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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Miami PAC On target Looks like the roubled Miami Performing Arts Center is finally on budget and on schedule. "To be clear, it has been known since last July that the center is 20 months late and $67.7 million over the budget set when construction began in 2001. But at least it is adhering to its new schedule of opening in October 2006 and its new budget of $412 million. The center, with its 2,400-seat Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House, 2,200-seat Carnival Concert Hall and 200-seat Studio Theater, is more than 70 percent complete." Miami Herald 06/30/05

Trying To Stay A Step Ahead of the Feds A new report from Independent Sector, "a Washington, D.C.-based coalition of non-profits," takes a hard line on executive compensation and other methods of pushing the financial envelope, calling for government intervention in cases where non-profit and charitable organizations are found to be abusing the rules that govern their tax-free existence. Why would a group representing non-profits be so tough on its own members? Maybe because the U.S. Senate is gearing up to pass new rules which would be even tougher than those being proposed by Independent Sector. Chicago Tribune 06/30/05

Can Downloading Save Classical Music? Norman Lebrecht on the Supreme Court ruling holding software companies liable for the illegal file-swapping: "The music industry... can now stop penalising innocent teens in their bedrooms and go for the geeks who make the stealing systems." On the huge demand for free Beethoven downloads from BBC: "There is clearly a demand for more – so much so that such commercial download sites as I-tunes and Napster have linked up to the BBC’s output and some have launched Beethoven promotions of their own. There is a web buzz about Beethoven that could never have been achieved by plastic and terrestrial means of communication." La Scena Musicale 06/29/05

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Narrowing Free Speech On US Campuses A US federal court ruling this week threatens free speech on college campuses. "Seventh Circuit ruled by a 7-4 majority that administrators at public colleges have total control over subsidized student newspapers. But the scope of the decision is breathtaking, since the reasoning of the case applies to any student organization receiving student fees. Student newspapers, speakers and even campus protests could now be subject to the whim of administrative approval." Inside Higher Ed 06/28/05

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Kimmel Cuts Staff, Budget Philadelphia's Kimmel Center (home to the Philadelphia Orchestra, among others) has a $3 million deficit and is cutting 11 staff. "Part of the financial drain is long-term debt. The Kimmel took out a $30 million loan to help bridge the gap between the time pledges to its construction campaign were made and the time they were fulfilled. But only $3 million of the loan has been repaid, and each year the debt costs the Kimmel about $2 million in principal and interest payments. Now Kimmel leaders are trying to raise $90 million to reduce the debt and build an endowment." Philadelphia Inquirer 06/27/05

Monday, June 27, 2005

A Place For Culture...? Or Beer... "Over the last decade, the people of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and its neighbour, Gateshead, have all been joint lottery winners. Derelict wastelands, formerly national emblems of post-industrial decline, have been transformed by a succession of high-profile, and largely highbrow, new landmarks since the sculptor Antony Gormley first placed his rusty Angel of the North on the hills above Gateshead in 1998." But do these culture projects make for a cultural haven? The Observer (UK) 06/26/05

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Too Many Words, Not Enough Action Scotland's Cultural Commission released a 500-page report this week underlining the importance of the arts in everyday life. But do such bureaucratic examinations miss the point? "No committee ever wrote a book, no strategy composed a symphony and no review created a work of art. [The] report fails to make its central case – that only the proposed Culture Scotland, a membership organisation owned and governed by councils for heritage and creative industries, plus representatives of business, education, and the voluntary sector, is the vehicle to deliver cultural rights." Sunday Herald (Glasgow) 06/26/05

Napa Arts Caught In A Catch-22 California's Napa Valley has seen an artistic renaissance over the past five years, with multiple venues undergoing extensive renovations to bring them up to snuff for high-level performing arts groups. But post-renovation, many of the area's arts organizations are finding themselves priced out of the venues, which must charge high rents in order to break even. Napa Valley Register (CA) 06/26/05

