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  • Hugely Successful Theatre With An Unusual Business Model Is Making A Mark On Broadway

    “Playful’s ability to commission and develop new plays is subsidized by an unusual business model: the producers take on the workmanlike roles of general manager on unrelated productions in the West End. The principals deal with contracts, arrange auditions and troubleshoot on shows without producing them, specializing in overseeing London musical imports from the U.S. such as Wicked, Shrek and Kinky Boots. It’s akin to running an international restaurant chain while spreading the risk and covering overheads by providing cutlery and menus to rival eateries.”

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    UK Arts Funder Warns Government Funding Cuts Are Damaging Culture

    “In his first speech since becoming Arts Council chief executive, Darren Henley said cuts could halt recent progress in cultivating culture around the country. Arts Council England has had its government grant cut by 36% since 2010. Chancellor George Osborne is expected to outline £30bn of spending cuts to government departments in his next budget in July.”

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    NYT’s Decision To Not Review Every Movie In Theatrical Release Is A Liberating Moment For Criticism

    “Reviewing a popular movie in this way involves a double-edged discernment—a virtual look behind the curtain at the kinds of decisions that brought the movie into being, and a look into the virtual soul of the abstract viewer whose enthusiasm the movie sparks. At its best, the result is a Nietzschean artistic psychology that acknowledges and understands the ways of power. At its worst, the commentary is a blend of armchair sociology and political ruefulness.”

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    British Museum To Stream A Live Tour Of Its New Show (And You Can Ask Questions, Too)

    “The museum has British historian and broadcaster Dan Snow on hand to lead a 30 minute journey through the exhibition’s white marble statues, terracotta works, bronzes and ornate vases. There’ll also be the chance to post questions using the iOS and Android app.”

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    Netflix Now Accounts For a Third Of All Internet Bandwidth In The US At Peak Hours

    The No. 1 subscription-video service accounted for 36.5% of all downstream Internet bandwidth during peak periods in North America for March, according to a new report.

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    Do We Still Need Libraries In The Internet Age? Yes, But…

    “A government report showed that while the nation’s public libraries served 298 million people in 2010 (that’s 96 percent of the U.S. population), states had cut funding by 38 percent and the federal government by 19 percent between 2000 and 2010. “It seems extraordinary that a public service with such reach should be, in effect, punished despite its success.”

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    Connecticut Teacher Fired For Teaching Ginsburg Poem

    “The unceremonious dismissal of a beloved teacher has thrown the town of South Windsor, population 25,000, halfway between Hartford, Conn., and Springfield, Mass., into tumult. The local newspaper denounced him in editorials. Alumni, town residents, and Olio’s current students crammed into Board of Education hearings to testify on his behalf.”

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    Did Bluesman Robert Johnson Really Sell His Soul To The Devil?

    “Blues musician Robert Johnson is that grand rarity in the music world—a recording artist from the 1930s who can sell millions of records in the modern day. He left his stamp on the work of almost every later blues musician… But the rumors of Johnson’s dealings with the Devil are even more famous than his recordings. I’ve found that people who know nothing else about the blues, have often heard that story.”

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    Turmoil At Actors Equity Union (So Now What?)

    “Its heavy-handed approach to the Los Angeles theater community reveals serious flaws both in Equity’s vision of the future and its ability to implement any vision at all. From the beginning, Equity misread the sentiment of its LA membership — perhaps out of a myopic view of LA theater — or simply out of ignorance.”

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    How Machine “Deep Learning” Will Change The Things Around Us

    “Deep learning is particularly interesting because it has transformed so many different areas of research. In the past researchers used very separate techniques for speech recognition, image recognition, translation, and robotics. But now one this one set of techniques—though a rather broad set—can serve all these fields.”

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    Do We Truly Believe In Freedom Of Expression? Trying To Make Sense Of The PEN Protests Of Charlie Hebdo

    “It was no small thing to observe a couple of survivors of the Charlie massacre make their way to New York, a mere four months after the slaughter, and be greeted with jeers and a boycott. A supremely chilly heart is needed to mount such a protest. And yet, a couple of hundred warm-hearted American writers lent their names to the chilly protest.”

