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Wednesday, April 30


New Energy Needed For Cultural Studies Cultural studies have yielded a great deal of understanding about the behaviors of those around us. "In this pervasive view, key aspects of life can best be understood by exploring the fundamental beliefs and assumptions of a culture and (in some formulations especially) the language in which they are expressed. Recently, however, the fascination with culture seems to be waning: Historians, for example, are conducting symposiums and editing volumes about "what comes next," and erstwhile culturalists are publicly bemoaning the decline of interest in relevant theory. Aside from demonstrating that humanists are not immune to faddism, the transition invites some comment about the state of cultural research more generally." Chronicle of Higher Education 04/28/03
Posted: 04/29/2003 4:28 pm

Visual Arts

Desperation Tactics At The Auction Houses The big art houses must feel as if God himself is against them: a down economy, a nasty little war, and an uncertain national mood are combining to create one of the most dismal auction seasons in years. "When times are tough, however, distress sales are often what bolster the market. It is no wonder, then, that paintings, drawings and sculptures are being sold this year by troubled companies like Vivendi, Enron and Idemitsu Kosan, Japan's second-largest oil refiner." Still, catalogs are distinctly thin this spring, and everything in the art world seems to be on hold. The New York Times 04/30/03
Posted: 04/30/2003 6:18 am

Nazi Loot Suit Can Go Ahead Suing a foreign government is a tricky proposition, with all sorts of legal hurdles to be cleared before a filing can even take place. So Maria Altmann has learned in her battle to get back six Gustav Klimt paintings looted from her family's collection by Nazis in World War II and currently in the possession of the Austrian government. This week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Altmann's suit can go forward in a U.S. court, and closed the door on any further stalling tactics by the Austrians. Austria has one appeal still available to it - the U.S. Supreme Court - but no decision has been made on whether such an appeal will be filed. Los Angeles Times 04/30/03
Posted: 04/30/2003 6:06 am

A Bit Of Revisionism At The Gardner "Most museums celebrate centennials by trotting out their signature masterpieces, staging blockbusters, and campaigning for significant new acquisitions. [Boston's] Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum can't do any of those things. The masterpieces are already up, displayed in the permanent installation dictated by the founder. There's no room for a blockbuster. Mrs. Gardner's will prohibits the museum from adding to the collections. So the museum celebrates its 100th year with 'The Making of the Museum: Isabella Stewart Gardner as Collector, Architect & Designer,' a show that attempts to rebrand her as a pioneer in the museum world, as opposed to a loose cannon in Brahmin society." Boston Globe 04/30/03
Posted: 04/30/2003 5:45 am

Why Selling Art Online Didn't Work With the closing of Sothebys.com this week, art selling on the internet is deemed a failed idea. "What happened? With other Internet sales skyrocketing, why did no one - not even the powerful Sotheby's - succeed in flogging enough Warhol paintings and Chippendale chairs on the World Wide Web to make a decent profit? Because it is a losing battle: Everything that makes art compelling is blunted by the virtual, one-click world of the Net." OpinionJournal.com 04/30/03
Posted: 04/29/2003 11:13 pm

Why They Love Saatchi Charles Saatchi's new gallery is a big success. "More than 4,000 a day have passed through the wood-panelled monument to civic bureaucracy since it opened to the public on 17 April, turning one man's fancy into one of the must-sees on London's tourist map. It was always bound to be a hit. The Saatchi name is a bigger brand than any that Charles ever represented in his advertising days. The gallery is its latest, logical manifestation, embracing some of the most iconic objects of the end of the 20th century. All that remains to be resolved is whether it can live up to its own exquisite hype." London Evening Standard 04/29/03
Posted: 04/29/2003 5:52 pm

Nashashibi Wins Beck's Prize Rosalind Nashashibi has become the first woman to win the Beck's Futures Prize - one of the art world's richest. Her entry was a black and white film of senior citizens rummaging through a jumble sale. "Her four 16mm films were billed as explorations of cultural displacement." BBC 04/29/03
Posted: 04/29/2003 4:55 pm

Rijksmuseum Closed After Asbestos Scare Amsterdam's famous Rijksmuseum has been closed for an indefinite period after asbestos was found in the building during an inspection. BBC 04/29/03
Posted: 04/29/2003 4:49 pm