Has Kansas City PAC's Fate Been Decided? Kansas City music critic Paul Horsley touched a nerve last week when he penned a column blasting the city's political elite for being culturally clueless and watering down an ambitious plan to build a massive new performing arts center. Some Kansas Citians were offended at the suggestion that they could use a little more height in their brows, but most of the reader response was vociferously positive. Still, Horsley says that no matter how many arts fans protest the scaled-back PAC plan, his sources indicate that the decision to scrap the original project has already been made behind closed doors. Kansas City Star 06/26/05

Pataki: No Controversial Art Allowed At Ground Zero One day after a New York tabloid published an inflammatory screed against what it called the anti-American art being displayed by two future museum tenants of Ground Zero, New York Governor George Pataki warned that he would not tolerate any art that could offend families of 9/11 victims being displayed on the site. "While saying that he respected artistic expression, Mr. Pataki invoked the solemnity of past battlegrounds in promising to preserve the hallowed ground in Lower Manhattan and ensure that no one will come away feeling offended by the reborn site... Mr. Pataki's demand, which was denounced by several arts groups and Democrats as a violation of free speech, is the latest episode in a series of public disputes and flash points for the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan." The New York Times 06/25/05

  • An Odd Target Holland Cotter finds all the bluster about controversial art at New York's Drawing Center to be quite the tempest in a teapot. "In fact, the Drawing Center is noted for its rigorous formal, as opposed to ideological, mission. Since its founding in 1977, it has focused on two things: presenting museum-style shows of traditional drawing, whether in the hands of Rembrandt or Agnes Martin or 19th-century Shakers; and expanding, largely through contemporary art, the definition on what 'drawing' as a medium is." The New York Times 06/25/05

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Saratoga Looks For New Life The Saratoga Performing Arts Center is reopening with hopes for a fresh start. "The performing arts center is pronouncing itself reborn after a grim year touched off by the announcement that the New York City Ballet - a founding constituent - would be banished because of a financial crisis. The news led to a scathing state audit, an attorney general's investigation and a bombardment of critical articles in the local press. But a new and politically connected executive director was appointed. The old board resigned en masse last month and was replaced." The New York Times 06/24/05

Which Los Angeles Shall It Be? Los Angeles is "a city re-examining its past. And it comes as the strength of Latino culture is increasingly evident - in everything from the city's murals to its concert halls and stages. The city is poised for a cultural shift. Latinos will form a majority of the population in the US's second-largest city within a few years." Sydney Morning Herald 06/24/05

Anime Gives American Pop Culture A Run "What began as a distinctly Japanese style of visual storytelling has gone global. As culture watchers from Tokyo to London point out, anime is far more than Pikachu and PowerPuff girls. The art form has achieved what no other indigenous cultural expression has managed to do: become widespread enough to challenge America's stranglehold on entertainment." Christian Science Monitor 06/24/05

A Plan To Remake Scottish Arts A long awaited plan for Scottish culture is released: "It contains 124 recommendations for the future of art and culture in Scotland, 29 of which require new legislation. It includes calls for a major funding boost, the abolition of the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen, and the establishment of two new national arts bodies: Culture Scotland and the Culture Fund. The former would develop policy and the fund would provide finance. Both bodies, operating as companies, would roughly maintain the "arm's length" principle – where cultural decisions are made outside government – which most artists and cultural workers in Scotland desired." Glasgow Herald 06/24/05

  • Scottish Culture Report Slammed Even Before It's Released Scotland's official Cultural Commission is to deliver its report on the future of Scottish arts. "But last night the organisation representing Scotland's local councils made a searing pre-emptive strike, denouncing the body as undemocratic, dull and driven by "managerial gobbledygook". The Scotsman 06/23/05

