Issues

Will The Tate Give Back A Possibly Looted Constable?

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“Tate Gallery says ‘new information’ has emerged over a John Constable painting in its collection thought to have been stolen by the Nazis. It has asked for a review of a recommendation that it should return the work to the heirs of the original owner.”

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‘Man-Seders’ – Matzoh With Steak And Scotch

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“Unlike staid practice sessions of old, these promise flowing alcohol, macho food and male bonding along with some religious instruction, although that last one can get a bit lost at some of the events. … The goal is simple: to teach men about the Passover Seder, including how to run one, and engage them more in the Jewish faith.”

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Was Early Civilization Driven By Agriculture Or By Religion?

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“Some secularists dislike the idea that spiritual needs drove the rise of civilisation. They fret that it will reinforce or restore religion’s central place in society. But just because spirituality may have led to civilisation, it doesn’t follow that it should lead it now. If religion did have an early founding role, we must acknowledge this, learn from it – and move on.”

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Here’s How Much Cultural Tourists Impact London’s Economy

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“The report comes after the latest figures from the Society of London Theatre reported an 11th consecutive year of growth among West End theatre box office takings, measuring gross sales of more than £623 million in 2014. Similarly, attendances for the 53 theatres in full SOLT membership grew to 14.7 million in 2014, a 1% increase on the previous year.”

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Málaga Tries To Make Itself Spain’s Newest Arts Hub

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Francisco de la Torre, mayor since 2000 of the Andalusian seaside city, has attracted branches of such museums as the Pompidou, the Thyssen-Bornemisza, and the State Russian Museum – in a bid to make the city a destination for more than just cruise ships. Not all Malagueños are pleased, however.

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Is It Time For Hollywood And China To Get Even Closer?

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“We are at an interesting point on the road. Maybe a turning point. To date there has been more talk than action. Looking forward we will see more action with every passing year. We’ve moved from the looking stage to the consummation.”

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The Top 10 Reasons To Support The Arts In 2015

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Randy Cohen on his annual list: “Changes this year include updating #3 with the BEA’s new Arts in the GDP research, #8 to include a statement about the benefits of the arts in the military, and #10 includes the new Creative Industries data (now current as of January 2015).”

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Arts Education And Cognition: A Caution And A Path Forward

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“Trying to find causation between arts education and better academic performance within other disciplines is a bootless errand. I do not believe that it is an effective strategy for arts educators to justify our existence through the improvements the arts may or may not contribute to learning in other disciplines. So what do we do?” Peter Duffy offers some ideas.

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Japan’s Ministry Of Cool

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“For over a decade, the country has embraced ‘Cool Japan,’ a government-supported movement focused on selling what many have described as its ‘gross national cool.’ … There is some irony at work here – an eagerness to promote something as trendy usually signals the opposite – but for years the country’s efforts have paid off. “

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New Arguments On The Value Of The Arts?

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“Mark Stern and Susan Seifert suggest that cultural participation is one component–valued in its own right–of the broader concept of human wellbeing. Though the sentiment might seem obvious, the implication is not: it allows us to elegantly sidestep (if not quite resolve) the whole question of intrinsic vs. instrumental benefits by framing the idea instead as direct vs. indirect contributions to wellbeing.”

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The Age Of Public Shaming

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“We are seeing “a great renaissance of public shaming”. Social media, and Twitter in particular, has evolved into a rolling witch-hunt where reputations are smashed irreparably as the result of one ill-judged tweet or Facebook post. In extreme cases, a transgressor’s online identity never recovers: they bear the modern equivalent of being branded on the forehead.”

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This American Culture – A Mean Anti-Elitist Streak

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When did “difficulty” become suspect in American culture, widely derided as anti-democratic and contemptuously dismissed as evidence of so-called elitism? If a work of art isn’t somehow immediately “understood” or “accessible” by and to large numbers of people, it is often ridiculed as “esoteric,” “obtuse,” or even somehow un-American.

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Islamist Extremists And The Destruction Of History

Islamist Extremists and the Destruction of History

Jon Lee Anderson: “All around the Middle East, archeological treasures of the ancient world have been stripped of their original glory – often, of what some call graven images. ISIS’s fanatics do so hatefully, as if to spite all others, but they are not the only perpetrators. Muslim extremists have long sought to destroy the physical evidence that any other faith worth valuing existed before their own.”

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An Artist Provided Some Of The First Free Public Wi-Fi In Cuba

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“Nine out of 10 Cubans lack access to a mobile phone, and Internet connections are slow and subject to government censorship. State-run Internet cafes in the country charge $4.50 an hour for online access, a huge sum where the average monthly salary is about $20. Broadband Internet connections in Cuban homes are virtually unheard of.”

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Artefacts Under Attack Across History And Across The World

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“The assault on ‘idolatrous’ images in England had begun in earnest a century earlier with the Protestant Reformation. One thing you didn’t see in Wolf Hall were the sledgehammer gangs unleashed by Thomas Cromwell during the dissolution of the monasteries. … It has been estimated that by the time this state iconoclasm ended, with Edward’s death in 1553, England had lost as much as 90 per cent of its Christian art.”

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When An American Jewish Shakespeare Scholar Got An Invitation To Speak In Iran

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Stephen Greenblatt: “If I went to the Iranian Shakespeare Congress, it would not be with the pretense that our situations were comparable or that our underlying values and beliefs were identical. Sharing an interest in Shakespeare counts for something, as a warm and encouraging phone call from the principal organizer amply demonstrated, but it does not magically erase all differences.”

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Major Fire At Battersea Arts Center

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“A large cloud of black smoke can be seen billowing across Clapham. The fire is believed to have started in the roof of the Grade II listed building, which houses a theatre. There are no reports of any injuries.”

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What Charlie Brown And Charlie Hebdo Have In Common

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“Whatever could Charlie Brown and Charlie Hebdo have to do with each other? What could link Charles Schulz, the very definition of a cartoonist who hated provocation, with a publication whose very mission was to offend? And what could the editors of Charlie Hebdo, known for being bête et méchant (stupid and mean), ever have seen in Peanuts?”

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