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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Arts Funding Plan Riles San Francisco Artists "A task force that spent a year hammering out proposals that could dramatically change how San Francisco funds the arts has again polarized the local arts world. The report calls for creating a centralized department of culture and compelling politicians to stop diverting hotel tax funds away from the arts." San Francisco Chronicle 02/28/06

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Cartoon New Orleans Is Back. But Where's The City? Mardi Gras, such as it is, is in full swing in the small section of New Orleans that still looks like it did last year at this time. Civic leaders are hoping the weeklong party will demonstrate the city's resilience to the nation, but the truth is that no one ever really doubted that the bead-throwing floats and drunken revelers would return. "After Katrina, the lingering question is whether the New Orleans cultural traditions that had sprung up spontaneously in African-American neighborhoods would survive." The New York Times 02/28/06

Aussie Tapped To Shake Up Edinburgh Australian composer Jonathan Mills has been named the next head of the Edinburgh Festival, beginning with the summer event's 2007 season. Mills replaces Sir Brian McMaster, who has been criticised in recent years for his refusal to add a visual arts component to the event, and for what some perceived as the festival's focus on classical music to the exclusion of other performing arts. It is hoped that Mills will also be able to reverse the festival's slide into fiscal deficits, which have run as high as £1m on a £7.5m budget. The Guardian (UK) 02/28/06

A New Internet Where Class Matters? Some big media companies want to start prioritizing the way information is handled on the internet, charging more for some kinds of data. Consumer advocates are howling. "Whether they tier their service, telecommunications companies need to expand capacity. To do so costs money, and the telecoms argue that internet users will have to pay, one way or another. They say it's preferable that the money come from those who need and are willing to pay for better service, rather than spreading the cost out over all users." Wired (AP) 02/26/06

Sunday, February 26, 2006

How To Reform The Getty? As embattled Getty president Barry Munitz leaves the Trust, the Getty needs to reinvent. "In weighing what to do, the trustees must acknowledge that although the Getty Trust is a multiheaded beast — museum, grant-making foundation, research institute and conservation institute — art is what holds its programs together. Equally important, they must work to restore public confidence in the Getty, not just because it's the United States' largest art foundation, but because it's the nation's third-largest private foundation overall." Los Angeles Times 02/26/06

The Getty Villa: Back And Weirder Than Ever "In the late 1960s, [J. Paul Getty] hired architects, classicists and Hollywood set designers to re-create the Villa dei Papiri, at Herculaneum, which was smothered under a hundred feet of lava when Mount Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79. Now, after nine years and $275 million, after lawsuits and delays and amid ongoing scandals and the prosecution of its former curator (currently defending herself against charges in Italy of trafficking in stolen antiquities), Getty's over-the-top vision is restored, reopened and wow. Hail, Caesar by the seashore -- this place is a trip." Washington Post 02/25/06

Too Many Cooks...? Launching big public initiatives has never been easy in Minneapolis, where a weak mayor-strong council system forces every new idea to be subjected to the will of dozens of elected officials and bureaucrats before becoming reality. The gridlock has particularly affected the arts, since nearly every bold proposal eventually falls victim to the endless bickering of the committee process. The city's current mayor is hoping to galvanize support for any number of public design projects to complement an ongoing downtown boom, but wary of the failures of past administrations, even his pitches are vague and seemingly designed to accomodate the nitpicking that is certain to follow. Minneapolis Star Tribune 02/25/06

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Actor Tries To Trademark The N-Word Damon Wayans has been trying to trademark the "N" word. "Wayans wants to dress customers in 14 kinds of attire from tops to bottoms, and use the controversial mark on 'clothing, books, music and general merchandise,' as well as movies, TV and the internet, according to his applications. But, so far, his applications have been unsuccessful." Wired 02/23/06

Hong Kong Culture Center May Still Go Ahead Hong Kong's Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho says the giant cultural center planned for Kowloon is not dead. He said the new plan will "balance demand and supply. Some consultants have informed the government that in planning for cultural venues and artistic venues, it is frequently supply-driven rather than demand-driven. But then again, we believe it is prudent to listen to the voice of the community in their artistic aspirations." Hong Kong Standard 02/24/06

