AJ Logo Get ArtsJournal in your inbox
for FREE every morning!

Monday, February 28, 2005

Glasgow: Squandering Cultural Capital? Did Scotland's politicians waste the momentum and creative good will wrought by the city's year as the European Capital of Culture? That's what the country's creative community believes, says a new study. "Research into the cultural impact of the event in 1990 which brought Luciano Pavarotti to the city and generated up to £14m for the local economy reveals policy-makers being blamed for an exodus of talent and concentrating on quotas rather than quality." Glasgow Herald 02/28/05

USC Arts Journalism Fellows Chosen Seven arts journalists have been chosen 2005 Fellows for the University of Southern California Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Program. A committee of six journalists chose the Fellows from an international pool of approximately 70 applicants from Australia, Canada, China, Ireland, Nigeria, Romania and the United States.
USC 02/25/05

(Tax Breaks) Ireland To Release Artists' Names Ireland is going to release the names of artists who have benefited from the country's tax breaks for artists. "Disclosure would reveal that the Revenue considers the works of the artists to be original and creative and to have cultural merit. There is also significant public interest in ensuring maximum openness regarding public expenditure, particularly where there may be a perceived lack of transparency in the public body's procedures and criteria." Eircom 02/28/05

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Can Cultural Relevance Be Bought? Singapore is a country with a reputation for economic success, but little in the way of a creative side. In the last decade, the government has sought to change that, investing hundreds of millions of dollars in arts and culture, but somehow, the results still seem strangely stilted and authoritarian. More importantly, it may be flatly impossible for a truly creative environment to be nurtured in a country as repressive as Singapore. The Telegraph (UK) 02/26/05

England's Irish Obsession The sociological and national tensions between the British and Irish go back hundreds of years, but so does Britain's obsession with Irish culture, literature, art and music. The uneasy balancing act of the UK's Irish population is getting a close look this year at London's National Portrait Gallery, "surveying visual representations of the artistic, literary, dramatic and political influence exercised in Victorian London by Irish incomers, determined to make their mark. Culturally fashionable Irishness was not just the result of rampant Celtic Tigerism over the past decade and a half; it has, apparently, a long-established pedigree." The Guardian (UK) 02/26/05

Friday, February 25, 2005

How About Tying Government Spending To Orchestra Budgets? It's been a banner year in Minneapolis for both the Guthrie Theater, which is preparing to open a huge new riverfront home, and the Minnesota Orchestra, which has been getting rave reviews for its new Beethoven CD and recent European tour. So arts observers in the Twin Cities were stunned recently when State Representative Marty Seifert (a Republican from rural western Minnesota) proposed a bill which would cap the salaries of Guthrie director Joe Dowling and orchestra music director Osmo Vänskä at $115,000, effectively turning both organizations into non-entities on the national and international arts scene. Seifert's bill died in committee, but he's vowed to try again. Minneapolis Star Tribune 02/24/05

The Ticket Racket "The advent of online ticket buying and automated phone services has made the ticket-selling business more cost-effective for the likes of Ticketmaster and easier for the consumer than ever before. Yet those pesky tack-on fees aren't getting any lower. Like fees to use automated teller machines, ticket fees might be taken for granted. But what seems like petty change in the grand scope of things can really start adding up." The Record (New Jersey) 02/25/05

Philly's Kimmel Center Looks Nervously Forward Philadelphia's Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts has managed to stay in the black in its second year of operation, but there's still plenty to worry about. The center's hoped-for endowment is still incomplete, and media mega-giant Clear Channel Productions is preparing to mount some serious competition to the Kimmel's moneymaking Broadway musical series. On top of that, the Philadelphia Orchestra recently released a report saying that the center's main concert hall needs a complete acoustical overhaul. And finally, with multiple big arts organizations in the city already in the midst of major fund drives, the Kimmel risks "donor fatigue" if it asks for too much too quickly. Philadelphia Daily News 02/25/05

  • Less Than Meets The Eye The Kimmel Center has an impressive list of board members, all with money to burn and a desire to dupport the arts. So shouldn't the center's finances be all too stable? Actually, it's a lot more complicated than that: "Many of the Kimmel board members serve on other boards, which also tap them for time and money... No less than nine Kimmel board members are also members of the [Philadelphia Orchestra's] board." Philadelphia also is home to far fewer big corporations than some other major cities, limiting what the center can reap from that potential revenue stream. Philadelphia Daily News 02/25/05

