Thursday, August 5, 2021

ArtsJournal: Arts, Culture, Ideas


Far from Frill—Large Investments in Campus Arts Facilities May Attract Higher-Tuition Students

In the early 1990s, as a moon-eyed undergraduate at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, I often killed time between classes by straying into the Hopwood Room in Angell Hall. Named for Avery Hopwood (1882-1928), an alum and playwright whose Broadway credits include Getting Gertie’s Garter, the carpeted oasis lured few visitors—beyond faculty and students from the MFA program in creative writing. Upon entry, you met a round oak table, or what you assumed was a round oak table. Its surface was fully plastered with literary journals from every corner of the U.S.  If you were lucky, tea and cookies were on offer. Here, a visiting author might regale you and the room’s equable hostess, Andrea Beauchamp, about the travails of a literary life. It’s unlikely that the room had been advertised in the college brochures. Far better known were a series of cash prizes that old Avery had...

‘Ode to Idealism’ A Contemporaneous ‘Day of Imagination’ in Brooklyn

Contemporaneous, an ensemble of some two dozen musicians, started out at Bard College as the brainchild of a pair of undergrads. Now, more than a decade later, the ensemble is based in New York City and continues to thrive professionally. It will present its largest production to date on Sept. 18. Billed as The Day of Imagination, the program will feature three sets over a full day, four world premieres, six hours of music, and 50 artists. The founders and co-artistic directors of the group, the composer Dylan Mattingly and the conductor David Bloom, regard the event as “an ode to idealism.” It was curated through an open call for works that participants would “most like to be making regardless of traditional constraints on scale and practicality.” The program at the Irondale Center in Brooklyn will include Mattingly’s “Stranger Love,” an immersive, multimedia opera scored for 28 musicians (including three microtonal...

John Williams’ Violin Concerto No. 2: Is he raging at The Force?

So it seems. Having faced Darth Vader, John Williams is now arguing, it seems, with something more tangible — and in ways that suggest he has no fears about doing so. Or what his audience might think about it. Maybe this is me projecting my gloves-off exasperation at our COVID-dominated world, but Williams’s Violin Concerto No. 2, premiered July 24 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood, is saying a lot of things that I need to express in words but somehow cannot. Having collected numerous Grammy Awards and Oscars for his lifetime of film work, the 89-year-old Williams has written a concerto that’s far, far away from the world of grand master shots and happy endings that he dramatized in his film scores. The music seems to go where it pleases, when it wants to, sometimes for a very short period of time. Wrapping my brain around it...

Departing Philly: Timothy Rub Joins the Exodus of Major Museum Officials UPDATED

Who wants to be an art museum director? The list of major museums searching for new heads is growing, with the news that one of the leaders whom I’ve most admired over the years—Timothy Rub of the Philadelphia Museum of Art—is packing it in, effective “early 2022,” according to the museum’s press release. He’s 69 […]

Out of the Past Journalism as the Poetry of Fact

I spent most of my adult working life as a journalist. Kay Boyle, prolific author of novels and short

Melissa Ngan talks about collaboration in the arts and diversity

Melissa Ngan, President and CEO of American Composers Orchestra, discusses the importance of collaborative leadership in a diverse world.

‘Runaway’: New Folio from Cold Turkey Press

Great beauty from great despair unbends the mind. In a pointless hostile universe that is every poet’s goal. ​

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...

Ten Years

This week marks the tenth anniversary of Engaging Matters. That’s hard for me to believe. In that time this blog has had a little over 500 posts, mostly written by yours truly but also spiced up with work from some brilliant guests. When we began there was a frantic (for me) pace of two posts per week. After a few years writing that much “ate my lunch” so I cut back to one per week. Over the last two years the writing has become gradually more . . . occasional. The slowing has been largely a factor of my aging; but it is also the result of a recognition that I had presented much of the basics of my thinking about community engagement and that community engagement has gained some bit of recognition as an important element of managing arts organizations. Over the next year it is my plan to...

Meddling with Medici (Part II): “Unattainable Perfection,” Viewer Disaffection

Part I is here. For many museum visitors, the “Medici” cited in the title of the Metropolitan Museum’s current show (subtitled: “Portraits & Politics, 1512-1570”) will evoke the names of artists from the golden age of Renaissance painting in Florence, when Michelangelo, Leonardo, Botticelli and Verrocchio flourished under the aegis of Lorenzo the Magnificent. But […]

Taneshia Nash Laird shares the power of humanity in the arts

Taneshia Nash Laird, President and CEO of Newark Symphony Hall shares the power of humanity in leading arts organizations.

Dvorak’s Prophecy — “Essential Cultural History”

Kirkus Reviews, which previews books for booksellers, critics, and others in the know, has just previewed my forthcoming Dvorak’s Prophecy and the Vexed Fate of Black Classical Music.

Here and Now

The morning light takes its time  coming through the bedroom window.

Ready . . . or Not

In the Community Engagement Network’s May and June Conversations on Benchmarking Equity (See What Was Said) a good deal of time was spent on the question of when an arts organization is ready to pursue DEI initiatives. The overwhelming opinion was that just because an organization would like to be seen as equitable does not mean it was ready to begin working toward equity. Here are some indicators that an organization is not ready: When an organization is not engaged with the community (See Equity and Engagement)When there isn’t a reporting mechanism for bias/harassment in the organization.When the organization hasn’t done work to define their protected classes, i.e., those who have been historically marginalized or have faced discrimination This is not intended as an exhaustive list. These are simply samples of some of the participants’ small group conversations. These and related comments came, I believe, from a concern that many organizations’ approach...

‘Writer Directory’ Offers More Than Information

Few books have come my way as generous and wise about writers and writing as this one. The

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