Of course reviews matter. That’s easy and predictable enough for someone writing a review to say, but it can be proven. Reviews matter in two ways: as filters, and as shapers of opinion. In his 1991 book, U & I, Nicholson Baker describes “book reviews, not books” as “the principal engines of change in the history of thought”; because no one has time to read all the books they want to, reviews must sometimes stand in for the thing itself. The more contentious point, about influence, can be divided into two questions: do they influence and if so is that influence beneficial or malign?
Archives for March 2018
What is the line between art and commerce? It is an important question, given that art enjoys broader free speech protections than the latter. It’s unlikely a Nike TV spot can successfully claim to be art—but what about a painting with limited edition prints sold through a website? When does that line get crossed?
“The increase in the number of network bodies in the Creative Scotland portfolio signals an acceptance of a model of competitiveness inherited from the Thatcherite government. We quite liked pretending to be business people, but we didn’t anticipate that we would need to accept responsibility for the future of cultural delivery. It’s hard work running a successful non-profit organisation and it takes skill to get it right all the time. The priority of artistic quality can easily become lost in project managerialism.”
“I was by no means always an opera fan, and it was the singing that got me in the end. My grandmother and parents had taken me to see a couple of productions when I was younger in the hope of firing some latent interest, but it didn’t really grab me. Then, one day in my 20s, I heard a CD of my wife’s of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. I had no story to go on, no costumes, no set, no visuals at all, just a series of the most extraordinary voices singing insanely beautiful music. Hooked, I was. So hooked that all these years later I practically begged Glyndebourne to let me help present this weekend’s inaugural Glyndebourne Opera Cup competition for young singers.”
“I don’t take writing pans lightly. For one thing, I’m as thin-skinned as anyone else, and don’t enjoy being excoriated on Twitter or mocked as a theater snob or told on Facebook to just ‘relax’ – as if my being uptight were what made the show bad. … So when I get home from the theater with my notebook bristling with scribbles like ‘what is happening?’ and ‘kill me now,’ I ask myself a few questions. Was there anything at all I admired? Can I imagine why someone else might like it? Are there people I would send to the show despite my own distaste for it?”
“The result of BA courses in curating will be a bunch of 21 year olds who will be theoretically savvy, but have little idea why particular works of art have a particular resonance at a particular time. They will be around £30,000 poorer after paying tuition fees – probably more, given their living costs – and they will realistically have few immediate employment prospects in the field of curating. Still, they can probably always go on to teach on a curating course.”
“Pat Martino had brain surgery in 1980 to remove a tangle of malformed veins and arteries. At the time he was one of the most celebrated guitarists in jazz. Yet few people knew that Martino suffered epileptic seizures, crushing headaches, and depression. Locked in psychiatric wards, he withstood debilitating electroshock therapy. It wasn’t until 2007 that Martino had an MRI and not until recently that neuroscientists published their analyses of the images. Galarza’s astonishment, like that of medical scientists and music fans, arises from the fact that Martino recovered from surgery with a significant portion of his brain and memory gone, but his guitar skills intact.”
“The low status of dance in schools is derived in part from the high status of conventional academic work, which associates intelligence mainly with verbal and mathematical reasoning. The studies collected by Nielsen and Burridge explore how a deeper understanding of dance challenges standard conceptions of intelligence and achievement and show the transformative power of movement for people of all ages and backgrounds. Dance can help restore joy and stability in troubled lives and ease the tensions in schools disrupted by violence and bullying.”
British comedian Chris Addison writes about how a chance event in a bar on a beer-soaked Friday night helped turn him into an opera fan – and how the same thing could happen to most anyone. “I’ve never seen a four-pints-down crowd focus like that; there was a stillness to the place – a wonder, really – as she sang. And when she finished, they went crazy. Standing screaming crazy.”
“He rightly identifies one of the reasons behind the decline as being economic liberalism, which has led to the opening up of the Italian cultural sphere to private enterprise. He sees that it has encouraged a naive selling-out to the profit motive —as with the huge advertisements that for years defiled Venice—but he could, perhaps, have added that this has happened because the reasons for the symbiosis between the public and private sectors that exists in the UK and USA have not been understood by successive Italian governments.”
