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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Artists Oppose UK Government's Anti-Incitement Plans The British government's controversial plans to ban incitement to religious hatred are facing growing opposition from the arts world. "It'll have a terrible effect on writers. The ones who will get prosecuted are the new, up-and-coming writers, comedians and playwrights." The Guardian (UK) 08/31/05

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

An Orlando Performing Arts Center - Planning Gets Serious After two decades of talking, Orlando Florida is working seriously on building a new performing arts center. "A glittering new performing-arts complex in downtown Orlando could draw the best performers from Orlando and around the world and could serve as a uniting force for Central Florida. A poorly planned and supported project could become a giant vacuum, sucking up the Orlando area's energy and cash." Orlando Sentinel 08/28/05

Money To Rescue "Eyes on the Prize" From Copyright The classic civil rights documentary Eyes on the Prize has been out of circulation because copyright licensing of clips in the movie had expired. "The 14-part series, which chronicles the history of the civil rights movement in America, has been blocked from television rebroadcast and DVD release by a thicket of copyright restrictions on the hundreds of photos, music tracks and video clips used in its making. But thanks to a $600,000 grant from the Ford Foundation and a philanthropist's $250,000 donation, the process of re-licensing that material has begun." Wired 08/30/05

Monday, August 29, 2005

Pssst... Need A Ticket? (Oh Yeah, we Don't Need To Do That Anymore) It used to be that ticket scalping was a shady illegal transaction that had to be carried out on street corners. But increasingly, "secondary ticket selling" has become respectable as it moved online and established a thriving business. Now AOL has joined the act... The New York Times 08/29/05

Plea: Make Scottish Culture Great The chairman of the Scottish Arts Council has made an impassioned plea to the Scottish Executive to boost support for the arts. “The Cultural Commission is full of good things and full of rags and bones as well. Culture isn’t just what they do in Edinburgh: it could make Scotland great again in a new way. If we can get this through to our Scottish politicians, they will unfold the treasury.” Glasgow Herald 08/28/05

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Pennsylvania - Land Of The Non-Profit In the past decade, non-profits have created one in every four jobs in Pennsylvania. "Nonprofits now employ about one in 10 working Pennsylvanians, among the highest rates in the nation. Philadelphia itself is almost off the charts, with one in five workers in the city employed by nonprofits at the end of 2003. The comparable rate for the United States: one in 14." Philadelphia Inquirer 08/28/05

How America Is Failing At Public Diplomacy A nation's culture, exported to the world, acts powerfully in the arena of diplomacy. But "despite a mounting stack of reports recommending drastic changes in the organization and funding of public diplomacy, very little of substance has been done. And most Americans, including many who make it their business to analyze public diplomacy, seem unmindful of the negative impression that America has recently been making on the rest of humanity -- via our popular culture." Washington Post 08/28/05

Miss Manners Weighs In On The "New" Heckling Miss Manners has observed that "heckling is attempting to reinvent itself under the popular name of 'audience participation.' The Internet having given us the means of widely disseminating immediate personal reactions to just about everything, the idea has arisen that doing so will enhance any format. Sorry, all you little whizzes who thought you could outsmart Miss Manners: Using a new method of achieving a rude aim does not catapult you into etiquette-free territory." Washington Post 08/28/05

What's It Take To Be A Star In The Arts? "It's not just about spotting talent, it's about spotting what might strike a chord with people." Ten prominent British star-spotters talk about what it takes to make it big... The Observer (UK) 08/28/05

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Off-Road Schooling... "That learning makes up a small part of college life today is widely acknowledged. The question remains: What is going on the rest of the time?' OpinionJournal.com 08/25/05

Christiansen: Edinburgh International Fest Has Swooned The Edinburgh Festival has lost its attractions as the Fringe has taken over, writes Rupert Christiansen. "Edinburgh has lost its dourness, dignity and mystique, surrendering its soul to swish boutiques and decadent youth. The Festival has, meanwhile, sprawled and spawned like some tentacular creature of the deep. The "official" selection of opera, ballet, classical concerts and foreign drama now makes up only a small element in an anarchic 24-hour carnival of performance that also embraces film, television and literature. In terms of both audience numbers and creative energy, the carnival is now Edinburgh's motivating cultural force, leaving the International Festival marginalised." The Telegraph (UK) 08/24/05

