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Monday, January 27


In Density We Trust For some time, many experts have been saying that high-density cities are no longer essential for business success. The internet has made it unnecessary for workers and companies to always be in close proximity. But "creative activities — whether economic, cultural or political — thrive on density. In a global economy, with uncertain markets and changing conditions, the most advanced and speculative sectors need concentrations of resources — talent, management, technological infrastructure and buildings. They need dense environments where information does not simply circulate but gets produced. The geography of the global economy consists of both world-spanning networks and these concentrations of resources, as provided by about 40 global cities." The New York Times 01/25/03
Posted: 01/26/2003 11:59 pm

A Radical Proposal - Let's Cut Copyright Terms Back Long copyrights are choking creativity, and make no sense as incentives to further creativity. "The flood of free content on the internet has shown that most creators do not need incentives that stretch across generations. To reward those who can attract a paying audience, and the firms that support them, much shorter copyrights would be enough. The 14-year term of the original 18th-century British and American copyright laws, renewable once, might be a good place to start." The Economist 01/23/03
Posted: 01/26/2003 11:56 pm

Visual Arts

The Forgotten Masterpieces A new book wonders about the wherabout of great works of art that for one reason or another disappeared and slipped from the pages of history. "Supreme among them is Michelangelo’s bronze version of David, a statue he worked on while carving his celebrated colossus of the same biblical hero." The Times 01/27/03
Posted: 01/26/2003 10:23 pm

Blockbuster Time In Queens The Museum of Modern Art opens a blockbuster "Matisse Picasso" show in a couple of weeks. But MoMA is in a much smaller space (in Queens)than its longtime Manhattan home. Crowds "promise to be larger than anything the site has yet encountered, raising inevitable questions about how visitors will move through the building without clogging it and whether they will have room to appreciate the nearly 140 works by two of the 20th century's masters." The New York Times 01/27/03
Posted: 01/26/2003 10:15 pm

Good-For-You (And The Environment) Housing A new eco-friendly energy-efficient way of building housing in Britain makes minimal impact on the environment. It's oh-so-good for you. Yet it's the style and aesthetics that win buyers. "It's ingenious: tapping into the power of the raw consumer, making eco-homes as easy to buy as an organic swede. Now, that's how real revolutions start, you see. By playing capitalism at its own game. By stealth." The Guardian (UK) 01/26/03
Posted: 01/26/2003 9:42 pm

Torture By Art Was modern art used as a torture device in the Spanish Civil War? "A Spanish art historian has uncovered what was alleged to be the first use of modern art as a deliberate form of torture, with the discovery that mind-bending prison cells were built by anarchist artists 65 years ago during the country's bloody civil war. Bauhaus artists such as Kandinsky, Klee and Itten, as well as the surrealist film-maker Luis Bunuel and his friend Salvador Dali, were said to be the inspiration behind a series of secret cells and torture centres built in Barcelona and elsewhere." The Guardian (UK) 01/26/03
Posted: 01/26/2003 9:33 pm

Asian Gallery Sells Fakes Backed By "Scientific" Claims Seattle Times reporters buy art purported to be Chinese antiques hundreds of years old from a local gallery. Turns out the art isn't hundreds of years old - it's only a few years old, practically new. "The pieces sold by Thesaurus Fine Arts are a trickle in the flood — but notable in that, unlike many fakes, they are purportedly backed by scientific evaluation. Experts say they know of no other art dealer in the United States that makes such sweeping claims on obviously phony pieces." Seattle Times 01/26/03
Posted: 01/26/2003 6:18 pm


Copyright Extension Discourages Performers The recent decision of the US Supreme Court to uphold the extension of copyright terms to 95 years might be a good thing for music publishers. Might. But it discourages performers, particularly small non-profit school ensembles, from performing music written in the past century. And that can't be good in the long run, even for publishers. Rocky Mountain News 01/26/03
Posted: 01/26/2003 5:02 pm

Wrecking The Music Business - Plenty Of Blame To Go Around So now the music industry is going to go after people who download big quantities of music. "The RIAA says somewhere out there is a person who downloaded 600 songs in a single day. That's about 40 full CDs, retail value: $720. He or she is the one the RIAA is looking for - to make an example of them and put fans on notice that downloading is a prosecutable crime. The day of reckoning nears. Consumers must face the fact that they can't get music for free forever. And the industry needs to understand that it never would have lost all those customers in the first place had it not been so consumed with greed." Rocky Mountain News 01/26/03
Posted: 01/26/2003 4:48 pm

