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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Labour's Arts Support Legacy Britain's Labour Party has one unequivocal success - its support of the arts. "Labour has a good enough story to tell on the arts - up 64% in cash and more in impact. Chris Smith is one of the few politicians to retire knowing he has done something brilliant - restoring free entry to museums and galleries, swelling attendances by 50%. But politics and art rub along like a fingernail on a blackboard: ministers too rarely sing its praises." The Guardian (UK) 05/31/06

Bringing A Chicago Success Story To New Orleans Inspired by the success of Chicago's massive Millenium Park in drawing people to the downtown loop, a Chicago real estate investor who owns the badly damaged Hyatt Regency New Orleans is proposing to build "a 20-acre performance arts park anchored by a National Jazz Center" as the anchor of the rebuilt Crescent City. The project would cost $716 million, and "the 20,000-square-foot National Jazz Center, designed by [Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom] Mayne, would house the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra." Chicago Tribune 05/31/06

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

French Artists - The Weight Of History "It must be tough, being a contemporary French artist. All that hinterland to cope with. All those mould-breaking forebears who had only to cock a snook at the Académie Française..." New Statesman 05/29/06

The Anti-Racism Festivals That Preach To The Converted? Have festivals organized to rally for political purpose lost their point? "Today's anti-racism festivals are an entirely different affair because, essentially, they preach to the converted. The people who come to Finsbury Park in north London for Rise are logical human beings who already know that hating someone because of their colour and creed does not make any sense. It's more likely that they're in the park simply to enjoy a day in the sun, listen to music and eat some of the best jerk chicken this side of Jamaica." The Guardian (UK) 05/29/06

Gas Prices Squeeze America's Touring Bands High gas prices in America are hurting the touring business for bands. "If I have an act that's about to go on a 40-day tour and they've got five trucks and five buses, and a 40-day tour could be over 20,000 miles, that's almost an additional cost of $6,000 a vehicle. So if I have 10 vehicles, that's an additional $60,000. That money comes directly out of the artist's bottom line." Yahoo! (AP) 05/29/06

Monday, May 29, 2006

Those Damn Charity Art Auctions "Yes, it's that nerve-racking time of year again: benefit-auction season. For the last three months New York has been awash in raffles, auctions and other fund-raisers where donated artworks go on the block to benefit all manner of causes. For the institution, the money can be a significant source of funds. For attendees, it can be a chance to acquire a work under market price... But for artists, many of whom spend the season fielding requests, it is not exactly a win-win proposition." The New York Times 05/28/06

How Millennium Park became Chicago's Culture Hub "With approximately 3 million visitors streaming into the place last summer, with gospel and jazz and highbrow music set to sing again from its main stage starting next weekend, Millennium Park has become our town square, our meeting place, our focal point for the arts -- at least when the winter winds aren't howling." Chicago Tribune 05/28/06

California To Arts Ed Boost? California still ranks last in per capita arts funding. But the proposed new state budget includes some good news for arts education. "A spokeswoman for the California Arts Council said the overall state budget revision proposes an increase of $66 million in the Proposition 98 general fund to expand the arts and music block grants to a total of $166 million." San Diego Union-Tribune 05/28/06

Minnesota Arts Groups Happy With New Funding Minnesota arts groups were hoping to get a measure on the fall ballot that would propose allocating a piece of the state sales tax to arts funding. The state legislature didn't quite get there, but it did approve money for some arts construction projects. St. Paul Pioneer-Press 05/28/06

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Is San Francisco Losing Its Sense Of Fun? "San Francisco, long famed for its freedom of expression and encouragement of art and entertainment, is no longer making a line item for fun in the budget. Events that have become annual traditions for San Francisco — SF Pride, Carnaval, Comedy Day, the How Weird Street Faire, the Haight Ashbury Street Fair, the North Beach Festival — are having a hard time putting on the show this year. Some even say they're ready to call it quits..." San Francisco Bay Guardian 05/25/06

