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Monday, October 31, 2005

No Beethoven In Schools? How Absurd "What does social reform and democracy mean, if great art is withheld from the populace? The ancien regime that confined the artistic canon to a prosperous few has no place in our culture. Nothing could be more patronising than to decide for our young people that some art is 'too highbrow' for them, perhaps because of their ethnic background or an unpromising urban environment. The idea that the western artistic canon is not 'relevant' in today's multicultural classroom need only be reversed to be exposed as ridiculous. Imagine decreeing that a class of white teenagers cannot relate to West African drumming." New Statesman 10/31/05

So Audiences Are Older... And Your Point? "Though I have seen some strikingly young audiences for events in London and elsewhere while working with a touring company, you do quickly realise that the backbone of many audiences around the country is on the senior side of 60. There are certain venues where, if the comedy in a show is too raucous, you worry whether all of the audience is going to survive to the end of the show. As hearing aids produce their weird dog-whistle whine, and large sections mutter continuously to themselves, while other sections nod blissfully off, you can feel a little of the exasperation that impels the Arts Council. Yet is this anything new? The prejudice against the aged is always quick to surface, however dumb." The Guardian (UK) 10/31/05

San Antonio's Stinson: Arts Funding Is A Bottomless Pit The city of San Antonio is boosting its cultural budget. Columnist Roddy Stinson thinks that's a bad idea, particularly after private fundraising failed to make much headway. "The annual March of the Mendicant Arts Mavens will not disappear from the City Hall stage anytime soon. Neither will taxpayers be relieved of an ever-increasing arts-agency financial burden." San Antonio Express-News 10/31/05

Cultural Bellyflop In Downtown Manhattan Where's all this cultural activity that was supposed to be created in Lower Manhattan after 9/11. There's less, not more, now, and all the fancy plans and pronouncements about what was going to happen have amounted to little. Artists are becoming resigned... The New York Times 10/31/05

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Gioia: NEA Has Grown Up "I see we have a whole generation of Americans growing up with inadequate education in the arts, but yet we want a society which is more creative, innovative and ingenious as we come into the 21st century. The American economy (of the future) is not going to thrive on cheap labor and raw materials. It's going to thrive on our ability to be inventive and creative, and I can't see that a generation that's been deprived of creative problem-solving is going to meet that challenge." Austin American-Statesman 10/30/05

Denver Orchestra On The Rise Even As Ballet Sinks Denver's performing arts scene is a study in contrasts these days. On the one hand, the Colorado Symphony has been reinvigorated by the arrival of its new music director, Jeffrey Kahane, and recently reported a $71,000 surplus for the 2004-05 season. "In stark contrast, the Colorado Ballet has suffered one setback after another, culminating with a mid-September revelation that it suffered a deficit of $341,000 in 2004-05 and accumulated debt totaling $700,000... So the unfailing cycle plays out yet again in a story of two vital Denver arts organizations on different paths." Denver Post 10/30/05

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Liverpool - Swamped By Outside Culture Liverpool is 2008's Capital of Culture and the money is pouring in - hundreds of millions of pounds. But some of the locals are getting irked. Its as if the people running 2008 have no confidence in whats already here. There are lots of government agendas being worked out. People are getting grants because they are good at filling in forms. But money isnt coming into the music scene: its going to consultants. The clubs that really fuel the music are unfunded and almost off the radar as far as the official bodies are concerned. The Times (UK) 10/27/05

Italian Culture Minister: I'll Resign If You Cut Italian culture minister Rocco Buttiglione says he'll resign unless the government cancels plans to cut spending on culture by 35 percent. "This is not only a battle for the opera and the struggling Italian film industry, but also for the theatre, for libraries and archives. We have to defend ourselves on a broad front," BBC 10/27/05

Warning To Non-Profits: Your Donors May Hold A Grudge "A new report suggests that most ordinary donors to charities have long memories about scandals at tax-exempt organizations but little awareness of high-level policy debates on the need for more government regulation of such groups... It claims that such donors wrote off a particular charity once it became tainted in their minds, whether by scandal or poor performance. Yet problems at a particular organization did not necessarily translate into cynicism about all charities." Chicago Tribune 10/27/05

