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  • LA’s MoCA Seems To Be Turning Itself Around Under New Director

    “After five years of financial and managerial turmoil, the museum finally is poised on the brink of a bright new era, and community anticipation and goodwill are high.”

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    Why Isn’t Portland’s Diversity Reflected In Its Theatres?

    “A movement to create theater that reflects the changing demographics of Portland has been picking up steam for years now, and by some measure appears to be working. So is Portland theater in good shape? Does it have a ways to go? Where are culturally specific theater groups in the mix?”

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    Ominous: More Top Management At Chicago Symphony Jump Ship

    “Whenever the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association finds a successor to former president Deborah F. Rutter, about to take leadership of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., that person will start with a clean slate in senior artistic management.”

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    MPAA’s Movie Ratings Are Capricious And Odd (The Latest Example)

    “MPAA ratings administrators have always resisted strict rules and regulations when determining what instances and degrees of rough language, nudity and violence can lead to a PG, or PG-13, or R, or the supremely rare NC-17. Narrowing this to the language question, these variances nonetheless are chaotic at best.”

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    Did Peter Gelb Exaggerate The Met’s Budget Issues?

    “Either Mr. Gelb exaggerated the company’s plight as a negotiating tactic, or the unions ate his lunch. If he was exaggerating, then he’s made a fatal mistake.”

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    Stolen Matisse Returned To Venezuelan Museum

    “The Venezuelan museum, which had bought the Henri Matisse painting for about $500,000 from a New York gallery in 1981, reported that it had been stolen in December 2002 — apparently swapped for a forgery after it was lent to an exhibit in Spain. But a Miami FBI agent who has led the investigation to recover the work confirmed Wednesday that it was actually stolen sometime before September 2000, and spotted in Paris a year later.”

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    New Opera Cancelled In Russia After Venues Refuse To Host It, Composer Gets Beaten Up, And Death Threats Are Made

    Ilya Demutsky’s New Jerusalem is about a vigilante who tracks down and kills pedophiles. Once a video trailer for the premiere was made and word got around, all hell started breaking loose.

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    Did Someone Just Try To Start A Classical Music Critics’ War In Dallas?

    In a 1,274-word online column titled “Classical Music Criticism in Dallas: It’s Time for a Makeover”, D Magazine’s Catherine Womack goes after The Dallas Morning News‘s Scott Cantrell for a 55-word blog post – a quick little kvetch about the word maestro – that Womack calls “insulting and condescending towards both enthusiastic audience members and The Dallas Opera’s newly appointed principal guest conductor, Nicole Paiement, who happens to be a woman.”

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    Six Steps To Restore People’s Faith In The (Divvied-Up) Corcoran Gallery

    “There’s no rescuing the institution known as the Corcoran from this final crisis. And neither the National Gallery nor George Washington is obligated to try, truthfully. But under the new dispensation, leaders at the college and gallery can restore and even improve upon the things that the old Corc got right. Here are six suggestions for ways that the National Gallery and GW can build stronger institutions for the District.”

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    What People Cured Of Blindness See

    A 17th-century thought experiment asks “about a person, blind from birth, who could tell apart a cube and a sphere by touch: If his vision were restored and he was presented with the same cube and sphere, would he be able to tell which was which by sight alone?” Dr. Pawan Sinha, who has organized sight-restoring surgery for hundreds of blind children in India, has an answer.

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    Syrian Refugee Take On “The Trojan Women” Scuttled As U.S. Denies Performers Visas

    “It had the potential to be one of the most galvanizing cultural events of the season: a dozen Syrian women, refugees from that besieged country, performing in Washington a version of a 2,500-year-old Greek tragedy revised to include their own harrowing stories. But now the … State Department rejected the women’s applications for entertainers’ visas for the performances … because it is not convinced that the women would leave.”

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    What We Really Get From Learning History

    Adam Gopnik: “The best argument for reading history is not that it will show us the right thing to do in one case or the other, but rather that it will show us why even doing the right thing rarely works out. … What history generally ‘teaches’ is how hard it is for anyone to control it, including the people who think they’re making it.”

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    “The Procrastination Doom Loop” – Can Science Help Us Break It?

