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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Rise Of Raves A Pushback Against Corporate Music Why are raves making a comeback in the UK? The corporatization of pop music doesn't give outlet to teenage rebellion. "It is hard to pretend you're posing a threat to anything other than your own will to live when you're surrounded by corporate logos at an event broadcast on the BBC and attended by ex-Big Brother housemates and the cast of Hollyoaks. What self-respecting teenager wouldn't instead opt for an illegal rave, with its sense of outlaw cool and danger - offering not just drug-fuelled hedonism, but an attendant palaver involving the chance to run across motorways, trespass on private property and the occasional spot of light rioting?" The Guardian (UK) 08/31/06

The Brainiest City In America? That would be Seattle, which has the highest percentage of residents with university degress. "Seattle's also been ranked as the most literate city in the United States by Central Connecticut State University, beating out Minneapolis, Washington and Atlanta. That rating was based on such things as the number of booksellers, libraries and newspaper circulation - as well as educational attainment." CNN 08/31/06

Tax Donation Change Worries Museums The tax rules for those donating art to non-profits is changing, and som art experts are worried. "Provisions in the new federal pension law change the tax rules on charitable donations of fractional interests in such property. The changes complicate a practice known as the partial gift and could dissuade collectors and others from making donations, experts say." Chicago Tribune 08/31/06

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

SAT's Down (And Fewer Students Taking The Test) There was a large drop in the average SAT score this year. "A five-point drop in critical reading, to 503, was the largest decline since 1975 and the two-point drop in mathematics, to 518, was the largest dip since 1978." InsideHigherEd 08/30/06

TicketMaster Invalidates Stolen Tickets TicketMaster has voided thousands of tickets for Barbra Streisand's upcoming tour. The tickets were purchased with stolen credit cards then resold over te internet. "Ten of her 19 concerts in October and November are affected, including dates in New York, Las Vegas and Chicago. Fans may be at risk if they did not buy their seats directly from Ticketmaster or venue box offices, the agency said." BBC 08/30/06

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Pushing Out Pushkin The city of Moscow is considering putting a shopping mall where a famous statue of Pushkin now sits. "If the city government gets its way, a four-storey shopping mall and traffic tunnel will soon be built on the square where Pushkin stands on his pedestal. PamPush - as the monument to the author is affectionately known to Muscovites - will survive, but protesters against the development warn that his square will be ruined. 'Red Square may be the heart of the city, but Pushkinskaya is its soul'." The Guardian (UK) 08/30/06

UK To Study Stonehenge Traffic The British government has decided to take up the issue of traffic at Stonehenge. "The National Trust warned last month that Stonehenge risked being stripped of its status as a world heritage site because of "second-rate" proposals to ease traffic congestion around it." The Guardian (UK) 08/30/06

Someone To Tell You What To Like As we have more access to more music, movies, books, etc, it becomes more difficult to sort your way through it all. Thus the rise of internet curators who recommend culture... Denver Post 08/29/06

New Orleans, Where Gallows Humor Lives "They say that comedy is tragedy plus time. What they don't say is how much time it takes to turn a massive death toll into a laugh riot," Josh Levin writes, pondering the defiant humor that has thrived in New Orleans in the year since Hurricane Katrina. "So, what's so funny about a devastating hurricane?" Slate 08/28/06

The Victorians: An Arts-District Success Story "There is a widespread belief in what might be called cultural healing. We have faith that cities can be lightened and ventilated by a couple of museums and galleries, a theatre, an opera house. It can be done, I think - if you emulate the Victorians. Anyone who has visited London with children this summer will probably have experienced what is, surely, the most inspiring example anywhere of a museum and arts quarter that enriches city life: South Kensington." The Guardian (UK) 08/29/06

Monday, August 28, 2006

Islamic Art? It's Art (Not A Bridge) "There is today a deliberate reverence and respect about the west's dealings with Islamic culture. If this new mood increases interest in Islamic art, that can only be a good thing. But despite the fact that we are now much more likely to know Muslims personally, our appreciation of their culture hasn't gone as far as it might. If we have any interest at all, it is likely to be stuck at the level of museum culture - expressing wonder at beautiful antique objects in an enthusiastic but faintly uncomprehending way." The Guardian (UK) 08/29/06

A Company "Owns" Basic Educational Software? "In a move that has shaken up the e-learning community, [a company named] Blackboard has been awarded a patent establishing its claims to some of the basic features of the software that powers online education." Wired (AP) 08/27/06