Philly's Summer Shed To Get Major Upgrades "Philadelphia's Mann Center for the Performing Arts broke ground Wednesday on a $14.2 million upgrade. ... The Mann Center, which is in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park, was opened in 1976 as the summer home of the Philadelphia Orchestra. ... In July 2004, [the center's CEO] outlined a $30 million plan to modernize the center. Wednesday's ground breaking signals the first phase of that work. Among the improvements will be an education center to provide dedicated facilities for the 25,000 school children the center receives each year." Philadelphia Business Journal 10/27/05

SPAC Back In Black The much-maligned Saratoga Performing Arts Center in upstate New York, which presents a popular summer slate of shows featuring the Philadelphia Orchestra and New York City Ballet, has balanced its budget for fiscal 2005 several months after a large part of its board and executive team turned over in the wake of a fiscal-mismanagement scandal. Special gifts amounting to $700,000 were arranged by the new team over the past few months to put the center in the black. (For the record, that's $700,000 more in major gifts than the previous administration managed to raise in the last three years.) However, SPAC isn't out of the woods yet: the center says it will need to raise an additional $10 million to bring its endowment back up to healthy levels. The Saratogian (NY) 10/27/05

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Miami PAC Selling Off Name The over-budget behind-schedule Miami Performing Arts Center is negotiating to sell naming rights to the Center for $20 million. "Representatives are in negotiations with a corporation and two individuals interested in buying naming rights for the downtown facility that's due to be completed Aug. 4 and open two months later." Miami Today 10/26/05

Cultural Treaty - America Against The World Last week 148 countries voted to approve a UNESCO Treaty on Cultural Diversity. The U.S. and Israel were the only no votes. "One major problem for the United States in the 21st century will surely be our lack of ability to grapple with the proliferation of international instruments and regimes, like the Treaty of Cultural Diversity. These treaties are key tools for those who want to constrain American influence in the world. In UNESCO, the United States was at a huge disadvantage, as was our hard-working Ambassador Louise Oliver, who fought heroically to change the result." Washington Times 10/26/05

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

See Edinburgh Wirelessly The city of Edinburgh is planning to put a wireless system in place so tourists could get "wireless tours" of the city on their mobile phones and hand-held computers. "The service, which could be in place as early as next summer, would help tourists pre-plan their visits and also provide regular messages updating them about events taking place in the capital." The Scotsman 10/25/05

Canadian Artists: More Money Please Canadian artists are lobbying the federal government to increase arts funding to a rate of $5 per capita per year. The group has asked that any new arts money be directed to the Canada Council for the Arts, which supports 2,200 arts organizations and more than 2,000 individual artists. The council invests $156 million in the arts each year; but the coalition wants to double that amount. An increasing number of arts organizations and individual artists are requesting money from the council as Canada's artistic community gets more diverse." CBC 10/25/05

Miami PAC: Designed In Public It has taken 27 years to get a performing arts center built in Miami. The building is still under construction, late, and $100 million over budget. Designing the project was a particularly public process. "The competition process was very unusual. We moved a whole design team into the host hotel for nearly a week. We had one of the conference rooms downstairs as our design studio, we moved our desks, our lamps, our materials, our supplies, and essentially designed the building in front of the community. It was almost completely open to the public." Miami Herald 10/25/05

Monday, October 24, 2005

A Go For $326-Million Kansas City Performing Arts Center Arts backers in Kansas City say they're going ahead with plans to build a $326-million performing arts center designed by Moshe Safdie. The project has been in the planning since spring 2002. "The board of the center has approved groundbreaking for fall 2006 contingent upon reaching an interim funding goal of $45 million prior to Feb.1, 2006. The plan calls for two 1,600-seat halls, one for symphonic music, the other for opera and ballet. Backers have raised $228.5 million so far, leaving them $97.5 million short of their goal." Kansas City Star 10/24/05

Bloomberg's Arts Support (Not Universal Praise?) Sunday, the New York Times ran a story about NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg's generous personal support of the arts. But "oddly omitted from the article are any comments from the major arts advocates in the city, including those from the Alliance for the Arts and the New York City Arts Coalition, who have not been shy about expressing their disappointment with the Bloomberg administration for having an arts expense budget lower than it was during the final fiscal year that began under former Mayor Rudy Giuliani." Gotham Gazette 10/24/05