Thursday, February 24, 2005

America, Land Of TV Hypocrites Outwardly, Hollywood and the TV networks which incessantly cover its every move are wringing their hands over this year's Oscar host, comedian Chris Rock, practically begging the star not to step over the line of good taste and subject the broadcast to sanction from the newly activist FCC. In reality, of course, everyone involved with the awards show is thrilled to pieces that Rock is hosting, since it allows the show to be promoted to jaded viewers as spontaneous and potentially rule-breaking, when in fact, it will be as scripted and sanitized as ever. It's just one more bit of evidence that Americans love to watch the same supposedly indecent programming they later fight to have removed from the airwaves. The New York Times 02/27/05

And The Award For Best Minor League Arts Town Goes To... Naples, Florida, according to a new book purporting to rank the top 100 arts metros in the country. Naples is tops in the category of cities with a population of less than 30,000. The city's beautiful Philharmonic Center for the Arts appears to have been the major factor in the strong ranking... Southwest Florida News-Press 02/24/05

What's In A Name? A Lot Of Cash For The Arts. Philadelphia Mayor John Street is urging state officials to sell off the naming rights for the city's convention center to generate a sizable new revenue stream. The mayor's plan is for the estimated $3-$5 million per year to be earmarked for specific arts groups serving the metro area. Philadelphia Inquirer 02/24/05

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Scratch This - A "Safe" Place For New Work? BAC's Scratch nights offer new experimental productions. Jerry Spring the Opera went the Scratch route. But "the defining cliche of Scratch culture is that, in it, artists are offered "a safe space to fail". But a safe space isn't the kind of "risk-taking" environment that Scratch proponents espouse, of course: it's the reverse, a neutralised zone in which (necessarily) risk-averse organisations can release beta-versions of new products without exposing themselves commercially." The Guardian (UK) 02/24/05

Canada's Arts Spending Plan How did the arts fare in this week's proposed Canadian budget? There is one arts initiative, but it's big. "Ottawa announced it would spend $688 million on its Tomorrow Starts Today program - $172 million a year for five years. Tomorrow Starts Today is a Canadian Heritage Ministry scheme to help develop the arts in Canada. It supports a variety of other arts groups, including the Canada Council, which receives $25 million annually from the program." CBC 02/23/05

Culture Minister Defends UK Arts Funding: It's Up 60 Percent In Six Years UK cultural luminaries have been bitterly complaining about a funding freeze in cultural funding proposed by the government. But Culture Minister Tessa Jowell has "strongly defended the Government's record of increasing spending on the arts by 60 per cent in the past six years. 'You would have to be living in a parallel universe to say that is going back to the bad old days. It's just a denial of reality'." The Independent (UK) 02/23/05

Miami Performing Arts Center Asks For Ideas, Projects The troubled Miami Performing Arts Center is wending itse way towards completion. But what will go in it? Well, the Cleveland Orchestra, for one. And now the MPAC has announced a program asking "local performing artists to submit ideas for development, minor funding and perhaps eventual performance in the PAC's 2006-07 opening season. The $412 million center, with symphony hall, ballet opera house and performance theater, is set to open in October 2006." Miami Herald 02/22/05

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Arts Leaders Beg, But Is Anyone Listening? Minnesota artists and their supporters gathered at the state capitol in St. Paul this week for an annual day of organized lobbying designed to bring legislators around to the idea that cutting the arts to balance a budget is not a good way to run a state. But even as organizers declared the day a success, some observers are wondering whether such efforts make any real difference. Two years ago, when Minnesota was in the throes of a budget crisis, more than 1,000 people participated in Arts Advocacy Day, and the legislature still slashed the arts budget by 32%. Minneapolis Star Tribune 02/23/05

Aussie Arts Groups Fight Changes To Federal Funding Australia's federal Arts Council is preparing to undergo a major restructuring which would see grant money parceled out based as much on an applying group's business plan as on its artistic product. "The council itself would decide on funding for strategic projects, rather than leaving it to the boards of individual art forms. The council has faced outrage from staff and arts organisations about the lack of consultation on the changes," and now, the revolt is gaining some serious momentum. Sydney Morning News 02/23/05