Iraq Museum Director Describes "Crime Of The Century" The director of Iraq's National Museum goes to London to describe what happened to his museum. "The looting was the crime of the century, Dr Donny George told representatives from some of the world's leading museums at a meeting in London. The meeting, at the British Museum, saw photographs of the vandalism and heard that many of the 170,000 items in the collection had vanished. The aim of the London summit was to decide what can be done by the international community to restore Iraq's devastated heritage." BBC 04/29/03
Posted: 04/29/2003 4:44 pm

  • Recovering Iraqi Art Loot - What's Next... "Unesco is to send a team of eight experts to Iraq to make an assessment of the situation and devise a plan for the next stage in the salvage operation. It is also calling on the UN Security Council to pass a resolution which would place an immediate embargo on all Iraqi cultural goods. This would also include the return of goods to Iraq that may have already entered the market. The UN organisation will then compile a database with all the archives, lists and inventories relating to Iraqi heritage." BBC 04/29/03
    Posted: 04/29/2003 4:36 pm

Archaeologists Find Gilgamesh Tomb? A German team of archaeologists believe they have discovered the 2,500-year-old ancient tomb of Gilgamesh. The "expedition has discovered what is thought to be the entire city of Uruk - including, where the Euphrates once flowed, the last resting place of its famous King. 'I don't want to say definitely it was the grave of King Gilgamesh, but it looks very similar to that described in the epic'."
BBC 04/29/03
Posted: 04/29/2003 3:49 pm


Florida Orchestra: Good Prospects, But Ugly Numbers The Florida Orchestra has a new incoming music director, a new associate conductor, and a revitalized artistic vision. But it also has the same fiscal stresses being faced by nearly every other professional orchestra in North America. On a budget of $8 million, the Tampa-based Florida Orchestra (not to be confused with the Florida Philharmonic, which is based in Fort Lauderdale and has been warning of impending bankruptcy,) is expected to run a $1 million deficit this season. No one is pushing the panic button just yet, but like so many other non-profits, the orchestra's leaders fear that their organization will not survive much longer without a serious resurgence in the national economy. St. Petersburg Times 04/30/03
Posted: 04/30/2003 6:25 am

Will Apple's Music Service Be A Killer App? So Apple's getting into the music download business. At first look, "the integration between the one-click purchase service, Apple's iTunes music jukebox software and the iPod player goes well beyond what any other music service has done. It will genuinely make paying for music online easy, even an impulse buy, and artists and music labels see that as a big step forward. Label executives privately say the Apple service is an experiment, which could be expanded if it proves successful. Apple's small market share means that the stakes are relatively low." CNet 04/29/03
Posted: 04/30/2003 5:40 am

  • Why Kazaa Isn't Worried About Apple "Will Apple's new paid music service put a dent in free file-trading services like Kazaa and Gnutella? No, because most files being traded on [peer-to-peer file-swapping] sites aren't music files at all. Surprise -- they're porn." Wired 04/30/03
    Posted: 04/30/2003 5:35 am

The Industry Gets Direct The recording industry is taking its anti-piracy message directly to song-swapping consumers, sending notices to thousands of file-traders informing them that they can be easily identified and prosecuted if they continue to download copyrighted material without paying. The warnings are the latest salvo in a strange and disjointed campaign against piracy by the large record companies, and come in the wake of a court's recent decision that file-trading services may not be held liable for the actions of their customers. BBC 04/30/03
Posted: 04/30/2003 5:19 am

  • Italy Gets Tough On Pirated CDs Italy is cracking down on counterfeit music recodings. "Street vendors could be fined 103 euros (70) for every pirate copy they sell and may also face between six months and three years in prison. Buyers of illegal CDs, who up until now have gone unpunished, will be fined 154 euros (106) if caught buying illegal CDs and repeat offenders could be hit with a fine of 1,000 euros (700) when the new law is introduced on Tuesday. Italy has one of Europe's largest counterfeit markets and the music industry estimates that one in four compact discs sold is pirated." BBC 04/29/03
    Posted: 04/30/2003 5:15 am

Savannah Symphony Files For Bankruptcy The Savannah (Georgia) Symphony, which was unable to meet its payroll in January and hasn't performed since, has decided to file for bankruptcy. The orchestra owes $1 million it can't pay. Savannah Morning News (Georgia) 04/26/03
Posted: 04/29/2003 4:38 pm