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Goodbye Mass Marketing, Hello Buzzzzz Greg Stielstra, senior marketing director for the Book Group at Zondervan, one of the world's leading publishers of Christian books, "argues passionately that traditional mass marketing, which seeks to sell products and services to everyone, is no longer effective at selling anything to anyone. The societal influences that allowed mass marketing to prosper have disappeared, rendering mass marketing ineffective. New circumstances have created an opportunity for a different marketing approach." Philadelphia Inquirer 10/23/05

National Arts Month - Are You Celebrating Yet? Here it is the last week of October, and this is the first we here at ArtsJournal have heard of the thing. "Apparently the celebration has been held every year since 1993. Organizers believed a monthlong national celebration would give fellow Americans the opportunity to explore new facets of the arts and humanities in their lives. Presumably they had thoroughly explored the old ones. More than likely, though, they saw the arts as decorative adjuncts to life. Interesting informative, even but not essential." The Mail Tribune (Oregon) 10/21/05

New York City's Arts Mayor New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is not a connoisseur of the arts. But his administration has been the most supportive administration of the arts in a very long time. "Under Mr. Bloomberg, public art has flourished in every corner of the city - from 'Element E,' a Roy Lichtenstein sculpture in the center of the former Tweed Courthouse, to a classic limestone statue in the Bronx, to 'The Gates,' set up by Christo and Jeanne-Claude last winter in Central Park, a project for which he personally lobbied for almost a decade. The city's art commission, once knee-capped by the Giuliani administration as an elitist irritant, has been empowered at the highest level, with a voice in every significant public-works project in the city." The New York Times 10/23/05

Thursday, October 20, 2005

World (Without US) Votes To Protect National Culture Some 150 countries have voted yes to a UNESCO convention that they say will protect cultural diversity. The US was not among the countries. "The US had said the 'deeply flawed" convention could be used to block the export of Hollywood films and other cultural exports. The vote follows French moves to protect its film and music industries." BBC 10/20/05

New York Gets Its Own Arts Management Program "The Kennedy Center announced yesterday it is expanding its arts management initiative to include a concentrated program in New York. Called 'Arts Advantage/NYC,' it is a cooperative effort among the center, Time Warner and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Michael M. Kaiser, the Kennedy Center's president, said the venture would use the techniques employed in consultations for minority arts organizations and mid-size American orchestras, but would focus on unique issues in the New York arts world." Washington Post 10/20/05

Striking Doris The union representing airline mechanics has been striking against Minnesota-based Northwest Airlines for two months now, with little to show for it. But the union has begun a strange strategy of attacking individual members of Northwest's board of directors on unrelated fronts. One of the oddest attacks: a pamphlet distributed as presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin was releasing her latest book, calling her "the great prevaricator" (a reference to Goodwin's plagiarism scandal two years ago) and urging air travelers not to buy her books. Yes, Goodwin is a member of the Northwest board. But a real policy player at the airline? Alex Beam thinks not... Boston Globe 10/20/05

Is New York's Cultural Dominance Slipping? Is New York still the culture capital of the world? Was it ever? Lots of New Yorkers would certainly claim that it was, is, and will always be, but then, most New Yorkers also believe that the world ends just west of New Jersey. A realistic look at history reveals that "there was only a relatively brief time when New York City, no longer overshadowed by Europe, was universally considered the art capital of the world." Worse, a good deal of serious art and culture is being replaced (not only in New York, but across America) by attention-grabbing "events" intended simply to draw huge crowds. "It is clear that the arts and culture have risen in importance for cities all over the world, which increases the competition for talent." Gotham Gazette (NY) 10/20/05

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Columbia U And The Demise Of NAJP Columbia University says it wants to be a player in the arts. The university's president said he wanted the Journalism School to study the field of journalism as well as teach it. So why did the J-school ax the National Arts Journalism Program which served both purposes? New York Observer 10/19/05