Big Disappointment In Western Aussie Arts Funding There's a new budget. But "the curious delay in detailing its content confirms what people have feared: the mineral bonanza that has delivered a record $2 billion surplus and a healthy budget has effectively delivered nothing new to the arts. In fact, the word arts has appeared almost nowhere in the Carpenter Government's plethora of budget releases, and in only a few pages of the budget's thick tome." The Australian 05/25/06

Qatar Restructures Culture Ministry "The State of Qatar has restructured its National Council for Culture, Arts and Heritage (NCCAH), the organisation which oversees all cultural activity in the energy-rich Gulf state. The move follows the arrest last year of the NCCAH’s former chairman Sheikh Saud Al Thani and our revelations of his misappropriations of public funds." The Art Newspaper 05/25/06

Orlando Thinks Big For Performing Arts Center Plans have been unveiled in Orlando for a massive new performing arts complex. "Drawing on the best features of arts centers around the world, planners envision three performance halls of varying sizes, as well as classrooms and offices. The center would sit on a large courtyard where outdoor concerts and shows would be staged. It would be flanked by private development valued at an estimated $500 million, including offices, hotel rooms, residential towers, restaurants and shops." Orlando Sentinel 05/25/06

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Have Critics Lost Their Clout? (The Critic-Proof Project) "By proving just as immune to hostile reviews on the screen as on the page, Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code raises the question of whether printed and broadcast opinion matters at all. Has our culture now created a sort of genetically modified turkey - the critic-proof product?" The Guardian (UK) 05/24/06

Columbia Campus Vs. The Neighborhood "When Columbia announced its plans to build a much-needed new campus in a corner of Harlem called Manhattanville, it saw a gritty neighborhood of auto-repair shops, tenements and small manufacturers that would probably pose little obstacle to its ambitions. Columbia says that the project will advance a vital public interest and help revitalize parts of Upper Manhattan. Yet the university has met remarkable resistance. One man's urban improvement, it seems, is another man's urban debacle." New York Times Magazine 05/21/06

Toronto Arts Groups Seek Funding For Buildings From Feds Six major Toronto arts organizations take their case for added funding for building projects to the federal finance minister. "The institutions, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Royal Conservatory of Music and the Royal Ontario Museum, are looking for a $49-million investment from the Harper Conservatives to help them complete various building projects." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 05/24/06

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Is America Heading To Cultural Divide? Steven Tepper and Bill Ivey argue that a rift in America's culture is opening up between those who can access ever more sophisticated cultural offerings and those who are slaves to the WalMart CD choices. Chronicle of Higher Education 05/19/06

Monday, May 22, 2006

God Wanted: Must Be Humble And Good At Fundraising For arts groups in search of leadership, times are changing, and increasingly, a thorough knowledge of the art involved is not always a prerequisite for the job. "More typically, organizations seem to be looking for a do-it-all type -- a fundraiser, a visionary, a seasoned manager and a respected scholar in the field. Increasingly, though, fiscal responsibility is a major part of the job." Philadelphia Business Journal 05/19/06

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Immigration Debate Roils Cultural Waters "Whatever the economic and regulatory reasons to revise immigration laws, you know there has to be a fair amount of xenophobia lurking about. At the very least, parts of the establishment are threatened by ethnic minorities' being not so minor these days... Theoretically, great art would be created no matter what. But would our ears have the proper conditioning to perceive it were we not surrounded by immigrants, legal and otherwise, in our everyday lives?" Philadelphia Inquirer 05/21/06

The Juilliard Effect: Impressive, But It Won't Get You A Job This week, New York's Juilliard School will send another several hundred young musicians, dancers, and actors out into the real world, armed with talent, a diploma, and some of the best training available anywhere on Earth. But pedigree doesn't count for much in the hyper-competitive world of performing arts these days, and the reality is that, even for the cream of the crop, the road from Juilliard to a job can be a long, difficult one. Newsday (AP) 05/21/06