Trimming Overhead... Permanently One of the toughest challenges of managing an arts organization is dealing with the high fixed costs of doing business: office rental, computer costs, security, etc. So it's worth asking just how many of these "essentials" are actually still essential in the digital world. "Of course, arts organizations need control of many assets to do what they do...since often what they do requires lots of physical space. But there are signs in the world that new options are available, if an organization is really serious about rethinking its fixed costs, its overhead, and the 'stuff' it thinks it needs to do its work." The Artful Manager (AJ Blogs) 02/22/05

Russia Enjoys A KGB Renaissance "The intrepid Russian spy, saving the Motherland if not the world, has come in from the cold. Not since his heyday in the 1960s and '70s, when espionage novels and movies grabbed the imagination of a teenaged Vladimir Putin, has the Russian secret agent enjoyed such a celebrated place in popular culture. Blockbuster movies, TV series, best-selling novels and even theme restaurants are restoring luster to the FSB, the Russian intelligence service, and its predecessor, the KGB, as the country mines the contemporary fight against terrorism and the Soviet past in a search for incorruptible heroes." Washington Post 02/22/05

Monday, February 21, 2005

Climate Change A Threat To Historic Houses? The National Trust for Scotland is one of more than two dozen groups that have united in a campaign aimed at winning politicians to the cause of cutting global climate change. The Trust "is concerned that many of the 120 properties it has responsibility for could be at risk from violent storms, rising sea levels and a dramatic change in temperatures that will devastate wildlife and cause extensive damage to buildings." The Independent (UK) 02/22/05

Is British Council Exhibit Racist? Two national newspapers ran full-page article last week accusing the British Council of depicting Britain as racist, violent and impoverished in a traveling exhibition. "British Council staff were flabbergasted because the exhibition has been mounted successfully since 2003 in Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia. The reaction in there was positive for the UK, and it received lavish praise." The Guardian (UK) 02/21/05

Key To A Better Cleveland? Are major development projects the key to a better Cleveland? "The U.S. Census Bureau has ranked Cleveland the poorest big city in the country. The city school dis trict, which says it needs a new tax levy desperately, is near a financial meltdown. When the econ omy was stronger a decade ago, Cleve land built the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and new, major- league sports facilities. Now the city seems to have stalled, despite surprisingly strong pockets of new and renovated housing." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 02/20/05

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Cultural Toppers Attack British Arts Policy British cultural luminaries are attacking the government for its arts policies. "The Government is facing a backlash from some of the most important figures in British culture, who accuse it of betraying promises to support the arts. In a move that will alarm ministers just weeks before an expected general election, arts leaders have spoken over their concerns about the potentially devastating impact of a spending freeze." The Independent (UK) 02/21/05

  • Frayling: Gap Between Arts And Government Growing Arts Council England chairman Christopher Frayling is disappointed in government attitudes towards the arts. "The arts often remain an afterthought in government policy - and the arts are often the first to suffer when money is tight. To make matters worse, governments can also interfere in the arts. Lately, I have sensed the distance between the Arts Council and the Government is narrowing. The Government clearly thought we were being ungrateful after the big uplifts to arts in previous spending rounds. We felt betrayed that the Government had decided not to continue with its investment of new money - despite all the success. A strange decision, since the upward curve of the arts was one of country's good news stories. It was up to then an uncompromised record - so why start compromising now?" The Independent (UK) 02/21/05

Art-As-Homework? Hmnnn... How much ought you to know about an artwork before seeing it to get the maximum appreciation? "There are compelling arguments for appreciating an artwork on its own terms. Some people refuse to read movie reviews for fear that not only surprise endings but also subtle textural details will be revealed and spoil an otherwise fresh encounter. If they want to dig deeper into a film or an opera or a dance, they wait until they've seen it, then double back and do their research. But the sedimentary texture of knowledge, the layerings of appreciation, can provide pleasure on a first encounter, too." The New York Times 02/20/05

Arts Council Chairman: Scottish Opera Funding A Disgrace Scotland's new Arts Council head says he'll fight hard for the arts, and that Scottish Opera's funding crisis is a national disgrace. "Richard Holloway, speaking out in his first week as chairman of the Scottish Arts Council (SAC), said he regretted the national opera company was about to enter a year of enforced silence. The former Bishop of Edinburgh said he would use his position not only to press for extra funding for Scottish Opera but for a "massive infusion" of cash for the arts in general." The Scotsman 02/20/05

This Just In: Brits Love The Arts (More Than Soccer) "In the biggest survey of its kind, conducted by the Office of National Statistics for the Arts Council of England, it has emerged that participation and appreciation of the arts are more popular than sport and are widely indulged in across the social spectrum... While the public appetite for books is not so much of a surprise - three quarters of interviewees listed this as a feature of their spare time - the keen edge of our hunger for theatre, both live and on television, is a revelation." The Observer (UK) 02/20/05