Auty: Make The Case For Arts Funding Why more arts funding? So asks Giles Auty: "Hurling money at art has, of course, been a popular pastime in Western countries for as long as I can remember. It is the process, in fact, once memorably described to me by an English painter, Bryan Wynter, as 'paying for van Gogh's ear'. No other brief description encapsulates so wonderfully the notion that guilt-ridden rich societies ought to discharge a fiscal and moral debt to a group of mysterious people they may have unconsciously wronged or ignored." The Australian 02/24/06

Urban Renewal Through Art "Can there be a weirder, more alienated place than [Tijuana's] Avenida Revolución on a Saturday night? The dark side of the moon, perhaps? Yet Avenida Revolución also is the pulsing subconscious of an exciting and restless city — one of the world's busiest, most notorious border towns." There is plenty of illicit "fun" to be had in the new Tijuana, as you might expect, but surprisingly, the backbone of the city's dramatic reinvention has been its embrace of contemporary art, and of the arts in general. Los Angeles Times 02/23/06

Trusting The Free Market To Achieve Public Good New York's city government is asking developers to submit proposals to revitalize and redevelop Governors Island, a 175-acre parcel of land that sits just south of Manhattan, and which has been virtually abandoned since the Coast Guard pulled up stakes ten years ago. "In asking developers to take the lead, government officials risk quashing creativity at the outset. More broadly, their appeal raises questions about how American cities — New York in particular — are approaching large-scale urban development these days, handing over enormous swaths of public land to private interests." The New York Times 02/23/06

Looking For Diversity In The Great White North The lack of racial diversity in major arts organizations is one of those nagging issues that no one ever seems to know how to address, and the lily-white quality of many on-stage productions registers immediately, even in a lily-white city like Duluth, Minnesota. "Arts administrators and artists of color gave myriad reasons why diversity in arts is lagging behind diversity in the local population: Socio-economics. Image. Lack of arts education in schools. Most discouraging, the lack of diversity appears to feed itself." Duluth News-Tribune 02/23/06

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

What Next For UK Lottery? The UK lottery has transformed the country's culture, building many significant projects. So what should be next? The Guardian (UK) 02/23/06

Summers Forced Out Of Harvard - What Does It Mean? What does Harvard president Larry Summers' resignation mean? "Some look at him and see a textbook example of why trustees need to pay attention to what professors think. Others think he’s a textbook example that faculty members have too much say in what goes on at their campuses. Some think his biggest legacy in higher education will be unprecedented national discussion of women in science — an issue on which he didn’t intend to set off a public debate. Others think the collapse of his presidency may scare boards from hiring presidents who want to speak out on any controversial issues." InsideHigherEd 02/22/06

Historic Apollo Theatre Gets Makeover It will cost $65 million and remake the landmark theatre where Ella Fitzgerald once sang... The New York Times 02/19/06

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Hong Kong Puts Brakes On Enormous Cultural Center The Hong Kong government has put plans for one of the world's largest cultura; centers on hold. "The decision is a setback for several major museums. The Georges Pompidou Center in Paris and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the Museum of Modern Art in New York had been vying for the right to run museums at the cultural center, which was to be several times the size of Lincoln Center." The New York Times 02/22/06

More Woes For Virginia Performing Arts Center Project Budget proposals pending before the House of Delegates and the state Senate would strip $4.5 million of the $8.5 million appropriated last year for the planned performing-arts center in downtown Richmond. Richmond Times-Dispatch 02/21/06

American Arts - Reliable (But Where's The Risk?) American viewpoints are still scarred by the 1990s National Endowment for the Arts grant debacle, when radical art exhibitions and abrasive performance artists came under fire for using government money. That's one reason American arts organizations would rather do with less than depend on the government. Still, it's hard to argue with the stimulating, government-subsidized stuff that greeted me at every turn earlier this month in Paris. Is what we're missing important? Is America stunting its own artistic growth? Philadelphia Inquirer 02/20/06