Do We Need Arts Prizes Just For Women? "Years after feminism was declared history, is there a new trend to single out women for special recognition? Until the 1970's, in most cultural fields, men created and women consumed. Today, across the West, women are well represented in art, architecture, music and film schools and account for a majority of students attending college literature and creative writing courses. Yet while women no longer regard the creative arts as a male province, when it comes to winning or even making the short list of prizes in fiction, poetry, art, architecture and music, they still fare poorly. Are there fewer women in these fields, are they less talented than men, or are women simply being denied equal opportunity?" The New York Times 06/23/05

Senator Questions Getty CEO Compensation The head of the US Senate committee considering overhaul of laws governing non-profit institutions has questioned compensation paid to Getty director Barry Munitz. "Charities shouldn't be funding their executives' gold-plated lifestyles," Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said this week in a statement to The Times. Los Angeles Times 06/23/05

San Jose Nudges Up Arts Funding The city of San Jose, CA has increased its arts funding a tiny bit - to $2 million next year. "The funding jump, up from $1.8 million last year, is the first since 2001-02 when the city awarded $3.9 million in grants. Before Tuesday's vote, arts funding had steadily declined each fiscal year, which begins July 1 ends June 30." San Jose Mercury-News 06/23/05

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Cynical Side Of Live 8 "It's easy to get cynical about Live 8, the much-touted, multi-venue mega-concert aimed at raising the West's consciousness on poverty in advance of the G-8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland. No question the July 2 event is getting huge hype. Didja hear that Pink Floyd is getting back together for the occasion? Or that the memory of the 1985 Live Aid is being desecrated? Or that 2 million text messages in London alone — at about $4 Canadian a pop — were sent during the e-lottery for freebie tickets? Or that some of those tickets landed on eBay for up to $1,000? Yet there's hardly been a peep about, just to name one thing, the heart-rending videos of orphans and street kids, and the effect of the crushing debt faced by many nations." Toronto Star 06/21/05

  • Live 8 - The Responsibility Of Artists? Are we getting numb to big celebrity-promoted causes? There have been a lot of them. Live 8 doesn't aim to raise money though; it's looking to shine some celebrity attention on an issue. "It's what artists have always done - comment on society and raise awareness. The question to ask is, 'Are you an artist or an entertainer?' Because artists do more than entertain." Philadelphia Inquirer 06/22/05

A Plan For Funding Pennsylvania Arts Pennsylvania state legislators consider tax bills that would provide the arts with stable funding of about $8 million a year. Statewide, that won't make a huge impact - the mayor of Philadelphia estimates that his city needs income of $50-$100 million/year to stabilize arts needs - but it's a good start... Philadelphia Inquirer 06/22/05

Tech Will Propel Entertainment Biz A new report says that digital technologies are dramatically boosting the entertainment industry. "Worldwide, new ways of buying all forms of entertainment - such as broadband internet - will increase revenues from $11.4bn in 2004 to $73bn by 2009, the report predicted. Wayne Jackson, global leader of PricewaterhouseCoopers Entertainment and Media Practice said the entertainment and media industry could reinvent itself. He described the industry's "ability to create new revenue streams through innovative offerings that hardly existed as recently as 2000". BBC 06/22/05

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Those Wacky Wikis... Interactivity is the new buzzword of the young, hip, and terminally self-absorbed, and the results are decidedly mixed. The Los Angeles Times recently abandoned traditional editorials in favor of an interactive "wiki-torial" page, which was almost immediately flooded with abuse, spam, and porn come-ons. Other supposedly serious "wiki" pages remain densely clogged with stupidity, and even the original Wikipedia (an encyclopedia written by its readers) is notoriously unreliable. The lesson, says Alex Beam, is that there is still room in the online world for people who are actually skilled at what they do, and sucking up to the masses doesn't actually make them any smarter. Boston Globe 06/21/05

