Issues

Happy Days: Northern Ireland Town Loves Its Beckett Festival

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“The barber offers Beckett haircuts; a local coffee shop sells Krapp (banana and nutella) and Endgame (I didn’t investigate) sandwiches named after his plays. Events take place in theaters, churches, halls, at the Portora School, on the small islands that surround the town and in other improbable places, often kept a secret until a bus deposits audiences at the spot. All of this creates a festive and buoyant atmosphere that works strangely well with Beckett’s famously dark, difficult and often mordantly humorous oeuvre.”

Stage Fright – What Exactly Is It, And What’s Behind It?

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“Stage fright has been aptly described as ‘self-poisoning by adrenaline'” – the fight-or-flight response. “But what Cro-Magnon man needed upon finding a bear in his cave is not what a modern person needs in order to play King Lear. Without the release of abrupt action, the hyperactivation becomes, basically, a panic attack.”

Satire Used To Be Fun. So What Happened?

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“Face it, audiences today are easily offended by satire—and the younger members of the audience (coveted by the entertainment industry) have the thinnest skins of all. What a surprising turnaround. Just a few years ago, parents wanted to censor comedians, but young people had open minds. Nowadays the parents are tolerant but their children demand trigger warnings!”

NEH Announces First ‘Public Scholar’ Grants

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“The Public Scholar program, a major new initiative from the National Endowment for the Humanities, is designed to promote the publication of scholarly nonfiction books for a general audience, and the first round of grants has just been announced: a total of $1.7 million to 36 writers across a broad collection of disciplines. The grants range from $25,200 to $50,400. (Full list at bottom.)”

What Happens When You Get An MFA In Your 60s

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“Going back for this M.F.A. felt like a matter of life and death for me, the only means by which I could hope to survive to be the writer I wanted to be and to live long enough to enjoy my granddaughters. The truth is that I hadn’t expected to get into the program at Columbia; when I did, I hadn’t expected to get financial assistance; when I did, I didn’t think anyone would take me seriously.”

The Ultimate Temple Raider

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“Museums in America and abroad, including institutions in Massachusetts, Ohio, Hawaii, Singapore and Australia, are shedding rare holdings because they came from Art of the Past, which closed in 2012. The next year, investigators seized two statues Mr. Kapoor had boldly put on display inside the Indian-owned Pierre Hotel in New York, trundling them through the lobby in front of aghast executives.”

The Truth: Most Performing Artists Will Have To Work For Little Or No Pay – Here’s How To Deal With That (By Anonymous)

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“I’m writing this, somewhat shamefacedly, under a pseudonym, because I’ve seen many examples of the threatening emails and online trolling that would immediately target me … [and] I understand that anger … But artists will work for very low pay for as long as there are more people wanting to make art than there are audiences willing to pay them enough to live on. And we have to talk about it. So how do artists make a rational decision about whether to take on low-paid or unpaid work?”

California Arts Council Bumps Up Community Grants By $1 Million

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“The round of grants issued this week … gives boosts to ‘Local Impact’ projects that are aimed at helping small arts organizations work in poor and rural communities that lack cultural resources. Another category is Creative California Communities, in which nonprofit arts organizations use grant money to connect with neighborhoods in ways aimed at helping economic development or community cohesiveness. The third is an Artists in Schools program.”

Battles, Batman, And Liberace: A Cultural History Of Capes

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“Simple in design, yet evocative of the utmost drama and intrigue, capes are sartorial shorthand for imminent action. To fasten one around your shoulders is to say to the world: ‘Some pretty major scenes are about to go down. And make no mistake: I am ready.’ It’s a message that comes across regardless of whether the wearer is a warrior, a superhero, or Liberace. But how did capes come to be imbued with excitement and peril?”

What Professional Sports Has To Teach The Performing Arts About Audiences

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“For sure, the comparison between sports and performing arts is limited: Obviously, there’s no element of competition, no TV contracts, and much less private ownership of venues. Nevertheless, there are approaches that may have resonance, and reflect the way innovation is transferable; the way experiments and breakthroughs in one field may affirm and encourage breakthroughs in another.”

UK Culture Department Told To Prepare For 40 Percent Budget Cut

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“Chancellor George Osborne announced that in order to make £20 million of government savings, unprotected departments – everything aside from health, schools, defence and foreign aid – needed to plan for two scenarios: a 25% cut or a 40% cut. Savings would have to be made over the course of the next five years.”

Artists And The “Gig” Economy

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“Artists remain pretty firmly entrenched as contract workers – with some of the advantages, but most of the negatives associated with being in the Gig Economy. There are some areas in which artists have moved to being employees with the attendant benefits, but often little of the real security.”

Comic Book Guru: Today’s Superhero Culture Is A Catastrophe For Culture Of Our Time

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“It looks to me very much like a significant section of the public, having given up on attempting to understand the reality they are actually living in, have instead reasoned that they might at least be able to comprehend the sprawling, meaningless, but at-least-still-finite ‘universes’ presented by DC or Marvel Comics. I would also observe that it is, potentially, culturally catastrophic to have the ephemera of a previous century squatting possessively on the cultural stage and refusing to allow this surely unprecedented era to develop a culture of its own, relevant and sufficient to its times.”

When Arizona Teachers Were Forced To Become Book Smugglers

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“The irony is that if Arizona lawmakers had never squashed one Mexican American studies class—in a single district in one city—Curtis Acosta would have no interest in duplicating that same class across the country. Certainly, California and Texas public schools would not be considering to offer the course in all its high schools. And Tony Diaz would never have become the book smuggler.”

One Opera Company’s Transition To Digital Engagement

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“We’re in a culture right now of sharing your experience. It all harkens back to the first point, in 2007, when two things happened simultaneously: Apple announced its first iPhone, which literally put a computer into every person’s hands, and Facebook came out of its university setting to become public, so that you could find out for the first time, on a 24/7 basis, what your colleagues, friends, neighbors, and family members were up to, and get their input on what they were doing with their leisure time.”

Want To Make Great Art? Here’s The One Thing You Need At Minimum

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“If you’re plugging away at your art, or haven’t quite made that scientific breakthrough you feel is close, don’t give up. Time and discipline won’t guarantee success — Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hours-of-practice rule has been effectively debunked — but they do seem to be an essential precursor to creating genuinely important work.”