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Sunday, April 30, 2006

In A Webby World Is There Such A Thing As A Subculture? As "personal technology creeps deeper into our lives, the gaps narrow – between the daring and the dilettantes, between the rebels and the ready-for-prime-time, between making donations at the door and being on hold with Ticketmaster. We're all online. The Web's no longer a fringe medium. The individualists have been blogged, kicking and screaming, into the open. Some artists have traded their obscurity for practical considerations – like survival, and a wider audience. Some have sacrificed their avant-garde cachet for cash. With the so-called underground only a log-on or a picture-phone image away, is it dead, or has it just, inevitably, changed with the times?" San Diego Union-Tribune 04/30/06

Have You Gone Viral Yet? (Everyone's Doing It) "The viral is where words, spoof images or film clips, You've Been Framed moments, guerilla marketing, cultural subversion and the unsuspecting celebrity all meet - and get spread around the internet community through personal contact. Once it would be nothing more than a text-only joke but, with broadband nearly everywhere and editing software ever more sophisticated, so virals have upped the stakes. The viral email has become such a phenomenon that the ICA is hosting the first exhibition devoted to it..." The Guardian (UK) 04/30/06

Friday, April 28, 2006

Kennedy Center's Arab Initiative The Kennedy Center will stage a major festival of Arab art. "We don't know enough about what other people are about. We read about government and politics. That doesn't say anything about what they like, what they find beautiful. Also, the idea starts from my rather naive belief that arts create peace." Washington Post 04/28/06

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Latest From The True/Hecht Trial: The Sicilian Connection Prosecutors in the art theft trial of former Getty Museum curator Marion True and art dealer Robert Hecht are weaving a complex tale of antiquities fraud, using dozens of documents to establish a pattern of misconduct. The latest testimony in the case has focused on a Sicilian antiquities dealer whom prosecutors allege had illegal dealings with collectors and museums around the world. The New York Times 04/27/06

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Good Luck Symbol That Dare Not Speak Its Name "The swastika's recent marginalisation is undeniable. Where it was once an ancient symbol of love, laughter, joy, peace and good luck for cultures across the world, the days when an innocent civilian or institution could display a swastika willy-nilly are now long gone since Adolf Hitler appropriated the symbol for his Nazi party, which ended up taking control of Germany and systematically murdered at least 9 million people and caused a war in which 50 million more died. Since Hitler, things have been quite difficult for the swastika. This reality has been particularly hard hitting for the branch of [a London bank] which, it turns out, has two of the provocative symbols on display in mosaics on the floor of its entrance." The Guardian (UK) 04/27/06

A Museum's Savior, A Shameless Self-Promoter, Or Both? When Marine Reservist Matthew Bogdanos led an improvised mission to recover the thousands of artifacts looted from the Baghdad Museum of Art after the American invasion, he quickly acheived not only success, but fame in the art world, fame which he has savvily leveraged into a lucrative career as a public speaker, even as he continues to pursue stolen art. "With this high profile has come criticism -- from some museum officials, archeologists, and soldiers in other branches of the military who served in Iraq." Boston Globe 04/23/06

Historians Slam Smithsonian Commercialism "The Society of American Historians, a group that promotes excellence in historical writing, has suspended Smithsonian Books from its ranks in protest over the Smithsonian Institution's 'increasingly commercial approach to its mission.' The suspension itself will have little impact, but it is the latest symptom of friction between the Smithsonian's top managers and many of the nation's scholars." Washington Post 04/26/06

National Advancement In The What Now? How Many Thousands? For a quarter of a century, the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts has toiled quietly away in Miami, encouraging and supporting young performers, writers, and artists to the tune of more than $500,000 per year in grants alone. Now, the NFAA is making a stab at true national recognition, mounting a star-studded gala in New York and a continuing push for attention, all designed to secure the organization's long-term future and make it a household name among arts types. The New York Times 04/26/06

Monday, April 24, 2006

DaVinci Riles Up The Faithful Around The Globe As release date approaches for the film version of The DaVinci Code, Christian activists worldwide are launching websites, issuing pronouncements, and generally doing whatever they can to denounce the story, which speculates that Jesus may have married and had children, and delves into the mysteries surrounding a certain secret sect. The Age (Melbourne) 04/24/06

Scottish Arts Advocates Look For Funding To Match Their Ambition In Scotland, where public arts funding has been awfully hard to come by in recent years, there are fears that the arts are increasingly being seen as an unnecessary frill, even as Glasgow and Edinburgh make strides in the effort to expand and develop their respective cultural scenes. The Herald (UK) 04/24/06