Arts Issues

NJ Arts Supporters Fight Funding Cuts New Jersey arts supporters flood the state capital as debate begins on cutting or eliminating arts funding. "Altogether, funding for art groups and historical programs accounts for about $40 million each year. With the money, the groups maintain they are able to provide education programs and support to local historical groups. The cultural and arts money also is used to fund groups such as theater troupes and even print books. Proponents maintain the money is repaid to the tune of $1 billion each year. At issue is the economic effectiveness of the programs." Bridgeton News (New Jersey) 04/29/03
Posted: 04/29/2003 3:25 pm

Investigators Probe $1 Million Salt Lake Arts Funding Irregularities Salt Lake County investigators are looking into charges of "$1 million of allegedly misspent taxpayer funds in the county's Center for the Arts Division. Officials admit the investigation has uncovered more than $1 million in discrepancies, blaming most of it on shabby accounting practices. Whistle-blowers have also alleged, however, the unauthorized taking of equipment from county facilities and liberties taken on expense reports for entertaining and other questionable spending practices." Salt Lake Tribune 04/27/03
Posted: 04/29/2003 3:15 pm


Laura Greenday-Ness, This Is Your Life! Oh, Wait, No, It Isn't. This much we know is true: Laura Greenday-Ness is the head of a small music school in a Dallas suburb. But nearly everything else in the Texas composer's resume appears to be patently false. According to her school's promotional materials, Greenday-Ness is a two-time winner of the national Composer of the Year award, is in residence with the Dallas Symphony, and has written for the Boston Pops, Chicago Symphony, and Philadelphia Philharmonic. Reality check: there is no such award; no one at the orchestras in Dallas, Boston, or Chicago has ever heard of her; and there is no such orchestra as the Philadelphia Philharmonic. Dallas Morning News 04/29/03
Posted: 04/30/2003 5:27 am

Moving On - Frank Stella Frank Stella is "probably the world's most famous living abstract artist. He is 70 years old and on the short side, but he has a sweeping, imperious manner. He was born in Massachusetts and studied at Princeton University. His frequent pronouncements about art are flavoured by a generous dollop of intellectual pride, which goes strangely with his high-pitched New York voice - comedic shades of Woody Allen or Joe Pesci. 'I only really care about the immediate impact that art has on you," he says. "I like all the other things that go after, but I can't help it, I go by the first hit'." The Telegraph (UK) 04/30/03
Posted: 04/29/2003 6:03 pm


Boston Theatre Plans On Track Boston's theatre space crunch may be eased a bit next year, if all goes according to plan for a local troupe. The Huntington Theatre Company announced yesterday that it is halfway to its fundraising goal to build two new theatres in the Boston Center for the Arts complex. One of the new theatres would seat 360, the other 200, making them a welcome addition to the Boston scene, which has lacked adequate small and mid-sized venues for years. Boston Herald 04/30/03
Posted: 04/30/2003 5:51 am


Poetry's Popular - But Not Some Poetry... "The great tradition of English poetry has become an almost exclusively academic interest. The days when every literate household contained a copy of Palgrave's Golden Treasury are long gone. Spenser, Sidney and Milton don't benefit from popularity-boosting costume dramas. They demand a sort of concentration we are reluctant to give - you can't read them in the bath or on the train. Even the more accessible Romantics, such as Coleridge and Shelley, engage us more as psychological cases than as versifiers. The idea of a poet is more alluring than the idea of a poem. We're a cynical, materialistic lot, and we want language to be functional, not fanciful. Yet at a shallow level we consume more poetry than ever before." The Telegraph (UK) 04/30/03
Posted: 04/29/2003 6:00 pm

Language Police - Sensitizing Away All The Juice "In 'The Language Police', Diane Ravitch a historian of education at New York University and the author of "Left Back," a 2000 book about failed school reform provides an impassioned examination of how right-wing and left-wing pressure groups have succeeded in sanitizing textbooks and tests, how educational publishers have conspired in this censorship, and how this development over the last three decades is eviscerating the teaching of literature and history. The 'bias and sensitivity reviewers' employed by educational publishers, she argues, 'work with assumptions that have the inevitable effect of stripping away everything that is potentially thought-provoking and colorful from the texts that children encounter,' and as a result, school curriculums are being reduced to 'bland pabulum'." The New York Times 04/29/03
Posted: 04/29/2003 3:59 pm