Acoustics Vs. Democracy? "Many acousticians agree that the safest way to ensure a good sound environment for orchestral music is to emulate the old, aristocratically modeled halls of 18th and 19th century Europe: a shoebox shape, with a proscenium arch and a horseshoe of ornate boxes to diffuse the sound. The current wave of concert halls, though, favors a 'vineyard' style, featuring terraced seats rising above the stage and arrayed around its flanks and rear. This arrangement is acoustically risky (though it has also produced wonderful results in the Philharmonie in Berlin), but socially desirable. It blurs visual borders between different sections of the house and brings each seat much closer to the stage than is possible in a traditional 'shoebox,' thereby creating a feeling of intimacy even in a very big room." Newsday 01/23/03
Posted: 01/26/2003 4:19 pm

Arts Issues

Packard Foundation Cuts Back Its endowment shrinking, the Packard Foundation is following other foundations and "is announcing today a more narrowly focused mission and a 2003 grants budget of $200 million. The organization gave out $616 million in grants in 2000 and $250 million last year. 'There has been significant investment in time and energy to talk with grantees about how to move forward in what is a difficult funding environment for everyone'." San Jose Mercury-News 01/27/03
Posted: 01/27/2003 9:15 am

Arts Are More Than "Targets," "Benchmarks" and "Outcomes" Where is Scotland's vision for the arts that is creative? As far as the government goes, "the dead hand of Treasury control has fallen on the arts, subjecting it to the same criteria that it applies to every other branch of public spending. A presumption has grown up that culture can answer to 'targets' and 'benchmarks' in the same way as hospitals and schools, that unless creativity can be measured against 'outcomes' and 'deliveries' then it does not deserve to be funded." Scotland On Sunday 01/26/03
Posted: 01/26/2003 10:07 pm

La Scala-on-the-Schuylkill Philadelphia's venerable Academy of Music is reopening after the Philadelphia Orchestra moved out and a major renovation was completed. The hall looks great. And some theatre producers are enthusiastic about getting into the building. But with the touring show business down, is there enough business to justify the Academy's operation? Philadelphia Inquirer 01/26/03
Posted: 01/26/2003 4:30 pm


John Browning, 69 American pianist John Browning has died of heart failure. "Mr. Browning maintained an active solo career, if never quite at the most glamorous level, and with the name Cliburn dogging his own in many a review and article. Although he lacked nothing in bravura technique, his pianistic style was reserved, elegant and penetrating, more intellectual than overtly emotional yet eminently approachable." The New York Times 01/27/03
Posted: 01/26/2003 11:25 pm

Polarising Wynton Marsalis "At 41, Wynton Marsalis is the most famous living jazz musician, named in 1996 as one of Time magazine's 25 most influential Americans. While many jazz players have been classically trained, he is rare in straddling both worlds professionally." Yet he inspires camps of critics as well as admirers. "While friends cite his charm and humility, others find him dogmatic, and worry about the power of his patronage. Marsalis rails against a 'jazz establishment' as 'racist, ignorant and disrespectful of musicians'."
The Guardian (UK) 01/26/03
Posted: 01/26/2003 9:29 pm


Reinventing The National Theatre Nicholas Hytner appears to be reinventing London's National Theatre. And doing it quickly. Along with cutting ticket prices, he's trying to expand the National's tastes. His "particular hope is that by exploring 'the gaps between what we now call 'dance', 'plays' and 'operas',' the National can redefine musical drama. 'Somewhere along the line, "musical" became a dirty word - I want to clean it up'." The Observer (UK) 01/26/03
Posted: 01/26/2003 9:52 pm

Moscow Theatre Reopens After Last Year's Siege The Moscow theatre that was captured by Chechen rebels last year has reopened for business. "Moscow's city government provided $2.5 million to renovate the theatre, which now has a new security system and orchestra pit, and will be ready for the first show on 8 February." BBC 01/26/03
Posted: 01/26/2003 9:19 pm


The NYT And Art Coverage How will cultural coverage change at the New York Times under its new Arts & Leisure section editor? "You have a special burden when you are writing about the arts because your subject is all about creativity and narrative skill and wit and style and deep meaning, so you have to incorporate all those elements in your coverage, whether it’s straight reporting or criticism or something in between. You have to be a little showbiz about it, and I don’t mean that in a cheap or superficial way. On the one hand you are certainly not going to be competing with your subject, but you shouldn’t pale beside it either." Newsweek 01/27/03
Posted: 01/27/2003 11:28 am