    “When scientists have studied procrastination, they’ve typically focused on how people are miserable at weighing costs and benefits across time. … In the last few years, however, scientists have begun to think that procrastination might have less to do with time than emotion.” As one researcher says, “To tell the chronic procrastinator to just do it would be like saying to a clinically depressed person, cheer up.”

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    The Man Who Made Off With John Updike’s Trash

    “[Paul] Moran has kept thousands of pieces of Updike’s garbage – a trove that he says includes photographs, discarded drafts of stories, canceled checks, White House invitations, Christmas cards, love letters, floppy disks, a Mickey Mouse flip book, and a pair of brown tasseled loafers. It is a collection he calls ‘the other John Updike archive,’ … and it raises fundamental questions about celebrity, privacy, and who ultimately determines the value and scope of an artist’s legacy.”

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    California To Raise Film And TV Production Tax Credits To $330 Million

    “In a last-minute compromise reached Wednesday, Gov. Jerry Brown said he would approve legislation that would more than triple the annual tax credits available for movies and TV shows produced in California. The bill is aimed at reversing the loss of location shoots to other states that offer rich incentives to studios and producers.”

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    Ellen Burstyn, Aged 80, To Direct Her First Feature Film

    The Oscar- and Emmy-winner “will star in and direct Bathing Flo, … a New York-set story that centers on a man in need of a place to live, who’s given the chance to house-sit in exchange for free rent. He discovers the house is occupied by the man’s elderly mother Flo, who is part of the deal.”

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    Spiraling Tensions At Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture School

    The board of the Wright Foundation has decided not to incorporate its school at Taliesin as a separate entity – an organizational decision that, thanks to a change in the Higher Learning Commission’s rules, means the school will lose its accreditation in 2017. The school’s governors and faculty are, unsurprisingly, unhappy about this, amd they’ve begun rebelling against the Wright Foundation.

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    Shigeru Ban And The Limits Of Virtuous Architecture

    Dana Goodyear considers the tension between the Pritzker Prize winner’s very-high-profile designs for quick, inexpensive temporary structures for use after natural disasters and his very-high-priced work for wealthy clients like the Aspen Art Museum.

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    William Greaves, 87, Pioneering African-American Documentarian

    “Greaves made hundreds of movies, and in the 1960s, he served as co-host and executive producer of Black Journal, among the first TV news programs designed for a black audience.”

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    An Aboriginal Dance Company Explores Australia’s Cultural History

    Bangarra Dance Theatre is Australia’s most famous indigenous performing arts group, popular at home and overseas. Supporters argue that it gives today’s indigenous Australians an important way to retell and process their own history – not to mention providing all-too-scarce employment for aboriginal performers. “[But] some critics have described Bangarra’s liberal use of traditional indigenous dance spiced up with modern moves as a Disneyfication of aboriginal culture.”

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    Joffrey Ballet Creates Employee Training Videos For Marriott Hotels

    “Starting Saturday, employees throughout the luxury hotel chain’s properties will get tips from Joffrey dancers as well as its artistic director on the importance of warming up, proper breathing, flow of movement and connecting with the audience, delivered through a series of four short videos. The aim is to improve guests’ experience.”

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    Against [Whatever] (Susan Sontag Has A Lot To Answer For)

    “In recent years, there has been an ‘Against [X]‘ epidemic: against young-adult literature, against interpretation, against method, against theory, against epistemology, against happiness, against transparency, against ambience, against heterosexuality, against love, against exercise, etc. The form announces a polemic – probably a cranky one, and very likely an unfair one.” Exhibit A: Sontag’s “Against Interpretation,” from 1964.

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    Can A Cartoon Muslim Princess Soothe China’s Ethnic Tensions?

    That seems to be what the government hopes, since it has commissioned a 104-episode series about a ten-year-old Uighur princess who works with her Han and Kazakh friends to free her captive father. Problem is, the folk character on which she’s based is seen very differently by Uighurs (who call her Iparhan) and Han Chinese (who know her as “the Fragrant Concubine”).

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    Sandy Wilson, Composer Of “The Boy Friend”, Dead At 90

    The “winsome, nostalgic and tuneful” 1953 musical, which made stars of Julie Andrews (on stage) and Twiggy (on screen), subsequently became a perennial favorite of school and comunity theaters all over the English-speaking world. “He would say that The Boy Friend always held a place in his heart because it gave him the economic means never to work again.”

