Just Like Old Times: With Russia’s Political Opposition In Disarray, Kremlin Goes After Cultural Figures

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“Dissenting cultural figures have become the new focus of pro-Kremlin witch hunts, with state media treating them as a political force and accusing them of treachery. The practice has echoes of Soviet times, when cultural figures perceived as a threat to the regime … were subjected to vicious smear campaigns.”

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Where Will The Arts Be In 20 Years? Michael Kaiser Predicts …

michael kaiser

“We are at the beginning of a major change in the way people receive their arts, and I believe online will become the source and a major competitor to live arts. And it appears to me that we will see a bifurcation of arts organizations, with the large ones, who will make revenue based on selling performances online, and local organizations who service the community. I am very nervous about the midsize regional organization.”

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How Scottish Culture Shook Off The “Kilted Straitjacket”

kilted straitjacket

“A generation emerged in the 1970s that wondered why it was still, so late in the 20th Century, watching men in kilts dancing around swords … when none of us knew anyone who actually did this kind of thing … Scottish national identity began to wrap itself in the cause of social justice – in the idea of resistance to unaccountable wealth and power imposing its will from outside. … This Scotland was also irreverent, self-mocking, and hilariously funny.”

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Paris’s Nouveau Yiddish Culture

paris nouveau yiddish culture

“In France, which houses the biggest Jewish community in Europe, the Ashkenazi legacy has been sadly shrinking.” (What, the Sephardim are chopped liver?) “In the latter half of the 20th century, what French Jews call their imaginary Yiddishland has been reduced to a small patch. … However, there is reason for hope. In Paris, a new generation of entrepreneurs are launching initiatives to perpetuate the Yiddish way of life.”

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Ancient University In India Reopens After 800 Years

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“Around 800 years after it was razed by foreign invaders, Nalanda University reopened its doors on Monday in an attempt to reclaim its ancient glory of an international knowledge destination. The new university, set up on a sprawling 443-acre campus built near the ruins of the ancient seat of learning in Bihar, aims to rebuild the intellectual rigour of the old school initially with a school of environmental studies and a school of historical studies.”

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This Year’s Burning Man Maxes Out

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“Friday’s official peak attendance of 65,922 was within the population cap of 68,000 the federal Bureau of Land Management imposed on the quirky art and music festival 110 miles north of Reno, said Gene Seidlitz, manager of the agency’s Winnemucca District. The number was down from last year’s record peak crowd of 69,613, which resulted in organizers being placed on probation for a second time in three years for violating the limit.”

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“The Internet Is A Cargo Cult”: The Fundamental Reason Why Songwriters (Or Any Content Creators) Have Trouble Making Money On The Web

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David Lowery of Cracker and Camper van Beethoven: “People worship the Internet like a cargo cult. It’s this thing that they have that brings them free stuff, and they think it’s magic. … They don’t want to hear that behind the way you get this free stuff, some really actually fucked-up things have happened to individuals and their individual rights.”

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Rock Festival In L.A.’s Grand Park Was A Grand Experiment In Several Ways

rock fest grand park

“The decision to close the park for a for-profit event will be redeemed only if the money Live Nation paid the county to rent it out makes it a better place to visit, over the long term, for the public. Luckily, even as concertgoers were tramping across Grand Park’s lawns and through its flower beds, they were also helping demonstrate pretty clearly where its design might be tweaked and improved. They made up a huge and unwitting landscape-architecture focus group.”

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

princess

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?

graffiti

“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

not a golden age

“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

Australian banknotes C

“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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