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Mayor: Kill Richmond Performing Arts Center Plans Richmond, Virginia mayor Douglas Wilder wants the foundation charged with building a new performing arts center in his city to drop their plans and renovate an existing facility. Doing so would "eliminate a new music hall, community playhouse and jazz club that are envisioned by the Virginia Performing Arts Foundation. Wilder said he is tired of waiting for foundation officials to respond to his concerns that they can't raise the money to pay for the $112 million project. He said he is also concerned that the foundation may have misused the $7.6 million of city funds it has received so far." Richmond Times-Dispatch 08/24/05

Monday, August 22, 2005

Will Menlo Reinstate Arts Commission? Last year all seven members of the Menlo Park, California Arts Commission quit when the city decided to repeal its percent-for-art ordinance. Now a proposa; to reinstate the commission has drawn hesitation from the mayor. "Personally, I would love to see a huge number of commissions. But the amount of staff time devoted to a commission can be quite intense. If we reinstate the Arts Commission, we have to ask ourselves what it would displace." San Francisco Examiner 08/22/05

Unemployed Aussie Artists Feel Left Out Unemployed Australian artists complain that they're discriminated against by government unemployment programs because they're artists. "The fundamental problem was that there was no box to tick that said 'I am an artist'. So right from the outset people were made to feel invisible." The Age (Melbourne) 08/22/05

Sunday, August 21, 2005

International Body Advises On Content of NY Freedom Center "A global network of human rights museums is urging the International Freedom Center to downplay America in its exhibits and programs at Ground Zero. The outrageous request is the latest controversy to torment the Freedom Center, whose leaders have tried to dispel the perception that it would be a home for America bashers." Earlier this month the Freedom Center was told to give assurances that exhibits would glorify America. New York Daily News 08/21/05

  • Making A Mockery Of 9/11 Memorial? So the International Coalition of Historic Site Museums of Conscience warns of what should go in the Freedom Center at Ground Zero? "The coalition's annual report... certifies that 9/11 families were right to warn that the Freedom Center was being taken over by bash-America propagandists. It also shows, again, that Gov. Pataki had no clue what he was doing in giving the Freedom Center and a second cultural group, the Drawing Center, a franchise at Ground Zero." New York Daily News 08/21/05

In Minnesota: How About Restoring Arts Funding? Minnesota's state legislators "gutted arts funding" in 2003. Dominic Papatola writes that with the State meeting to consider funding for stadiums, they shouldn't forget about restoring some of that arts money. "Yes, a bundle of money got tossed at the Guthrie and Children's theaters. But cuts to the Minnesota State Arts Board — which serves individual artists, arts organizations and school kids from Moorhead to Ely to Rochester — cost the agency a third of its budget and two-fifths of its staff. Don't forget that states and municipalities across the country are returning to the arts-funding table." St. Paul Pioneer-Press 08/21/05

Maker Of Reputations (Who Decides?) Why does some art stick around, touted as great, while other art - maybe just as good or better, even - sinks into oblivion? "Who makes the rules? Who manages the reputations of artists? Who decides what gets taken from the past, and what just stays there?" The Observer (UK) 08/21/05

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A Major Blow To Newspaper Arts Sections "Every major movie studio is rethinking its reliably humongous display ad buys in those papers because those newsosaur readers are, to quote one mogul, “older and elitist” compared to younger, low-brow filmgoers — so it makes no sense to waste the dough. Wait, it gets worse: I’ve learned that at least two Hollywood movie studios have decided to drastically cut their newspaper display ads as soon as possible. This news couldn’t occur at a worse time for the LAT and NYT, which both receive the lion’s share of those very showy $100,000-plus full-page after full-page movie display ads." LAWeekly 08/17/05

NYC Arts Figure In '05 Elections Will the arts be an factor in New York City elections this year? "Surely, few public officials lack an understanding of culture's central place in New York City. It is more likely that these officials sense that the arts do not need a high level of government attention in the face of what they see as more pressing concerns. Arts advocates view it differently, some worrying that the city's cultural prominence is already eroding. They believe City Hall needs a comprehensive arts policy, a concrete strategy to maintain the city's position as cultural capital and to take it further." Gotham Gazette 08/17/05

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A Debate About £100 Million For The Arts Will the Scottish government go ahead with a Cultural Commission report's recommendations to spend another £100 million on the arts? Not without a full parliamentary debate, says the Scottish executive... The Scotsman 08/16/05