Kansas City Performing Arts Center - Shouldn't Someone Have Vision? Why has Kansas City's performing arts center stalled at the planning stage? Paul Horsley thinks he knows: the culprit is "the musical illiteracy of Kansas City’s political, economic and even intellectual elite... The malaise embraces more than boardrooms and government offices. It infects the city’s media outlets. A recent radio program devoted to discussing the PAC’s future had not one arts person present. To this panel of bureaucrats and business heads, the center was a structure, a shell designed to generate revenue and make Kansas City look snazzy." Nonetheless, the city appears poised to embrace a watered-down renovation plan... Kansas City Star 06/21/05

Monday, June 20, 2005

Canada Considers Tougher Copyright Canada's government is introducing new copyright legislation that could significantly change online habits. "Dubbed Bill C-60, the proposed legislation is a package of amendments to the Copyright Act. It covers file-sharing, downloading and burning copies of CDs and movies. Under the changes, making a CD for personal use would remain legal. However, a so-called "make available" clause would criminalize putting songs into shared online directories such as Kazaa or BitTorrent." CBC 06/20/05

Scotland to Set Up Club To Honor Artists Scotland is setting up a new academy to honor artists. "An 'Academy of Scotland' is to be established to honour the most distinguished artists in Scottish culture. Under early plans, a select group of the best and brightest across the artistic spectrum will receive the new award, designed to reward excellence. The recipients are likely to receive their titles as 'Member of the Academy of Scotland' in a yearly ceremony held on St Andrew's Day." Glasgow Herald 06/19/05

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Will Ireland Make Artists Pay Taxes? For the past 35 years, Ireland has exempted artists from paying taxes. "But Celtic Tiger Ireland is now being accused of reverting to its old philistine ways as the government consults in secret on whether to scrap the scheme. Detractors claim that tax-avoiding British writers are taking advantage, and that an elite of millionaire popstars is using it to get rich. The Arts Council is outraged, arguing that Ireland faces losing 'one of the most enlightened pieces of legislation ever introduced for the arts in any country'." The Guardian (UK) 06/18/05

Scottish Arts Warn Government Against Control The Scottish Arts Council warns that Scotland's culture will be harmed if the Scottish executive extends control over the arts. "In a strongly-worded letter to the commission, the SAC insists the arts will only continue to flourish if control remains separate from government. The letter - signed by more than 30 arts organisations across Scotland - makes it clear that any move to extend the Executive's power within the arts will harm cultural expression." Scotland on Sunday 06/19/05

In SF: An Alternative Art Space At Middle Age "Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco's oldest alternative art space, is turning 40 this year. Its name is now synonymous with the Mission District, and as hipsters flow out onto the street after an evening of experimental theater, art, or jazz, it's hard to imagine the organization existing anywhere other than on that scruffy block of Valencia between 15th and 16th streets." San Francisco Weekly 06/15/05

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Americans For the Arts - Looking For Value In Austin Members of American for the Arts gather in Austin for the group's annual meeting. "Robert Lynch, AFA's president and chief executive officer, presented findings from the organization's latest research effort: an analysis of municipal, state, and regional arts agencies in 2003, the first year that saw a decline in arts funding after six years of increases. As the national economy has crept back from its post-Sept. 11 slump, however, arts funding has either increased or plateaued." Backstage 06/16/05

Tough Times For Critics? "Serious arts criticism is looking beleaguered these days in the face of forces ranging from a celebrity-besotted media to the rise of critic-bloggers on the Internet to falling newspaper circulation to suspicion of anything that might be considered “elitist.” The age of great critics - popular, influential writers such as Virgil Thomson on classical music, Clement Greenberg on visual art, Edwin Denby on dance or Pauline Kael on movies - is long gone. Today, critics are more likely to be glorified touts giving thumbs up or down than probing thinkers and literary stylists." Falls Church News-Press (Virginia) 06/16/05