In her speech before presenting the Best Director Oscar this year, Emma Stone said, “It is the director whose indelible touch is reflected on every frame.” However, writes Ryan Gilbey, “the assumption that the director is present in every frame becomes problematic once that same director turns out to be a liability. … If the value of a movie can be attributed to a single film-maker, it becomes that much harder to argue that extracurricular misjudgments – and even crimes – can be expunged from what is on screen.”
The civil rights leader and educator Mary McLeod Bethune will be the first African American figure to be honored with a monument in the National Statuary Hall in the US Capitol. Fittingly, Bethune will replace a Confederate general.
In the first generations of television, reflecting the idea(l) of the “classless” American society, the families in sitcoms tended to be solidly middle-class: Father Knows Best, Leave It To Beaver, I Love Lucy, etc. Even the Addams family and the Munsters were middle-class, if not wealthy. (The only real exceptions were The Honeymooners and the stereotyped “ethnic” comedies The Goldbergs, Amos ‘n’ Andy, and The Beverly Hillbillies, on which everyone but the Clampetts was rich.) Sascha Cohen offers a reevaluation of how things changed after Norman Lear created All in the Family.
“Such groups are expanding their structures and missions, but for the successful artists who built them decades ago, doing so means making major changes to the way they’ve always operated. For some, it means passing the baton. The best-case scenarios emerge with input from the one person—the founder—who usually (and understandably) doesn’t want to talk about her own mortality. Still, avoiding the problem only increases the risk that one’s work will no longer be performed and philanthropic supporters will walk away.”
“Asian travellers are flocking to museums in the West to admire his artistic creations. Multi-million dollar paintings by the prolific artist have become the most sought after objects of desire among affluent Asian collectors in recent years. The reputations of other Western artists are no match to that of Picasso’s in this part of the world. Picasso is simply a synonym for Western art.” Vivienne Chow explores the reasons – which are much more than just the stratospheric prices his work commands.
“The final version of the federal budget was rolled out on Wednesday, and not only does it maintain funding levels for federal arts programs, it actually increases them. The NEA and NEH will receive $355 million in 2018 — an increase in five million from the year before. Meanwhile, $445 million has been allocated to CPB — the same total as last year.”
“How can you be a dictator without your sacred text, without a document to show your word is law?” From Lenin’s dense treatises and Hitler’s notorious memoir, through Mao’s “little red book” of aphorisms and Kim Jong-Il’s critical treatises on cinema and opera, to Türkmenbashi’s faux-folklore and Saddam Hussein’s romance novels, they just can’t stop themselves from churning out books. Colin Dickey examines the what and why.
“Amid the manifold campaigns to make classical music more accessible, less patriarchal, to take itself less absolutely seriously and to crack a smile – if not a joke – the outdated term is getting slightly grating to read. … [And] ‘maestro’ doesn’t fool anybody. If anything, it reveals a kind of uniquely fragile masculinity that sips time and again from the elixir of self-proclaiming ‘greatness’ in order to reaffirm its own status. The musicians, at least, don’t fall for it.”
“Librarianship asks you to do 12 things at once and then when you’re in the middle of those projects wonders if you’ve got any tax forms left or an eclipse viewer. It’s endless questions. It’s ‘my two dollar fine pays your salary.’ It’s a grubby little hand at storytime grabbing your leg and smearing glitter glue down the side of pants you’ve already worn twice that week. It’s finding the right answer to a question and reveling in that small joy for a bare moment before another patron comes up to ask you something even weirder.”
As the UK National Theatre’s revival of the epic opens on Broadway, Michael Schulman talks to its director – known to US audiences for War Horse and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time about the challenges and joys of staging the play and bringing to the States (and, yes, of dealing with its
notoriously difficult famously engaged playwright).
“[The suit is] on behalf of the resident Neal Morris, who is facing potential jail time over a mural painted on his private property that the city has demanded he remove. The mural, by the artist Cashy-D, depicts a quote from the 2005 Access Hollywood Tape in which US President Donald Trump brags about [you-know-what].”
