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Friday, March 31, 2006

Museums In The Wrong Hands "I have yet to see a performing arts museum that fires the theatregoer’s imagination. Vienna’s House of Music and London’s Handel House Museum are thin stuff for a rainy day and St Petersburg’s Museum of Performing Arts is positively soporific. Digital interaction might help but the only way to put on a show about the performing arts to involve a showman." La Scena Musicale 03/30/06

Thursday, March 30, 2006

UK Tops Arts Spending Citizens of the UK lead all nations in per capita spending on arts and culture. "In the UK, the average household spending on recreation and culture as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) is 7.9%. This figure, which has risen from 6.5% in 1991, puts the UK at the top of the table of OECD countries, ahead of countries such as France and Germany, who spend 5.2% per household and 5% respectively, and above even the leisure-loving Australians, who come in second at 7.2%." The Guardian (UK) 03/31/06

What If They Built A PAC In Miami And Only Cleveland Came? "With six months to go before the October grand opening, the Miami Performing Arts Center and the four South Florida arts groups slated to be its principal residents have yet to come to terms over basic issues such as rental fees, terms of payment, box office services and concessions... To date PAC leaders have signed just two licensing agreements: one with Clear Channel Entertainment, the presenters of the Broadway in Miami series, and the other with the Cleveland Orchestra." No South Florida arts groups have been able to reach agreement with the center on terms of use, although representatives from both the PAC and the groups expected to be anchor tenants say they expect agreements to get done soon. Miami Herald 03/30/06

Arts In The Northern Wilderness The arts (or, at least, large concentrations of artists) are usually considered an urban phenomenon, centered in and around cities and often reflecting in their local vibrance the overall quality of life in the region. But a new study by a Minnesota group shows that one of the state's highest concentrations of arts and culture is in the mainly rural northeast "arrowhead" region. "Arts organizations bring a lot of outside money into the Arrowhead, according to the study. Nonresidents make up about one-third of the audience for nonprofit arts events in the region, and out-of-towners tend to spend more." Duluth News Tribune (MN) 03/30/06

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Welsh Arts Minister Appoints New Arts Council Head Despite Controversy Welsh culture minister Alan Pugh has further infuriated Welsh artists by appointing his own head of Arts Council Wales after the council itslef had expressed an interest in keeping its fired leader... The Stage (UK) 03/29/06

Canada's Artists - A Snapshot A new study measures Canada's arts workforce. "Toronto artists on average earned $34,100 a year. That's almost $11,000 more than the national average for artists and almost $15,000 more that what artists in St. John's get -- but 11 per cent less than the average earnings for Toronto's total labour force. Moreover, dancers in Toronto were found to earn on average less than $20,000 a year. In 2001 -- the last year a full, nationwide census was completed -- artists represented 0.8 per cent of Canada's working population. But Vancouver had 7,250 artists in its total labour force of just over 307,000; at 2.4 per cent, that was the highest concentration of arts workers in the country." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/29/06

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Judge: Teachers Don't Have Free Speech In Class A judge rules that American teachers "do not have a right under the First Amendment to express their opinions with their students during the instructional period. The judge ruled that school officials are free to adopt regulations prohibiting classroom discussion of the war." The Progressive 03/24/06

Orange County PAC Embezzler Sentenced A former accounting employee at the Orange County Performing Arts Center has been sentenced to ten years in prison after admitting she embezzled $1.85 million from the center. She "started working at the center in 1995 and from September 2000 to September 2005 pocketed cash that was supposed to be deposited into bank accounts. She then created false records to show that the money had been deposited, prosecutors said. She was ordered to pay back the money, plus 10 percent interest." Orange County Register 03/27/06

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Right To Art - Where Is It? "Try to think of a contemporary piece of art that made a right-wing point? Or a British film, or TV drama, or play? No bells ringing, yet. Nope, there’s no risk of tinnitus. So why are right-wingers in the arts as rare as Saudi snowballs?" The Times (UK) 03/27/06