Surviving The Dot-Com Boom And Bust For many arts groups, the tech bubble of the late 1990s was a boon unlike any other in recent history, a time when businesspeople were rolling in cash and eager to dole it out to needy nonprofits. But in San Francisco, one of the centers of the dot-com boom, the arts were nearly drowned by the concomitant tidal wave of rising real estate prices. "The real estate crunch may have eased when the boom went bust, but now the focus has shifted to battling even more aggressively for financial support, as public and private funding dried up." The crisis gave new direction to the Bay Area group known as Intersection for the Arts, which has been connecting artists, performers and audiences in an attempt to promote a citywide sense of community ownership of the arts. San Francisco Chronicle 06/16/05

House Strikes Library Access From Patriot Act The U.S. House of Representatives has blocked a controversial provision of the infamous Patriot Act, saying that it impinges on the privacy rights of individuals. The provision allows federal investigators access to library and bookstore records in order to track the reading habits of Americans suspected of wrongdoing. The American Civil Liberties Union is celebrating the 238-to-187 vote striking down the provision. President Bush is most decidedly not. The New York Times 06/16/05

Power To The People? Maybe... Most politicians are not what you'd call on the cutting edge of new technology, and in the past few years, that has meant that most Congressional attempts to deal with the controversies surrounding new media, fair use, and copyright law have wound up being criticized as anti-consumer. The main problem seems to be that Congress doesn't really understand the issues involved. But there are exceptions, and Congressman Rick Boucher is Exhibit A. "While other lawmakers have long-standing relationships with the entertainment industry, whose chief concern is piracy, Boucher sees his pro-technology policies as a way to further education, communication and job creation. Boucher, a Democrat representing the rural 9th District of Virginia, has introduced a bill to restore some of the fair-use rights taken away by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act." Wired 06/16/05

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

How To Survive Russian Roulette It was last November when first-year grad student Joseph Deutch pulled out a gun in his UCLA performance art class and proceeded to play Russian Roulette in front of his horrified classmates and professor. Since then, two tenured professors have resigned in protest of the university's failure to immediately suspend Deutch, calling his actions "domestic terrorism," and a full investigation has been completed by the school. But Deutch remains enrolled at UCLA, and the dean of students says that there are no plans to expel him. Los Angeles Times 06/15/05

Should Music Have A Place In Museums? When the Los Angeles County Museum of Art unceremoniously dumped a long-running music series it had hosted for nearly two decades this spring, museum officials explained that the move was part of a decision to focus on LACMA's core mission of bringing art to the public. Mark Swed is skeptical of this line of thinking: "Money doesn't seem to be the overriding concern. The museum's music programming has always been done on the cheap. Many of the series have underwriting... Never have the arts been more suited to interaction than they are now. And never before have art museums been better equipped to be laboratories for such chemical combustion. Los Angeles Times 06/15/05

If You Build It, Will We Come? The city of Roanoke, Virginia, is attempting to raise $46 million to build a museum designed by Randall Stout, and the project has the town buzzing. But are high art and small cities in the Blue Ridge Mountains really meant for each other? "The danger is that outsiders will embrace it, but we - the natives - won't." In fact, it all sounds suspiciously like this one episode of The Simpsons... Roanoke Times (VA) 06/15/05

Monday, June 13, 2005

Europe's Oldest Civilization Discovered "Archaeologists have discovered Europe's oldest civilisation, a network of dozens of temples, 2,000 years older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids. More than 150 gigantic monuments have been located beneath the fields and cities of modern-day Germany, Austria and Slovakia. They were built 7,000 years ago, between 4800BC and 4600BC." The Independent (UK) 06/12/05

Is Arts Criticism Dead? "Blame it on Pablo Picasso. Anyone who took a college arts course knows that modernism began in 1907 with his painting Les Demoiselles D'Avignon. Implicit in modernism, as seen in Picasso's use of flat perspective, non-Western art and the deconstruction of the human body, was a critique of art itself. From the death of art to the death of art criticism is a step that, amazingly, has taken a full century. The Internet is but the latest manifestation of modernism. And it follows that if in art anything goes -- as opposed to the Academism that modernism rejected -- the same is true for criticism. Everybody's a critic. Blog it." Miami Herald 06/12/05

