ArtsJournal (text by date)

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  • Reconsidering The Point Of Translating Literature

    Translations exist only in their own time. While literature is out of time, translations are always, in the hapless plod of linear time, out of joint. – The Walrus

  • TV Pitchman Ron Popeil, 86

    Mr. Popeil’s mastery of television marketing, dating to the 1950s but spanning several decades, made him nearly as recognizable onscreen as the TV and movie stars of his era. – The New York Times

  • Cautionary Tale: How A Music Festival Went Horribly Wrong

    The new HBO film Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage offers a chilling demonstration of how greed, cultural rot, and the vagaries of crowd behavior can make a concert into a generation-defining thing for all the wrong reasons. – The Atlantic

  • Navigating The Line Between Reality And Imagination

    To perceive the outside world, our brain combines signals entering our brains through our eyes with what we expect the world to look like based on our past experiences. This means that our perception of the outside world is strongly influenced by what we believe. – Nautilus

  • How Conspiracy Theorists Learn To Believe Their Own Fake News

    When online surveyor YouGov conducted a survey asking over 8,000 US adults, “Do you believe that the Earth is round or flat?,” only 84 percent of respondents felt certain that the Earth is round. – LitHub

  • Asian Musicians On What They Really Face In The Classical Industry

    “From world-famous musicians to anonymous internet commentators, discrimination toward Asian musicians contains an ugly, common tenor: In this music, they will not replace us.” – Van

  • Scarlett Johansson Sues Disney Over “Black Widow”

    Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney over the simultaneous digital rollout of “Black Widow,” saying it breaches her contract with the company to release the film in theaters first. – Washington Post

  • …As The Dance World Returns Without Me…

    “These days, dance brings me a deep pain and pronounced lack of joy that I never fathomed it could. The excitement with which I cheer on my friends as they return to in-person performances is mixed with a bitter and, dare I say, resentful sadness.” – Dance Magazine

  • The Revolving Reputation Of Terence Rattigan, Once Britain’s Favorite Playwright

    “His fall from grace in the mid-1950s was sudden and unexpected. From the mid-1930s he’d been the darling of the West End.” Then along came the British theatre’s Angry Young Men, followed by critic Kenneth Tynan, whose savaging torpedoed Rattigan’s plays for a generation. – The Stage

  • Survey Of LA Artists Documents Instability

    The results of the survey are a snapshot of the art community’s struggle for financial stability even before COVID-19 shut down galleries and museums across the city. – Los Angeles Magazine

  • How A Newspaper Gardening Column Became A Chronicle Of Climate Change

    When Jeff Lowenfels began writing for the Anchorage Daily News in 1976, he had not expected that one day one of his readers would grow okra there. (The pod is native to Africa.) – The New York Times Magazine

  • Virtual Docents — The Best Museum Idea To Come Out Of The Pandemic?

    The Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum developed a way to provide guides when COVID kept them from coming in: visitors can stop at strategically placed monitors and talk with offsite docents in real time. Folks on both sides of the screen seem to love it. – Slate

  • Netflix CEO: The Movie Business Is In Revolution

     In four short years, Netflix has done more to reshape the way that movies are made, distributed and consumed than perhaps any other single company in the history of the film business. – Variety

  • Using Thomas Cromwell’s Papers To Reconstruct His London Mansion

    The compound at Austin Friars, known to readers of Hilary Mantel’s trilogy, was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. But a historian has used what’s survived of Cromwell’s own archives, along with later drawings and surveys, to work out a clearer idea of what it looked like. – CNN