500,000 Rally In LA Against Immigration Bill Perhaps the largest demonstration in LA history gathered to protest federal legislation that would crack down on undocumented immigrants, penalize those who help them and build a security wall along the U.S.' southern border." Los Angeles Times 03/26/06

Toronto Entertainment's "Downward Spiral" "Toronto's entertainment industry has been trapped in a long, downward spiral. How badly did Toronto think it needed "The Lord of the Rings," the colossal, $28 million musical spectacular that officially opened here Thursday night to high hopes but reviews that fell far short of expectations? Badly enough that the Ontario government agreed to risk $3 million in public money in this for-profit show -- not for the building but, incredibly, the actual production -- despite charges that deficit-strapped provincial taxpayers were now being asked to subsidize someone's singing hobbits." Chicago Tribune 03/26/06

McMaster: Keep Edinburgh Scottish The outgoing director of the Edinburgh International Festival says the festical is financially sound. "Brian McMaster, who steps down at the end of this year's Festival, also warned against any reduction in its Scottish talent, saying he would be 'surprised and bloody angry' if that happened." Scotland of Sunday 03/26/06

Friday, March 24, 2006

Ontario's Arts Funding Bonanza Ontario arts gets a big boost from the province's new budget proposal. "Not only announced increased tax incentives for film and new media, $10-million for the Ontario Heritage Trust and $15-million for libraries ($8-million of that for digital libraries and another $1-million for servers in the province's far north) -- there was also a much-hoped-for $49-million over three years to help complete Toronto's cultural building projects." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/24/06

Thursday, March 23, 2006

George Lucas On America's Negative Cultural Influence: "As long as there has been a talking Hollywood, Hollywood has had a huge impact on the rest of the world. There has been a conflict going on for thousands of years between the haves and the have-nots, and now we are in a position for the first time to show the have-nots what they do not have." Sydney Morning Herald 03/24/06

Foreign School Applications On Rise Again At US Schools Reversing a two-year decline in applications, the "number of foreign students who applied to graduate programs in American universities during the current academic year increased by 11 percent" from last year. The New York Times 03/23/06

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Getting 'Em Where They Live (Literally) The Twin Cities have always been a haven for the arts, particularly music, theatre, and literature. But as the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area increasingly gives in to urban sprawl, suburbanites have been less willing to come all the way into the urban core for their plays, violin lessons, and writing seminars. As a result, arts organizations in the cities are following the lead of groups in larger cities across the country, and expanding their services to the 'burbs. Minneapolis Star Tribune 03/22/06

D.C. Area Arts Center Asks Pols To Jump-Start Funding "A committee raising private money for a planned $56 million performing arts center in [Virginia's] Prince William County yesterday urged county and city officials to begin construction ahead of its fundraising schedule because of increasing building costs. The 1,100-seat center near Manassas is a partnership between George Mason University, the city of Manassas, Prince William County and private donors. The committee has set a goal of raising $7.5 million in private funds before construction begins." Washington Post 03/22/06

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Well-Adjusted Goth A new study reports that Goths are pretty healthy people. "Most youth subcultures encourage people to drop out of school and do illegal things. Most goths are well educated, however. They hardly ever drop out and are often the best pupils. The subculture encourages interest in classical education, especially the arts. I'd say goths are more likely to make careers in web design, computer programming ... even journalism." The Guardian (UK) 03/21/06

Arts Council Wales Top Job Unfilled Artists in Wales are concerned that the government does not seem to be looking for a new director of Arts Council Wales. "As yet, no successor has been appointed to Mr Davies - and the post has not been advertised, even though Mr Davies steps down at the end of March." ICWales.co.uk 03/21/06

A Florida Community Goes For Something Different In A Cultural Plan The city of Delray Beach Florida commissioned a new cultural plan, and the authors of it tout it as something new: "What's interesting about it is that it is focused on taking the city's inherent cultural assets and using them as building blocks in a way that addresses the always-on, experience-oriented, don't-make-me-sit-in-a-seat-and-watch-you-perform nature of culture today. There are no cookie-cutter solutions in this report. No build a new performing arts center just like the one down the street to compete." The Sun-Sentinel (Florida) 03/21/06