Sunday, June 12, 2005

In Virginia - A Performing Arts Center Is Derailed A year ago there was much excitement in Richmond, VA, as a campaign to build a new $168 million performing arts center kicked into gear. But the project has bogged down and "what so many had hoped would become Richmond’s saving grace — a grand music hall that would complete a renaissance on East Broad Street — has been derailed. For the arts center, the going won’t get easier anytime soon. If fund-raising was already difficult in part because of negative publicity, as the foundation asserts, it promises to get worse as Wilder continues his assault on the business community, making the performing arts center his personal punching bag of taxpayer waste. StyleWeekly (Virginia) 06/08/05

New Jersey Finds A Hole In Its Cultural Funding Plan Two years ago New Jersey passed a dedicated hotel-motel tax to provide stable funding for arts and culture. Arts supporters rejoiced. But the amount the tax has collected has fallen far short of predictions and "although funding for the arts council is at an all-time high, overall cultural funding is down because the tax does not fully fund the cultural trust, a public-private endowment started in 2000." The Star-Ledger (Newark) 06/11/05

Philly In Full Fundraising Mode What's $150 million here, $500 million there? Philadelphia's trying to do it all, with some major fundraising projects that challenge the city's big money to make serious commitments... Philadelphia Inquirer 06/12/05

Friday, June 10, 2005

San Antonio's 38 Strategies San Antonio's city council now has an arts plan that includes 38 strategies. "Public funding for the arts is about $2.78 per capita. That figure is about half of what other major cities allocate for the cultural arts. Yet, the economic impact of the local creative sector was $1.2 billion in 2003." San Antonio Express-News 06/10/05

Thursday, June 9, 2005

Arts Journalism - The Best And Worst Of Times The National Arts Journalism Program has closed at Columbia University, and the timing is not auspicious. NAJP director Andras Szanto says that for arts journalism, "it's the best of times and the worst of times. It's the worst of times in the uncertainty, anxiety, insecurity, and dislocation facing arts journalists in institutions that are being staffed by outsourced freelancers with pay scales that are comparable to artists. Within news organizations, they're trying to keep up with an arts world that is being marginalized." Back Stage 06/09/05

Illinois Non-Profits Teeming With Workers One out of every thirteen working people in the state of Illinois is employed by a non-profit organization, according to a new study. " In 2003, the report says, 441,814 people worked for hospitals, schools, cultural institutions, social-service agencies and other Illinois groups organized under section 501(c)(3) of the federal tax code. That was more, for example, than the 406,300 workers in metal and machinery manufacturing or the 312,900 in finance and insurance." Chicago Tribune 06/09/05

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Building A Better Critic? Why are there so few architecture critics in America? "For a long while now mainstream architectural journalism has been mostly synonymous with architectural criticism — with reviews of significant buildings. But you don't have to browse through too many Arts or Entertainment or Weekend sections to see that critiques of buildings are an odd, uneasy fit amid all the reviews of movies and plays and TV shows, of music and dance and literature — of arts that are easily accessible and (often) widely distributed, arts that you can affordably experience simply by visiting a local theater or gallery, buying a book or CD, or tuning in HBO." PixelPoints (AJBlogs) 06/02/05

  • What Critics Need... "What critics have trouble doing is developing their own robust, well grounded taste. "Taste" is an antique concept but an irreplaceable one. Most people, even cultural theorists who would not grant the concept any credence in their academic work, exercise taste all the time in their non-academic life. Just ask them about the last movie they saw, or (even better) the music their kids are listening to. But because taste is something of a taboo topic in academia, many well credentialed critics do not feel very confident of their own judgment, which makes them vulnerable to being swept up by one or the other side in the so-called culture war." Serious Popcorn (AJBlogs) 05/27/05