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    Who Knew? Musicians Union Sues Hollywood Studios For Reusing Music In Movies

    “For instance, 1 minute and 10 seconds of music from Titanic was allegedly used in This Means War; 47 seconds of music from Die Hard and 30 seconds of music from The Bourne Identity was allegedly used in episodes of The Office; 18 seconds of music from Jaws was allegedly used in Little Fockers; 33 seconds of music from Cast Away was used in Bridesmaids; 35 seconds of music from Battle for the Planet of the Apes was used in Argo … and so forth.”

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    Is This 25-Year-Old Composer The Great Hope Of American Opera?

    There are more established young composers who write operas, but if contemporary opera has a rising wunderkind, then Aucoin has to be it — although his promise as a composer, conductor, pianist, poet and critic extends well beyond opera or any other single form. The conductor Johannes Debus says that the range of Aucoin’s talents exemplifies “Gesamtkunstwerk, Wagner’s term for everything at once.”

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    Was The Minnesota Orchestra’s Trip To Cuba Really Good Diplomacy?

    “The best answer seems to be that, yes, such events can be important. But there is a major caveat: They matter when both governments involved want them to matter. In this case, the evidence suggests that both Washington and Havana are interested in better relations. So this visit is likely to have a small place when the history of U.S.-Cuba rapprochement is written.”

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    Justice? Instagram Artist Appropriates Artist Who Appropriated Her Work And Undercuts His Price By 99.9%

    “Selena Mooney, who founded the website SuicideGirls, which has sold online access to erotic images for more than a decade, wrote on Tuesday that she would sell nearly identical copies of one of the pictures chosen by Mr. Prince. She offered a steep discount, though. Her versions, five different inkjet prints on canvas at the same size as Mr. Prince’s, cost just $90. Proceeds will go to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group, she said.”

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    Music Festivals Are Big Business These Days. Can A Festival Boost Spain’s Economy?

    “In the midst of a country with a 23.7% unemployment rate, the growing festival is a notable bright spot in contemporary Spain. Even as the country’s young indignados demand major reforms, Primavera is proof that a well-run music festival can be an anchor for a recovering economy and a central element of its tourism.”

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    How Nostalgia Can Fuel Creativity

    “Weirdly, nostalgia used to have a bad reputation—psychologists interpreted it as people avoiding the present, and it was even classified as a psychiatric disorder at one point. But recent research has shown that nostalgia can have positive effects, like making people more optimistic about the future and more willing to set new goals.”

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    New Book: Rex Harrison Was Not A Nice Man

    “There he was, with all these endearments at the top of his voice. He treated us like dirt, we were nothing. We didn’t have anything to do with his film career.”

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    UK Court Orders ISPs To Block Access To Book Piracy Websites

    “Our members need to be able to protect their authors’ works from such illegal activity. Writers need to be paid and publishers need to be able to continue to innovate and invest in new talent and material.”

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    Hitting + Things = Percussion

    The world runs on rhythm. From the smallest heartbeat to the movement of the planets, rhythm powers and defines our lives. Modern percussion takes the rhythms of the world and makes them music. Learn how with master percussionist Steven Schick. This free four-class course will make you listen to music in a different way. Click to find out how.

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    How Doing Theatre For An Audience Of One Changes The Experience

    “Acting is often spoken of as a narcissistic pursuit, but it seemed much more humble at Theatre for One. Why crave the attention of multitudes when the most we can ask for is to be seen—fully, if momentarily—by just one person? Being an audience of one started to feel less indulgent, too. When I stepped out of the booth, the line was twenty deep.”

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    Why An Artist Taking Other People’s Instagram Photos, Hanging Them In A Gallery And Selling Them For Tens Of Thousands Of Dollars Is Art

    “Here he is delving as deep as he ever has into privacy, copyright, and appropriation, twisting images so that they actually seem to undergo some sort of sick psychic-artistic transubstantiation where they no longer belong to the original makers.”

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    Bartok – The 20th Century’s Loneliest Composer?

    “Two careers, as composer and ethnomusicologist, would be more than enough for most, but Bartók managed a third, as travelling concert pianist. Finances were always tight, his relationships with women were complicated, and looming over it all were the tumultuous political upheavals of the first half of the 20th century.”

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    Rethinking The Museum Building So It Protects The Art From Natural Disaster

    “Buildings now have to be designed like submarines. Do we have to completely rethink our infrastructure? Do we have to completely rethink everything?”

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    Havana Biennial Opens, But Cuba Arrests, Detains Artist For Doing Her Work

    Tania Bruguera was once again detained by the authorities on Sunday afternoon after staging a performance at her Havana home, in which she and others read passages from Hannah Arendt’s “The Origins of Totalitarianism.”