Monday, March 20, 2006

Missouri Has Sunk To The Bottom In Arts Funding "Its current budget of $485,000 places it in the bottom six of 56 states, territories and protectorates. The others are Montana ($406,356), the Virgin Islands ($309,568), Guam ($266,577), Northern Marianas ($260,000) and American Samoa ($44,000)." Kansas City Star 03/19/06

Schwarzenegger Proposes Big Arts Ed Increase Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's 2006-2007 budget for California proposes $100 million to enhance and expand arts education throughout California's K-8 schools. The plan is to apportion these funds to local school districts using a formula based on their enrollment levels... San Jose Mercury-News 03/19/06

Art Of Conversation "Conversation is one of those acts that require subtle forms of social imagination: an ability to listen and interpret and imagine, an attentiveness to someone whose perspective is always essentially different, a responsiveness that both makes oneself known and allows the other to feel known — or else does none of this, but just keeps up appearances. It may be, then, one of the most fundamental political and social acts, indispensable to negotiating allegiances, establishing common ground, clearing tangled paths. Conversation may reflect not just the state of our selves, but the state of society." The New York Times 03/20/06

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Who Owns The Public? "The practice of street photography has a long tradition in the United States, with documentary and artistic strains, in big cities and small towns. Photographers usually must obtain permission to photograph on private property — including restaurants and hotel lobbies — but the freedom to photograph in public has long been taken for granted. Remarkably, this was the first case to directly challenge that right. Had it succeeded, "Subway Passenger, New York City," 1941, along with a vast number of other famous images taken on the sly, might no longer be able to be published or sold." The New York Times 03/19/06

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Turnaround: Saratoga Finishes In The Black For the first time in years, Saratoga's (NY) Performing Arts Center has balanced its books. "Auditors found no major problems with SPAC's finances, a major achievement following a scathing 2004 state audit that cited mismanagement and poor business practices." The Saratogian 03/16/06

NYers Turning Out For Talk New Yorkers are flocking to lectures. "The current enthusiasm for lectures and spoken-word events calls to mind the 19th century, when crowds flocked to hear Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Mark Twain and Henry Ward Beecher lecture. At the peak of the country's lecture craze in the 1850's, nearly 400,000 people a week attended lectures in the northern and western parts of the country. But why the resurgence now?" The New York Times 03/17/06

Da Vinci Code Stakes (They're High For All Of Us) "There's more at stake here than Dan Brown's royalties. If the judge in London rules that the set of ideas Leigh and Baigent espoused can be copyrighted, it would set a troubling precedent that could trip up authors and filmmakers who craft works around any new historic or scientific research. It's worth noting that a federal judge in New York rejected a lawsuit against Brown last year by novelist Lewis Perdue, saying any similarity between their books was in ideas that could not be copyrighted." Los Angeles Times 03/14/06

Ground Zero Talks Stall Again; Pataki Blasts Developer The contentious effort to build something - anything, really - at the site of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks in New York has stalled once again, and city and state officials are fuming. Talks to jumpstart the project broke down after Larry Silverstein, the developer chosen to spearhead the Ground Zero project, reportedly attempted to up the cost of the project by $1 billion. Silverstein insists he did nothing improper, but New York Governor George Pataki was unusually blunt in declaring that "this guy has betrayed the public's trust." New York Daily News 03/16/06

It's Hard Out Here For A Non-Profit Executive Nine percent of all U.S. non-profit executives quit their jobs every year, according to a new study, and 75% expect to depart within five years. Among the factors contributing to early exec burnout is the omnipresent problem of dysfunctional boards who either don't fully engage, or don't really understand the non-profit mission. "Exacerbating the high-turnover problem is the lack of succession planning" at many non-profits. Chicago Tribune 03/16/06

