“Ms. Alexander is a well-qualified teacher, and we have the utmost confidence that she will provide quality art instruction to our nation’s students as she rotates through each of the 98,000 public schools in this country,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who explained that Alexander will teach a 40-minute studio art course to each of the grade levels at a different school each day, beginning with Colby High School in Denver on Wednesday, until she eventually visits every school in the nation, at which point she will cycle back to the beginning and start again.
“While it’s hard to know exactly how many artists have left San Francisco in the last several years, there’s a consensus that the city is facing an emergency. In September, the arts commission released the results of its first ‘artist eviction survey’” Of nearly 600 local artists, 70% had been or were being displaced from their studio space, their home, or both.”
Robert De Niro and Zaha Hadid are just the most recent examples of high-profile artists to angrily end a session when (rightly or wrongly) they don’t like the drift of the questions. Observer writer Barbara Ellen and Channel Four presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy discuss the question (their answer won’t be a surprise) and their own experiences with walkouts.
Natalia Kaliada, co-founder of Belarus Free Theatre: “Creative conformism is blooming in democratic countries, and so you have to ask whether the only way to secure funding today is to create safe art … I paid the price, and my family paid the price, for speaking our minds freely while living under a dictatorship. Now, living in a democracy, I start to develop a fear of speaking freely in our shows in case we will lose our funding.”
“Quiet confusion was in the air around the entrance to the museum – ‘What the heck is a tort?’ a man whispered to his wife as they walked in. She wasn’t sure. … Tort law is essentially the law of personal injury, and the museum’s mission is to restore the idea that personal-injury law is not a way to line the pockets of a few lucky lawyers but rather a way to hold the powerful to account. (The most popular exhibit was dedicated to explaining the McDonald’s hot-coffee lawsuit.)”
“If we are looking for artists to help make change in our communities, there needs to be an infrastructure that supports them: intermediaries to make connections and develop programs, training to assure artists feel secure and safe in what may be a new environment, and the sharing of knowledge and resources for artists to learn from one another and from other-sector experts.”
You have to consider many factors. How expensive is housing and work spaces? How much does a city support culture? Is there anything going on?
“The foundation stone of the first hall in Guinea’s capital Conakry has already been laid. The other cities where the theatres will be built include Benin’s main city Cotonou, the Congo capital Brazzaville and the Senegalese capital Dakar.”
“I think we need to rethink how we talk about culture, rethink what we think it does for us, and what it actually is. We have a complete confusion about that. It’s very interesting.”
“Sitting outside, Khouri and Baki tried to make sense of the racket. ‘Every time the door opened, we could hear the General Security guys yelling at Hatem while he tried to explain to them what a comic book was,’ Baki said.”
“It all felt a little too retro. The thing is, while these men may well have the best of intentions, the history of the left, and of revolution, is littered with broken promises made to women.”
“The diversity of offerings while catering to a diversity of tastes has also produced a splintering of experiences. I’m finding that even people who seem very much like me are watching different shows than I do. This leaves us little to talk about aside from work and politics.”
“From 2007 to 2014, women made up only 30.2% of all speaking or named characters in the 100 top-grossing films distributed in the US, according to research conducted by the University of Southern California for the Geena Davis Institute. A staggeringly low 1.9% of those films were directed by women.”
“The suit was filed Tuesday in federal court in San Francisco by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. It seeks a court order allowing PETA to administer all proceeds from the photos for the benefit of the monkey, which it identified as 6-year-old Naruto, and other crested macaques living in a reserve on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.”
“‘The internet is forever’ has long been the refrain of neurotics who wring their hands over privacy. But, back in the earliest days of online interaction, we couldn’t conceptualise what forever meant for digital experiences. They seemed ephemeral, intimate. … But what we thought were whispers that disappeared into the wind were footprints left behind in soil. That soil was fossilising, preserving a partial archive, hidden until it is not.”
“On Monday France’s data-privacy agency ordered Google to delist certain links (that is, remove them from search results) everywhere it operates and in every service it offers” whenever anyone asks for them to be removed under French law. “It’s unlikely that even Louis XIV thought French regulatory authority should stretch so far.”