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Fidel And The Cuban Artists "Castro's passing will certainly mean the end of an era, and may touch off a wave of nostalgia for Hemingway's 'Islands in the Stream' Cuba. But it isn't likely to release a wave of Cuban artists coming to this country, or have much impact on the dominant contemporary trends -- at least in part because so many Cuban artists are already here." Newark Star-Ledger 08/27/06

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Lessons For Rebuilding New Orleans Those planning an approach to rebuilding New Orleans neighborhoods might take some lessons from a planned community in Denver. "It appears that people will accept modern design in an apartment or a loft or when affordability is the main consideration (since undecorated construction costs less). But when it comes to houses, most people prefer something more old-fashioned. A successfully rebuilt New Orleans—whoever plans it—is likely to be a similar mix, of edgy and traditional, of downtown plate glass and neighborhood picket fences." Slate 08/24/06

MacArthur "Geniuses" Go For Non-Profits The foundation famous for its "genius" awards is giving money to up and coming non-profits. "The Creative and Effective Institutions Awards range from $250,000 to $500,000. The winners all have annual budgets of $2.5 million or less, and, though small, they are considered comers in their fields. The awards are an extension, of sorts, of the foundation's famous five-year, $500,000 grants for creative individuals, but those "genius" grants have no strings attached. The grants to the non-profits were sized to meet specific needs or purposes." Chicago Tribune 08/24/06

Monday, August 21, 2006

Can A Biennial Transform Liverpool? Liverpool's Biennial is about to begin. But will the event have a culturizing effect on the city? "Culture is not a cure-all medicine for a city that has been in decline for 50 years. Of course there are economic benefits. But if you say it’s only about that then expectations start heading off in the wrong direction. And the actual difference made by culture is hard to gauge. Sometimes Liverpool looks less like a capital of culture than a culture of capital." The Guardian (UK) 08/22/06

Prodigies Need Help Too Too many child prodigies burn out by the time they reach adulthood. "There are two basic issues here: how to support exceptionally bright kids, and how to manage exceptionally ambitious parents who blur the line between a child's will and their own." Los Angeles Times 08/21/06

Sunday, August 20, 2006

What You Say? Gossip Makes A Comeback "Not so long ago, celebrity gossip was a moribund art form, domesticated by punch-pulling softies like Liz Smith, neutered by the red-carpet suck-bots of Entertainment Tonight. Once urbane, sophisticated even, a fizzy cocktail of venom and cynical wit, celebrity gossip had flattened into tepid stuff, a supermarket staple aimed at housewives. But then the Web came along to resurrect it. Visual, voyeuristic, convivial to rumour and speculation, the Internet is to gossip what sheep dung is to azaleas." National Post (Canada) 08/19/06

In A New World Of Niches, Mass Culture Still Reigns "True enough, the digital revolution has demonstrated the allure of thousands of tiny online affinity groups, many with real emotional meaning. In the music world, blogs and sharing sites are creating their own mini-communities of like-minded listeners. But that is happening underneath a continuing longing for a mass culture. The desire to listen to what the other kids are listening to, even when it's lousy stuff, is as fundamental as speech and song themselves." Washington Post 08/20/06

In the UK: Rethinking Basic Education The British government has announced tough new reforms for English schools in a back-to-basics approach. "We are changing the way we measure performance and toughening up the English and maths GCSEs to ensure that young people master the three Rs. In addition, coursework, which counts towards GCSE grades, will be overhauled in a bid to eradicate pupils cheating by using the internet, helping each other or receiving parental help. More work will be done under exam conditions at school." The Observer (UK) 08/20/06

Rethinking Art's Creative Capitalization "Since its founding in 1999, Creative Capital has delivered $5 million in shots of adrenaline to nearly 250 artists, and in the process is creating a new template for private arts funding, using a mix of old-style grant-making and post-dot-com venture capitalism to re-imagine the relationships among artists, funders and markets." Los ANgelesTimes 08/20/06

Rethinking The Ph.D. How do you reform the way Ph.D.-level education is taught without sacrificing the quality of the degree? There are some proposals: "One involves non-residential Ph.D. programs for students who are older than most who earn doctorates. The other involves doctoral programs that are run by more than one university — and that sometimes cross state lines and public/private distinctions. Officials at the meeting said they believed there was strong demand for both kinds of programs, and wanted to find ways for their agencies to encourage such innovations." InsideHigherEd 08/18/06