Baghdad Arts School Threatened By Continued Violence Iraq still teeters on the brink of civil war, and life in Baghdad appears years away from anything approaching normalcy. Somehow, though, the Baghdad Music & Ballet School has stayed open, even with a diverse student body consisting of Shiites, Sunnis, and Christians. "But violence has taken its toll, said principal Najiha Naif. Students have dropped out because many are afraid of getting killed on the way to class. Blasts have shattered the school's windows and mirrors. Gunmen have stormed the school ground to take cover during gun battles... Before war, the school had problems accommodating all the students who applied, Naif said. The centre now has 200 students and it survives in part thanks to foreign donations." Reuters 04/25/06

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Will Corporations Step Up To Help New Jersey Arts? New Jersey officials suggest that the state is tapped out for arts money. The solution? Corporate money, they say. Only one problem - though the number of arts organizations has increased, corporate donations have flatlined and then tailed off... Newark Star-Ledger 04/23/06

  • Corporate Mergers Hurt NJ Arts Funding Why are corporate donations to the arts dropping in New Jersey? Part of the reason is corporate mergers. "Arts leaders point to the merger activity as a prime reason why corporate donations are on the decline. When two corporations merge, a plus b never equals c. C somehow turns out to be less," "In the past, you were getting money from two, three, or four companies and now you're getting one. That's especially true in the banking community." Newark Star-Ledger 04/23/06

Donor Fatigue Comes To The O.C. Cultural business is booming in Orange County, California (a suburban enclave near Los Angeles,) but all the big plans may be too much even for the residents of America's wealthiest county. Non-profit organizations in the area are fundraising up a storm, and are hoing to raise more than $1 billion between them. The goals may be worthy, but donors are quickly getting tired of being solicited. Orange County Register (CA) 04/23/06

Suing The Arts Alfred G. Rava and Steven Surrey are becoming the hottest behind-the-scenes names in Southern California's arts world, but not in a good way. "Rava and Surrey's connection with the arts stems mainly from lawsuits, or the threat of lawsuits, they have filed against performing arts organizations and for-profit businesses here over the past few years." Most of the lawsuits stem from what the litigious pair claim is gender or age discrimination on the part of arts organizations which offer ticket discounts to women or young people. San Diego Union-Tribune 04/23/06

Friday, April 21, 2006

Magazine: Go To Buffalo For Arts American Style magazine conducted a reader poll of top US arts cities. "Among big American cities, the winners were New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C. In the small city category, the winners were Santa Fe, N.M.; Asheville, N.C.; and Corning, N.Y." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 04/21/06

Thursday, April 20, 2006

US To Foreign Artists: Stay Home American visa rules are now so onerous (and expensive) that it's become more and more difficult to enter the country as an artist. And if you're part of a large dance troupe or orchestra? Almost impossible... Seattle Weekly 04/20/06

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Will London Do Olympic Culture? Many Olympic cities have used the games to showcase culture along with sports. Most assume London will do the same for the 2012 games. But shouldn't the planning already be underway? The Stage (UK) 04/18/06

Smithsonian Investigating Sales Division Salaries "The Smithsonian's Office of the Inspector General is looking into the executive compensation and accounting practices of Smithsonian Business Ventures, the division of the institution that operates its retail and publishing enterprises." Washington Post 04/19/06

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Does A Culture Minister Matter In Canada? Another spring, another culture minister. "Veterans of the culture wars have seen a bewildering number of ministers come and go, both federally and provincially. Virtually all of them have stood up and proclaimed their deep respect, admiration and concern for the arts. But how many of them have actually delivered on their promises? And in the end, does it really matter who the culture minister is or what the minister says in speeches to the Canadian Club?" Toronto Star 04/18/06

Why Must We Always "Explain" Art? "As humans, we have a constant discussion going on in our brains. On our right sides we have instinct, emotion, intuition; on the left, intellect, language, reason. As an artist, I feel that it is from this dialogue that inspiration comes. If a decision about how to proceed with a work is a toss-up between watertight concept and sensual intuition I tend to give in to intuition because of its track record." The Times (UK) 04/18/06