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    Why Can’t People Let The Tony Soprano Alive-Or-Dead Question Rest? It’s Hard-Wired

    The now-notorious Vox article “resurrected a feverish debate among fans of one of the more beloved TV shows in history. … [This] can also tell us something important about human psychology: Uncertainty drives us crazy.”

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    How A Drag Queen Became A Major Star Of Mexican Wrestling

    “Being gay is a gift from God,” says Saúl Armendáriz, though that was hardly his experience as an abused and bullied youngster in El Paso and Ciudad Juárez.But he was quick and athletic and hardworking and had a sense of showmanship. Today, he’s Cassandro, one of lucha libre‘s biggest stars, kicking macho ass from Mexico City to L.A. to Tokyo.

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    So Many Theaters Try To Develop Promising Composers; This One Is Focusing On Lyricists

    The Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, PA is about to begin a one-year program “focusing on a musical’s lyrics as part of a push to incubate new shows and mentor fledgling lyricists.”

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    Top Posts From AJBlogs 08.28.14

    How should we rank the cultural/creative scenes of cities?
    AJBlog: For What it’s Worth | Published 2014-08-28

    Zaha Hadid and the Conscience of Architects
    AJBlog: CultureGrrl | Published 2014-08-28

    Apples And “Scrapple”
    AJBlog: RiffTides | Published 2014-08-28

    Statistician Creates Algorithm That Predicts Broadway Hits

    Suspecting there’s a golden ratio that might help explain “The Phantom of the Opera,” “The Lion King” or “Wicked,” mathematician Marc Hershberg gave it a go, crunching the numbers as part of his graduate studies in the Department of Organizational Behavior at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

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    How Art Could Revitalize Outdoor Advertising?

    “Besides prompting a conversation about the role of art in our daily lives and promoting the names of the five participating institutions—the Dallas Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York—the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, a trade group for out-of-home advertisers and an Art Everywhere U.S. collaborator, is hoping the project will get more people looking up and around again instead of down at their digital devices.”

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    Is Graffitti Dying Out As Public Takes To Twitter?

    “Sir Stephen House, the Chief Constable of Police Scotland, suggested that disaffected members of the public are increasingly using services such as Twitter and Facebook to make angry or abusive comments instead of spray-painting buildings, leading to a decline in recorded vandalism.”

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    You Dare To Arrive Late? We’re Dancing Here!

    “The curtain rose five minutes ago, the corps de ballet is building the atmosphere, the ballerina is about to enter, the audience is collecting itself in mounting excitement when — — “Excuse me, I’m so sorry.” Upheaval follows. Sometimes eight people have to rise or adjust themselves as the patrons claiming the ninth and 10th seats make their way past.”

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    Big Mayan Cities Discovered In Mexico

    “Last week, the research center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts announced that an archaeological expedition led by Ivan Sprajc has uncovered the remains of two Maya cities, Lagunita and Tamchen. Slowly, the blueprint of a vast civilization is materializing. In 2013, Sprajc’s team found the only other city, Chactún, in the nearly 1,900-square-mile area.”

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    Labor Issues Resolved, Minnesota Orchestra Get $13.2 Million In New Gifts

    “The donations become part of the orchestra’s continuing recovery from large annual deficits and a bitter lockout. Administration leadership is changing, and board leaders are encouraging community groups to get involved in fundraising and auxiliary programming.”

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    Report: UK Theatre Audiences Believe Ticket Prices Are Reasonable

    The report authors said that while audiences were price sensitive, they were more concerned about value rather than price: “Audiences are willing to pay more for particularly excellent work, but are frustrated by unexplained extra fees or when they pay more for substandard work. They also appreciate the excellent value of the lower prices of amateur productions.”

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    Is Our Fascination With Screens Killing Our Critical Thinking Skills?

    “It’s not just reading that could be suffering, but writing too. As handwriting and cursive notebooks are replaced by iPads and laptops, educational development in students who are just beginning to read and write creatively could be negatively affected.”

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    Festivals Have Become Big Business

    “Festivals are one of the biggest growth stories in live entertainment of the past two decades and they are still expanding, diversifying from pop, rock and electronic dance music into poetry and theatre. “

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    If There’s So Little Money In Canadian TV, Why Are Networks Spending So Much?