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Removing A Physical Bridge To Build A Metaphorical One New York's Lincoln Center is undergoing a dramatic renovation, and the public will get a sense of what they're in for this week when a massive pedestrian bridge above 65th Street is dismantled. The bridge demolition serves as a nice metaphor for the entire project, with planners hoping to "open the institution up to the city, making it seem more welcoming and less elitist both physically and in spirit." The New York Times 08/17/06

City Charged With Supporting Anti-Semitic Art "As [San Antonio] begins the process of allocating almost $4 million in arts funding, officials are facing a budding dispute between next-door neighbors that has led to accusations of cultural racism and counter charges of attempts to stifle artistic freedom. At the heart of the dispute is the criticism by a prominent Jewish religious leader of the political undertones in an Esperanza Peace and Justice Center cultural program about the Middle East conflict." San Antonio Express-News 08/17/06

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Town Challenges MacDowell Colony's Tax-Exempt Status The New England town of Peterborough has challenged the MacDowell Colony's status as a tax-exempt, charitable institution, arguing that "MacDowell did not 'provide a charitable purpose to the general public,' as required by New Hampshire law. Initially, Peterborough asked MacDowell for a relatively modest payment in lieu of taxes, known as PILOT in nonprofit jargon, to pay for services such as fire and police protection." But MacDowell has decided to fight the town on the issue... Boston Globe 08/16/06

The Art (and Attraction) Of Celebrity Gossip Why do people seem so interested in the misfortunes of celebrities? "The beast of gossip loves this moment best: Befuddlement. News it didn't already know. That is the very freshest meat. Those are the reactions you want in the express checkout line. (Unless of course you live in the world where the first question is Who, followed by a very disdainful Why? That world exists. That world has Hezbollah, the end of oil reserves and the trade deficit. That world has a special loathing for celebrities and anyone who would familiarize himself with their divorces.)" Washington Post 08/16/06

Getty Chooses Bryson As New Board Chair The Getty Trust has elected Louise Bryson as chairman of the board. "We've had some lapses in oversight, and as a member of the board I would acknowledge that," Bryson said Tuesday. A member of the Getty board since 1998, she was elected chairwoman during a Saturday morning trustee conference call.
Los Angeles Times 08/16/06

A Threat To Artists And The Internet "The Internet allows artists to create and distribute projects outside the entertainment mainstream, if only as a means of one day securing a place within it. There is concern, however, that this self-empowerment could become more costly or disappear altogether if legislation now under consideration in Congress does not safeguard high-quality Internet access at affordable prices." Backstage 08/16/06

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Dopey - Americans Know Pop But Not News If a new poll is accurate, Americans know much more about pop trivia than they do about the news, civics or classic literature. One example: "About 77 per cent of Americans can name at least two of the dwarfs from the fairy tale Snow White, but only about 24 per cent can name two U.S. Supreme Court justices." CBC 08/15/06

Miami Artists Caught In Real Estate Squeeze "As Miami's cultural community continues to grow and with boomtown rents continuously on the rise, artists and presenters are having a difficult time finding the right space or, in some cases, any space at all to show their work." Miami Herald 08/15/06

When Process Really Is The Achievement "By bringing major artists from a number of countries and disciplines together for a summer of shared projects on the UCLA campus, the Asia Pacific Performance Exchange, which began in 1995 and concluded its latest edition over the weekend, can develop potent new fusions of international music or dance. But the final two showcase programs of APPEX 2006 demonstrated one peculiarity of this blueprint. They suggested that the process leading to a performance could be richer and more memorable than the performance itself." Los Angeles Times 08/15/06

"The Death Of The Culture Of Criticism" "All in all, it's been a rotten tomato of a summer for America's embattled film critics. 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest' broke box-office records left and right, despite a yowling chorus of negative reviews. M. Night Shyamalan cast Bob Balaban as a persnickety film critic in 'Lady in the Water,' then gleefully killed him off, allowing a snarling jackal-like creature to do the dirty deed. ... To add insult to injury, studios have released a record number of films this year without any press screenings...." But the demotion of the critic is simply a reflection of the era, Patrick Goldstein writes. Los Angeles Times 08/15/06

Monday, August 14, 2006

Istanbul Architecture Joins The 21st Century Istanbul has a new modern art museum and a brilliant new mega-shopping mall. "Its 'building as landscape' and sensuous curves tick boxes for architectural fashion, knocking spots off any mall built in Turkey or, indeed, in Britain, and an example of the boom in 'experiential malls' in America and the Far East, where quality of the experience counts as much as what’s sold inside." The Times (UK) 08/15/06