  • About that French Culture Pass…
    The French government had the idea to give teenagers a 300 Euro credit (through a phone app) to spend on “culture”. A few limits were placed upon it – a 100 Euro maximum on online subscriptions, and any video games had to be French (trade protectionism is a given in any French cultural policy) – but otherwise the youths had a pretty free hand. And with those free hands they spend roughly half their totals on Manga. The New York Times reports:
    As of this month, books represented over 75 percent of all purchases made through the app since it was introduced nationwide in May — and roughly two-thirds of those books were manga, according to the organization that runs the app, called the Culture Pass. The French news media has written of a “manga rush,” fueled by a “manga pass” — observations that came via a slightly distorted lens, since the app arrived just as theaters, cinemas and music festivals, emerging from pandemic-related restrictions, had less to offer. And manga were already wildly popular in France. But the focus on comic books reveals a subtle tension at the heart of the Culture Pass’s design, between the almost total freedom it affords it young users — including to buy the mass media they already love — and its architects’ aim of guiding users toward lesser-known and more highbrow arts.
    So lets dig deeper into that “subtle tension”… I’m going to start with John Rawls A Theory of Justice (don’t worry, this will only take a minute). In Rawls’s liberal egalitarian ideal, equality in individuals’ “primary goods” is paramount: those goods like wealth, freedoms, political participation, that allow us to get on in the world. But he strongly rejected what he called “perfectionism”, the idea that the state ought to encourage some ways of getting on over others. It is up to each of us individually to determine for ourselves what would constitute a life well lived. A consequence of this (on which he is quite clear), is that, beyond what would be covered as a part of basic schooling for young people, there is no justification for state subsidy of the arts. It is important for people to have as equal resources as we can manage, but it’s not up to the state to direct people one way or another in terms of how they use those resources. Well, so what? But even if you want nothing to do with his moral philosophy, he raises something very important for arts policy: if we are going to depart from a world of pure consumer sovereignty when it comes to the arts, then the state is making a statement: the arts matter in a way that justifies the state trying to steer people towards it. We are not as squeamish about perfectionism as he is. Now there are many, many reasons that have been put forward about why the arts deserve public sector support: economists with their externalities, and all manner of what came to be known (maybe unfortunately) as instrumental and intrinsic benefits. But, whatever argument might be your favorite, it will provoke the question, “what sort of arts best serve the goals I have outlined?” Is life more fulfilling with an engagement with what in days of yore were referred to as the high arts? Are externalities greater for classical than for pop music? Or is it all the same, and the only thing that matters is what people like: prejudice apart, pushpin is as good as poetry; Manga is as good as Flaubert. If pleasure is the only thing that matters, then we have to ask: why restrict a transfer of funds to teenagers to culture in the first place? What if they would rather have 300 Euros for railway tickets, or some new clothes, or for some proper kitchen utensils for their first apartment? If the concern is that only teenagers from wealthier and/or more formally educated families will take part in culture, what of it, if other teenagers would really rather have funds to spend on something else? And this is the narrow path arts policy must tread: on the one side it wants to say the arts matter in a very specific way to people’s wellbeing. But it also as far as possible wants to avoid being too prescriptive. (I’ve always thought that part of the evil genius that is the arts “economic impact” claim is that it says the arts matter while avoiding any judgment over the art itself – all that matters is that money was spent, and a dollar is a dollar is a dollar). We see this tension in the Times’ story:
    Jean-Michel Tobelem, an associate professor at the University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne who specializes in the economics of culture, said that it was a laudable effort but that it would largely benefit the mainstream media. “You don’t need to push young people to go see the latest Marvel movie,” he said. There is nothing wrong with pop music or blockbusters, he stressed, acknowledging that “you can enter Korean culture through K-Pop and then discover that there is a whole cinema, a literature, painters and composers that go with it.” But Tobelem said that he was unconvinced that the no-strings-attached approach of the Culture Pass would do that, and that the app gave few incentives to engage with “works that are more demanding on an artistic level.”
    We can certainly make the judgment that Manga is just fine, and if young people prefer it to other literature, well, that’s what being young is (my own seventeen-year old tastes were not any more sophisticated). But it leaves the question: why subsidize Manga? What is meant to be accomplished here?
  • TikTok Is Hardly The First Place Where Black Dancers’ Moves Have Been Ripped Off

    Alas, the practice goes at least back to the days of jazz dance at the start of the 20th century, when the first legal battles over choreography were fought. – The Conversation

  • The Children Of Two Pathbreaking “Blaxploitation” Filmmakers Are Rescuing Their Fathers’ Work

    We can still see Melvin Van Peebles’s Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (which launched the genre) and Perry Henzell’s The Harder They Come (a reggae gangster pic and Jamaica’s first feature film), but little else they directed. Luckily, Mario Van Peebles and Justine Henzell are addressing that. – The Guardian

  • Sculptor George Rhoads, Who Sent Balls Through Elaborate Rube Goldberg-Style Contraptions, Dead At 95

    His 42nd Street Ballroom, which has mesmerized passersby for decades at New York’s Port Authority Bus Terminal, is but one of the 300 “audio-kinetic ball machines” that he created for museums, children’s hospitals, transportation hubs, and the like. – The New York Times

