The mini-skirt? Smoking? Rock ‘n Roll? The selfie-stick? Here’s a list of nominations.
In his February 2 “state of the city” address, Mayor Kasim Reed said that arts funding is critical to Atlanta and that he wants to ensure the money reaches all arts organizations, large and small. “Organizations like the Woodruff Arts Center are thriving, but our small- and medium-sized groups, our young and emerging arts, need additional support,” Reed said. “We need to give back to the creative community that gives so much to our city.”
“Since the times of the Renaissance, when the clergy and rich merchants started to support artists who could immortalise their legacy and whose art could provide atonement for their sins, artists have been feeling uneasy about the relationship between artistic talent and commerce.”
“Theaster’s bringing art into a neighborhood where there’s not a lot of resources devoted to those sorts of questions, and he’s bringing labor and craft traditions into the National Gallery. It’s a kind of circular economy. He’s got the whole art world interested in him, and he is pointing everyone’s eyes at issues that he’s concerned with.”
“Public awareness of the role of the arts is undermined by deeply entrenched perceptions. Yes, people like the arts, some quite a lot, but that’s not enough. Because the way they think about the arts is shaped by a number of common default patterns of thinking that obscure a sense of public responsibility or value.”
Art and history museums alike are taking a variety of approaches, including wait-and-see. Graham Bowley provides a run-down.
“The trouble is, once you accept the proposition that popularity corresponds to value, the game is over for the performing arts. There is no longer any justification for giving space to classical music, jazz, dance, or any other artistic activity that fails to ignite mass enthusiasm. In a cultural-Darwinist world where only the buzziest survive, the arts section would consist solely of superhero-movie reviews, TV-show recaps, and instant-reaction think pieces about pop superstars. Never mind that such entities hardly need the publicity, having achieved market saturation through social media. It’s the intellectual equivalent of a tax cut for the super-rich.”
“On March 2, 1917, Tsar Nicholas II abdicated, handing power to a socialist provisional government; in October, led by Lenin, the Bolsheviks stormed the Winter Place in St. Petersburg and formed a new government. A year later Lenin launched his “Plan for Monumental Propaganda”: painting, sculpture, photography, posters, textiles, and ceramics were all to proclaim the glory of the Bolshevik state.”
“All told, the crowdfunding sector generated $34 billion in free-flowing cash in 2015, and is on pace to do nearly 10 times that within the next decade. (That’s generally broken into three main areas–person-to-person lending, donations, and equity investment–yet about 70% goes toward those in need, according to a Pew Research Center report). The result is a vast pool of money that’s fundamentally shifting who is funding charitable work and how that work gets done.”
“The arts have a far greater impact than on academic achievement alone. AEP cites work preparedness as one key aspect of arts education. Through art programs, students strengthen problem-solving and communication skills, increase their capacity for leadership and creative thinking, build community, support civic engagement, and experience social tolerance that helps prepare them for life in an increasingly diverse world.”
“In 1952, the anthropologists Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn wrote a famous article, “Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions,” in which they specified no fewer than 164 definitions of culture. Culture can, of course, refer to whole civilizations, such as Western culture or Asian culture; it can refer to national, ethnic, or social-class cultures, such as Israeli culture or Irish-Catholic culture, or working-class culture. In all these senses it refers to the overarching aspirations and assumptions that underlay the ways that different peoples and groups have of understanding and dealing with the world.”
This does not bode well for international artists coming to the U.S. The band “was traveling under ESTA (also known as the Visa Waiver Program), which allows citizens of nearly 40 countries to travel to the United States without having to obtain a visa.” But border agents decided not to believe that they weren’t working for pay.
No, that’s not a joke. Marie Myung-Ok Lee: “When I saw the ad promoting a residency at the Mall of America, my first impulse was ‘I must apply!’ See, a bunch of scenes in my novel take place in the freaking Mall of America! It had a nice honorarium ($2,500) for 5 days in residence at a connected mall hotel, plus a $400 food stipend, which is a lot of Cinnabons. But a quick look at the terms reveals the horrifying things the artist gives up in the for-profit residency: her art.”
We are. We just are. “We’ll get a flood of dopamine that makes us feel wonderful in the short term, though in the long term you build a tolerance and want more.” The answer? Look to the 1950s.