    “While the Canadian TV racket is crying poor and moaning about the pesky Internet ruining its sure-fire business model, there is loads of dough going around and around. Crisis, what crisis? Surely, in reality, it’s simply about adjustment and evolving.”

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    Supermarket Chain Yanks Roald Dahl Book Over The Word “Slut”

    “The supermarket chain Aldi has withdrawn Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book Revolting Rhymes from its Australian stores following a complaint on its Facebook page … that the book had ‘an unacceptable word in it for kids!!! Not ok!’.”

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    Bloodbath At Pennsylvania Ballet

    “With a single swing of the ax, the new leadership of Pennsylvania Ballet has cleared out the longtime artistic pillars of the company” – the ballet master and mistress, both of whom were there for nearly 40 years; the director of the company’s school; and the assistant to the artistic director. Angel Corella was named the new artistic director last month.

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    Rescue Plan For Philadelphia Theatre Co.

    “Civic leaders have stepped in with a provisional plan to bring Philadelphia Theatre Company back from the brink of financial collapse, and, possibly, secure its long-term viability. … Certain key changes in leadership are required. … Funds will be doled out as certain conditions are met.”

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    Philly’s Barrymore Awards Are Back – But Some Theaters Won’t Take Part

    “Having been administered by the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia since their 1995 founding, the Barrymores threatened to disappear when the alliance dissolved in 2012. … But this year [there are] nominations in 26 categories.” Yet a few local companies, including the Walnut St. Theatre, are declining to participate.

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    Pennsylvania School Cancels “Spamalot” Because It Has “Homosexual Themes”

    “‘Just think, says Sir Lancelot, of his nuptials to a young man named Herbert in Monty Python’s Spamalot, In a thousand years time, this will still be controversial. The administration of the South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Junior/Senior High School seems determined to prove the gallant knight prescient.”

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    Even Famous Politics Blogs Are Joining In The “Death Of Klinghoffer” Wars

    Wonkette’s first sally into battle carries the memorable headline, “Wingnuts Will Save You Poor Jews From Getting Pogromed By Metropolitan Opera”.

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    Longtime Conductor Of Vermont Philharmonic Found Dead

    “The body of a missing Montpelier man, Brian Webb, who had been the longtime conductor of the Vermont Philharmonic, was discovered Wednesday morning in Lake Champlain … Webb was 65.”

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    Minnesota Orchestra Receives $13.2M In Gifts

    “The Minnesota Orchestra, emerging from a financial crisis and a historic labor lockout, had good news on Wednesday when the board said it has received $13.2 million in four separate donations,” all anonymous.

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    Pittsburgh Symphony Expects Another, Larger Deficit

    “The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is projecting a deficit of roughly $1.4 million at the end of its 2014 fiscal year, which concludes Sunday. … If the PSO balances its roughly $30 million budget by the end of next fiscal year, it will be eligible for $5 million from the Heinz Endowments; if it does so for three consecutive years, it will receive $12 million from the Simmons Family Foundation.”

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    People Are Demonstrating Over Serrano’s “Piss Christ” Again

    “Around 50 protesters gathered [Tuesday] outside the Musée Fesch in Ajaccio, Corsica, to demand the immediate removal of the photograph from an exhibition of 120 works by the artist.” Said one spokesman, “[Corsica] is soiled by the presence of this picture. It’s an insult to every Corsican.”

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    Archaeologists Race To Excavate 2,600-Year-Old City Before It Becomes Copper Mine

    “At the end of the year, state-owned Chinese mining company China Metallurgical Group will take control of an ancient Buddhist city in Afghanistan, Mes Aynak. Southeast of Kabul, the ancient, abandoned city is home to sculptures, art, and jewelry dating back to the time of Alexander the Great – as well as 5.5 million tonnes of copper ore, one of the world’s largest deposits.”

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    How The Onion’s Art Department Works

    “Nearly every image is original: either a graphic created in-house, a photograph taken in-house, or an image so manipulated by Photoshop as to not represent any real event that has ever happened. The tiny graphics team at The Onion pumps out about 50 original pieces of art per week.”

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