  • US Seizes “Gilgamesh Dream Tablet”, Will Return It To Iraq

    The 3,500-year-old artifact, covered with cuneiform writing from the “dream” section of The Epic of Gilgamesh, is part of the enormous collection of objects acquired by Hobby Lobby founder Steve Green that turn out to have been illegally looted. – Artnet

  • 2,500-Year-Old Etching Of Last King Of Babylon Discovered In Saudi Arabia

    Archaeologists found the 6th century BC rock carving of King Nabonidus, along with 26 lines of cuneiform, in the north of the country. – Smithsonian Magazine

  • Which Countries In Europe Are Using “Vaccine Passports” For Arts Venues, And How

    “Countries across Europe are extending the use of so called vaccine passports or health passes to allow for entry into bars, cultural sites or sporting events, but some countries are employing them more than others. Here’s what you need to know.” – The Local

  • A Contemporary Theatre (ACT) – Managing Director

    A Contemporary Theatre (ACT) is a groundbreaking artistic incubator where artistic ambition and civic engagement unite. ACT envisions a world where the power of theatre expands our collective understanding of community and our own humanity. Since its founding in 1965, ACT has continuously made a significant contribution to the vitality of Seattle’s downtown neighborhood and arts community. ACT was Seattle’s first theatre dedicated to producing contemporary plays and, in this commitment, made a unique and essential contribution to the city’s theatre scene. A true Seattle landmark, ACT has valued and elevated the work of local theatre artists for more than 50 years and has transformed individual lives through the power of storytelling.

    The company is committed making authentic connections with new audiences and partners, exploring insights into shared contemporary culture, and making theatre an act of citizenship that engages audiences in understanding the issues of the time. ACT believes that the arts can be a powerful agent for change in individuals, communities, and societies and supports these mission-critical endeavors through productions of new plays—including 49 world premieres—and supporting young arts organizations through professional partnerships. ACT recognizes that now is a powerful and invigorating moment of change and is seizing this opportunity to become an anti-racist, fully accessible, multicultural theatre that is truly welcoming to all. With the help of artists, staff, and others, both in Seattle and nationally, in conjunction with the demands embedded within “We See You, White American Theatre,” ACT has begun the work to reform its policies and procedures to create change at all levels of the institution.

    ACT’s home is the Eagles Auditorium Building (also known as Kreielsheimer Place), a 13-story historic building located in downtown Seattle. ACT shares ownership with Bellwether Housing, which manages 44 apartments in the building. A designated city landmark and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the building has been the home of ACT since 1996. Completed in 1925, the facility has two primary stages, the Allen Theatre, which accommodates 434 seats in the round, and the Falls Theatre, which seats 409 people. Other spaces include the 75-seat Eulalie Scandiuzzi Space, the multi-purpose 150-seat Bullitt Cabaret, and several other elegant event spaces that ACT counts among its earned revenue opportunities.

    ACT is governed by a 25-member board of trustees, led by Chair Dr. Eric Bennett. For the fiscal year ending December 31, 2019, ACT reported total revenue of $6.2 million, with approximately $2.7 million from contributions and grants and approximately $3.5 million from program service revenue. Total operating expenses were approximately $6.3 million.

    Position Summary

    An equal co-leader with Artistic Director John Langs, the Managing Director will create the artistic, financial, and institutional course that will best promote and serve ACT’s mission and values as set forth by the board. The Managing Director will commit to equity, inclusion, and diversity and translate these principles into action throughout the organization. A collaborative leader, the Managing Director will build a culture of artistic excellence, financial stability, safety, and well-being. They will excel at overcoming challenges and building internal relationships while also serving as one of ACT’s primary external ambassadors. The Managing Director will monitor and manage the organization’s financial health as well as administer all contracts with artists, unions, vendors, and other entities. This person will ensure the ACT team is supported and will embody the five main values of ACT’s culture: intentionality, playfulness, transformation, transparency, and curiosity. This individual will execute critical decision making regarding ACT’s historic facility, reinvigorate marketing initiatives with an emphasis on utilizing new technology, and fortify fundraising strategies to build contributed revenue, including a potential capital campaign.