Columbine: The Game The notoriously violent world of video games doesn't have many taboos anymore, or much of a sense of decorum about who and/or what gets blown away by the "hero." But even so, an online game based directly on the Columbine High School shootings has been sparking outrage across the country. "Armed with a Tec-9 semiautomatic, the player can move from the cafeteria, down the hallways, up the stairs, then to the library. The player decides whether to kill. In the end, players learn there's really no way to win." Washington Post 05/20/06

Cleveland Set To Try Again For "Arts Tax" Two years after a ballot initiative which would have raised millions for the arts through a property-tax increase went down to defeat, Cleveland-area cultural leaders are preparing to try again. "[Cuyahoga] County's three commissioners have expressed varying degrees of support for a proposed 30-cent-per-pack hike in the cigarette tax. The additional tax would create a pool of about $20 million annually. The money would be used to provide matching funds to Cuyahoga County-based, not-for-profit arts and cultural organizations for operating expenses." The plan would still need to gain voter approval in November. The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 05/20/06

Friday, May 19, 2006

Gioia: The NEA's Back National Endowment for the Arts chairman Dana Gioia says the agency has left its sometimes controversial past behind. "Some of artists the NEA supported in the late 1980s and 1990s prompted conservatives to try to destroy the agency. Its detractors argued it was funding art that was obscene and offensive. Its budget was cut by 40 percent. Today, it is far less controversial and there is little public criticism of its offerings, which include Shakespeare, poetry and opera." Washington Post 05/19/06

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Corporate Funding? It Has Its Downsides "The art world's increasing reliance on the private sector for funding creates a series of challenges. First, rich companies tend to be interested only in the best-known brands. Second, if not handled carefully, sponsorship can leave galleries open to accu-sations of kowtowing to commercial interests." New Statesman 05/22/06

NAC Drops Gag Order "The public row between [Canada's] National Arts Centre and its employees over a controversial confidentiality policy ended yesterday when the NAC dropped its demand that staff sign a document some considered a gag order... To ease union worries, the NAC at first agreed to soften the letter, but eventually decided to drop it altogether. The policy will now be covered under Canadian common law, which specifies that employees cannot disclose their employers' secrets even if they haven't signed a confidentiality agreement." Ottawa Citizen 05/17/06

San Antonio May Pursue A PAC "A consultant hired by the city [of San Antonio] to study local needs for cultural facilities has sketched a recommendation for a new multi-hall performing arts center — price tag unknown — and about $20 million in upgrades to existing venues." San Antonio Express-News 05/17/06

Richmond Ponders Extra Funding For Evicted Arts Groups The city of Richmond, Virginia now finds itself without a primary performance venue, after the Carpenter Center, home to multiple area arts groups, closed for a multi-year renovation. In the interim, the Richmond Symphony, Virginia Opera, Richmond Ballet, and other Carpenter tenants are looking to the city to help them offset the revenue shortfall from being homeless. But divvying up the stopgap funds has proved to be a bit of a challenge for city officials. Style Weekly (Richmond) 05/17/06

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Who's Gagging Whom? The Ottawa chapter of the American Federation of Musicians has been outspoken in denouncing a new confidentiality agreement proposed by the National Arts Centre for its employees, and has encouraged members of the NAC Orchestra to refuse to sign. But apparently, the union itself has rules governing what its members can and cannot say publicly. A union bylaw states that members should not speak ill of one another publicly. However, union officials note that the bylaw is part of a code of ethics, not a legally binding command, and further point out that, while the bylaw is only in effect while a musician is a member of the Ottawa local, the NAC's new rule would require that employees stay silent for their entire lives. Ottawa Citizen 05/16/06

Monday, May 15, 2006

UK Facing End-Of-Year Academic Crisis There is an ongoing targeted strike in the UK by lecturers at the country's universities, and as the school year draws to a close, the continued refusal of lecturers to mark papers, assign grades, and give tests puts thousands of British students at risk of having their graduation delayed. "Many universities [expect] the greatest disruption to take place in subjects such as history, sociology and education, where academic staff tend to be the most unionised." The Guardian (UK) 05/16/06