Republicans Take Aim At PBS & NEA (Again) President Bush has made it very clear that he will veto any tax hike proposed by Congress, even with the cost of rebuilding the Gulf Coast spiralling into the hundreds of billions. That means that all that money will have to be shaved out of other government programs or added to the already bloated deficit. Conservatives, of course, are not traditionally fans of excessive deficit spending, so a group of Republican legislators has been meeting to hash out the necessary cuts to divert money to the rebuilding effort. And as you might expect, first on the GOP's list of programs to be eliminated are government support for public television and the National Endowment for the Arts. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Scripps) 10/19/05

Envisioning The New Gulf Coast Rebuilding America's Gulf Coast will be one of the great design challenges of the age, and last week, a group of 200 urban planners and architects held a six-day conference to discuss the direction the rebuilding effort should take in 11 Mississippi towns devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The result could be a complete rethinking of suburban design in the area, as well as a fullscale overhaul for the city of Biloxi. The New York Times 10/19/05

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Rest Of The World Teams Up To Protect Its Culture From US "A Franco-Canadian initiative, which has won broad backing as a swipe at US 'cultural imperialism', could mean that countries will be able to subsidise domestic film industries and restrict foreign music and content on their radio and television stations in the name of preserving and promoting cultural diversity." The Guardian (UK) 10/18/05

150 Countries Sign New Culture Agreement (US Refuses) One hunbdred and fifty countries have signed a new agreement on cultural diversity. "The international agreement formally the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions reaffirms the right of sovereign states to 'maintain, adopt and implement' policies that protect and promote cultural expression, and exempt certain cultural products from free-trade agreements." Toronto Star 10/18/05

Monday, October 17, 2005

Scottish Culture Policy - Stalled And Getting Cold What's likely to happen to the major overhaul of Scottish arts policy proposed last June? Not much, if things continue the way they've been going. "Senior figures involved in producing the landmark report of the Cultural Commission, which was published in June with more than 100 ideas to transform the arts, believe much of its work is being "ignored" or neutered by Scottish Executive officials. Crucial momentum has been lost, the report is being "cherry picked", and civil service caution will lead to the avoidance of radical change in the world of the arts, insiders warn." Glasgow Herald 10/17/05

The Tear Down - Too Fast In The Big Easy? There seems to be an awful rush to tear down buildings in New Orleans and rebuild. But what about historic preservation? "What's needed first are conscientious, comprehensive surveys conducted by experts in construction, architecture, engineering and preservation--people who can examine an older building's condition, evaluate its historical and architectural significance and determine the feasibility or advisability of saving it." OpinionJournal.com 10/18/05

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The Day Italian Culture Went On Strike Hundreds of Italian cultural events ground to a halt Saturday in a one-day strike to protest government arts-funding cuts. "A performance of Rossini's Barber of Seville at Milan's La Scala opera house was among scores of cancelled shows. Critics say the cuts could lead to the demise of thousands of cultural institutions, including such venerated events as the Venice Film Festival. 'In these conditions, the film festival cannot go ahead'." BBC 10/16/05

Thursday, October 13, 2005

One-Day Culture Strike In Italy To Protest Arts Funding Cuts Italy's public culture has shut down in a country-wide one-day strike. "Cinemas, theatres, concert halls and opera houses and even circuses in Italy will be empty today because of a combined strike and lockout in protest at huge cuts to the arts budget ordered by Silvio Berlusconi's government. Impresarios and distributors are to join actors and musicians in the initiative. The draft budget for next year lops about a third off the main fund for the performing arts. Cultural institutions said they faced reductions of up to 40% in resources." The Guardian (UK) 10/14/05

US Against The World On UNESCO Initiative The United States is opposing a major new UNESCO convention on cultural diversity. "The convention's supporters argue that the treaty will protect and promote cultural diversity in the face of cultural globalization, but the United States believes it is intended to restrict exports of American audiovisual products, particularly Hollywood movies and television programs." The New York Times 10/13/05

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Overall, States Increase Arts Funding "Of the 50 states, the analysis found, 33 increased their state arts appropriations, 10 made cuts, and seven remained the same in comparison to the 2005 fiscal year. According to the report, this translates into a $21.9 million overall increase, or about 8%." Backstage 10/12/05