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

What Is It About That Harvard Brand? "Why does Harvard continue to dominate its rivals, at least in terms of reputation? It's not as though its degrees guarantee great jobs. According to research from the University of Pennsylvania, the percentage of top executives at Fortune 100 companies who were Ivy League undergrads dropped from 14% to 10% from 1980 to 2001. A study by Spencer Stuart, the executive search firm, shows that as of 2004, Harvard no longer owns the No. 1 ranking as the university attended by the most CEOs of Standard & Poor's 500 companies (just under 4%). The school that caught up to it: the University of Wisconsin." USAToday 06/07/05

Waiting To Hear On The Future Of Scottish Art A big official government report on the future of Scottish arts is due out soon. But speculation and rumor are running wild ove what the report's recommendations will be. "In a last round of consultations with arts bodies, some details have begun to leak out. There is mounting speculation in the arts world over not just what the report contains, but how it will be received." The Scotsman 06/06/05

Monday, June 6, 2005

Space Station Looking For Art Managers of the International Space Station are commissioning art for the station. "People associate the space station almost exclusively with scientific work," said Nicola Triscott, director of the science-art agency The Arts Catalyst, which has been commissioned by the European Space Agency to make a six-month study of practical proposals for art in space. "But the agency believes very strongly that the cultural world should have a say in the future of space exploration." The Guardian (UK) 06/07/05

The Professor Who Attacks Arts Subsidies John Carey's new book "What Good are the Arts?" argues that the majority should not have to pay for the entertainment of the educated minority. "What, he explains, really gets him about Covent Garden, is the 'luxury' of it. He also feels it's wrong that the majority should pay for the pleasures of the educated minority. When there is no way of proving that so-called great art has any transcendental value, Carey feels, it is hard to argue that it should be made available at the tax-payer's expense, as in his view it offers no demonstrable moral or spiritual benefits to society. This even leads him to question the state subsidy that makes the National Gallery entrance free of charge." The Guardian (UK) 06/05/05

Checking Out The Source Of The Gift Focus on the possible misdeeds of philanthropist Alberto Vilar has got arts organizations and colleges thinking about how they accept gifts. "Nationwide, gifts tarnished by scandal represent a tiny share of campus philanthropy, but the dollar total is rising. In 2003, The Chronicle of Higher Education estimated that campuses had received more than $100 million from firms or individuals investigated, accused or convicted of white-collar swindling." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 06/06/05

Sunday, June 5, 2005

Scotland - Accessibility Threatens Quality? Scotland is undergoing a debate about the accessibility and quality of its support for the arts. Is one incompatible with the other? "We must not confuse accessibility with the lowest common denominator. You should aim to put out the best art exhibitions, the best musical performance, the best book festival and then you make that accessible. My belief is that this shows the greatest respect of all to the individual to whom you are trying to create access, to say 'we have the best here'." Scotland on Sunday 06/05/05

Taking A Closer Look At Benefactors "In an era when megamillionaires are made faster than ever, fund-raising experts have grown more cautious about whom they anoint as board members and about ensuring that pledges are in hand before money is spent. Yet at the same time, arts groups say, there is no sure-fire way to predict or guard against a reversal of fortune. And as corporate and government aid declines, cultural institutions need to take what they can get." The New York Times 06/06/05

Politics Before Progress London has finally embarked on a redesign of its beleagured South Bank Arts Centre. But no sooner had progress started to be made than an ugly battle between the Centre's chief executive and the local government overseers spilled over into the press. Now, it seems as if everyone in the city is choosing up sides, and the controversy is badly overshadowing what should be a collaborative project. The Observer (UK) 06/05/05

The L.A. You Don't Know Mention 'culture' and 'Los Angeles' in the same sentence, and you'll likely hear a few snickers. After all, this is Hollywood's town, a city of car-crazy transplants with no real interest in the high arts, right? Wrong, says Donald Rosenberg. The myth of a cultureless L.A. probably wasn't ever true, and it certainly isn't true now. America's second-largest city is buzzing with culture, and is fast becoming one of the country's centers of artistic innovation. The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 06/05/05

