Issues

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

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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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Is Graffitti Dying Out As Public Takes To Twitter?

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“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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Festivals Have Become Big Business

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“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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Meet France’s New Culture Minister

Fleur-Pellerin

Fleur Pellerin, who is just turning 41, is the country’s first top minister of Asian descent. “Local commentators suggest that [her previous] experiences handling the innovation and digital economy portfolio will stand the minister in good stead in her new role.”

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No Copyright For Works Not Created By Humans, Says U.S. Copyright Office

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“Marking an end to the controversy surrounding the ‘monkey selfie,’ a self-portrait snapped by a particularly photogenic macaque in Indonesia in 2011, the US Copyright Office” has ruled that it “will register an original work of authorship, provided that the work was created by a human being … the Office will not register works produced by nature, animals, or plants.”

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No, We Are Not In A Golden Age Of Journalism, Whatever Techie Utopians May Say

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“A true golden age of journalism, if it is to last more than a few ephemeral years subsidized by check-writing billionaires and venture-capital speculation, will require that publishers make a profit and writers and reporters can make a decent living. … If you are lucky, you might be able to command a freelance pay rate that hasn’t budged in 30 years. But more people than ever work for nothing.”

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China Shuts Down Film Fest On Its First Day

“The Chinese government keeps a tight control on information and the media – and is suspicious of independent films that could contain criticism of the Communist party and its policies.”

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How The Elevator Changed Everything

otis elevator

Elisha Graves Otis’s invention didn’t just make whole new styles of architecture possible, writes Jonathan Glancey, it deeply affected our entire culture.

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Art Isn’t *Only* For Art’s Sake; Politics Is There, But It Isn’t *Everything*

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Alex Ross, responding to Jed Perl: “To debate whether politics is always present or always absent is to play a parlor game irrelevant to the complex, ever-shifting reality in which both artists and their audiences reside. … Ultimately, I cannot forget the historical context. But forgetting is not essential to a full and passionate engagement with the music.” Ross takes as examples the much argued-over Richards, Wagner and Strauss.

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L.A. County November Election Will Include Arts Funding Measure

LA County arts funding

The ballot measure concerns “whether to absorb $23 in annual per-parcel property taxes over the next 30 years for improvements to parks and cultural facilities within them as well as recreational facilities, beaches and wildlife areas. If the required two-thirds supermajority says yes, the county would have $53 million each year to spend for all those purposes combined.” Most major arts venues in L.A. County are technically within parks.

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“Excellent Sheep”: What’s Become Of Students at Elite Colleges Today

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William Deresiewicz: “They’re ‘excellent’ because they have fulfilled all the requirements for getting into an elite college, but it’s very narrow excellence. These are kids who will perform to the specifications you define, and they will do that without particularly thinking about why they’re doing it. They just know that they will jump the next hoop.”

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Another Russian Censorship Row, This Time Over Cultural Policy Paper

russian censorship row

“A controversial document on Russian cultural policy, commissioned by President Vladimir Putin and backed by the culture minister Vladimir Medinsky, has drawn criticism – even within the Kremlin.” Its objective is to set cultural “norms” for all media; a leaked early draft included such phrases as “cultural projects that impose values that are alien to society” and “Russia is not Europe”.

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Australia Council For The Arts Transforms Funding Model

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“Artists will no longer be forced into such square holes as music, theatre and literature under a radical overhaul of arts funding announced by the Australia Council for the Arts. More than 90 grants will be reduced to just five common categories next year,” and application procedures have been streamlined.

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The Unusual (Quaint?) Way San Diego County Distributes Arts Funding

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There’s no longer an arts council to assess grant requests; that was eliminated in 1993. Now cultural groups compete – often in person, during two-day-long pitch sessions – with libraries, health-care organizations, wildlife conservancies, and other non-profits for pieces of each county council member’s discretionary funds.

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Could An Arts Council Work In San Diego County?

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“[Advocates say] it’s time for the county to look for a new, more transparent, professional and equitable option for funding the arts.” And there’s no reason an arts council (like the one in, say, the city of San Diego) couldn’t work. But it probably won’t.

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Michigan Town Disbands Arts Commission Because There’s Too Much “Drama”

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“The [Rockford] City Council voted Aug. 11 to dissolve the Rockford Arts Commission, including releasing the remaining seven board members from their volunteer functions with the city.” Four of the 11 members “had recently resigned ‘because they didn’t like the drama’ of the conflict between the city and the members of the group.”

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The Two Things Students Really Want From Teachers

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William Deresiewicz: Not, as people commonly believe, to entertain them in class and hand out easy A’s. That’s what they retreat to, once they see that nothing better is on offer. … They don’t want fun and games; they want the real thing.”

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Can We – And Should We – Erase Our Internet Lives?

Barbra Streisand accepts the applause after performing the song "Memories" at the 85th Academy Awards in Hollywood

“How to cope with an an almost infinite access to information is one of the questions of our age. You can see why ephemeral and anonymized messaging services such as Snapchat and Secret are growing rapidly. Social norms are shifting rapidly.”

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The Latest Group To Use Drones: Archaeologists

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“Archaeologists around the world, who have long relied on the classic tools of their profession, like the trowel and the plumb bob, are now turning to the modern technology of drones to defend and explore endangered sites. And perhaps nowhere is the shift happening as swiftly as in Peru.”

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What Do We Do With Our Old, Disused Airports?

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There are more out-of-use terminals around than you’d think, some of them architectural landmarks (Saarinen’s TWA terminal at JFK) and all of them expensive. Jonathan Glancey looks at what’s been tried, from the triumphant repurposing of Berlin Tempelhof to Saarinen’s building to poor old Montreal Mirabel.

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Email Is Still The Best Thing On The Internet

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Some pundits, and Silicon valley types with cloud software to sell, keep arguing that email is an antiquated, dying technology. But no: “You can’t kill email! It’s the cockroach of the Internet, and I mean that as a compliment. This resilience is a good thing.” Alexis Madrigal explains why.

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