In A Sea Of 9/11 Art, The Movies Show Up Late For 4 1/2 years, not a week, perhaps even a day, has gone by without mention of Sept. 11. Our newspapers and magazines have been filled with stories, often illustrated by graphic photographs of the tragedy. Stacks of books have been written. The war on terrorism has been a central focus of our political lives. So many documentaries and TV movies have been made about 9/11 that reviewers now contrast the new offerings the way film critics compare vintage versus latter-day Scorsese films." But it's taken this long for a movie to weigh in... Los Angeles Times 04/18/06

Getty Off Probation The Council on Foundations has taken the Getty Trust off probation, citing "significant reforms" in the organization's operations. "Controversy flared last year over the spending habits of President Barry Munitz. Munitz, who had traveled often, widely and in first class at Getty expense, stepped down in February from the $9-billion nonprofit, which operates the Getty Museum in Brentwood and the Getty Villa near Malibu." Los Angeles Times 04/18/06

Monday, April 17, 2006

For Better Doctors - Study Humanities Some medical schools are now requiring humanities courses for their students. "At least one study, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association in 2001, has found that looking at painting and sculpture can improve medical students' observational abilities. 'With heightened observational skills physicians can often ask the questions necessary to make correct diagnoses without relying too much on costly blood tests and X-rays'." The New York Times 04/17/06

  • Previously: Does "Physics For Poets" Kill Students' Appreciation For Science? The classic "Physics for Poets" classes at universities are an attempt to give liberal arts majors a smattering of science. But, writes Edward Morley, "despite the effort we put into providing classes that are both relevant and informative, I am troubled by the subtext of these classes. By their very existence, these classes send two damaging messages to students in other disciplines: first, that science is something alien and difficult, the exclusive province of nerds and geeks; and second, that we will happily accommodate their distaste for science and mathematics, by providing them with special classes that minimize the difficult aspects of the subject." InsideHigherEd.com 04/14/06

The Tension Of Leadership The mix between strong leadership and democracy is a tough balance to strike. "A democratic leader is, at least in part, an oxymoron. A leader is ahead of those being led, but a democratic leader is also supposed to be a follower, obeying the will of the people. Neither position is without dangers." The New York Times 04/17/06

Coffee Culture - Finding Ourselves In A Starbucks Starbucks seems to be everywhere. But does the "Starbucks experience" tell us anything about ourselves? "Founded in Seattle in 1971, Starbucks Corp. now has 11,000 outlets in 37 countries, including 500 in Tokyo. There is a Starbucks's in Beijing's Forbidden City, and the round green logo adorns the streets of Edinburgh and the boulevards of Paris. The company expects to open 1,800 new stores this year and aims eventually to have 30,000 outlets, half of them outside the United States." Yahoo! (AP) 04/16/06

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Torontopia - A City Building On Culture "A generation ago, an astonished Toronto was energized when its multicultural neighbourhoods won favour from international urban thinkers such as Jane Jacobs. Then, for 30 years, the city the rest of Canada loves to hate cruised back into mediocrity. Today, it is regaining a sense of its own singular potential. In once derelict, now glamorous industrial lofts and hotels, indie rockers talk with hip architects and earnest young public-space activists about books like uTOpia: Towards a New Toronto and debate whether the term 'Torontopia' has gone too far in "fetishizing" the city's newfound energy." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 04/15/06

Is Nothing Sacred? Cell Phones In Libraries? People are using their cell phones everywhere. But libraries? That's intolerable, writes Scott McLemee. "Being forced to listen to one side of a manifestly inane conversation is now a routine part of public life. It is tolerable on the street — but not, somehow, in a library; and in one mostly full of academic tomes maybe least of all. What’s worse, the rot is spreading." InsideHigherEd.com 04/13/06

Is It True There Are No British Intellectuals? "The claim that Britain lacks 'real' intellectuals is usually based on a normative model derived primarily from France, where the term 'intellectuels' was applied to the members of a group of writers who supported Alfred Dreyfus in 1898. Since at least the eighteenth century, the British have constructed their national identity by contrasting themselves with the French. When the image of intellectuals as a dissident and cohesive group intimately involved in politics began to emerge in France, in the early twentieth century, it was only natural that the British should define themselves in opposing terms..." The Times (UK) 04/11/06

Has New York Priced Out Artists? "According to a recent Freelancer's Union report, the city's creative sector—comprised of artists, photographers, designers, composers and writers—is facing increasing economic uncertainty related to a lack of stable employment. Over 40 percent report making less than $35,000 last year, half have little to no personal savings, and over a third lack proper health insurance. Ninety percent cited 'unstable income' as the major disadvantage of their chosen profession. All these factors, the study suggests, means that the city’s creative class—including its emerging artists—may leave New York in favor of cities with a "lower cost of living and developing creative centers." ArtInfo 04/06