Richmond PAC Fight Getting Ugly An ongoing feud between the mayor of Richmond, Virginia and backers of a new performing arts center ratcheted up several notches this week when representatives of the PAC attempted to deliver a check for $2 million to the city. Under the terms of a 2004 agreement between the city and the PAC, the land on which the center is to be built will revert to city control in 2007 if a building permit is not secured by that time, unless the PAC chooses to pay the city $2 million. PAC officials decided to exercise that clause early, after months of wrangling with the mayor and other opponents of the project. But the mayor directed the city to refuse the check, and declared the entire 2004 agreement void, saying that PAC leaders were trying to buy the land well below market value. Richmond Times Dispatch 10/11/05

  • Bring On The Lawyers The discussion of whether the Richmond PAC's agreement with the city is null and void may be headed for a court battle, and the city's mayor has struck a defiant tone, saying "Let's get it on! It doesn't bother me. Heck, courts scare other people, not me.". The foundation supporting the PAC has called a news conference for this morning to respond to the city's refusal of a $2 million buyout, and unless some accomodation is reached between the warring sides, it seems likely that a court will have to make the final decision on the future of the project. Richmond Times Dispatch 10/12/05

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Should Madison Take Control Of Its PAC? Madison, Wisconsin's new Overture Center for the Performing Arts has been hailed by audiences and critics since opening last year, and the center is expected to operate in the black for the foreseeable future. But long-term financing is enough of a concern that the city's mayor is floating a plan under which Madison would buy the center for $1 and operate it directly, rather than partnering with a development corporation in a refinancing deal which exposes the city to some future financial risk. "Representatives from several Overture Center resident arts groups, including the Madison Ballet, the Madison Repertory Theatre and the Madison Symphony Orchestra, came out strongly against city ownership Monday." Wisconsin State Journal (Madison) 10/11/05

Monday, October 10, 2005

Berlusconi Cuts To Devastate Italian Culture Italy's right-wing government has announced plans to slash arts funding by a whopping 260 million ($312.8 million) per year. The cuts, which are being loudly opposed by Italy's cultural leaders, would fall hardest on the Venice Film Festival, and would also have serious consequences for La Scala and the Venice Biennale, among others. "Workers' organisations and actors' unions in the Italian film industry have called for a strike, to be held on Friday, and they are urging theatres to follow suit." The Guardian (UK) 10/11/05

Microchips Are A Bigger Tourist Draw Than Cesar Chavez? Tourist attractions targeted at ethnic minorities have become an important factor in the cultural health of many urban centers, especially in those with large immigrant populations. But in San Jose, the center of Silicon Valley, "there is nothing to alert... visitors that they're in the childhood home of Cesar Chavez, the epicenter of a worldwide protest by black Olympic athletes, or a place with one of the nation's highest concentrations of Vietnamese-Americans." Instead, all efforts seem to be focused on drawing attention to the area's famously tech-heavy economy. San Jose Mercury News 10/10/05

Sunday, October 9, 2005

Aussie Arts - Money And Censorship "In John Howard's Australia, libraries, museums, theatres and orchestras are on the same list as ports and roads and hospitals - traditional institutions, and necessary parts of the civic fabric. To understand what's happened under Howard to the arts in general and theatre in particular - the odd mix of generosity and meanness, celebration and indifference, abuse and support - it's best to keep in mind the lessons learnt in the kafuffle over the orchestras: that the bedrock arts policy of the Howard Government is not support for the arts - it's support for arts institutions. Big, traditional institutions. And in the way we understand these things in Australia - let's not talk of what's possible in Europe - the big traditional arts companies are flourishing under John Howard as never before." Sydney Morning Herald 10/09/05

Is Toronto Living Beyond Its Artistic Means? Toronto has gone on a tear of arts building in recent years. "After they have congratulated themselves on the arts building boom, Torontonians should start to wonder about who's going to pay the price in the years ahead. Most of us would rather forget it, but the truth is that Canadian arts institutions are seriously underfunded and have been for at least 10 or 15 years." Toronto Star 10/08/05