  • Even The Italians Agree... Britons do not enjoy a terribly high level of popularity among their European counterparts, but a new Italian survey reveals that the UK may actually be the continent's most cultured country. Even more alarming to continentals is the relatively low cultural scores assigned to such traditional arts centers as Italy. The Guardian (UK) 02/19/05

The Crusade No One Saw Coming As viewed from Canada, the current American brouhaha over "decency" on the public airwaves is a bit confusing, coming as it does from the country that places such a high value on free speech. But there's no doubt that U.S. conservatives have made significant gains in political clout over the last year, and whether or not their position is entirely consistent with traditional American (or traditional conservative) values, the opposition to their crusade is comparatively disorganized and ineffective. Of course, the First Amendment has not been removed from the U.S. constitution, meaning that the last word on the debate over decency will likely come from the courts. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 02/20/05

Welcome To Toronto: This Space For Rent Toronto is becoming more like New York and Tokyo every day, and not in a good way. Canada's largest city has lately been showing an alarming affection for the big urban design idea of plastering every available surface with advertising and calling it architecture. "In Toronto, which has spent the last decade hovering on the verge of bankruptcy, public space has come to be viewed as a way to make money. The price of selling the city is a growing sense of civic irritation, not to mention alienation. It boils down to one question: whose city is this anyway?" Toronto Star 02/19/05

Friday, February 18, 2005

US Arts Advocates Merge Americans for the Arts and the Arts and Business Council have decided to merge operations. "Both realized that the advancement of support for the arts, public and private sector would be better served if we joined forces and pooled our resources," Newsday (AP) 02/18/05

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Defining A Case For The Arts "For a fairly long time, the weakness of empirical research on our claimed benefits of the arts has been a bit of a family secret -- something we don't discuss out loud. The arts build strong cities. The arts build strong schools. The arts build strong communities. Give us cash. In my head, here's the larger point: The arts are essential to vibrant cities, dynamic and balanced schools, connected communities, and engaged citizenry. If we believe it, we should make every effort to understand the complexity and depth of those connections." Artful Manager (AJBlogs) 02/17/05

Edinburgh Gets More Cash Scottish governments have agreed to give the Edinburgh Festival an extra £600,000 after the festival said it might have to cut programming this year. The festival said that "while ticket prices had increased in line with inflation, the price of staging productions had risen much faster in recent years." The Scotsman 02/18/05

Just What Is The New Australia Council? The Australia Council is undergoing a makeover. So what do the reforms amount to? It calls for turning artform "managers" into artform "directors" who will "work towards increasing efficiencies in grant management through more effective systems and grant management processes and through centralising administrative task" (sic). And on it goes, bullet-point by bullet-point. No wonder that a separate idiot sheet, providing council members with prepared answers, rightly predicted they might face the curly question: "So what's the plan actually for?" Sydney Morning Herald 02/18/05

Rand Corp: Stop Quantifying, Focus On Quality "After wading through stacks of economic and educational studies used to drum up arts funding, Rand Corp. researchers say the numbers don't make a persuasive case and that arts advocates should emphasize intrinsic benefits that make people cherish the arts." Education and economic return have been proven selling points with politicians who are otherwise reluctant to fund the arts at all, but the Rand study says that "trumpeting the most quantifiable and utilitarian benefits doesn't address the biggest long-term challenge facing arts organizations: cultivating an arts-savvy public that wants what museums and performing groups offer." San Francisco Chronicle (LA Times) 02/17/05

Kennedy Center Makes Major Push On Arts Ed Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center has announced that it will spend a whopping $125 million on performing arts education programs over the next five years. The new initiative includes plans for a new theater specifically designed to accomodate young audiences, a collaboration with Disney Theatricals to encourage the production of school musicals, and an extensive arts management training program. The money for the project will be raised entirely through private donations. Baltimore Sun 02/17/05

When Is A Blogger Not A Journalist? As more and more bloggers enter the realm of investigative journalism, some have begun to face similar quandaries to those faced by "real" journalists, and the issue of First Amendment protection for the self-styled reporter crowd has started to be seriously debated. "A useful first step would be to learn whether bloggers are covered by existing state statutes that protect journalists from having to cough up sources. The vast majority of states mark a clear line between professional journalists and everybody else. How do reporters qualify? They must be employed by news organizations -- or as bloggers refer to it, the dreaded MSM (mainstream media)." Wired 02/17/05