Art Sprawl Atlanta has been one of the fastest-growing cities in America for over a decade now, and its boom has sparked an arts building explosion as well. But unlike in many other cities, much of Atlanta's new arts infrastructure is spreading to the suburbs, and these aren't small-town projects. A $145 million performing arts center is rising in suburban Cobb County, and millions more are being sunk into various projects around the metro area. Atlanta Journal-Constitution 03/16/06

Chicago Arts Failing To Draw Minority Crowds A new study conducted by the University of Chicago concludes that the city's arts organizations are failing to connect with a racially and economically diverse populace, and are drawing most of their support from affluent whites. "Admission fees, hours of operation and transportation are areas institutions may need to reconsider if they wish to broaden attendance, say the researchers." Chicago Sun-Times 03/16/06

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Liverpool's Capital Culture Plan - Too Many Outsiders? Lots of money is flowing into Liverpool for its Capital of Culture year. But some of the local artists are complaining: "It’s as if the people running 2008 have no confidence in what’s 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 isn’t coming into the music scene: it’s 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) 03/15/06

Trying To Understand The Cult Of Creativity "They say a creative organisation does not depend on individuals but on people working within an organisation where creativity is simply part of the expectation. Internal structures are understood and changed; boundaries (to understanding) are treated similarly and new domains are formed." National Business Review (New Zealand) 03/15/06

Demigod Needed: Must Enjoy Chaos "Wanted: an educational visionary with the political skills of a senator and the diplomatic polish of a secretary of state. The successful candidate will be a scholar of national prominence, a charismatic speaker, a successful fundraiser. Bold leadership required; affable personality preferred. The post is university president -- a job where the spotlight is bright, stakes are enormous and, some say, expectations are impossible to meet." Chicago Tribune 03/15/06

Sydney's New "Ticket Hub" A collection of Sydney-based performing arts organizations have spent AUS$2 million building a new "ticketing hub" which will allow groups using the Sydney Opera House to consolidate their sales departments, sell more tickets online and fix long-standing problems. "Previously, the various organisations were using different ticketing platforms and the ticket inventory was split, leaving the process prone to the double-selling of seats." AustralianIT 03/14/06

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Safire As Arts Champion Americans for the Arts has pundit William Safire deliver its annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on the arts. "The surprise here is not that Safire, the self-proclaimed right-winger, has a mainstream view; rather it's that large policy organizations, like Americans for the Arts, have gravitated so far away from the "left" position." Washington Post 03/15/06

Baldwin Testifies For Arts Funding Alec Baldwin lobbied Congress for arts funding on National Arts Advocacy Day. "If you told me back in 1996, we would have a Republican president and Republicans in charge of both houses of Congress, and the NEA would be flourishing and would be safe, it wouldn't be possible," San Jose Mercury-News (AP) 03/14/06

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Cure For Bad Handwriting? "We have a national affliction, and it's called cacography - that means illegible handwriting. That's why we're a 'Please print' nation. Nobody says, 'Please write in your lovely cursive handwriting'. At a time when the computer is king and toddlers type, some educators believe it's even more imperative to teach a speedy handwriting technique that others can read.' Rocky Mountain News 03/13/06

Canadian Arts Groups Score Big Tax Win Canadian arts groups have won a court ruling that allows them to classify the artists they hire as contract workers rather than employees. The ruling will save the arts groups a lot of money. "Earlier Revenue Canada rulings had hit arts groups such as the Thunder Bay Symphony hard, demanding thousands of dollars in Employment Insurance and pension contributions that drove them near bankruptcy." CBC 03/12/06

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Finalists For This Year's Criticism Pulitzer This year's Pulitzer Prize finalists for criticism? Tyler Green has the early word... Modern Art Notes (AJBlogs) 03/11/06

Philanthropy As Local PR When arts groups go looking for funding, they traditionally look to local companies and individuals with deep pockets. But some huge global corporations have been getting into the arts funding game in a big way recently, partly as a way of showing their commitment to local communities even as they struggle against the perception of "big box" retailers as generic and lifeless. Washington Post 03/11/06