Book It - The Arts Rethink Their Program Books Arts groups are rethinking what goes in their program books. "As arts groups fight to maintain and renew their audiences, they've realized that any opportunity to capture the viewer's interest and engage them must be fully exploited. Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is taking the power of the printed word even further: It has entered into an agreement with the publishing house John Wiley & Sons to publish 15 co-branded books designed to bring attention to the performing arts." New York Sun 08/14/06

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Fighting Through To The Heart Of The Music Conductor/pianist Daniel Barenboim is well-known for his sometimes controversial efforts to bring Israelis and Arabs together under the banner of art. In the wake of the ongoing violence in Northern Israel and Southern Lebanon, Barenboim's "Peace Orchestra" is experiencing the same tensions and anger that are exploding across the region. But according to those in the ensemble, whatever tensions exist can always be channeled into the performance, and some observers even say that the orchestra sounds better than it ever has as a result of the emotionally charged backdrop of current events. BBC 08/12/06

A New Wave Of AIDS Art This summer, Toronto hosted the 16th International AIDS Conference, and the city's artists took the issue to heart. "Artists have every reason to want to respond to AIDS since the arts community has proven to be more likely than most to lose members due to the consequences of the disease," and AIDS-related art is now on view throughout Canada's largest city. Toronto Star 08/12/06

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Madison PAC Close To Choosing New Head Madison, Wisconsin's acclaimed new Overture Center for the Performing Arts has announced the roster of finalists for the job of executive director. The finalists include the center's acting director, an operations manager with the Chicago Symphony, and an arts center manager from Ohio. The center's previous director was forced to retire last year following allegations of sexual harassment. Wisconsin State Journal (Madison) 08/10/06

Fleeing Mid-Performance: Indefensible Or Not? "Is it OK to walk out of a show? Finally I did it: at an interval, mind - not while stuff was actually happening on stage. I felt very, very bad. Very bad indeed. I think it's incredibly bad form not to stay the course. But, I admit, I also felt lightheaded, joyful, and ready to reclaim the evening that had been in such serious danger of being becoming incredibly depressing." The Guardian (UK) 08/09/06

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Young People! (The Copy Generation) "Among teens ages 12 to 17 who were polled, 69% said they believed it was legal to copy a CD from a friend who purchased the original. By comparison, only 21% said it was legal to copy a CD if a friend got the music free. Similarly, 58% thought it was legal to copy a friend's purchased DVD or videotape, but only 19% thought copying was legal if the movie wasn't purchased. Those figures are a big problem for the Recording Industry Assn. of America and the Motion Picture Assn. of America, both of which have spent millions of dollars to deter copying of any kind. The music industry now considers "schoolyard" piracy — copies of physical discs given to friends and classmates — a greater threat than illegal peer-to-peer downloading, according to the RIAA." Los Angeles Times 08/09/06

Earmark Research The US Congress has been increasingly funding research projects in colleges through earmarks - special funding inserted by legislators. But some scientistsare "concerned that, in a time of flat funding for research, earmarks drain the pool even more, forcing institutions to spend big in order to gain big. Earmarking can “set up these incentives in which universities feel they have to lobby for earmarks to get a shot at having research funds." InsideHigherEd.com 08/09/06

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

When A County Arts Program Gets Crowded Having grown accustomed to the county government providing their performance and rehearsal spaces, some arts groups in Arlington County, Virginia, are suddenly seeing the downside of a successful public program: uncertainty about where they'll be in the near future. "Under the umbrella of its Arts Incubator, the county is working with 55 arts groups and nine arts spaces (compared with 10 groups in 1990). As the program has grown, so has competition for new locations. Theater groups are feeling the squeeze because the county can't accommodate them all. And the real estate boom has sent rents for other spaces out of reach for many who might rent commercial venues." Washington Post 08/08/06

Monday, August 7, 2006

New Orleans Rebuilds Locally "Ever since a botched attempt to develop a comprehensive plan for New Orleans fell apart last winter, city and state officials have been straining to avoid the sticky racial and social questions that are central to any effort to rebuild and recover after Hurricane Katrina. Their solution, hammered out in July, was to turn the planning process over to a local charity, the Greater New Orleans Foundation." The New York Times 08/08/06

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Getty Chairman To Step Down Under A Cloud Getty Trust chairman John Biggs is leaving after scandals involving the leadership of the institution. "A Times review of internal Getty records, along with interviews with current and former trustees and staff, shows that at crucial junctures, Biggs contributed to the controversies the board is now taking credit for fixing." Los Angeles Times 08/06/06