What Makes A Good Artistic Director? "Artistic directors are a rare breed: someone who can stoke the fire of their own art output while being charged with the success and leadership of a company - often when that company is going through a dramatic time of change." The Age (Melbourne) 08/16/05

Monday, August 15, 2005

Charlotte Looks For $150 Million In Arts Funding Charlotte (NC) arts leaders are looking to pass a major package of funding support. "Discussions on a series of new and revamped museums and theaters began four years ago. For much of the past two years, executives at the Arts & Science Council, the umbrella group for most local arts groups, have lobbied city leaders for funding while constantly revising and reshaping their proposal. Under the current incarnation, all but $10 million of the $150.5 million proposal would be paid through various taxpayer revenue sources." MSNBC (CBJ) 08/15/05

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Is Greenwich Village Dead? Greewich Village has lost its artistic edge. "The Village has been remorselessly gentrified since the 1980s. Neighbourhood coffee shops have become Starbucks, local diners have become chic restaurants booked up weeks in advance or have been turned into a McDonald's. Now the Voice's strident tone and a documentary called The Ballad of Greenwich Village have shown how the final nails have been driven into the coffin of a neighbourhood whose artistic contribution to American cultural life is unmatched." The Observer (UK) 08/14/05

Working On The Getty's Image (At $650 An Hour) The Getty has had a rough year. Several top execs have left, an LA Times story detailed the high compensation of director Barry Munitz, and the State of California is investigating the institution's operations. Is it any wonder the Getty has hired expensive PR consultants to work on its image? Los Angeles Times 08/13/05

Obsessed With Terror (But Why?) What is it with the popular culture's obsession with terrorist imaginings? "In the four years since 9/11, British culture has seemed rather ghoulishly obsessed by terrorism, and by the possibility—no, likelihood—of some terrible atrocity being visited upon us." Reason 08/12/05

Richmond Shuts Down Performing Arts Center Construction The City of Richmond has shut down construction on a new performing arts center, saying that the foundation running the project didn't have the required permits. "The order stunned the foundation, already under intense fire from Mayor L. Douglas Wilder, who has said he won't release any more city funds for the project because he doesn't believe the group has the resources to build the project as it had planned, especially now that the estimated cost climbed again this week, by roughly 20 percent to $112 million." Richmond Times-Dispatch 08/13/05

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Can We Save Our Dying Languages? "Every two weeks or so, the last elderly man or woman with full command of a particular language dies. At that rate, as many as 2,500 native tongues will disappear forever by 2100." Los Angeles Times (AP) 08/13/05

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Could Scotland Become A Cultural Powerhouse? Scottish funding support for the arts has lagged behind the UK. But "Scotland could become a "new Celtic tiger" if politicians committed to boosting investment in the arts by £100m" as recommended by a recent report.... The Guardian (UK) 08/12/05

Saratoga's Makeover The Saratoga Performing Arts Center is reinventing after a tough year. "Many summer venues are reporting challenges this year. Attendance for the Philadelphia Orchestra's recent run of concerts at the Mann Center was down a whopping 17.5 percent, despite decent weather and more populist programming. That decline is on top of last year's 9 percent downturn from the previous year. But the speed and seriousness of the unfolding crises in Saratoga has leaders seeking major changes in the way the center operates. They say that everything from ticket prices to the mix of programming is up for reconsideration." Philadelphia Inquirer 08/11/05

Artistic Liability - My Latte's Not Hot Enough! So Sony lost a lawsuit for falsely luring people to movies. What's next, asks Steven Winn. Prepare for an onslaught of cases brought by audiences unhappy with their artistic experiences. Say, San Francisco Opera patrons suing because the supertitles have been moved. "And what's going on with the Irish coffee? Is that real whipped cream in those cans or what?" San Francisco Chronicle 08/11/05

Russian Government: No Money For Bolshoi Renovation The Russian government says it does not have the $880 million needed to pay for planned renovation work on the Bolshoi Theatre. "The Bolshoi, which has already closed for work meant to last three years, has been told to slash its costs significantly if it wants to proceed. But the project's chief architect, Nikita Shangin, says he will walk out if the theatre does not get the money." BBC 08/11/05

Wichita - Car Tax For The Arts? Earlier this year the Wichita (Kansas) City Council agreed to set aside an additional $719,000 in next year's budget for about 27 local arts groups. But that is only a temporary fix, city officials say. The council wants to set up a fund dedicated to the arts." How to do it? A tax on car rentals, but rental companies are complaining... Wichita Eagle 08/10/05