Dick Lit - Oh, The Tales I Could Tell... "A new brand of literature has arisen to feed the 20-something guys' need to read. An antithesis to Chick Lit, this hot new typology has been dubbed Dick Lit by pundits and the British press. The term implies if the penis could talk it'd tell a travelogue's worth of tawdry tales of the places it has been. The common thread, however, is not the search for sex, but success." Toronto Star 04/29/03
Posted: 04/29/2003 7:59 am

Harry By-The-Numbers "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix goes on sale June 21 with a record printing of 8.5 million copies. Priced at $29.99, it is 896 pages long, has 36 chapters and 255,000 words. The not-so-simple questions: Is 'Phoenix,' the most expensive children's novel, priced too high? Will there be sticker shock? Will children read a book 896 pages long? Will libraries be able to afford enough copies in an era of budget cuts?" New York Daily News 04/29/03
Posted: 04/29/2003 6:59 am


NY Times Writer May Have Copied The allegations are fairly common these days, but when it's the New York Times being fingered, everyone is understandably cautious about flinging around ugly words like 'plagiarism.' Still, there does seem to be a problem with a story the Times published recently about a Texas woman whose son is missing in action in Iraq. Many of the details of the Times story are identical or strikingly similar to details which appeared in a San Antonio paper days earlier. The Times says it is investigating internally, and stresses that it does not tolerate plagiarism in any form. Washington Post 04/30/03
Posted: 04/30/2003 6:41 am

Toronto's Film Industry Going Elsewhere "It's shaping up to be a hard summer for Toronto's $3-billion film and television industry as at least two Hollywood movies and one series that were to be shot in the Ontario capital have either relocated to other cities or been postponed." The SARS outbreak has hurt, of course, and the recent CBC funding cuts mean that fewer film and TV shoots are being scheduled overall, but other cities in Canada and the U.S. have learned from Toronto's example of how to draw Hollywood to their doorstep, and are nabbing some productions right out from under Toronto's nose. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 04/30/03
Posted: 04/30/2003 6:01 am

Beating On, Boats Against The FCC Current Sometimes, it seems as if the battle against corporate domination of the media is a futile one, waged by a few hardy souls who simply don't know when they're beat. And it may be true that the fight for radio as a useful public medium (as opposed to a cash cow for giant conglomerates) has already been lost to the likes of Clear Channel and the ex-CEOs currently running the FCC. But to some activists and consumer advocates, the issue is so important that they simply cannot back down, even in the face of almost-certain defeat. Boston Globe 04/30/03
Posted: 04/30/2003 5:38 am

Coming Up Next... "Television has become obsessed with telling us what is coming up next. Hardly any programme is allowed to approach its conclusion without suffering the rude interruption of an over-loud voiceover, laboured link or fancy graphic signalling the arrival of whatever is due to follow the closing credits. It is as if the viewer is being urged to fixate on the imminent future at the expense of the present: not so much of 'carpe diem' as 'carpe the next diem'." Financial Times 04/29/03
Posted: 04/29/2003 5:39 pm

Tough New Makeover At Disney Animation Animation has been a driving force behind Disney's theme parks, retail stores, movies and TV shows. It also has become one of the company's most confounding problems. The animation division has suffered through three chiefs in four years. Along the way have come wrenching layoffs, deep cost cuts and the studio's biggest flop ever, last year's 'Treasure Planet.' Although still considered the market leader in animation, Disney has lost ground to rivals, especially DreamWorks SKG." So on Monday, a new boss of animation "roiled the ranks when he told a gathering of 525 animation employees that he wants them to produce lush, classic fairy tales - perhaps 'The Snow Queen' or 'Rapunzel' - entirely on computers. His vision was greeted with dropped jaws by the roomful of artists steeped in the traditional style of hand-drawn animation pioneered by Disney." Los Angeles Times 04/29/03
Posted: 04/29/2003 3:45 pm


Feld Shuts Down Company For 2003/04 Eliot Feld's Ballet Tech is suspending operations for the 2003/04 season, citing difficulty in raising money. "The suspension is the first among major American dance companies as they try to cope with the troubled economy. "There has been a general consolidation within many of the companies. Companies have shortened seasons and downsized dancers. Middle-size companies like Mr. Feld's, which has 14 dancers and a budget of $4 million, appeared to be struggling the hardest." The New York Times 04/29/03
Posted: 04/29/2003 7:28 pm

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