This Week: Record ticket sales at the Chicago Symphony but still a budget problem…Wall Street Journal cuts arts coverage and Boston Globe gets a subsidized critic…Why did Shakespeare’s Globe fire its director?…Two cities on opposite sides of a border, share common arts culture… Who will hold intelligent machines accountable?
An Ominous Report For Orchestras? The Chicago Symphony released its annual report. Single-ticket sales, and overall box office were at all-time highs, contributions were up, and subscription renewals were at 90%. And yet: the orchestra still wasn’t able to close its budget gap.
More Turmoil In The Arts Journalism World: Print advertising is collapsing catastrophically. The Wall Street Journal, which had dramatically boosted its arts coverage in recent years, announced this week that it was scaling back, cutting staff and shrinking the size of the newspaper. The arts section will be taking a haircut. Meanwhile, when Boston Globe classical music critic Jeremy Eichler recently decided to take a sabbatical, many feared the newspaper might not replace him. This week the Globe announced that a foundation has stepped in to fund a young critic to take the job while Eichler is gone. Some worry that using an outside funder might lead to conflicts. But an ex-Globe editor believes this is an interesting model worth exploring. My take? This is a bandaid solution that doesn’t change the demand for arts journalism. Nor does it change the model of arts journalism, which has been on a long decline. So what will have changed a year from now when Eichler is back? Speaking of breaking models: a PR firm launches a new visual arts magazine. No conflicts there…
You’re Great, We Love You, You’re Fired: So why did Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre fire artistic director Emma Rice? “Rice took charge of the London theatre in January but has come in for fierce criticism, including for her use of sound and lighting technology.” But some say it wasn’t about authenticity but how fast she was making changes. The fallout was quick, with one major funder pulling its money. Terry Teachout argues, though, that the London press’s “general meltdown” over Rice’s sacking sudden resignation as artistic director is misguided, and that the Globe’s press release was basically telling the truth. But that doesn’t mean the Globe hasn’t treated Rice badly.
Mexican, American Cities Meld Through Culture: Even amid calls by Donald Trump for building a wall at the border, the art scene in the San Diego-Tijuana megalopolis has assumed a consciously and exuberantly binational ethos. Lessons for cultural cooperation and identity through art?
As Our Machines Start Making More Autonomous Decisions, What About Accountability? The opacity of machine learning isn’t just an academic problem. More and more places use the technology for everything from image recognition to medical diagnoses. All that decisionmaking is, by definition, unknowable—and that makes people uneasy. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says we need “algorithmic accountability.” How do you second-guess decisions made by algorithms that are opaque?