“A ballot was held earlier this year over whether or not employees should be recognised by BECTU, with 117 of those who took part in favour and 109 against … RAH chief executive Chris Cotton has now written to staff to inform them that the vote did not have ‘the support of the majority of the employees within the hall’.”
“The evidence about the importance of children’s early experiences is pouring out of scientific labs. … If those three years are so fundamental to shaping who we are, then shouldn’t they be filled with experiences which are beautiful, challenging, imaginative, soothing, musical, creative, exciting and calming? We reckon so. And that’s why we’ve been making shows for babies for the last four years.”
The people who can compete and succeed in this culture are an ever-narrower slice of American society: largely young people who are healthy, and wealthy enough not to have to care for family members. An individual company can of course favor these individuals, as health insurers once did, and then pass them off to other businesses when they become parents or need to tend to their own parents. But this model of winning at all costs reinforces a distinctive American pathology of not making room for caregiving. The result: We hemorrhage talent and hollow out our society.
“Unionized workers at the Roman amphitheatre held a 2½ meeting in the morning, keeping the gates locked until they had finished their discussions. They said the stoppage was within their rights, but confusion reigned outside the Colosseum.” In response, the Cabinet put cultural sites alongside hospitals and transit on the list of essential services in which work stoppages are restricted.
“In an open letter to Xi, published just before the Chinese president’s first US state visit this week, more than 40 authors have come together to express their ‘deepest concern about the deteriorating state of free expression in China.’ The letter highlights four cases of writers who are currently imprisoned in China.”
“Protesters are expected to gather outside Eli Broad’s new $140 million museum that houses his 2,000-piece contemporary art collection Sunday, to call on the billionaire to halt plans to back a charter school plan that could enroll half of the students in the Los Angeles Unified School District.”
“With the oldest members of this cohort barely out of high school, these tweens and teens of today are primed to become the dominant youth influencers of tomorrow. Flush with billions in spending power, they promise untold riches to marketers who can find the master key to their psyche.”
“New research drawn from Audience Finder, based mainly on performing arts data, shows that the most highly engaged attenders, those who made six or more bookings per year, account for less than 12% of all bookers in the last three years. This select group is, however, responsible for making more than half (52%) of all the bookings made in the last three years. At the same time, 54% all those who have attended the arts in the last three years have only booked once. At 17.3% these one-time bookers are responsible for making less than a fifth of all bookings made during that time.”
“Officials announced Monday that the historic, 1878 landmark will completely shut down in June for what is now a $129 million construction project. Following an extensive and complex renovation, it will reopen in fall 2017.”
“Sociologist Aaron Reeves of the University of Oxford reports most forms of arts participation are strongly correlated not with class, but rather with education. To his surprise, he found that in a large sample of the English population, those with higher incomes were actually less likely to be active participants in the arts.”
Scott Timberg: “From the very beginning – perhaps since before the birth of Homo sapiens, in fact – we have craved the effects that art and music can have on us. Simultaneously, we have both worshipful and deeply suspicious feelings toward people who make art or who dwell in the realm of the aesthetic.”
“While some of the initiatives currently underway may benefit cultural tourism, most of the efforts seem to be based on an understanding of the intrinsic value of the arts in the life of any community and the sense of belonging that anchors people to a place.”
“Recently there’s been, in TV and film and certainly in books, an intense yearning for a specific five-year period in New York City, those years between the blackout in 1977, and 1982, when AIDS was finally named by the Centers for Disease Control. … Collectively, these works express a craving for the city that, while at its worst, was also more democratic: a place and a time in which, rich or poor, you were stuck together in the misery (and the freedom) of the place, where not even money could insulate you.”
The new leader of Britain’s Labour Party puts arts front and center: “Culture and the arts play an essential role on individual and community wellbeing. If we are to achieve our goal in government of supporting people in leading more enjoyable and fulfilling lives, funding for the arts must be central to that offer. “