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Convenience And Art In A Prettier Package After four long years of contruction, Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center has finally removed all the orange barrels and concrete barriers, and unveiled its new look. "The front is now swept and polished with two fountains churning away in front of its grand entrances... Other improvements include a broad staircase facing the Watergate complex, an extended bike path that leads from the center's front to the Roosevelt Bridge and granite sidewalks, replacing the sometimes slippery marble. New bus shelters east of the center are fitted with polished wooden benches and a wavy canopy. All the roadways and sidewalks are freshly paved, and there is a circle for taxis." Washington Post 08/10/05

Orange County In The Black Yet Again Southern California's Orange County Performing Arts Center has reported a $359,000 surplus for its 2004-05 season, the center's 19th consecutive year without a deficit. The PAC is undergoing a $200 million expansion, which is 60% complete, and managed to hit a new high for contributed income even as construction continued. Orange County Register (CA) 08/10/05

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

German Rappers Going Ghetto, Raising Hackles For obvious historical reasons, the German government likes to keep a close eye on purveyors of extremist language and exclusionary rhetoric, and watch lists have existed for years to monitor the activities of neo-Nazi skinheads and other hatemongers. But lately, Germany's increasingly gangsta-oriented rappers have begun to land on these watch lists as well. "German gangsta rappers have made a strong showing on the charts... and shaken a society not used to hearing ghetto tales of death and revenge in its own language. German parents and the news media have expressed shock at hardcore lyrics, which, they say, glorify a dangerous American ghetto fantasy that doesn't exist in Germany and shouldn't be encouraged." The New York Times 08/09/05

When Can We Go Back To Just Listening To Music? The Supreme Court's Grokster ruling, which held that compaies producing software used for illegal file trading can be held liable for the actions of consumers, has been hailed by the music recording industry and decried by the tech industry. But what does the ruling really mean for a world which in which digital media is obviously the distribution method of the future? "The movie and music bosses didn't get everything they wanted. The justices left the Betamax doctrine intact. That 1984 ruling said that even though a technology - such as a VCR - might be used to infringe copyright, it could still be sold if it also allowed substantial legal uses." And then there's the likelihood that one or both sides in the debate could go running to Congress for relief... Wired Magazine 08/05

Producer Takes Shot At Edinburgh Fest A prominent theatre producer has publicly suggested that the sitting board of the prestigious Edinburgh International Festival lacks the expertise and judgment to select a new director for the festival. The current director, Sir Brian McMaster, will depart in another year, and producer Nica Burns is concerned that those in charge of selecting his replacement will be insufficiently versed in contemporary theatrical realities. The Scotsman (UK) 08/09/05

Sunday, August 7, 2005

Selling On Stage (Product Placement Gears Up) "Product placement is such a growing phenomenon that Nielsen, the ratings arbiter, has started keeping track of the extent of its growth. Here's their distressing discovery. In the first three months of 2005, there were 12,867 instances of placement in the Top 10 prime-time programs on U.S. television." Now theatres are getting in to the product placement game... Toronto Star 08/07/05

All By Myself... (Is This Art?) "Sea Forts, which is billed as a study of isolation, will cost £93,000 in lottery cash and taxpayers’ money and is the brainchild of Stephen Turner, a Kent-based artist who describes his work as being 'concerned with aspects of time and the dialectics of transience and permanence'. He will spend six weeks living in one of a complex of observation towers built during the Second World War to provide early warning of German attacks on the Thames estuary, where he will communicate his thoughts about loneliness in an internet journal." The Times (UK) 08/05/05

Friday, August 5, 2005

Poll: The Song That Changed The World "Bob Dylan's song "Like a Rolling Stone" topped a poll Friday to find the 100 songs, movies, TV shows and books that "changed the world" in the opinion of musicians, actors and industry experts." Yahoo! (Reuters) 08/05/05

Thursday, August 4, 2005

Hollywood Wins In CAFTA Copyright Accord The Central American Free Trade Agreement included a big win for American lobbyists for tougher copyright laws. "You wouldn't know it from a political debate veering between labor standards in Nicaragua and the evils of protectionism, but one major section of CAFTA will export some of the more controversial sections of U.S. copyright law. Once it takes effect, CAFTA will require Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua to mirror the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's broad prohibition on bypassing copy-protection technology." MediaChannel.org 08/04/05