Libraries Ordering Fewer Harrys Every time a new Harry Potter book comes out, kids flock to libraries to check out copies. That will be more difficult this summer. "Because of budget cuts, libraries are struggling to have enough Potter books. In New York City, for example, the number of ordered copies has dropped from 956 for the last release, 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,' to 560 for the new one." Yahoo! 01/27/03
Posted: 01/27/2003 9:22 am

Penguin Hires Ousted Random House Editor Only two weeks after she was fired by Random House, Ann Godoff has has been hired by Penguin as the president and publisher of a new book imprint. Will she bring over some of the big authors she published at Random House? "These are people who I have a longstanding relationship with and I would be surprised if we were not able to work together again at some time." The New York Times 01/27/03
Posted: 01/26/2003 11:44 pm

  • Previously: Random House Ousts Editor Random House has relieved Ann Godoff of her "duties as publisher/editor/patron saint of serious writers.
    To some, Godoff's send-off signals another loop in the downward spiral of literary publishing; to others it's strictly a business decision - the division under her guidance was not making enough money."
    Washington Post 01/17/03

Profit Shouldn't Be A Bad Word The shakeup at Random House in the past few weeks has many fuming about the health the quality book publishing business. But is that really what the message of this story is? So "the country's major publisher made no bones about what's important - profit. And, is that a bad thing? There's no reason why a quality piece of fiction can't make money, and so far, despite the schlock and superficiality found in the bookstores, publishers will continue to offer books worth reading because they sell, too." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 01/26/03
Posted: 01/26/2003 4:40 pm


Splendor Wins Sundance "American Splendor" wins the grand prize at the Sundance Film Festival. "The movie tells the story of a Cleveland file clerk named Harvey Pekar, who wrote a famous series of comic books documenting his boring life and discontented psyche." Chicago Sun-Times 01/27/03
Posted: 01/27/2003 7:36 am

The New Reality - Remaking The TV Landscape "The recent flood of reality programs such as 'American Idol,' `Joe Millionaire' and `The Bachelorette' and the number of viewers they are drawing is unprecedented. They are pulling in young people who had drifted to cable or their home computers, revitalizing the ratings fortunes of both ABC and Fox and - in some cases - putting a serious dent in the viewership for well-established comedies and dramas. The shows have become such a cultural phenomenon in this country."
San Jose Mercury-News 01/26/03
Posted: 01/26/2003 5:43 pm


Copyright "Screwup" Made Martha Graham Company Possible Again The Martha Graham Company is back performing again, only because of "the highest-profile intellectual-property screw-up in history." Graham didn't protect her copyrights properly, and after her heir Ron Protas tried to prevent the company from using Graham's work, it was discovered that some of the choreographer's most well-known work was now in the public domain. "Graham's oversight has ultimately proved to be the saving grace of both her company and her legacy." Washington Post 01/27/03
Posted: 01/27/2003 7:47 am

America's Oldest Ballet Company Turns 70 "San Francisco Ballet this year marks its 70th anniversary, which makes it this country's oldest professional ballet company. The great tradition of American ballet today boasts not only the American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet, but also vital and unique major companies from Boston to Miami, from Houston to Seattle. San Francisco Ballet paved the way, and, 70 years on, it is still a major force in American culture." San Francisco Chronicle 01/26/03
Posted: 01/26/2003 5:38 pm

The Daily Grind San Francisco Ballet gets ready to open its season. "There's a deceptively languid look to this daily class, a ritual that summons the dancers from bed five or six mornings a week. But in these easy, almost meditative early moves rests the essence of a company. Chaos and order, dissolution and harmony. It will come, this Balanchine marvel, but not without the invigorating grind of more rehearsal." San Francisco Chronicle 01/26/03
Posted: 01/26/2003 5:18 pm

All Movement As Dance - Cunningham Company At 50 "It has been 50 years since Cunningham founded his company, 61 years since he presented that first concert of his own solo dances. 'I've remained just as fascinated with movement as when I began. I see something moving, somebody do something, and I wonder, 'How could one do that (in a dance)?'" Orange County Register 01/26/03
Posted: 01/26/2003 4:23 pm

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