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Art With Incite "Does art incite violence? Hardly; it's the ideas espoused in the art that get people so worked up. But art magnifies those ideas. It focuses them, gives them a sharper point and the velocity to drive that point home." St. Paul Pioneer-Press 02/19/06

Culture Under Canada's Conservatives Canada's new cultural agenda under culture minister Bev Oda? "Ottawa spends roughly $150 per capita on Quebeckers for culture, and less than $75 per capita on provinces from Manitoba west. But Oda will not be drawn into any facile promises to change that situation." And the CBC? "People are starting to question, if nobody's watching CBC Television, English-language, then does it justify the utilization of those dollars in that way." The Globe & mail (Canada) 02/18/06

Toronto's Building Boom - More Money Please Toronto's big six - the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Canadian Opera Company, the National Ballet School, the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art and the Royal Conservatory of Music - have major building projects going, and $500 million to build them. One problem: as construction moves along, costs have gone up and... The Globe & Mail (Canada) 02/18/06

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Cartoons: Anatomy Of A Crisis "Protests have erupted in an arc stretching from Europe through Africa to East Asia and, at times, the United States. About a dozen people have died in Afghanistan; five have been killed this week in Pakistan. Muslim journalists were arrested for publishing the cartoons in Jordan, Algeria and Yemen. European countries have evacuated the staffs of embassies and nongovernmental organizations, Muslim countries have withdrawn ambassadors, and Danish exports that average more than $1 billion a year have dried up in a span of weeks." Washington Post 02/16/06

Thursday, February 16, 2006

High-Rises Clash With Green Space: Can Everyone Win? The city of Minneapolis has long prided itself on maintaining a highly livable and green-intensive urban environment, with dozens of parks, lakes, and the Mississippi River serving as the primary selling points. But a downtown population boom has developers champing at the bit, and high-rise buildings have begun to spring up all over the city, much to the dismay of some observers, who were hoping that Minneapolis would stick to its original vision. Minneapolis Star Tribune 02/16/06

Students Sue To Block Atlanta Art School Merger Since the Atlanta College of Art announced plans to merge with the Atlanta branch of the Savannah College of Art & Design, students and faculty have been up in arms, trying to galvanize public support for keeping the schools separate. Now, six students at ACA have filed a lawsuit asking for the merger to be blocked, and for damages to be paid to students who will see their tuition jump at the combined school. Atlanta Journal-Constitution 02/16/06

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Better UK Arts Council? How? So UK Culture Minister David Lammy thinks Arts Council England needs reform. "We must reform the Arts Council," Lammy said. It's got "to slim down", "get smarter" and prove that it is "more than a passive cash machine". But what exactly is he trying to accomplish, asks Rupert Christiansen? The Telegraph (UK) 02/15/06

Showing Opera To 8-Year-Olds Now A Firable Offense A Colorado teacher is on the verge of being fired because she showed her class of elementary schoolchildren a few minutes of the opera, Faust. "Some parents said their children were traumatized by the appearance of a leering devil in the video as well as such objectionable elements as a man appearing to be killed by a sword in silhouette and an allusion to suicide." The teacher has been on paid leave since late January, and says she intends to sue the school district if she is dismissed. Denver Post 02/15/06

Are We Going About Arts Funding All Wrong? A new report from a San Francisco arts task force is suggesting that the city completely rethink the way it funds culture within its borders, and find ways of linking the arts to everyday life through neighborhood connections. "There's also a clear undercurrent in the report: The city's most vibrant, community-based arts organizations don't get their fair share of the money, which goes to big, flashy operations like the symphony and opera. The entire plan has the feeling of a manifesto for more democratic oversight of arts money and more grassroots participation in the funding process. That, of course, flies in the face not only of city policy but also of arts-funding policy in general." San Francisco Bay Guardian 02/15/06