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    How Hollywood Is Helping To Make Virtual Reality Interesting

    “Shooting a movie or TV show is incredibly tough under the best of circumstances. [With VR], the basic things you learned from your experience no longer apply from a technical perspective, and there’s not a body of work you can point to saying, ‘We want it to be like that or like that.’”

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    Museum Visitor, Falling, Grabs Ancient Greek Urn, Smashing It

    “A ministry statement says the prehistoric, Minoan-era vase, which had been broken in antiquity and restored after excavation, is being repaired and should be back on display on Friday.”

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    America’s Oldest Performing Arts Group Turns 200

    “The Handel and Haydn Society, which claims to be America’s oldest continuously performing arts organization, turns 200 this year. Once an amateur oratorio society dedicated to performing new music — the American premieres of Verdi’s Requiem (in 1878) and Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion” (1879), among much else — alongside the old, its orchestra and chorus have been among the country’s most prominent early-music ensembles since 1986, when it moved to playing with period instruments.”

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    When Mark Zuckerberg Met Frank Gehry, This Is The Building That Resulted

    “It is in fact an appealing throwback to the unfussy, ad hoc, quickly made experiments of Gehry’s early career. At the same time, there’s something plainly absurd about the idea that architecture could turn Facebook, whose market capitalization is now in the neighborhood of $225 billion, into a low-key outfit without airs, or even allow it to carry out a plausible impersonation of one.”

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    The Hardy Boys And Nancy Drew Industry – Keep Costs Down, Use Freelancers And Formularize Creativity

    “The secret behind the longevity of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys is simple. They’re still here because their creators found a way to minimize cost, maximize output, and standardize creativity. The solution was an assembly line that made millions by turning writers into anonymous freelancers—a business model that is central to the Internet age.”

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    A Major New Arts Center For San Francisco’s Palace Of Fine Arts?

    “The WAW proposal, which would give the palace the pseudonym, the Center for Global Arts and Cultures, calls for capital improvements totaling $150 million. By contrast, recent improvements to the Herbst Theater ran to $156 million.”

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    Netflix Believes It Can Create New Audiences For Documentaries

    “Traditionally, documentaries have targeted niche audiences, defiantly unconcerned with commercial success. They don’t attract nearly as many viewers on the big or small screen as their commercial-minded Hollywood counterparts. Netflix thinks it can change that dynamic, drawing big audiences to nonfiction fare using the same algorithms and data it’s relied on to engineer hits like House of Cards.”

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    Academy Of Motion Pictures Faces Challenges, Contemplates Changes

    “Behind closed doors — where leaders of the 6,000-member film Academy do most of their deliberating — paid staff, elected governors and committee members have been looking to shore up the annual awards show, which saw a drop in TV viewers of almost 15 percent to 36.6 million in the last year. As that happens, they are dealing with other challenges, expected and otherwise.”

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    More Audience Engagement? Audiences Need To Reassert Themselves

    “Aside from the artist’s responsibility, Don Roth has come to believe that audiences need to do a better job of reasserting themselves. They need to spend more time preparing for a concert, discovering or rediscovering the music, as well as finding out about the musicians. Audience members also need to disconnect themselves, literally and figuratively, from daily life, and be open to a musical experience that’s simultaneously emotional, intellectual, and spiritual.”

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    Ranked: America’s Most “Inspirational” Cities For Artists?

    “The educational website WorldWideLearn recently culled data from the American Community Survey and the Local Arts Index to rank the 15 most creatively inspiring cities in the United States for aspiring young artists and art students. “

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    Photographer Mary Ellen Mark, 75

    “Her portraits of celebrities, street people, and prom-goers are familiar to many Americans who saw her work in Life, National Geographic, Vogue, the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, or one of her 18 published photo collections.”

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    Zaha Hadid’s Library Design For Oxford Shocks Planners

    “Hadid’s building is the most radically designed modern college building in Oxford since the love-it-or-hate-it cliff face of James Stirling’s Florey building at Queen’s College. This is undoubtedly Hadid’s most intriguing small building, one that she originally described as “a soft bridge”.”

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    More On The “Radical” New Barenboim Piano Design

    “Designed by the Belgian instrument maker Chris Maene, the Barenboim has straight parallel strings instead of the diagonal-crossed ones of a contemporary piano. The wooden soundboard veins go in different directions. The bridges, ribs and bracings are specially-designed and the hammers and strings (yellow brass rather than red brass) have been repositioned.”

