And A Hard Political Reality The touring rock concert/John Kerry fundraiser being led by Bruce Springsteen, R.E.M., and other leftist musicians has sparked confusion nationwide among radio stations, consumers, and media conglomerates who are worried that purchasing tickets could run them afoul of complicated campaign finance laws. In Minneapolis, one Clear Channel radio station pulled out of an agreement to distribute free tickets to its participants after the parent company concluded that it could not buy the tickets, because the company sponsoring the concert is a so-called "527 organization," involved in political affairs. In fact, the purchase would have been legal after all, but Clear Channel still isn't buying. City Pages (Mpls/St. Paul) 09/01/04

IRS To Investigate Nonprofit Salaries "The IRS has announced an aggressive program to investigate the salaries of [nonprofit corporations'] executives and board members, some of which exceed $1 million annually. The government's interest is twofold: It grants tax-exempt status to nonprofits, and the public contributes billions of dollars to those groups each year." The $1 million salary figure will apparently serve as the unofficial red flag to investigators, who will then compare such salaries to those of comparable individuals in comparable organizations elsewhere. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 09/01/04

SEC: Chicago Symphony Benefitted From Corporate Crime A scathing SEC report on the activities of the leadership of Hollinger International Incorporated has concluded that chief executive Conrad Black and his right-hand man David Radler looted the company of more than $400 million in profits to which they were not entitled, all with the tacit approval (or at least, without objection from) a board which included such high-profile names as Henry Kissinger and Richard Perle. The money appropriated by Black and Radler frequently found its way to organizations favored by the two men, and one of the biggest beneficiaries was the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, "which received a total of $436,164 from 1996 to 2003." There is no suggestion that the CSO knew that the source of the donations was unlawful. Chicago Tribune 09/01/04

Pittsburgh's New Cultural Center On The Rise Cultural forces in Pittsburgh are teaming up to turn a 26,000-square foot vacant warehouse into an arts center in the heart of the city's business district. The center would house a theater, a coffee shop, and studios for various local artists. The partners have already come up with $800,000 in community funding for the project, but are estimating that the renovation will cost $4 million overall. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 09/01/04

Nothing More Dangerous Than A Little Bit Of Information This year's edition of the Arts Electronica festival, which focuses on the connection between technology and art, is taking a hard look at all the technological innovations of the last 25 years, and asking the question: are we actually any smarter or more creative as a result of the digital revolution? Or is it possible that all the instantly available information is only making us more confused and polarizing our society? Wired 09/01/04

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