NAC To Reconsider Internal Gag Order In response to vociferous objections from unions at the National Arts Centre, the confidentiality agreement the NAC had asked all employees to sign is under review. "The letter threatens workers with punishment or termination if they break the confidentiality agreement," and opponents say that it would nullify a law passed in 2004 to protect whistleblowers. CBC Ottawa 05/15/06

  • Ottawa Orchestra Demands Silence (From Its Employees) Ottawa's National Arts Centre has ordered its employees, including the members of the National Arts Centre Orchestra, to sign "a document promising to reveal no supposedly confidential information about the [NAC] for as long as they live." The push for silence comes in the wake of months of controversy over NACO music director Pinchas Zukerman's relationship with his musicians. As one might expect, the union representing the NACO players is not pleased with the proposal... Ottawa Citizen 05/13/06

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The NEA At 40 The National Endowment for the Arts celebrates the milestone. An exhibition gives some idea how far. "We've come a long way. Parallel to the art of engagement has been a politics of disengagement, at least when it comes to arts funding. The only reason the NEA could meet in the midst of this exhibition without a firestorm is that, politically, the NEA has disengaged not just from funding this kind of art, but from the people, artists, curators and audiences who are interested in it." Washington Post 05/14/06

Vancouver's Precinct Of Culture? Vancouver wants to build a "cultural precinct". "Among other things, the development might include a provincial Asia-Pacific Museum of Trade and Culture, a National Gallery of Aboriginal Art and two performance halls. Some observers are skeptical; the provincial government, until very recently, has had an appalling record when it comes to supporting the arts." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 05/13/06

A Fight To Get gays On The Curriculum A bill in the California state legislature would "forbid the teaching of any material that reflects adversely on persons due to sexual orientation. 'One of the things that contribute to a safe or unsafe environment for kids are the teaching materials. If you have teaching material that didn't say anything at all about gay and lesbian people, it is assumed that they never did anything at all. But if it said anything about gay and lesbian people, the whole atmosphere of the school was safer for gay and lesbian kids, or those thought to be gay and lesbian'." The New York Times 05/12/06

Soaked In Media (For Fun And Relaxation) In Japan, those in search of a reality escape can go to media immersion centers. "The first Gran Cyber Café opened in 1999. Today there are 10, serving some 5,000 people a day. Each has a slightly different orientation — some are geared to teenagers, some to salarymen — but the atmosphere is the same throughout the franchise: equal parts lending library, newsstand, arcade, Kinko's and youth hostel. An inspired extension of the basic Internet cafe, the Gran Cyber Cafés shift their meaning the more you study them, as if by a trick of their trademark low light." The New York Times 05/14/06

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Congress To Cap Smithsonian Salaries? A US Congressional committee has amended an appropriations bill to cap salaries at the Smithsonian. "There are 28 people at the Smithsonian that are paid more than Cabinet secretaries. There are 22 people at the Smithsonian that are paid more than the vice president [$212,000]. If you count pay and bonuses, there are six people making more than the president of the United States." Washington Post 05/11/06

Mothers To Their Art "Any working mother or mother-to-be knows how challenging it can be to balance family and work. But women in the performing arts face unique challenges during pregnancy -- and after." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 05/10/06

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Artists Blast Scottish Arts Council For Releasing Info The Scottish Arts Council has put details of its grant applications online and arts organizations are furious. "The SAC has posted more than 1,500 documents on its website, detailing the reasons for recent grant decisions affecting some 100 clients. Although new legislation means such documents can be requested by the public, no funding body has ever made so much information so easily available." TheStage 05/10/06

Art And Science Reconcile The two used to be close. But "by the middle of the 20th century, the division was pronounced and profound. In a famous 1959 essay, C.P. Snow described and despaired of the 'two cultures' that had grown up around science and art. Today the stakes seem too high and the world too tightly interconnected for artists and scientists to close their eyes and ears to each other." San Francisco Chronicle 05/10/06

Australian Arts Organizations Celebrate Funding Boost "Arts organisations fared well in the budget, with extra money announced for orchestras, dance, theatre and opera companies, major festivals and circus performers. A $600,000 one-off payment to the Sydney Dance Company will almost wipe out its accumulated debt and go a long way to ensuring its future." Sydney Morning Herald 05/11/06