Thursday, March 9, 2006

Has Liverpool's Culture Capital Effort Stalled? When news broke in June 2003 that Liverpool had, perhaps to its own surprise, been names European Capital of Culture for 2008, "the city rejoiced: this would be the crowning glory in the renaissance of a faded seaport finally stirring after a long period of decline. Everyone was behind the project." But as the date gets closer, preparations have stalled. What will the year actually mean? The Guardian (UK) 03/10/06

Peruvian Prez May Press Bush On Yale's Machu Picchu Collection The dispute between Yale University and the nation of Peru over antiquities from Machu Picchu is getting hot, and Peruvian authorities are quite serious about forcing Yale to return objects they claim were illegally looted. "This showdown over national patrimony, private property and academic inquiry comes as Alejandro Toledo, the first indigenous president of Peru, is scheduled Friday to meet with the Yale graduate who inhabits the White House." Washington Post 03/09/06

"Smoking Gun" Unveiled At True Trial Prosecutors at the trial of former Getty curator Marion True and art dealer Robert Hecht have entered into evidence photos that they say prove their claim that the Getty was knowingly trafficking in stolen antiquities. "Prosecutors also called on Italy's art theft police to explain the web that they say links the defendants to tomb robbers and unscrupulous dealers." The New York Times 03/09/06

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Why Is New York Cutting Arts Funding? "The Bloomberg administration is once again proposing a decrease in funding for the Department of Cultural Affairs next year -– a reduction of more than $37 million from the current year, to $102.2 million, according to the Independent Budget Office. This represents the largest proposed cut in two decades." Gotham Gazette 03/06

When The Government Spies On Its Own People Thirty-five years ago, a midnight break-in at an FBI office revealed "years of systematic wiretapping, infiltration and media manipulation designed to suppress dissent. Underground newspapers were targeted. Students (and their professors) were targeted. Celebrities were targeted. The Communist Party of the U.S.A., the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Student Non-Violent Organizing Committee, the Black Panther Party, the Women's Strike for Peace — all were targeted." That was supposed to be the break-in to end all break-ins... Los Angeles Times 03/08/06

The End Of The English Arts Council? There's about to be a big shakeup of the UK culture-funding system. "Abolition of the Arts Council is no longer a question of whether, but when – and how soon, this government or the next. The 60th anniversary of its foundation by royal charter will fall in August, by which time every colour of the political spectrum will have accepted that the system by which public money is fed into arts has outlived its usefulness to such an extent that it constricts art and contradicts its founding purpose." La Scena Musicale 03/08/06

Feds Channel Millions To NYC Cultural Rebuilding More than $27 million in federal grants intended to revitalize New York's downtown district were announced yesterday. Among the organizations benefitting from the new influx of cash will be the New Museum of Contemporary Art, the Flea Theater and the National Museum of the American Indian. "Some downtown arts groups have repeatedly expressed frustration over the time it has taken for the development corporation to make good on its 2002 pledge to help cultural institutions downtown. Yesterday, their leaders just sounded grateful." The New York Times 03/08/06

Architecture Isn't The Kimmel's Real Problem Peter Dobrin says that the settlement between the Kimmel Center and architect Rafael Viñoly is filled with elements of "pure fantasy" that don't begin to hold up under scrutiny. "It is a stunning fantasy to call the Kimmel Center a wonderful civic space. It could be a wonderful civic space. Nothing in the architecture prevents it from becoming one. But in its current state, there's nothing wonderfully civic about the center's gorgeous, oft-deserted rooftop garden and ground-level plaza... The Kimmel won't be done until it has an appropriate amount of money - that is, an endowment - to make it fully come alive." Philadelphia Inquirer 03/08/06

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Arts As Weapon? "New Labour has been pouring money into the arts, not just because this is a good thing but because of the belief that the arts will heal communities, reduce crime and raise the aspirations of those not educated enough to know whether they like Bartók or Birtwistle. The arts have long been used as a weapon. In the Cold War they were a beacon of intellectual freedom of expression, in stark contrast to the repression of dissent in the USSR. Now the enemy is what Andrew Brighton calls 'the limitations of working-class culture'." The Times (UK) 03/07/06