What Are The Arts Worth To A City? Salt Lake City is at a crossroads as it prepares to make a decision on whether the city should fund a new downtown cultural district, which would involve building two new theatres in the hope of drawing more people (and their money) into the urban core. A consultant's report confirmed what some supporters of the plan believe, that a cultural district could generate between $12 and $22 million annually in ticket sales alone. However, the same report states flatly that far from being a money-maker, the district would be unlikely ever to turn a profit, and would probably require constant subsidy to stay afloat. Salt Lake Tribune 02/15/06

No Federal Funds For Edinburgh Fest The Scottish government has rejected calls for it to do more to fund the Edinburgh International Festival, despite strong support for the idea from the government's own Cultural Commission. Supporters of greater government funding point out that the festival is perennially underfunded (it's had to be bailed out by the Edinburgh Council at the last moment several times,) but because the event is stationary in Edinburgh, the government doesn't consider it a national company, and won't get involved. The Scotsman (UK) 02/15/06

A Getty Director's Home Is His Castle, Apparently "Already under investigation for questionable executive spending, the J. Paul Getty Trust recently purchased a $3.5-million official residence for its new museum director's use only to find that the house was contaminated with mold and uninhabitable... The Getty then made an offer on a $5.5-million house near Santa Monica. Spokesman Ron Hartwig said the trust pulled out of the deal Tuesday after inspectors found structural problems with the roof. Meanwhile, the Getty is paying $15,000 a month to rent [the director] a Holmby Hills home with five bathrooms and a swimming pool on a two-acre lot." The Los Angeles Times 02/15/06

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

What Does Australian Culture Need? "The answer to Australia's cultural crisis under Howard, according to the artists and their academic handbags, is more money. Our money, of course, in the form of taxpayer-funded subsidies to the arts. But those calling for more money had better be careful what they wish for. By all means let's start a debate on this issue, but that means, as a starting point, following where the money has gone over the past few years. And it's not a pretty picture..." The Australian 02/15/06

What Led To Munitz's Downfall At The Getty Last month then-Getty president Barry Munitz rewarded his assistant with a huge severance award. "Munitz promised Jill Murphy severance worth twice her annual salary at a time when he was under investigation by both the state attorney general and the Getty board, and despite a clear warning from the board that he should seek prior approval for any controversial moves, several trustees said. By acting 'unilaterally' to benefit a staff member who had come to symbolize his divisive administration, Munitz turned trustee sentiment against him as they were weighing his future at the Getty." Los Angeles Times 02/14/06

Canada's Cultural Capital? How About Baffin Island Okay, maybe not quite. But a new study says the desolate arctic island has more artists per capita than anywhere else in Canada. "Using data from the 2001 census, Hill Strategies Research Inc. discovered that of a total working population of 485 individuals in Cape Dorset, 110, or 22.7 per cent, were working as artists. That's almost 30 times the national average of 0.8 per cent and more than double the country's second-most-artistic municipality, British Columbia's Squamish-Lillooet, between Vancouver and Whistler." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 02/14/06

Monday, February 13, 2006

Bolshoi Embarks On $500 Million Makeover "Six months after it closed on the point of collapse, reconstruction work has begun on the Bolshoi Theatre. Moscow's famous opera and ballet venue is undergoing a $500m (£290m) makeover, due to be completed by spring 2008." The Guardian (UK) 02/13/06

New Miami Performing Art Center W/O Parking "More than 10 years after PAC leaders acknowledged the crucial need for nearby parking garages, the center -- which will hold 4,820 people if sold out -- will open this fall with such facilities three to five years away. Maybe more. And instead of profiting from parking fees -- the Los Angeles Music Center takes in $2.5 million a year from its garages -- the Miami PAC could have to pay millions to upgrade the surface lots for temporary parking." Miami Herald 02/12/06

The Rising Cost Of Donations "While it used to be enough to just list a contributor's name in a program book or on a wall plaque, donors expect a little more gratitude. Local arts groups are now offering donors and members gourmet dinners, complimentary tickets, cocktail parties, discounts on merchandise, subscriptions to magazines, valet parking, priority seating, and even all the cookies and coffee you can consume during an intermission." San Diego Union-Tribune 02/13/06