New York's Cultural Building Boom "In what amounts to a cultural building boom, more than 60 arts institutions spread across the five boroughs — from smaller community organizations like MoCada to citadels of culture like the Morgan Library — are all undergoing or have recently completed architectural renovations or new construction. Fifty-two of the projects, representing an aggregate cost of $2.8 billion." But can the city sustain all this expansion? The New York Times 08/06/06

Protecting Kids For Entertainment? How About Some Parenting? There have been many attempts to shield children from entertainment that might be "dangerous" to them. "Stickers, chips and the alphabet soup of ratings represent just a few ways that freaked-out parents -- or, more accurately, politicians pandering to freaked-out parents -- have tried to control what their kids encounter in the media. And that desire for control is precisely where parents go wrong, says an emerging group of cultural observers and media and parenting experts. The key, they say, is to parent within the new technological realities, not in spite of them." Wasjington Post 08/06/06

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Liverpool Adrift Robyn Archer's abrupt resignation from leading Liverpool's Capital of Culture program has left the effort adrift, writes Norman Lebrecht. "There is no disguising the sense of crisis in a vacuum of artistic leadership. Nobody in Liverpool seems prepared to take a decision on the Culture Year, let alone the helm, and the announcement from Manchester this week of a widely respected director for its expanding International Festival has further emphasized the glaring vacancy 25 miles down the road." Bloomberg.com 08/03/06

An Arts Professional's Case For Voting Tory Simon Reade, artistic director of Bristol Old Vic, explains in a "Dear Tony" letter to the prime minister why he's thinking of voting Tory. "I know we've hardly met, but you have really let me down. I work in the most liberal of professions, the theatre. I am an artistic director, a producer/artist/leader of an innovative creative industry. But now, like luminaries of the arts world who in 1979 voted for Margaret Thatcher, I am thinking of voting Tory. And it's your fault, Tony." The Guardian (UK) 08/02/06

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Dinosaurs And Adam And Eve, Oh My! A $25 million "Creation Museum" is being built in rural Kentucky. It features dinosaurs and Adam and Eve. "Its inspiration is the Bible -- the literal interpretation that contends God created the heavens and the Earth and everything in them just a few thousand years ago. 'If the Bible is the word of God, and its history really is true, that's our presupposition or axiom, and we are starting there'." AOL (AP) 07/31/06

A Plan To Remake Brooklyn Culture Brooklyn is booming, and with the boom there are plans for an extraordinarily ambitious cultural district. "Over the next decade, on four sites covering about 10 city blocks, the BAM LDC wants to build several large developments that will, if realized, drastically alter the landscape of Fort Greene and abutting parts of Downtown Brooklyn." Village Voice 08/01/06

Money, A Life In Art Don't Have To Be Mutually Exclusive Steady income, financial know-how and health insurance aren't impossibilities for artists after all. "Mostly self-employed or relying on part-time teaching jobs, many artists tend to have shaky finances and scant prospects for improving them aside from going into another profession. But some institutions have sprung up in recent years to try to help — and ideally thrive financially at the same time." Los Angeles Times (AP) 08/02/06

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

University Merger Pending In Scotland "Plans are being drawn up for a new university for Scotland which will be the fourth largest in the country. Senior officials from Paisley University and Bell College in Hamilton are currently holding talks about merging the two institutions and creating a new university for 18,000 students... The idea is to create a university which is large enough to tackle the chronic problems of under-representation in higher education in the west of Scotland." The Herald (UK) 08/02/06

T.O.'s Ambitious New Festival Toronto is starting a new arts festival, and modesty isn't on the agenda. The fest, to be launched in 2007, will be called Luminato, and "organizers hope [it] will boost the city's profile worldwide and one day rival international arts events in Edinburgh, Venice and Sydney... The 10-day festival will feature mostly free events, including two street festivals. And it will showcase world premieres of works of art, including a spoof of Handel's Messiah called Not the Messiah, written by Eric Idle and John Du Prez, of the Tony-award winning Spamalot musical. The new oratorio will be based on Monty Python's Life of Brian, and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra will perform the piece." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 08/01/06

Have The Arts Become An Afterthought At Ground Zero? In the immediate wake of the 9/11 attacks, New York officials talked of rebuilding Ground Zero as not only a business center, but a thriving downtown neighborhood filled with cultural offerings. In the years since then, nearly all the arts groups that planned to move to the site have been shunted aside due to politics and developer infighting, and now, with the dissolution of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the city's arts supporters fear that cultural plans for the site will be scrapped altogether. The New York Times 08/01/06

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