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    Choice Of New Director For The Proms Is A Surprise

    David Pickard is “bound to face challenges. The BBC licence fee is due for a rethink next year; any changes to the funding model can scarcely not affect the Proms. At Glyndebourne, he presided over an institution that receives public funding only for educationwork and touring – the opera festival relies entirely on private money. He will now need to apply the diplomatic skills honed dealing with sponsors, donors and patrons to fighting the Proms’ corner in the boardrooms of the BBC.”

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    USC Dean Refuses To Accept MFA Class’s Withdrawal From Program

    “Most notably, the Dean refused to acknowledge that the students were even dropping out, saying “we have not recorded your withdrawal. Instead, we have granted each of you a two-year leave of absence.” Given the clear sense of betrayal felt by the USC7, it seems unlikely that they would choose to return to the program.”

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    London’s National Gallery Suggests Priceless Paintings Might Belong To Ireland

    “The 39 paintings, including some of the most celebrated works of the French artists Renoir, Monet and Manet, were left to the gallery by the art collector Sir Hugh Lane, who was killed on the Lusitania when it was hit by a German torpedo 100 years ago this month. In a codicil to his will, Lane made it clear that he wanted the paintings to go to Dublin, but because the amendment was unwitnessed the collection stayed in London.”

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    Can The ACLU Prove Hollywood Discriminates In Hiring Women? (Doubtful)

    “Attacks on industry-wide practices are harder than on a single, outlier company, since an outlier exists against a backdrop that shows its possible to do better. In industry-wide cases, it becomes more challenging to prove that there is an adequate supply of qualified and interested candidates to begin with.”

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    Why There Are So Few Women Rock Critics

    “The problem for women is that our role in popular music was codified long ago. And it was codified, in part, by the early music press. In the effort to prove the burgeoning rock scene of the sixties a worthy subject of critical inquiry, rock needed to be established as both serious and authentic. One result of these arguments—the Rolling Stones vs. Muddy Waters, Motown vs. Stax, Bob Dylan vs. the world—was that women came out on the losing side, as frivolous and phony.”

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    Playwright Sam Shepard Arrested In New Mexico

    “Shepard was arrested on a charge of aggravated driving while intoxicated outside La Choza restaurant in downtown. The restaurant’s security called police about 7:45 p.m. Monday concerned about an intoxicated driver, Dobyns said. The man was trying to leave in the pickup, but the vehicle’s emergency brake was engaged.”

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    Numbers Are In: Broadway Had A Great Year At The Box Office

    “The Broadway League said Tuesday that box offices reported a record total gross of $1.36 billion — up from $1.27 billion from the previous season. The trade association for theater owners, operators and producers said attendance was up 7.3 percent to 13.1 million.”

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    Sexism In The Art World: Here Are The Numbers

    “The more closely one examines art-world statistics, the more glaringly obvious it becomes that, despite decades of postcolonial, feminist, anti-racist, and queer activism and theorizing, the majority continues to be defined as white, Euro-American, heterosexual, privileged, and, above all, male. Sexism is still so insidiously woven into the institutional fabric, language, and logic of the mainstream art world that it often goes undetected.”

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    Feminism In Art – We Were Making Progress And Then…

    “We are now once again hard put to find at the big institutions feminist shows or exhibitions of works addressing gender, sexual, and other interrelated social inequities.”

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    Listing And Ranking Women Artists Doesn’t Help The Cause Of Women Artists

    “Where notions of gender and success are concerned, the list, by virtue of its very format, embodies the crux of the problem: a litany of names and capsule bios, peppered with personal anecdotes and external endorsements, in lieu of analysis of enduring inequities and systemic biases.”

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    Memorial Day Weekend Movie Box Office Worst Since 2001

    “This year, the industry’s estimated take between Friday and Monday in the U.S. and Canada was $190 million, according to Rentrak. That is the lowest since 2001—particularly bad when considering that average ticket prices have risen 44% over that time, according to the National Association of Theatre Owners.”

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    How To Fix Opera In New York (Ask The Germans)

    “New York is great. Opera is great. They deserve each other. So what can we do to get them together? Who can show us how it’s done? We need to ask the Germans, as a recent opera-intensive visit to their country confirmed.”

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