    Roles and Responsibilities

    Strategic Vision and Leadership

    • Serve as a committed, visionary, and accessible leader for ACT with a true connection to the organization’s community of artists, audiences, and donors.
    • Provide an inspired and clear vision for the Eagles Auditorium Building and lead the staff and board in creating a strategy regarding the facility’s short- and long-term options and goals.
    • Demonstrate a collaborative leadership style in a wide range of communities and settings that inspires internal and external stakeholders to participate in ACT’s vibrant and exciting future.
    • Embrace the principles of equity, diversity, inclusion, and access to ensure an artistic and organizational culture that respects different perspectives and nurtures an environment of empowerment at all levels.
    • Leverage board members’ skills and networks to strengthen board governance in support of the organization.
    • Communicate openly, consistently, effectively, and collaboratively with staff members, artists, the board, and other stakeholders.
    • Utilize the input of audiences, staff members, board members, artists, and other stakeholders to fulfill ACT’s strategic goals and action plans.
    • Partner with the Artistic Director to ensure dynamic and diverse program offerings that create sustainable pathways for new relationships and revenue opportunities while staying loyal to ACT’s values and principles.
    • Nurture relationships with individual and institutional funders and expand the network of supporters to realize the organization’s mission.
    • Guide and support marketing and public relations plans to refresh ACT’s brand and identity and to enhance audience growth and engagement

    Relationship Building and Community Engagement

    • Lead efforts to embrace diversity and inclusion as a key element of community engagement, including but not limited to the areas of audience development, workforce vitality, board participation, vendor access, and programmatic vibrancy.
    • Represent the organization throughout the many diverse parts of the community, engaging actively with civic and organizational partners, elected officials, media, and other external stakeholders.
    • Maintain and enhance the relationship ACT has built with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, other labor unions, and collectives through collegial partnership and effective negotiation.
    • Create and maintain strong ties with community decision makers, government leaders, audiences, and the arts community, finding collaborative ways to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.
    • Affirm and grow ACT’s role in the ecosystem of a vital regional arts community with multiple constituents and develop relationships that enhance the goals of that larger community.

    Administrative and Organizational Management

    • Supervise a diverse staff to ensure audiences, artists, and community members have a welcoming and high-quality experience.
    • Maintain and expand an efficient and effective organizational structure for fundraising, programming, organizational management, fiduciary excellence, and project leadership.
    • Oversee all contracting with external agents, including the Actors’ Equity Association, Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, USAA insurance agreements, leases, rights/royalties, and vendors.
    • Foster collaboration to engage and align diverse constituents while being decisive and communicating decisions with diplomacy, empathy, and respect.
    • Provide organization-wide opportunities for staff to access the tools, resources, and training to create and sustain a culture of equity, inclusion, and justice.
    • Build self-sufficient teams through training, goal setting, and planned delegation
    • Partner with the Artistic Director to provide inspirational leadership and direction to ACT staff members.
    • Hire, train, mentor, evaluate, and create accountability measures for staff members and volunteers while actively addressing their concerns in creating a safe work environment.
    • Assess current technological resources and practices to ensure maximum efficiency and results.
    • Create a culture of continuous innovation focused on improving administrative processes.

    Traits and Characteristics

    The Managing Director will be a transformative, innovative, and strategic leader who can bring together multiple constituencies to achieve a common vision. This individual will have the ability to work in an intense environment, prioritizing tasks and responding to the needs of others with critical thinking, tenacity, and resiliency. A decisive and business-minded leader with a sense of adventure and passion for theatre, the Managing Director will be receptive to new ideas, opportunities, and innovation while effectively leveraging organizational, human, financial, and technological resources. This individual will have the capacity to discern competing priorities and embrace opportunities in a timely manner while quickly adapting during periods of uncertainty.

    Other key competencies of this role include:

    • Personal Accountability – The willingness to self-evaluate, learn from mistakes, take responsibility for personal actions and decisions, accept setbacks, look for ways to progress, and understand how obstacles impact results.
    • Diplomacy and Leadership – The capacity to listen to and understand different perspectives, handle difficult issues with sensitivity and respect, and communicate effectively across diverse constituencies and hierarchical and functional borders.
    • Resiliency – The recognition that criticism is an opportunity to improve with the ability to quickly recover from adversity, overcome setbacks, and remain optimistic when working through obstacles and challenges.
    • Flexibility – The agility to respond promptly to shifts in priorities and tasks with minimal resistance as well as accept new ideas and approaches.

    Qualifications

    A minimum of seven years of leadership experience in an innovative arts-based nonprofit organization is required. Expertise in the management of a multi-venue public events facility is necessary. A profound and demonstrated commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion, and access are required, as well as experience navigating change and inspiring a high-achieving team of creative professionals and administrators. A strong background in community-centric relationship building is needed. Possessing exceptional interpersonal skills, the ideal candidate will be creative and committed to collaboration. Proven results in fundraising and comprehensive contributed and earned revenue skills are highly desirable, along with a knowledge and passion for innovative technology. A broad range of life experience is welcome.