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Berlin - Catching Up With Culture Berlin seemed to have it all culturally after the fall of the Berlin Wall. "Seen from, say, London, Paris or Vienna, Berlin had all the ingredients to become a, if not the, European cultural capital. Almost overnight, the city government was owner of 17 museums, 3 opera houses, 8 orchestras and 17 theaters. Further, as the only city to experience German unification firsthand, Berlin itself became a work in progress. For artists, this meant unfettered freedom to explore new avenues." The reality has turned out somewhat different... The New York Times 02/17/05

Star Search - UK Arts Orgs Hunt For New Leaders Several of the UK's most important culture jobs are vacant, and a talent search is underway. But where is the talent for those top jobs going to come from? The Guardian (UK) 02/17/05

Arts Council Chief: Politicians Don't Get The Arts The head of the British Arts Council says politicians are out of step with how popular the arts have become. He "warned against excessive political interference in the arts and 'the gradual amputation' of the arm's-length policy that protects artists from direct political tampering. Arguing that politicians are out of step with huge popular support for the arts in Britain, he said: 'Since 2001 the percentage of adults who believe that arts and cultural projects should receive public funding has increased from an impressive 74% to an even more impressive 79%'." The Guardian (UK) 02/16/05

  • Politicians Are Arts-o-Phobic? "Sir Christopher's suspicion that it is 'almost as if politicians are embarrassed to be associated with the arts', rings horribly true. Labour leaders are happy to be pictured with sports stars and TV personalities, but their alarm bells ring when an artist, playwright or composer gets within snapping range." The Guardian (UK) 02/17/05

Copyright Bullies Are corporations bullying the rest of us with the copyright lawsuits? "David Bollier argues that the court's willingness to let corporations get away with such bullying is increasingly eroding our "cultural commons" -- the collection of images, stories, sounds and other creative expressions that, due to their significance and prevalence, no longer belong to any single person or company." Wired 02/16/05

Study: States Increase Arts Funding Again After a couple of brutal years in which state arts funding was cut, US states are increasing their arts budgets again, says a new report. "While most of the funding changes were 10% or less up or down, there were notable exceptions, including Colorado, up 150.0%; Florida, up 135.7%; the District of Columbia, up 126.0%; and New Jersey, up 51.5%. Of the 56 arts agencies surveyed by NASAA, 44 reported level funding or increases this year, while only 12 suffered cuts." Back Stage 02/16/05

Seattle Artists Rally To Fired Director's Defense Last week the board of tiny Seattle contemporary art presenter Consolidated Works abruptly fired founding director Matthew Richter without explanation. Now a virtual Who's Who of Seattle art has signed a letter of protest to the board and the arts community has rallied to his defense. Seattle Post-Intelligencer 02/16/05

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Connecticut Governor Proposes Big Arts Funding Cuts Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell is proposing big cuts in the state's arts budget. "The $23.7 million budget of the Commission on Culture and Tourism took a 16 percent decrease last week when Rell proposed her $15.3 billion state budget. Among other cuts was $450,000 removed from $2.25 million in cultural resources grants, which help fund arts groups' operations, education and programs. The commission's new budget total is just under $20 million." Hartford Courant 02/15/05

Monday, February 14, 2005

Top Ten Anything (Why Do We Care?) Andrew O'Hagan wonders if competition is good for the arts. "We are addicted to the concept of winners and losers. Last week alone, I was asked to nominate the Best Top 10 British Bands, write something about the Top 100 Scottish Novels of All Time, and I attended a lavish awards ceremony, sponsored by The Daily Telegraph, to name several Great Britons. The assumption, not a bad one in itself, seems to be that life is more exciting the more rivalry it involves, as if competition was the food of endeavour. I'm not entirely sure that competition is good for art. There is the danger that it can create a uniformity of thought and aim." The Telegraph (UK) 02/14/05

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Georgia's Cultural Rebirth "Georgian artists who headed west before and during the civil strife of the early 90s have begun to reconnect with their homeland, bringing know-how, money, contacts and leadership. Georgian troupes are starting to travel abroad again. Across the entire spectrum of the performing arts, Georgians are getting to grips with the freedoms and responsibilities that a fragile democracy confers. A new culture of autonomy and self-help is being implanted - but no one expects it to flower overnight." Financial Times 02/11/05