Thursday, April 13, 2006

KC PAC Is Finally A Go After much debate and delay, the board behind the proposed $326 million performing arts center in Kansas City has decided to break ground on the project this fall, despite being somewhat short of initial fundraising goals. The Kansas City Symphony, which will be one of the center's primary tenants, celebrated the decision. Kansas City Star 04/14/06

  • Previously: Big Week For KC PAC Kansas City's long-planned (and long-delayed) $326 million performing arts center faces a major turning point this week, when the center's board will have to decide whether to break ground this year, despite having less money in the bank than they would like. Kevin Collision says that successful cities are those that recognize and leverage their civic assets, and that the center could be the centerpiece of a rebirth for Kansas City's urban core. Kansas City Star 04/11/06

Two Quebec Luminaries Rethink Sovereignty, Cause Furor Artists and celebrities frequently gather on the cutting edge of controversial issues, and in Quebec, that's always meant a general consensus among the province's artists in favor of gaining independence from Canada. "So when two of the province's artistic luminaries questioned their sovereigntist faith this week, their remarks fell like a bombshell. Michel Tremblay, the world-acclaimed playwright whose works have helped capture Quebec's soul, declared that he was no longer a separatist. It was as if the Pope were renouncing Catholicism. Mr. Tremblay's words were front-page news. Then another light of the Quebec stage, Robert Lepage, enjoined that he, too, was 'less convinced' about independence." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 04/13/06

Playing Arts & Politics In Beantown Boston is known as a city where patronage and politics travel hand in hand, but still, many in the Hub's arts community were surprised and bemused when longtime Mayor Tom Menino appointed a political ally with no arts experience to head Boston's Office of Arts, Tourism, and Special Events. But some say that, in a city like Boston, what the arts community really needs is an advocate who knows the area's political labyrinth inside out, and can negotiate from a position of strength. Boston Globe 04/13/06

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Lending All Well And Good, But Ownership Questions Not Going Away "A circumcision mask from western Kenya and a headdress made from human hair from Uganda are among 140 artefacts from the British Museum that have gone on show in Nairobi - the first time the museum has lent objects to Africa. But the exhibition has sparked debate about whether such objects should be returned to their home countries for good." The Guardian (UK) 04/13/06

Toronto To Refurbish Old Venues Hot on the heels of some very high-profile cultural development projects which have been completed in the last year, Toronto is now making public plans to renovate and update three of the city's oldest, dowdiest venues: The Hummingbird Centre, the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts and Massey Hall. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 04/12/06

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Boeing Gives $15m To Smithsonian "The Boeing Co. and the Smithsonian Institution announced yesterday that the aviation giant is giving $15 million to the National Air and Space Museum. The gift, the largest corporate gift in Smithsonian history, will go to the planned expansion of the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, the Virginia annex of the main museum on the Mall." Washington Post 04/11/06

Big Week For KC PAC Kansas City's long-planned (and long-delayed) $326 million performing arts center faces a major turning point this week, when the center's board will have to decide whether to break ground this year, despite having less money in the bank than they would like. Kevin Collision says that successful cities are those that recognize and leverage their civic assets, and that the center could be the centerpiece of a rebirth for Kansas City's urban core. Kansas City Star 04/11/06

Monday, April 10, 2006

South Bank's Tall Order "As the new artistic director of [London's massive South Bank Arts Centre], Jude Kelly has become one of the most important figures in Britain's art scene." But Kelly faces almost innumerable challenges in her new job, not the least of which is the perennial public confusion over what exactly South Bank is, and why they should care. The Guardian (UK) 04/10/06

Psycho Inspiration's Farm Banned From eBay "Land that was once home to a murderer whose story inspired the movie Psycho was pulled from an online auction" after eBay officials decided that it violated the site's policy banning "murder memorabilia." The land, which was purchased at auction in 1958 after being seized by the state of Wisconsin, remains up for sale. Washington Post (AP) 04/11/06

Sunday, April 9, 2006

A Performing Arts Center Falls Short But Celebrates Anyway California's Orange County Performing Arts Center is $70 million short of its expansion costs. "Borrowing $180 million through a bond issue has ensured completion of the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, which backers predict will carry the Costa Mesa center toward its goal of being recognized nationally as a peer of such cultural fulcrums as New York's Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. But unless fresh donations pile up in time, leaders of the Orange County center face having to explain why the new jewel comes with a big mortgage attached — and why an organization proud of never having run a deficit in its 20-year history could have to confront unprecedented financial challenges." Los Angeles Times 04/09/06