After Munitz, What Next For The Getty? "With the Getty's big endowment, it is thus particularly important that the board be able to exercise sound, independent oversight over whoever is chosen as the next president. There were major questions surrounding the board during Mr. Munitz's term as president--that he had recommended as board members individuals too closely tied to him through past business dealings--and so there was not the effective oversight that is especially necessary in an organization as wealthy as the Getty." OpinionJournal.com 02/13/06

UK Minister To Arts Council: Better Improve England's minister of culture has a warning for Arts Council England. "The record sums of public investment we have made in the arts have not led to a higher profile for the arts in the public's mind. The body must be 'more than a passive cash machine, doling out money to a familiar roll call of organisations and individuals." The Observer (UK) 02/12/06

Can Freedom Of Speech Extend Only Halfway? Suddenly the meaning of free speech and where its boundaries are have become an issue. The issue is being played out in cartoons and on American college campuses... Chicago Tribune 02/12/06

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Creative Scotland Awards Fall Behind The Creative Scotland Awards are six years old, but £250,000 worth of winning projects have yet to be finished. "With less than a month to go before this year's awards are announced, the revelation has caused outrage among Scotland's artistic community, who complain that the awards are an indulgence and are not properly monitored." Scotland on Sunday 02/12/06

Arts: The (Alarming) Wage Gap At a time when the economics of the arts world seem particularly challenging, there's a category of arts worker who is doing quite well. The artistic directors and upper management of arts organizations are scoring huge salaries, while the rank and file artists are getting squeezed. Wall Street Journal 02/11/06

New Orleans May Lose Historic Theatre Hurricane Katrina dealt a devastating blow to New Orleans' four major theatres, and while the rebuilding effort has made progress in some areas, the 85-year-old Orpheum Theatre may be a total loss. "Floodwater filled the theater's 20-foot basement, wiping out all the electrical and mechanical equipment stored there, and rose to more than a foot in the performance hall. The Orpheum's original oak floors swelled and buckled and likely cannot be salvaged. The stage, which sat under water for weeks, will also have to be replaced." Making matters worse, the Orpheum had no flood insurance. Picayune Item (AP) 02/12/06

Portland Arts: A Perpetual Crisis? Portland is frequently cited as a city on the rise, with a vibrant urban core and a young and growing population. But for the city's arts groups, the mythical "big time" frequently seems a distant dream. "After four precarious seasons at the 'majors' -- the Oregon Symphony, Portland Opera, Portland Center Stage and Oregon Ballet Theatre -- donations rose for the fiscal year ending in June. Ticket sales, however, fell behind. Talk about a mixed message. Donors seem to be saying, we'll give you more money, but we won't go to more concerts... It's possible that these old-fashioned institutions that rely on audiences driving downtown to sit in formal halls can't adapt to a digital age. Maybe they're doomed to live in perpetual crisis." The Oregonian (Portland) 02/12/06

Are Images Of Muhammed Really Forbidden? At the heart of Muslim outrage over the Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammed has been the generally unchallenged contention that any visual depiction of the prophet is banned under Islamic law. But the ban may not be as clear-cut as many seem to think. "Although rare in the 1,400 years of Islamic art, visual representations of Muhammad were acceptable in certain periods. Today, his likenesses grace collections around the world," and religious scholars say that "there is nothing in the Quran that forbids imagery." San Francisco Chronicle 02/11/06

Cartoon Scandal Editor Leaves Paper "Flemming Rose, the Danish editor whose decision to publish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad helped provoke weeks of fury in the Muslim world, said in an interview on Friday that he was leaving his newspaper on indefinite vacation." Rose stands by his decision to publish the cartoons, but says that the stress of being blamed for international riots and anti-European protests led him to step away. The New York Times 02/11/06

Rallying Around The New Chief The museum community is wasting no time in offering support to the Getty Trust's new interim CEO. "In her 23 years at the Getty, [Deborah] Marrow has emerged as its longest-tenured department head and the administrator with perhaps the broadest hands-on experience of its multifaceted operations." Perhaps more importantly, those who know her say that her level-headed style and established connections in the art world will serve the Getty well as it attempts to rebound from a terrible year. Los Angeles Times 02/11/06