The Kimmel's World-Class, Stunning, Beautiful And Unique Settlement Philadelphia's Kimmel Center and architect Rafael Vinoly have reached an out-of-court settlement on Kimmel complaints about the building. It must have been some settlement. The joint statement says: "the Kimmel Center recognizes that the Viñoly-designed and delivered Kimmel Center is a stunning, state-of-the-art concert hall that attracts world-class artists. It is one of the most beautiful and unique buildings of its kind in the world, a world-class performing arts center, a wonderful civic space, and an economic engine for the entire area. As one of the best facilities of its kind anywhere, it has achieved its goal of becoming a cultural center for all tastes." Philadelphia Inquirer 03/07/06

Almost As Many Searches As People Computer users conducting a record number of internet searches in January. "Nielsen//NetRatings reports an all-time high search total of 5.7 billion searches in January, up from 4 million in January 2005. Meanwhile, comScore Networks says Americans made 5.48 billion searches in January, up from 4.95 billion a year earlier." Chicago Tribune 03/07/06

Monday, March 6, 2006

French Muslims Demand Voltaire Play Be Cancelled A municipal cultural center in France "organized a reading of a 265-year-old play by Voltaire, whose writings helped lay the foundations of modern Europe's commitment to secularism. The play, 'Fanaticism, or Mahomet the Prophet,' uses the founder of Islam to lampoon all forms of religious frenzy and intolerance. Islamic activists demanded the performance be cancelled. Instead, the mayor called in police reinforcements to protect the theater. A small riot broke out involving several dozen people and youths who set fire to a car and garbage cans. The dispute rumbles on, playing into a wider debate over faith and free-speech." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (WSJ) 03/06/06

Sunday, March 5, 2006

Mills: Many Plans For Edinburgh Festival Jonathan Mills defends his appointment as the new director of the Edinburgh festival. "Without going into detail, he suggested expanding the festival into areas in which his predecessor Sir Brian McMaster had not been interested. There was scope, for instance, to do more work in the visual arts, he said, also hinting that he would like to encourage younger people to get involved. 'There's not going to be a revolution. I'm not going to do anything drastic, but there will be changes, gentle, gradual and subtle ones. Like every other organisation the festival has to evolve if it is to remain relevant'." The Observer (UK) 03/05/06

Friday, March 3, 2006

Lobbying For A Women's History Museum The US Congress is being lobbyied to create a National Women's History Museum. "The founders and a coalition of women's professional groups said the museum would provide a solid understanding of the roles women have played in the nation's history and correct an oversight in the lineup of Washington museums." Washington Post 03/03/06

Thursday, March 2, 2006

UK To Reconsider Artist Visa Changes The UK government has agreed to reconsider new visa requirements for foreign artists performing in Britain. "Campaigners had been fearful that organisations such as orchestras or touring theatre companies would no longer be able to apply as a group to enter the UK but rather each individual would have to attend in person at a British consulate in their own country. As well as the significant extra cost and bureaucracy this would create, it was also feared that if one person was refused a visa an entire tour might be scrapped." The Stage 03/02/06

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Edinburgh's New Director - A Minnow? The Edinburgh Festival has a new director. "Just how Edinburgh, the city of Hume and Mill, the home along one main street of three latterday Walter Scotts – Rowling, Rankin, McCall Smith – the Venice of the North, the greatest arts festival between Aix-en-Provence and Santa Fe, just how Edinburgh got itself into such a selection muddle that it had to hire a minnow from the other side of the world is almost beyond comprehension." La Scena Musicale 03/01/06

Darwin In New York Twenty years ago, it would have been thought laughable that the theory of evolution might once again come under attack in U.S. society. But Darwin is a hot-button issue in 21st-century America, and the creationists (or whatever they're calling themselves now) seem to be winning over a large chunk of the country. So it probably shouldn't be a surprise that New York's Museum of Natural History thought that now might not be a bad time for a refresher course on the man, the theory, and the difference between research and guessing. Wired 03/01/06

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