Scottish Arts Council Chief: Football Is Art Too "Foortball should be regarded as an equal art form to opera and ballet, according to the newly appointed chairman of the Scottish Arts Council. In his first statement since taking the helm of the SAC, Dr Richard Holloway, 71, criticised the "snobbish" associations that surround the Scottish art scene and insisted sports such as football and shinty deserve recognition by the nation's cultural community." Glasgow Herald 02/14/05

Is Philly Ready For A Permanent Arts Fund? While some American cities have created dedicated arts funds to insure a steady flow of capital to cash-starved cultural groups, Philadelphia's arts scene has remained largely pay-as-you-go. Now, the mayor is making it clear that he supports the idea of a $50-$100 million fund dedicated to the arts, and the business and political communities may be ready to back the plan. Philadelphia Inquirer 02/13/05

NYC Comedians To Get A Hard-Fought Raise Cable TV has made stand-up comedy into something of a glamorous profession in recent years. But for those struggling comics without development deals and HBO specials, stand-up is a tough way to make a living, with many New York clubs paying only $20 to $75 a set. So earlier this winter, the Big Apple's comedians banded together to demand better pay from club owners, and to threaten retaliation if their demands weren't met. And the funny thing is, they actually won. Washington Post 02/12/05

The Museum Of 20th Century Kitchenware? Toronto is planning a major new museum for its Harbourfront district to celebrate the city's cultural history. "Its core collection will be the more than 100,000 items ranging from 18th-century military uniforms to 20th-century industrial moulds, kitchenware and advertising signs amassed by the City of Toronto and currently stored in an unmarked building near the CNE. For the museum to open by its target date of 2010, council has to budget about $200,000 over two years for the formation of a governing board, determination of a site, and the planning of a Humanitas festival showcasing the creative energy of the city in 2006 that will move the consultant's plan forward." Toronto Star 02/12/05

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Entertainment Unions Protest Illegal Downloads "Five labor organizations representing America's actors, writers, directors, and musicians have complained of the injury caused by illegal Internet downloads in a 21-page "friend of the court" brief filed in support of film and music companies led by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios." The companies are suing download services for copyright infringement... Backstage 02/10/05

Well, You Know Vancouver Would Be Pissed Toronto has been designated one of Canada's "Cultural Capitals." So what, says Martin Knelman? "Can we be frank? This is hardly a reason for Toronto to throw its collective hat in the air and honk its horn on Yonge St. as if the Leafs had won the Stanley Cup. The Culture Capital designation is part of the recently renewed Tomorrow Starts Today program, designed to shower money on the arts... But what if Ottawa were to embrace the notion that Canada desperately needs a cultural capital able to compete with European and U.S. cultural centres, and came to the conclusion there is only one city in Canada that can realistically aspire to achieve that goal — Toronto?" Toronto Star 02/10/05

Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Cutting Edge Seattle Org Cuts Loose Director Consolidated Works is one of Seattle's premiere contemporary art spaces. But the organization has been going through turmoil recently, and Wednesday ConWorks founding director Mattew Richter was suddenly fired, leaving only one employee on the payroll (And he's only been on the job two weeks). Seattle Post-Intelligencer 02/09/05

China's Building Boom Culture China is on a building binge of cultural facilities. "Beijing alone is planning to add at least 32 new museums by 2008. Already underway is a $220 million expansion of the National Museum of China that will double the exhibition spaces, and, in a move that reflects a new emphasis on visitor services and earned income generation, complement them with a museum shop, café and cinema. And museums are not all. The new National Grand Theater, a $325 million performing arts complex designed by French architect Paul Andreu has broken ground and when complete will boast a 2,416-seat opera hall, a 2,017 seat concert hall, theatre and gleaming new patron spaces as well." Platform 02/05

Arts Council England Salaries Have Jumped "Arts Council England salaries have increased by an average of 66% in the past six years, despite a £10 million reorganisation in 2001 which was designed to cut costs, new research has revealed." On top of that, Arts Council funding has been slated for a three-year funding freeze, amgering arts institutions. The Stage (UK) 02/09/05

The 2005 Challenge: Raising Money Fundraisers expect 2005 will be a difficult year in which to raise money. "With fund raising growing more competitive, charities of all kinds are lavishing attention on individuals who have the potential to make significant gifts -- especially after such efforts paid off handsomely last year." Chronicle of Philanthropy 02/07/05