“Ms. Wersba began writing in the 1960s, and her work reflected the era’s new realism in literature for younger readers with stories no longer confined to intact nuclear families and sanitized goings-on like prom nights. Some of her frank themes generated criticism; others generated praise.”
“Often, the changes being made are nearly imperceptible from the outside. … By altering funding policies, swapping artistic directors or terminating contracts, [the ruling Law and Justice party is] taking an opportunist approach that doesn’t swap out the engines of Poland’s culture industry, but changes them slowly, piece by piece, cog by cog. … The government would rather have no cultural production than anything that might not fit its values.”
As Israel lives under the most openly right-wing nationalist government in its history and as tensions rise with the Palestinians in the territories (and with many countries overseas because of the issue), both the culture ministry and many combatively conservative citizens are attacking (sometimes physically) artists, dancers, filmmakers, theater companies, and so on that breach taboos ranging from nudity onstage to the treatment of Arabs and African refugees.
“The popular website was launched by JK Rowling in 2012 after the final Harry Potter film was released and was originally conceived as a way for the British writer to maintain and grow the online Potter fandom. According to a well-placed source, Pottermore sacked a string of editorial staff over the last few days, including both senior and junior staff who were making original content for the website.”
“In the play, a puppet starts to offer a cigarette to a friend but his cough gets the better of him, which makes his voice a bit funny-sounding – eliciting peals of laughter from a roomful of a hundred schoolchildren.” Didem Tali reports on puppeteers who have adapted the traditional Burmese puppet theater yoke thay to improve public health in modern Myammar.
Paul Taylor and His Cohort
Paul Taylor American Modern Dance at Lincoln Center through March 25th.
I think I finally got it straight: Paul Taylor American Modern Dance is … read more
AJBlog: Dancebeat Published 2018-03-22
Catching Up (Well … Giving It A Good Try)
The John Coltrane project described in this post is completed and awaiting release by Concord Jazz. However,… in the next few posts we’ll call your attention to recent listening that may interest you. Some of the albums have been out a while. Others are quite new. … read more
AJBlog: RiffTides Published 2018-03-22
Why are galleries that incubate emerging talent finding it so difficult to survive? Is it simply the pressure of rising rents in expensive cities like London and New York? Or is there a wider problem? “The collectors aren’t going to galleries any more, they’re going to art fairs,” said John Martin, a dealer in contemporary art who has a gallery in the Mayfair district of London. “They’re less intimidating, more social, more convenient, and they’re open in the evenings and at the weekend,” he added. “People are time-poor.”
Calling all fundraisers: What is your favorite emerging digital fundraising tool? AMT Lab is conducting a national survey of arts organizations through April 6. Tell us about your work and in May read the report to see how you compare.
A graduate student research team at Carnegie Mellon University’s Master of Arts Management program is conducting research on Emerging Digital Fundraising Strategies for the Arts Management & Technology Laboratory (AMT-Lab). The objective is to understand how arts nonprofit organizations compare to other nonprofits in digital fundraising practice, purpose, results, and resources with respect to emerging digital tools.
The importance of this survey is that it will assess how arts organizations compare in regard to digital fundraising technology and discover what peer organizations are doing with digital fundraising technology tools to increase contributed income and donors. The results will clarify the potential of four sources:
- Text to Give
- Facebook as a Donation Platform
- Peer-to-Peer and
- Mobile Bidding for Live Auctions
Completing this survey is voluntary and none of the individual questions are required. All responses will remain completely confidential. The results will be analyzed and presented in an aggregate form and any information provided will in no way identify the individual or organization.
If an email is provided, each participant will receive a copy of the summarized survey results. The full research report will be publicly published on the Arts Management & Technology Laboratory’s website (www.amt-lab.org)
The survey takes an average of 10 minutes to complete. There is no compensation and participants must at least 18.
Click Here to Complete the Survey: http://amt-lab.org/survey/
“Gone are the days of classical repertoire standing alone and just being enough,” James Williams said. “This approach would cater for less than half the new audience that wants to learn more about the genre. Classical music for a modern British orchestra has a new name – it’s simply called orchestral music.”