Getty Needs To Get Back To Basics The scandals enveloping the Getty Trust came to a shrieking climax with the resignation of President and CEO Barry Munitz last week, and Christopher Knight says that it is time for the flailing institution to take a deep breath and remember that its mission is supposed to have something to do with art. Los Angeles Times 02/11/06

Are Getty Severance Packages Illegal? The troubling issues of executive compensation and severance pay have joined the myriad other controversies plaguing Los Angeles's Getty Museum. "Questions are being raised about whether excessive severance packages were paid to two senior executives who resigned recently... The severance packages could prove troubling to the Getty because such payments might violate federal tax laws governing spending by nonprofit foundations, which specify that they must use their resources for the public good." The New York Times 02/11/06

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Munitz Out At Getty Tyler Green reports that Barry Munitz is stepping down as president of the Getty Trust. Munitz has been under fire in the past year. "In a letter to the Board, Dr. Munitz said that with the Getty's vision and strategic priorities clarified and supported, a new museum director in place, the Getty Villa reopened after an eight-year period, the Trust endowment in solid financial shape and talks underway to resolve issues surrounding the Getty's antiquities collection, his work at the Getty was complete." Modern Art Notes 02/09/06

  • Barry Munitz's Fall "Munitz's resignation marked a stunning downfall for a man who brought extensive business and academic experience to the world's richest art institution, not to mention a bevy of friendships with Los Angeles' power elite." Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Times 02/09/06

  • Getty Prez Resigns Under Pressure "In interviews, Barry Munitz has defended his actions and his spending, saying that his job required him to court powerful collectors and donors around the world. He has also stressed that trust's board had approved all his expenses, including first-class air travel, stays at five-star hotels and a leased Porsche Cayenne." The New York Times 02/10/06

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

China Becomes Leader In Visual Art Exports "China has now become the second largest exporter of 'visual arts', accounting for 19% of world exports in this category (particularly statuary). World trade in all categories of cultural goods (including visual arts, heritage goods, books, newspapers, recorded media, audiovisual, etc.) almost doubled from $39 billion in 1994 to $59 billion in 2002, representing around 1% of total world trade."
The Art Newspaper 02/08/06

New Orleans Theatres' Future In Doubt "The storm took out all four of New Orleans' major performing arts theaters, severely flooding two of its oldest — the Orpheum and the Saenger, both listed on the national registry of historic places. But in the five months since Katrina, as renovations have been under way at the Saenger, recovery at the Orpheum — which had no flood insurance — has been all but stagnant. And the future of the 85-year-old theater, which for years has served as home to the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, is uncertain." The Times-Picayune (New Orleans) 02/08/06

Poll: Welsh Want To Keep Arts Funding Separate Only 22 percent of Welsh want their government to fund the arts directly. "Some 56% wanted the Arts Council of Wales (ACW) to continue funding and developing the arts. The survey followed a defeat for Labour, which had tried to take over responsibility for arts funding." BBC 02/08/06

Getty Launches Katrina Relief Fund "The Getty Foundation's Fund for New Orleans — to be announced today in New Orleans by officials of the Getty Foundation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the city — will allow nonprofit arts organizations to apply for financial support of two types: conservation grants, to be applied toward preserving art collections, archives, historic buildings and landscapes, and transitional planning grants, for 'longer-term organizational effectiveness and realization of an organization's mission.'" Los Angeles Times 02/08/06

Crumbling Tombs = Cultural Crisis Rome's Non-Catholic Cemetery may be small, but it houses the remains of a stunning array of internationally known individuals, from authors John Keats and Mary Shelley to Communist crusader Antonio Gramsci. These days, though, the cemetery is in serious disarray, and has been placed on the World Monument Fund's 2006 Watch List of the 100 most endangered sites on earth. "Many of its important monuments are crumbling like the bones they mark, damaged by pollution and years without archaeological maintenance." The New York Times 02/08/06