A Congressional Agreement On NEA Funding "While the Senate's version of the bill, passed in June, increased the NEA's budget by $5 million, bringing it to $126.3 million from $121.3 million, the House's version was twice as generous, with an increase of $10 million setting the endowment's funding at $131.3 million. In the end, the Senate-House conference committee agreed to raise the NEA budget by what the Senate had recommended, but not without applying additional cuts." Backstage 08/04/05

New Mellon Chief Could Have Big Impact on Humanities "University of Chicago President Don Michael Randel's decision, announced last week, to leave next July to become president of the New York-based Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has import for more than scholars in Hyde Park. Randel will be heading the leading funder of the humanities among U.S. philanthropies. The humanities always have scratched for foundation support but usually could count on a handful of old reliables. According to a 2004 report by the Foundation Center and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, five foundations accounted for a quarter of the $335 million in grants to the humanities in 2002, the most current year for such data. Mellon was the leading provider that year, with $25.9 million in grants (representing about 12 percent of its total giving), as it was for much of the prior decade." Chicago Tribune 08/04/05

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

South Bank's New Maestra Does Jude Kelly know what she's got herself in for, running South Bank's artistic offerings? "So anxious were the Board to get her initials on a contract that they have allowed her to carry on directing shows elsewhere, a license that will eat into her time at the desk. Still, look on the bright side: making plays will give her interactive access to the artists she needs to enliven the South Bank, and it will signal that the centre at last has a creative director who can do something more than sign off budgets and dine for England. It will be no small plus if she also feels a sneaking need to outshine Nick Hytner's rampantly autonomous National across the Waterloo Bridge, giving the South Bank a novel will to win." La Scena Musicale 08/03/05

School Shootings Coming To An XBox Near You Protests are mounting against a new Columbine-inspired video game slated to be released by the makers of the infamous "Grand Theft Auto" series. The game, titled "Bully," features a high school student tormented by his peers, who takes his revenge with extreme violence, killing fellow students and teachers. The company, Rockstar Games, describes the game as "humorous," and downplays the violent aspects, but the game's October release is likely to cause old debates about the effects of video game violence to rage anew. New York Post 08/03/05

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Investigation More Bad News For Getty An investigation by the State of California of the Getty Trust is the latest bad news for one of the world's richest institutions. "The Getty Trust, with an endowment of more than $5 billion, includes the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, a research institute, a vast library, an art conservation program and a grant-making office. The trust has suffered a number of administrative, legal and public relations blows over the last year. A number of senior officers have left, and staff morale is said to be low." The New York Times 08/03/05

Art By The Numbers - Surely There's More? "More and more do arts organisations feel they have to demonstrate their financial rather than their artistic prowess as a means of obtaining funds to support their existence. Arts festivals big and small commission economic impact studies to trumpet their success in creating employment, raising local incomes and encouraging tourism; understanding their cultural impacts often seems to take second place. Yet something is missing." Sydney Morning Herald 08/03/05

California Investigates Getty The State of California has opened an investigation into the running of the Getty Trust. "The attorney general has requested eight years of records relating to trust Chief Executive Barry Munitz's compensation and expenses, as well as expenditures made for his wife, grants, gifts to trustees and a 2002 real estate transaction. State regulators also have asked for documents connected to criminal charges pending in Italy against Marion True, the Getty's curator for antiquities, for allegedly conspiring to purchase looted artifacts." Los Angeles Times 08/02/05

Kennedy Center Puts Off Plaza Plan After the US Congress failed to fund it, the Kennedy Center is postponing indefinitely plans for a huge $400 million plaza in front of the center. "The plaza would have laid a broad covering over the Potomac Freeway and included paths for pedestrians and bikers leading back to the Mall. A signature element was a cascading fountain stretching four blocks toward 23rd Street NW. The project was expected to take 10 years to complete." The project isn't dead, say Kennedy Center officials, but "under normal highway funding procedures, the money could not be appropriated before 2009." Washington Post 08/02/05

Monday, August 1, 2005

Making The Kirov's London Home Getting the Kirov Ballet and Opera into London for their annual visit is a major undertaking full of risk. "Unloading them into the Royal Opera House, setting them up and changing them over, while allowing the performers time for rehearsal on stage - all on the tightest of schedules - is an operation that would tax the military, achieved only by slogging through wickedly unsociable hours." The Telegraph (UK) 07/31/05

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