The report “notes that although the vast majority of visitors to the capital reportedly come because of ‘culture and heritage’, 35% of London’s grassroots music venues closed from 2007-2015 and 3,500 artists are likely to lose their places of work by 2019. It argues that rising rents ultimately price people out of areas and cause tension between old and new resident communities, and that the resulting marginalisation of certain groups adds to a homogenisation of residents and culture in the area.”
“Here, climate change is a government-sponsored hoax, fluoridated water is poisonous, cannabis can cure cancer, and airplanes are constantly spraying pesticides and biological waste into the air. Genetically modified food is destroying humanity and the planet. Vaccines are experimental, autism-causing injections forced on innocent babies. We can’t trust anything that we eat, drink, breathe, or medicate with, nor rely on physicians and public health agencies to act in our best interests.”
“The black press flourished in the United States during these years, providing rich, varied reporting on political and cultural happenings that mainstream press outlets distorted or ignored. Critics and reporters on the arts beat not only brought to light the creative output of black artists, but also investigated the role the arts played in the long struggle against oppression, as well as the economic and cultural impact of the arts on black communities and the United States as a whole.”
“After brushes with extinction in the 1980s and 1990s, along with a three-decade wait to be launched after the McCarthy-era’s relentless attacks on artists, police are describing the NEA’s demise as ‘totally preventable, but oddly, both a homicide and a suicide.'”
The University of California, Berkeley, will cut off public access to tens of thousands of video lectures and podcasts in response to a U.S. Justice Department order that it make the educational content accessible to people with disabilities.
With an audience that’s “polarized as f***,” Nashville has an attitude summed up by one country DJ like this: “Politics is the hottest potato around right now. I think a lot of artists are saying, ‘You know what, I’d rather not catch this son of a bitch; I’ll pass it to somebody else.'”
As a result, audiences have engaged with art forms often considered ‘elitist’ by some individuals, such as opera or ballet. “It’s vital that people feel that the arts are for them – given all the benefits they can bring to our emotional and social wellbeing – and if we can help break down some of those barriers by the range of films we show in cinemas, then we’re delighted.”
“My research has found that there is in fact no relationship between how well students do academically and what their attitude toward schooling actually is. A student doesn’t need to be passionate about school to be academically successful.”
“Everything from the formation of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Central Park, to the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and opening of Ellis Island, happened over the course of these four decades.”
“As it gradually tightens the loops in Twitter’s social fabric, the algorithm risks further insulating its users from people whose viewpoints run counter to their own—a phenomenon, already rampant on Facebook, that has contributed to the polarization of the American electorate and the Balkanization of its media.”
Forget innovation and nimble adjustment to circumstances. Forget the entrepreneurial spirit. Geographic immobility, including rising housing prices – and the prevalence of video games and TV shows – have us all trapped.
Responding to a fierce takedown by author Fatima Bhutto (read that here), the director says she normally wouldn’t respond to criticism, but “Bhutto seems intent on inflaming the racial and religious divisions that my film is intended to challenge.”
It wasn’t exactly simple, says “Get Out” writer/director Jordan Peele. Known as a comedian, he saw his dream of being a director slipping away – but then he realized comedy and horror were close: “The reason they work, why they get primal, audible reactions from us is because they allow us to purge our own fears and discomforts in a safe environment.”
Much of the artwork, and sometimes entire rooms or domiciles too, is lost. As in, no one knows where it is, who owns it, and how the U.K. might get it back. The U.S. was desperate for a British or European shine, and “the trade was frenzied. When the Titanic sank in 1912, 30 tons of crated English architectural objects were on board.”
“While we understood the importance of focusing on infrastructure, job creation and public safety, we also knew that in order to spur resurgence in the city, we needed to embrace creative placemaking – using the arts to improve design and management of public places — to transform the city’s image among residents and outside entities. We quickly recognized the importance of public-private partnerships, and the investment of non-profit partners.”
On “Clean Monday,” residents of the village of Calaxidi cover their houses with plastic and then hurl bombs full of colored wheat flour at each other. (It’s like Holi, but with more calories.) The tradition is said to go back to an act of defiance against the ottomans in 1801. (video and slideshow)