Indy Arts Groups Try Some New Things Indianapolis' music and dance groups are trying to avoid the fate of the Ballet Internationale, which closed last year due to financial problems. So they've started programs to try to make themselves more relevant with audiences... Indianaoplis Star 04/09/06

The Great SF Earthquake - Dancing In The Rubble The big San Francisco earthquake of 1906 devastated the city. "But within a few weeks, music and other entertainment returned to the pleasure-loving city now in ruins, providing divertissement for shocked and displaced people forced to rebuild their lives from the ground up." San Francisco Chronicle 04/09/06

Friday, April 7, 2006

PA Gov Says Kimmel Is On Verge Of Solvency Contrary to some recent reports that had Philadelphia's Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts struggling under a massive debt load with no relief in sight, Pennsylvania Governer Ed Rendell (who helped get the center off the ground when he was mayor of the city) claims that the Kimmel is only $12 million away from hitting a fundraising target that would allow it to retire its debt. Rendell is also suggesting that the center combine some of its operations with those of its principal tenant, the Philadelphia Orchestra, a move both organizations have reportedly been considering. Philadelphia Inquirer 04/07/06

Politics Threatens To Dismantle An Unusual Partnership This year, an unlikely (and tenuous) alliance arose in Minnesota between the state's large population of hunters and fisherman, and those who value the state's longstanding commitment to the arts. The reason for the partnership was to promote a sales tax hike at the state legislature, with proceeds dedicated to the arts and the conservation of the great outdoors. But as the vote count tightens (the legislature is not terribly enamored of new taxes at the moment,) many on the conservationist side are suggesting that the presence of the "arts and culture crowd" is hurting the bill's chance of passage. Minneapolis Star Tribune 04/06/06

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Richmond Arts Supporters Splinter By Age "In the wake of stalled plans for a downtown [Richmond, Virginia] arts center and a struggling Virginia Performing Arts Foundation, a group of young supporters has separated from the foundation to carve out its own identity. Opus, an organization of men and women younger than 40 whose mission is to promote performing arts downtown, originated in 2003 as an outgrowth of the foundation. Now it’s working to become a nonprofit corporation with bylaws and a board." Style Weekly (Richmond, VA) 04/05/06

MN Arts Groups See Mixed Results In Funding Push It's bonding bill time at the Minnesota State Legislature, and for Twin Cities arts groups, that means it's time to hit up the state for extra cash for special projects, expansions, and the like. But there's only so much money to go around, and for those lobbying at the Capitol, it winds up being a zero-sum game, with definite winners and losers. St. Paul Pioneer Press 04/05/06

Ontario - An Artless Budget Ontario's government announced its legislative agenda this week. And despite lots of previous talk, there wasn't any mention of the arts, or money to support it. Is that really a surprise? Toronto Star 04/05/06

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

NY Opens Office To Promote Arts The City of New York is opening an office to "aggressively pitch New York City around the world as the nation's art and cultural capital by helping nonprofit organizations, especially those in the arts, cope with the high costs that threaten their survival." The New York Times 04/05/06

Monday, April 3, 2006

Arts Funding Wrapped Up With the Hunting And Fishing Crowd Legislators in Minnesota are planning let voters decide "this fall whether to raise the state sales tax by .375 percent. That would bring the tax up to 6.875 percent. The dedicated funding would go to hunting and fishing resources, parks and trails, clean water programs and the arts." Minnesota Public Radio 04/03/06

Sunday, April 2, 2006

What They Earn In The Arts In LA What are arts people making in Los Angeles? "Among the city's most visible arts outfits, the drift of leadership salaries is up, up and up. If you lump together salaries for the top executives of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Los Angeles Opera, the L.A. Philharmonic and the Center Theatre Group from 2002 to 2004, the average increase was 28%, while inflation was rising 5%." Los Angeles Times 04/02/06

Protests Over Bodies Exhibition " 'Bodies ... The Exhibition' features 20 whole cadavers, preserved using a technique known as 'plastination,' made famous by the anatomist Gunther von Hagens. It will open at Earls Court later this month. Human rights organisations have attacked the booming industry in travelling exhibitions featuring human corpses. They warned that the bodies, which are from China, could include those of executed political prisoners." The Observer (UK) 04/02/06

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