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

The Golden Decade (The 50s?) "The 1950s have an image problem. Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe are now the decade's most famous faces: a pair of troubled celebrities who abused drugs and died young. Visual shorthand for the decade is always the same: black-and-white clips of row after row of cloned houses in Levittown, or gaudy tailfins on cars, or H-bomb clouds mushrooming over Bikini Island." But maybe this is all wrong. Brian Murray contends that "the literary 1950s were a "third flowering of American talent." In fact, American literature of the 1950s "now asserts special claims to greatness," drawing energy from a decade that was far from being "smug and absorbed with its own splendors." Weekly Standard 02/08/05

Monday, February 7, 2005

Bush Proposes No Arts Funding Cuts With 154 federal agencies in line for budget cuts in George Bush's proposed new budget, the arts did pretty well, as Bush held funding steady... Washington Post 02/08/05

The Cost Of Raising Money Fundraisers are a fact of business for most non-profits. But some of the lavish events suck up much of the money they raise. So what should a fundraiser cost? New York Magazine 02/07/05

Nakedness And The Collapse Of American Civilization Where is the trauma in anything having to do with the naked human form, asks Susan Paynter. "In a culture that glorifies violence, why are human penises, bums and breasts so threatening? Why did the foundations of American civilization quake when, for 1.5 seconds, Janet Jackson's partially nude breast popped out at last year's Super Bowl?" Seattle Post-Intelligencer 02/07/05

Heating Up The Copyright Wars The stakes in the copyright wars are escalating. "With the Supreme Court scheduled next month to hear a pivotal case pitting copyright holders (represented by MGM Studios) against the makers of file-sharing software (Grokster and StreamCast Networks), some participants are putting their message machines into high gear. But winning hearts and minds - of teenagers, consumers and lawmakers - has never been a simple matter." The New York Times 02/07/05

Sunday, February 6, 2005

Locking Up Culture (And Why?) "It would be nice if everyone agreed that somebody who creates a speech, composes a piece of music or writes a book has the right not to be ripped off. But it's not that simple. Every work of art builds on what has gone before, using ideas and images that entered the public domain long ago. David Bollier argues that those who plunder it and lock up the loot with copyrights and trademarks are robbing humanity of its ability to create new works of art. What's worse, many corporations copyright things they obviously oughtn't, simply because they can get away with it. Who can afford to fight armies of well-paid corporate lawyers? Not the impoverished poet in a garret who borrows a small image from, say, a popular song and transforms it into a huge new one." Chicago Sun-Times 02/06/05

Architecture of Urban Exclusion "First there was the speed bump; now it's the bench barrier. The former is designed to slow traffic, the latter to stop skateboarders, BMXers, in-liners — and anyone else who would do more than sit upright in the public spaces of downtown Toronto. Although this architecture of exclusion can be hard to notice, much of the civic realm is being quietly altered to eliminate the menace of kids on wheels and, even worse, the homeless, and all those who would use benches, window sills or walls for other than their intended purposes." Toronto Star 02/05/05

Gunplay As Art? "Joseph Deutch, a 25-year-old graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, was the last student to perform a final project in a seminar taught by the performance artist Ron Athey on Nov. 29. According to witnesses, Mr. Deutch, wearing a coat and tie, pulled what appeared to be a handgun from a paper bag, loaded it with a single bullet, spun the cylinder, aimed the pistol at his head and pulled the trigger. When the gun failed to discharge, he left the room and, seconds later, the seminar members heard the sound of a shot." So is Deutch a dangerous individual with suicidal impulses, or can a game of Russian Roulette really be legitimately construed as art? Believe it or not, there is some precedent for this... The New York Times 02/05/05

Friday, February 4, 2005

Dallas's Arts District To Expand A proposed expansion of Dallas's Arts District got a big boost this week when a developer who had been balking at the zoning changes required for the expansion changed course and signed on as a supporter of the plan. "Despite vocal opposition from at least three property owners, City Plan Commission members on Thursday unanimously voted to lengthen the district." The Arts District has become one of downtown Dallas's most desirably urban areas, and the expansion is designed in part to force the owners of some of the dilapidated gas stations and vacant lots on the area's outskirts to conform to the new high standard set by the district. Dallas Morning News 02/04/05