All This Over A Cartoon? Yes, And Get Used To It. The Danish cartoons currently sparking so much violence in the Muslim world have put Western authorities in a tough spot. On the one hand, "they're callous and feeble cartoons, cooked up as a provocation by a conservative newspaper exploiting the general Muslim prohibition on images of the Prophet Muhammad to score cheap points about freedom of expression." But "the new Molotov cocktail of technology and incendiary art has hastened the speed with which otherwise forgettable pictures are now globally transmitted." As a result, unthinkable violence results, and the West is left scrambling to mitigate the damage. The New York Times 02/08/06

Does San Francisco Really Need More Arts Funding? "When art brushes up against politics in San Francisco, the results can often seem surreal," and columnist Ken Garcia has some pointed questions for the mayor's new arts task force. Balancing the needs of the city's major arts organizations with those of smaller groups is an ongoing problem, and the task force's proposal does little to address it, Garcia alleges. "[Also] lost in the funding frenzy was the fact that San Francisco already spends more money per capita on nonprofit arts organizations than any U.S. city, nearly $15 for each of its 750,000 citizens." San Francisco Examiner 02/06/06

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Freedom Of Expression - The Most Important Question Of Our Time? "The cartoons in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten raise the most important question of our times: freedom of expression. Are we in the west going to cave into pressure from societies with a medieval mindset, or are we going to defend our most precious freedom -- freedom of expression, a freedom for which thousands of people sacrificed their lives? A democracy cannot survive long without freedom of expression, the freedom to argue, to dissent, even to insult and offend." Der Spiegel (Germany) 02/03/06

Bush Culture Funding - Status Quo George Bush's proposed $2.77 trillion budget doesn't include any big increases for culture. "The modest boost will most likely offset inflation but not give enough cushion to try new things. On the other hand, none of the agencies received sizable cuts." Washington Post 02/07/06

Oda Named Canada's New Culture Minister Canada's new Conservative government has named Beverley Oda, the first Japanese Canadian elected to parliament as the country's new minister of culture. "In addition to working at Global Television and CTV, Oda helped launch Canada's First Multilingual Television station (CFMT), which is now Omni 1. A winner of the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal, Oda was also inducted into Canada's Broadcast Hall of Fame in 2003." CBC 02/07/06

  • Canadian Artists Worry About Promised Funding Increases The Canadian arts community is pleased by the selection of Bev Oda as the new culture minister. But "some suggest that the concern isn't about Oda, but the new drive to make the path of money through federal agencies more transparent and accountable. The worry is that this could slow down promised funding increases, particularly the past Liberal government's pre-election promise in November to double the budget of the Canada Council for the Arts, the umbrella arts funding agency, in three years to $301-million." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 02/07/06

Monday, February 6, 2006

Where Are The Women? Everywhere But At The Top "Traditionally, if you look at our cultural institutions, most of them employ women in equal numbers. Women are certainly prominent in middle management. There is no question that women are good at what they're doing - but what they're generally doing is supporting male directors. There are, for sure, some art galleries with women directors. But if you start looking at national museums and galleries, no, there aren't. And if you start looking at orchestras in general, no again; we've got one woman director of an orchestra [the LSO]. There are fantastically few women film scriptwriters. Why should that be? These are bastions of male leadership." The Guardian (UK) 02/06/06

Knight: Five Ideas For The Getty The Getty has seen its reputation tarnished over a series of missteps. Christopher Knight has five ideas he thinks would put Getty at the center of LA's cultural life. Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Times 02/05/06

Sunday, February 5, 2006

What Good Is Art? "We know why science exists — to find a cure for cancer, fly us to the Moon or invent those weird bars of metal soap that claim to get the smell of chopped onions off your fingers and which, amazingly, actually work. But what about art? Determining the function and quantifying the success of a painting or a piece of music is almost impossible. Or is it?" The Times (UK) 02/05/06