Silicon Valley Leaders: We Need Culture To Stay Ahead A survey of business leaders in California's Silicon Valley reports that they believe their ability to "recruit creative talent is dropping compared with other global centers of technology. They cited the lack of an energetic urban core and insufficient leisure and cultural activities as among key reasons." San Jose Mercury-News 10/07/05

Polisi: Today's Artists Have To Be Missionaries Juilliard president Joseph Polisi is celebrating the school's 100th anniversary. "With the future of art at stake, Polisi says Juilliard's mission is no longer just to teach talented young people to sing, act, play instruments or dance. 'In my view they're responsible for more than getting the notes right or the words right or the steps right. They have to be missionaries for the arts. I can't find a significant national politician who really will take a major stand for the arts because there's not much political capital in it and in fact there may be some downside." Backstage 10/09/05

Friday, October 7, 2005

Manhattan Development Board Angrily Rebukes Pataki New York Governor George Pataki's decision to bar the International Freedom Center's proposed museum from Ground Zero apparently didn't sit well with members of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, who yesterday issued an extraordinary rebuke of the governor. "The board cannot do much beyond complain, since the Freedom Center declared itself to be out of business almost immediately after Governor Pataki removed the museum from the cultural building last week. Yet their complaints amounted to remarkable political theater in a process where intramural disagreements are usually kept well hidden. The board members' willingness to speak openly about their frustration almost certainly reflects a high degree of discouragement and even anger." The New York Times 10/07/05

Report: Silicon Valley Hurting For Culture "A majority of regional leaders believe Silicon Valley is losing ground in its ability to attract a creative workforce, in part because of an inadequate cultural environment, according to a new survey. Fifty-eight percent of Silicon Valley leaders who participated in the survey -- called the Creative Community Index -- said their ability to recruit creative talent is dropping compared with other global centers of technology. They cited the lack of an energetic urban core and insufficient leisure and cultural activities as among key reasons... The perceived lack of cultural opportunities, however, apparently doesn't mean a lack of interest on the part of the public." San Jose Mercury News 10/07/05

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Republicans Recommend Killing NEA, PBS One hundred Republican members of Congress recommend ending funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and PBS. Says the report: "In 2001, America spent $27 billion on nonprofit arts funding: $11.5 billion from the private sector; $14 billion in earned income (tickets sales, etc.); and $1.3 billion in combined federal, state, and local public support (of which $105 million was from the NEA -- 0.39% of total nonprofit arts funding)," the report states. "The funding could easily be funded by private donations. Savings: $1.8 billion over ten years ($678 million over five years)." Backstage 10/05/05

US News Eliminates Cultural Coverage US News & World Report is cutting staff, including culture editor Sarah Sklaroff. "The culture department is being eliminated." New York Post 10/05/05

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Conventional Wisdom - Cultural Diversity Canada is pushing for a vote at UNESCO on a convention on cultural diversity. "It is intended to allow sovereign countries to protect, promote or subsidize their cultural productions despite rulings by international trade tribunals. The convention, which has been endorsed by 53 of 58 members of the United Nations cultural organization's executive, has been strongly opposed by the United States. The U.S., which has consistently fought guarantees for films that might put restrictions on Hollywood, as well as subsidies for film production and magazines, has argued that UNESCO does not have the authority to enact the convention, and that it would interfere with the free flow of ideas." Toronto Star 10/04/05

Monday, October 3, 2005

Is Arts Coverage About To Change At The LA Times? "After five years of sagging circulation and advertising, new managers at the Times are pushing for more coverage of Hollywood and celebrities. They want shorter stories and more regional reporting in the intensely competitive bedroom communities around Los Angeles." Wall Street Journal 10/03/05

Denver Taking Back The Tickets In 1998, Denver's major performing arts organizations began selling their tickets through a single service run by the Denver Center. But the combined ticket selling hasn't gone well, and one by one, the organizations have gone back to selling their own tickets. Denver Center "did a great job for a lot of years, but they had to serve a lot of clients, and a lot of clients with really different needs. And then 'The Lion King' would go on sale, and it would be overwhelming for everybody," Denver Post 10/02/05

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