Getty Chooses Team To Find New Director "The committee will be led by Louise H. Bryson, a Getty trustee since 1998. Other trustees on the committee include Agnes Gund, Joanne Kozberg, Luis Nogales, William E. B. Siart, Mark Siegel and Jay S. Wintrob." Los Angeles Times 05/10/06

Starbucks' Movie Ambitions Starbucks is getting into movies. "Last week, it announced an alliance with William Morris Agency, a talent and literary agency that will help Starbucks identify music, film and book projects to consider for marketing and distribution in its stores." Yahoo! (AP) 05/10/06

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

NEA To Promote Book Clubs "Uncle Sam wants you to join a book club. The National Endowment for the Arts has created 'The Big Read,' a program that will sponsor community reading groups throughout the country. Like the NEA's 'Poetry Out Loud,' a national competition that was formed last year, the new initiative is a response to the organization's 2004 study, "Reading at Risk," which reported a dramatic rise in nonreading." Los Angeles Times (AP) 05/09/06

Monday, May 8, 2006

More Legal Headaches For DaVinci? A Roman Catholic cardinal who was on the shortlist to become pope last year is hinting at potential legal action that could be taken by the church against DaVinci Code author Dan Brown and the producers of the movie version of the controversial book. (Exactly what action that might be, the cardinal did not say.) Meanwhile, the two authors who unsuccessfully sued Brown for copyright infringement are having trouble coming up with their court-ordered share of Brown's legal bills. The New York Times 05/08/06

Keeping The Money Flowing (And The Donors Happy) "Keeping a nonprofit theater — or any other artistic operation — going is a constant struggle in an age of vacillating government support and sometimes fickle corporate and personal giving... Just as a performer will call on a range of techniques to master a difficult part, nonprofits employ all sorts of techniques, from the traditional (ask the board, write the grant) to the unorthodox (go-go dancers and poker games), to lure contributors." The New York Times 05/07/06

And Starring, The Louvre The film version of The DaVinci Code hits theatres this month, and the Louvre is bracing for a tidal wave of vistors as a result. After all, the legendary museum plays a crucial role in the story, and officials allowed director Ron Howard to film several key scenes in its galleries. Despite the logistical difficulties involved (the book calls for a character to tear down a priceless Caravaggio painting, for instance,) the Louvre and the Hollywooders reported no conflicts. The New York Times 05/07/06

Sunday, May 7, 2006

City Officials Shut Down Brooklyn Art Show "The administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has done more to promote the arts than any in a generation, but that enthusiasm did not extend to a graduate-student art show that opened this week in a city-owned building near the Brooklyn Bridge. After visiting the exhibition, which featured a penis sculpture, a caged rat and a sexually charged video, the Brooklyn parks commissioner ordered it closed on Thursday and changed the locks to the building." The New York Times 05/06/06

Merger Mania Comes To The Arts "Taking a page from the current flurry of big deals from telecom to banking, arts groups are merging and forming alliances at an unprecedented pace. In recent months, at least a dozen groups around the country have teamed up... One factor behind the deals: The growing role of corporate executives on cultural organizations' boards. Groups have been recruiting veterans from the private sector to bring business acumen to their back offices. Another driver: a small cadre of consultants carving out a niche advising arts mergers. And increasingly, big foundations, with less money to spend, are giving money to groups only when a partnership is involved, to make sure their dollars are spent efficiently." Wall Street Journal 05/06/06

Friday, May 5, 2006

Boston Globe Hires Three New Critics "Jeremy Eichler, a classical music writer for The New York Times, will be the Globe's new classical music critic. Joining the staff on Monday to cover pop music will be Sarah Rodman. She comes from the Boston Herald, where for the last six years she was a staff columnist covering pop music and entertainment. The Globe's new theater critic will be staff writer Louise Kennedy. She has worked as assistant book editor, assistant Living/Arts editor, assistant magazine editor, food editor, home editor, and, since 2001, arts reporter." Boston Globe 05/05/06