Violence Escalates Over Cartoons Violence erupted in the Middle East over the weekend as crowds of Muslims protested Danish cartoons depicting Muhammad. "Those attacks earned widespread condemnation from European nations and the U.S., which accused the Syrian government of backing the protests. The Danish foreign minister said: 'enough is enough. Now it has become more than a case about the drawings: Now there are forces that wants a confrontation between our cultures. It is in no one's interest, neither them or us.' Syria blamed Denmark for the protests, criticizing the Scandinavian nation for refusing to apologize for the caricatures of Islam's holiest figure." Yahoo! (AP) 02/05/06

  • Cartoon Culture = Clash Of Civilizations? It's easy to leap to the extremes of the uproar over the Danish cartoons of Muhammad. "Perhaps these cartoons really do crystallize why Islam and the West are incompatible and must hunker down for a 'long war.' The only other option, it seems, is to remember that if vastly different worldviews can find no accommodation on a subject, then perhaps it's too early, in human history, to have the conversation." Washington Post 02/04/06

Selling Denver's Arts Denver wants to be known as an arts city. But lots of cities want to be known as arts cities, and marketing efforts abound. So how exactly does a city distinguish its arts scene from others? Denver Post 02/05/06

Thursday, February 2, 2006

Muslim Furor Over European Muhammad Cartoons Muslims across the Arab world are protesting against European publications that have published cartoons depicting Muhammad. "Newspapers in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Norway and Switzerland have run some or all of the cartoons first commissioned by Jyllands-Posten's culture editor, Flemming Rose. It is apparent that the demonstrations are the biggest, and the diplomatic reactions the most vehement, in countries where authoritarian regimes are under domestic pressure from Islamist opposition forces." The Guardian (UK) 02/03/06

Where Is Australia's Cultural Policy? Australian economist John Throsby has launched a shot at teh Australian government's lack of a cultural policy: "It may reasonably be surmised that [the Prime Minister, John Howard] neither knows of, nor cares about, contemporary art in any of its manifestations." Sydney Morning Herald 02/03/06

The Joint Chiefs Have Time To Read The Comics? "In a protest with an unusual number of high-level signatures, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and each of its five members have fired off a letter assailing a Washington Post cartoon as 'beyond tasteless.' The Tom Toles cartoon, published Sunday, depicts a heavily bandaged soldier in a hospital bed as having lost his arms and legs, while Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, in the guise of a doctor, says: 'I'm listing your condition as 'battle hardened.''" Washington Post 02/02/06

Welsh 'Direct Funding' Plan Defeated By One Vote The Welsh National Assembly has narrowly defeated a controversial plan submitted by Culture Minister Alan Pugh which would have bypassed the Welsh Arts Council and seen six of Wales' largest arts groups funded directly by the Assembly. It didn't take long for the official debate to descend into shouting and accusations of hidden agendas. "The truth of the matter is that he who pays the piper calls the tune," said one Assemblyman opposed to the plan, which opponents feared would make arts groups vulnerable to interference by politicians. The Western Mail (Cardiff) 02/02/06

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

New London Arts Center Takes It To The Streets Bob Geldof is in on a new arts center in Camden Town in the north of London. "There is a buzz about the Roundhouse that is reminiscent, to those of us who were kids at the time, of Camden Town in the Sixties and Seventies: a place where our world was remade in a purple haze of invention. The risk is high when you let the streets in, but what other way is there to understand what's going on?" La Scena Musicale 02/01/06

Welsh Assembly To Clash Over Arts Funding The Culture Minister of Wales has proposed to change the way the Welsh Assembly funds the arts, taking the task of funding of the six largest arts organizations away from the Welsh Arts Council and letting the assembly fund them directly. "But opposition parties claim this breaches the principle of 'arms-length' funding of the arts - separating the politicians who hold the purse strings from the artists who receive the money - and could lead to political interference. They plan to use Wednesday's assembly debate to vote through an amendment which would force a public review and consultation process." BBC 02/01/06

KC PAC Falls Short Again An interim fundraising campaign for Kansas City's proposed new performing arts center has fallen well short of its $45 million goal, and backers aren't sure whether they will have enough cash on hand to begin construction in the fall as originally planned. The center has been a long time in the planning process, and debates have sprung up over everything from its cost (somewhere north of $330 million) to its proposed downtown location. Kansas City Star 02/01/06

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