Axelrod Accomplice Pleads Guilty " The key witness in the tax fraud case against philanthropist Herbert Axelrod pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge yesterday as part of a plea bargain with federal prosecutors. Gary Hersch, a former employee of Axelrod, admitted in federal court in Trenton that he conspired to defraud the Internal Revenue Service by hiding $775,000 in a Swiss bank account... Axelrod gained notoriety after he sold a collection of rare stringed instruments to the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra in 2003 for a fraction of what he said they were worth. That sale came under the scrutiny of federal authorities because of allegations that Axelrod had inflated the instruments' value as part of a tax scheme." Newark Star-Ledger 02/04/05

Thursday, February 3, 2005

Virginia State Budget Surplus Boosts Arts Hopes Virginia arts organizations have been frustrated in recent years trying to get the state legislature to allocate money for the arts. "Thanks to a surplus now hovering around $1.2 billion and an economy that is humming along, lawmakers are once again sounding more agreeable to arts funding. However, some restrictions still apply." Daily Press (Virginia) 02/03/05

Rich: The New American Censors Welcome to the Culture Wars, Part 36. Writes Frank Rich: "Public television is now so fearful of crossing its government patrons that it is flirting with self-immolation. Having disowned lesbians in the children's show "Postcards From Buster" and stripped suspect language from "Prime Suspect" on "Masterpiece Theater," PBS is editing its Feb. 23 broadcast of "Dirty War," the HBO-BBC film about a terrorist attack, to remove a glimpse of female nudity in a scene depicting nuclear detoxification. Next thing you know they'll be snipping lascivious flesh out of a documentary about Auschwitz." The New York Times 02/06/05

Cost Of War (Can't Tell It From American Culture) "What's startling about American culture in wartime today is how much it resembles American culture in peacetime. If earlier wars soaked deep into the fabric of the nation, Iraq has become a sporadically demanding background, popping into the nation's consciousness at times of extreme carnage, and then politely making way for other stories, from natural disaster to the foibles of teenage celebrities." Newsday 01/28/05

Philly Mayor Working On Major Arts Funding Plan Philadelphia mayor John Street says "arts and culture groups in the region need a new revenue stream that he estimates would be between $50 million and $100 million each year, and he is working quietly on a mechanism for putting that funding in place." Philadelphia Inquirer 02/03/05

Wednesday, February 2, 2005

NY Mayor Proposes Arts Funding Cuts "New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented a preliminary budget last week, forecasting a $1.4 billion overall surplus and proposing a Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) cut of some $20 million." The arts budget cuts weren't a surprise. Bloomberg had told arts groups in December of his intentions. Back Stage 02/02/05

Virginia's Desperate Arts Groups (And A Creative Play For Funding) Virgina's culture groups have hit on a creative way to try to fund their projects after the state legislature cut them off. "The proposal's sponsors are respected organizations. Their projects will be a boon to Virginia. The annual cost of what they're seeking, $6.8 million in debt service, is a modest sum, a footnote in the state budget. Their claim on state funding is valid and their strategy, in a difficult legislative environment, creative. But instead of backing cultural organizations into the corner, Virginia should recognize their value in regular appropriations from general funds." The Daily Press (Virginia) 02/02/05

Fighting Online Diploma Mills A new online database launched this week by the U.S. Department of Education is aiming to make it easier for prospective students seeking online or correspondence degrees to distinguish between accredited online schools and deceptive diploma mills which essentially trade worthless degrees for cash. "The white-list database could be a useful tool for would-be students and prospective employers who do not know how to distinguish between Hamilton University, a diploma mill in Wyoming, and Hamilton College, a small, distinguished and legitimately accredited liberal arts school in New York." Wired 02/02/05

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Britain Backs Anti-Piracy Plan The UK intends to throw its weight behind a pan-European clampdown on digital piracy. Piracy costs about £11 billion a year in Britain, a fifth of the annual £53.4bn worth of the UK's creative industries. The Guardian (UK) 02/02/05

Turkey's Case To The EU: Our Culture Turkey is trying to join the European Union. How to get member countries to vote yes on admittance? Through traveling shows of Turkish culture. "Before Europeans hold referendums on whether to admit Turkey, they must better know a people whose popular image is still largely shaped by the clichés of warriors, harems and immigrants. Certainly, few Europeans today recognize Turkey as a modern secular state with a rich and sophisticated past. So, yes, if "Turks" travels around Europe, as proposed, it should prove something of a revelation." The New York Times 02/01/05

Home | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy
Copyright ©
2002 ArtsJournal. All Rights Reserved