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Art Against The Fuhrer "A Leipzig performance artist has found an original way of disrupting neo-Nazi marches and demonstrations. When the skinheads come to town, the German Apple Front is there to meet them -- complete with its very own Führer of fruit. The group was founded after the right-wing NPD party was voted into the Saxony state parliament." Der Spiegel 05/03/06

Reading Canada's Arts Budget So what does the Canadian government's newly announced arts budget mean for the arts? "Good news in that the 302-page document actually contains measures, albeit modest ones, with some application to the arts. Bad news in that these measures aren't commensurate with what arts organizations say they need and, for some, indicate a worrying direction on the part of the government." The Globe & mail (Canada) 05/04/06

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Non-Profits At A Crossroads "Nonprofit America is serious business: There are currently over 1.3 million nonprofit corporations in America, employing 11 million people with 5.7 million more working as volunteers. One in 10 working Americans works for a nonprofit. Nonprofits account for roughly 10 percent of the GNP, with over 100 universities and colleges offering nonprofit-management degrees and certificates However, the size of the nonprofit sector is no indication of its health. In fact, nonprofits are in trouble..." The Stranger 04/27/06

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

$50 Million For Canada Council The new Canadian government has promised $50 million over two years for the Canada Council for the arts. "That's well short of the more than $150 million over three years that had been promised by the previous Liberal government." CBC 05/02/06

Scottish Arts Get Funding Boost "They will share the £2.1 million funding increase in 2007-8 - a rise of almost 14 per cent - bringing Executive spending on them up to a total of more than £22 million. The extra cash will be shared between Scottish Ballet, Scottish Opera, the Royal National Scottish Orchestra, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the National Theatre for Scotland." The Scotsman 05/01/06

How Do Arts Organizations Get The Word Out? A conference in LA discusses what works. "Newspapers are still the dominant source of information about arts events, but e-mail is becoming increasingly important. About $30 billion was spent online in the 2005 holiday season, an increase of 30% over 2004. The average age of online users is 49, but all age groups are users. Sixty-five percent of users are women, and of them, 47% have postgraduate degrees. Household incomes of those using the Internet average $75,000." Los Angeles Times 05/01/06

Board Member Boot Camp Getting quality board members for arts organization is a problem. So one Boston program is trying to change that, training and placing business executives on the boards of local arts and cultural organizations. "Leaders in the arts community say graduates of the program have been a boon for arts and cultural organizations that are competing for a smaller pool of funds." Boston Business Journal 04/21/06

Monday, May 1, 2006

Peer Pressure - The New Critical Mass "Expert opinion in the media used to drive culture. Now, it's peer recommendations. Already, consumers can sample a broader range of critical opinion on the Internet -- some of it relevant and thoughtful, covering products that wouldn't ordinarily be reviewed by the mainstream media, and some of it biased or one-dimensional. And marketers, such as movie studios and book publishers, are trying to figure out how Internet tastemakers figure into their relationship with their customers." Boston Globe 05/01/06

A Jazz Fest That Means So Much More Everyone's watching this year's Jazz Fest in New Orleans for signs of the city's recovery. "Music in New Orleans has always been entertaining, but never just entertainment. It held on to cultural memories, negotiated between Old and New World aesthetics, and bound together families, neighborhoods and communities. It's party music, but it's also a secular ritual. And while the city has spawned far more than its share of gifted musicians, its music was not created from the top down." The New York Times 05/02/06

N'Orleans - Rebirth Or Atlantis? New Orleans' JazzFest is being touted as the rebirth of a great American city. "Yet as the tourists tuck in to crawfish Monica and fried turkey po’boys, you can’t help wondering what this joyous celebration at the city’s race track — largely unscathed in the storm — really means. Is it about the rebirth of a community through the power of music — or could it just be the last hurrah of an environmental basket-case which the pessimists are tipping as 'America’ s Atlantis', the first city to be drowned by global warming?" The Times (UK) 05/01/06

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