    Compensation and Benefits

    ACT offers competitive compensation, with a budgeted salary of $133,000 (increasing to $144,000 as of January 1, 2022) and a generous benefits package that includes health, dental, life, and short-term disability insurances, paid time-off, and paid holidays.

    Applications and Inquiries

    To submit a cover letter and resume with a summary of demonstrable accomplishments (electronic submissions preferred), please click here or visit artsconsulting.com/employment. For questions or general inquiries about this job opportunity, please contact:

    Jenna Deja, Vice President
    Arts Consulting Group
    201 West Lake Street, Suite 133
    Chicago, IL 60606-1803
    Tel (888) 234.4236 Ext. 227
    Email ACT@ArtsConsulting.com

    ACT commits to creating a more racially representative and equitable community so that it may continue to build bridges between diverse members of the community through high-quality programming.

  • Epic Labor Battle At Sydney Bookstore

    Such disputes reflect a growing recognition across the publishing industry that the prestige and attractiveness of working in and adjacent to creative and cultural sectors – and the passion of its workers – can also form the preconditions for low wages and insecure work. – The Guardian

  • Enough With The Era Of Visionary Museum Directors

    That era should be over. The director’s job is to set clear priorities for staff, to mentor, coach, and be clear-sighted about what is next; to leverage the expertise of the board; to make hard choices when needed. – Hyperallergic

  • Lessons From Shared Crises: Community Connection Matters

    As the Blitz and other collective crises have taught us, resilience is not a given and has to be managed with an understanding of peoples’ fears and wishes, including their need for connectedness. – Psyche

  • Report: Worldwide Building Of Arts Facilities Was $5.9 Billion Last Year

    Despite last year’s dip, there’s reason to think that the cultural sector is coming back strong. Even amid global uncertainty about travel, cities doubled down on investment in cultural attractions. – Artnet

  • Design Museum Gets Its 11th Director Since 2013

    Some employees said that a carousel of different directors bringing new approaches has exhausted staff, strained relationships with some artists and damaged trust in the board. Former directors described the institution’s woes as reflective of bad board governance. – The New York Times

  • Why Critics’ Opinions Matter

    “I’ll claim that my response to art is more complex than the average museumgoer’s because it’s my professional responsibility—and passion—to be as well informed as I can about what I’m looking at (and where, when, and why I’m looking at it).” – Vasari 21

  • How Matt Damon Keeps Complicating Our Ideas About Matt Damon

    “You only have to look a bit closer at Damon’s career, at the notion of Matt Damon, Movie Star we have in our heads, to see that nice might be an ingenious sleight-of-hand, an illusion of sorts. Because that darkness is there.” – The New York Times Magazine

  • American TV’s Journey In The 21st Century Has Been From Irony To Sincerity

    “Two decades ago, TV’s most distinctive stories were defined by a tone of dark or acerbic detachment. Today, they’re more likely to be earnest and direct.” James Poniewozik explores the how and why. – The New York Times

  • Spotify Now Has 165 Million Subscribers – More Than Apple And Amazon Combined

    As for the rest of Spotify’s Q2 2021, the company reported 365 million monthly active users—a growth of 22% YOY. Total revenue was €2.33 billion, or about $2.75 billion. That’s an increase of 23% YOY. – Fast Company

  • West African Talking Drums Really Can Imitate Speech, Say Researchers

    Yorùbá speech, that is. The West African language is tonal, using three different pitches, and dùndún drummers can adjust the tension on their drum heads to change pitch, stroke by stroke, to match Yorùbá syllables and words. – Smithsonian Magazine

  • Philadelphia’s Walnut Street Theatre — Under A Microscope

    “I hope that the theatre generally, will be open to the idea that when you limit yourself to doing only primarily white theatre for primarily white audiences, there is well over half the city you are excluding.” – American Theatre

  • 12th-Century Organ, By Far The World’s Oldest, To Be Reconstructed

    The pipes and carillon bells of the instrument were discovered a century ago at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Scholar-performer David Catalunya says the pipes are near-perfectly intact and that, over the next five years, he’ll make them playable again. – Aleteia

  • Choreographer Drew McOnie On What Success Looks Like

    “Success isn’t how many awards you win, or how many five-star reviews you get. Success is built on how quickly you bounce back, how you take the lessons. Everything in between is just wounded ego.” – The Guardian