It's Still Fiction, Right? There may not be a bigger cultural controversy in the world today than the furor surrounding Dan Brown's novel, The DaVinci Code, and the cottage industry that has grown up around it. Thus far, the book and its fans have not been fazed by the criticisms of, among others, the Catholic Church, but opponents may finally have scored their first victory, as Westminster Abbey denies permission for a film version of the book to be shot inside. St. Paul Pioneer Press 06/04/05

Friday, June 3, 2005

Do The Arts Still Matter In A 5000-Channel Universe? Are the arts falling behind in a cultural universe that is expanding exponentially? "The culture is constantly evolving, under the pressures of changing demographics, audience behavior, seductive new technologies and the nature of making and consuming art. No organization, no artist can afford to assume that anything that's working today will do so tomorrow." San Francisco Chronicle 06/03/05

Art In The 'Burbs Suburban communities across the US are getting into community art projects. "Some of those forms aim for the sublime. Some are utilitarian. And some are all about community pride and boosterism." St. Paul Pioneer-Press 06/03/05

Thursday, June 2, 2005

Art - Entertainment Or Investment A New York curator says art is facing a crisis. "It's a dismal time. Young artists in my city are very upset about being suborned by commerce, on an international scale now. Art has just been lassooed to serve the purposes of the larger society, which are totally commercial. It must be said some artists are glad enough to collaborate." Sydney Morning Herald 06/03/05

Flexibility May Be The Future As the range of entertainment options available to Americans gets ever wider, it seems to be increasingly difficult for arts organizations to draw a crowd, and by extension, to raise money. "It's not only the will and wherewithal to give that can erode arts funding. Social needs, priorities and sensibilities change. A museum or new theater that was exciting to build and open isn't necessarily as thrilling to fund five years later, when it's up and running... The culture is constantly evolving, under the pressures of changing demographics, audience behavior, seductive new technologies and the nature of making and consuming art. No organization, no artist can afford to assume that anything that's working today will do so tomorrow." San Francisco Chronicle 06/02/05

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

US House Approves Increase In NEA Budget "The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a Congressional Arts Caucus floor amendment to increase the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts by $10 million, while quashing two additional amendments that would have cut a total of $45 million from the federal arts budget." Back Stage 06/01/05

Teachout: Culture Blogs And The Quality Of Culture Terry Teachout sees the rise of arts blogs as a profound cultural change. "Artblogs are barely more than three years old. It is far too soon to say which of their opposing tendencies, the atomizing or the embracing, will have a more profound effect on the wider culture they have already started to shape. It may be that blogging will encourage the creation of a new kind of common culture, exerting something of the same unifying force as did the old middlebrow media (and as About Last Night seeks to do). Or not: if the experience of political blogs is any indication, blogging may be more likely to foster discrete subcultures of shared interest, larger and more cohesive but nonetheless separate." Commentary 06/05

Canadian Culture Increasingly Doesn't Travel "Canada’s export of cultural goods—such as art and music—has been steadily declining for the last four years. In 2004 it reached its lowest point since 1997, according to the Statscan report. The trade deficit in culture goods is due to a decline in exports—particularly to the US—and is most pronounced in the sector of written and published works such as books, periodicals, newspapers, and other printed materials." Epoch Times 06/01/05

Canadians Cash Out On Culture Canadians are spending more and more on culture. A new government report say that "consumer spending on cultural goods and services grew 36 per cent from 1997 to 2003. Over the same period, the Consumer Price Index, which gauges all spending, increased 14 per cent. The 2003 amount, pegged at $22.8 billion, was more than Canadians spent on alcohol, tobacco and gambling ($20.8 billion) or RRSP contributions ($16.3 billion). Consumer spending on culture was more than triple government contributions to culture nationwide, which topped out at $7.4 billion." Toronto Star 06/01/05

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