The 900-seat theatre/concert hall at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (referred to with the Arabic name Ithraa) in Dhahran opened in June with two concerts by Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra to celebrate the holiday Eid al-Fitr. Ithraa, designed by the architecture firm Snøhetta and funded by the oil company Saudi Aramco, says it will present a year-round program of performances from around the world as well as music and drama by Saudi and other Arab artists.
Though his tallest tales were those he passed off as the truth, he was as popular as he was prolific, producing more than 30 volumes of prize-winning essays, plays, memoir and fiction, including La Vie devant soi, the bestselling French novel of the 20th Century. But his star faded as he aged and was further dimmed by posthumous revelations that he’d duped the Parisian literary establishment, publishing some of his most rapturously received works (La Vie among them) under a fake name.
The original budget proposal — the first budget under new Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms — called for the city to maintain its current level of arts funding at $995,000. But Bottoms lent her support to District 2 City Councilman Amir R. Farokhi’s push to more than double that figure to $2 million.
“Sometimes, rocks are more than crumbled pieces of the earth. Sometimes, they unveil clues about our planet’s ancient past or future. For archaeologists from the Antiquity of Southeastern Europe Research Centre at the University of Warsaw, the rocks in Shkodër, Albania, turned out to be the ruins of the 2,000-year-old lost city of Bassania.”
Executive Director Lane Harwell will transition from Dance/NYC this summer to join the Ford Foundation as Program Officer, Creativity and Free Expression, where he will support the foundation’s explorations of how the arts can contribute to fairer and more just societies.
“PBS is strategizing with stations on how to package national and local content into an over-the-top ‘skinny bundle,’ potentially creating an entirely new channel for the younger viewers who are willing to pay for live streaming services. That partnership deal, a first for PBS, could come within the next six months.”
“The Pasadena Museum of California Art, that Modernist beacon that has swooped above East Union Street since 2002, will close its doors at the end of the current exhibition,” according to a slightly odd vote by the institution’s directors. Columnist Larry Wilson looks at the PMCA’s unusual situation and wonders if some individuals or institution might step in.
“The song has been passed down through the generations within families both in Mexico and in the United States — at birthday parties, weddings, Mexican Independence Day parties and soccer matches. … It is also a song that lifts the spirits in times of immense tragedy. In September of last year, for example, when a catastrophic earthquake in Mexico left hundreds dead, volunteers collected food and medical equipment while singing a moving rendition of ‘Cielito Lindo.'”
Dr. Tedi Asher of the Peabody Essex Museum of Salem, Mass.: “When I first got to PEM,” says Asher, “we knew what the objective was, which was to create more compelling exhibitions for our visitors, by drawing on findings from the neuroscience literature, but we didn’t know exactly how to do that. … I see myself as very much like the mechanic. Like, how do we take all of these parts and work with them in a way that we’re facilitating engagement?”
“With more funders looking for metrics — and effective altruists asking ‘how many lives does the opera save?’ — how can arts nonprofits best make their case, especially right now, with so many urgent causes vying for donors’ attention?” Mike Scutari looks at a couple of organizations who have answers to that question.
“This choreographic competition gives emerging ALAANA (African, Latino(a), Asian, Arab and Native American) choreographers the opportunity to hone their skills creating on the Joffrey Studio Company and Academy Trainees. … The program was originally funded for just one year by the Sara Lee Corporation in 2011. Yet the artistic staff at Joffrey was committed to the cause, and not only decided to continue the program but expanded it.”
The bottom-up method is much less ambitious than the top-down kind, but it has two advantages: it makes fewer assumptions about theory, and it’s tightly tethered to data. This doesn’t mean we need to give up on the old unification paradigm, it just suggests that we shouldn’t be so arrogant as to think we can unify physics right now, in a single step. It means incrementalism is to be preferred to absolutism – and that we should use empirical data to check and steer us at each instance, rather than making grand claims that come crashing down when they’re finally confronted with experiment.
Says the 25-year-old author of the autobiographical novels The End of Eddy (about his violent upbringing as a gay kid in an impoverished French town) and History of Violence (about his rape and near-murder shortly after he arrived in Paris as a student), “I think that the more you talk and write about violence the more goodness you can create in the world.”
“‘It was beautiful. You brought your own character to the role,’ Sasson Gabay is telling Tony Shalhoub, who recently won a Tony for starring in the musical The Band’s Visit. Gabay is the Israeli actor who originated the character of the stern and melancholy police officer Tewfiq, playing the role in the 2007 film from which the musical is adapted. ‘I stole your performance,’ Shalhoub replies genially. ‘Acting is thievery.’ … We got the two Tewfiqs together to discuss why such a small film has had such impact and what the actors have learned, and can learn, from each other.”
The 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD) will include the condition “gaming disorder”. The draft document describes it as a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour so severe that it takes “precedence over other life interests”. Some countries had already identified it as a major public health issue.
By requiring Internet platforms to perform automatic filtering all of the content that their users upload, Article 13 takes an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the Internet from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users. The damage that this may do to the free and open Internet as we know it is hard to predict, but in our opinions could be substantial.
IBM’s Project Debater sparred with two world-class human debaters in front of an audience, which later ranked each debater’s performance. Based on voting, the first debate was a wash. But in the second, the computer changed the minds of nine undecided audience members, while its human opponent didn’t change any. It even cracked some self-deprecating jokes about its artificial nature along the way.
“The modern dance tree has abundant roots, and two of its thickest and oldest belong to Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn. Their Denishawn company and school in Los Angeles, which lasted from 1914 to ’29, toured the world with a new spirit of dance — barefoot and weighted, exotic and spiritual. They were celebrities of their day. Their costumes were often extravagant and the opposite of Coco Chanel’s dictum: ‘Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.’ That was the cue, at least for St. Denis, to add another bauble.”
“The pop singer’s estate, along with Columbia Live Stage, said Tuesday that it had agreed to develop a stage musical about his life, aiming for Broadway in 2020. … The book is to be written by Lynn Nottage, a playwright who has won two Pulitzers, for Ruined and Sweat. And the show is to be directed and choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, the artistic associate of the Royal Ballet in London, who won a Tony Award for An American in Paris.”
“Tuesday, the foundation announced it will invest $500,000 in Knight New Work Miami, an open call for ‘ground-breaking, innovative works of dance, theater and music.’ Choreographers, playwrights and composers based in Miami and those with with strong Miami connections are eligible to apply. The caveat: The works must premiere in Miami.”
“Last month, the Carabinieri, Italy’s military police, unveiled a cache of antiquities seized from a Roman property developer. The objects, which include two Greek vases as well as a bull’s and a horse’s head, both in terracotta, are worth €900,000, the Carabinieri’s cultural protection squad says. … But when we sent this picture to five independent experts, all of them questioned the objects’ authenticity. Although the specialists said they could not offer a definitive opinion based on a photograph, all of them expressed grave doubts.”
There’s a long tradition in India of intersex and trans women called hijras who show up at weddings and other celebrations and dance for money. Except for those special occasions, however, hijras are severely marginalized in Indian society, and many must turn to begging or sex work to survive. But one group in Mumbai has banded together to create a performing company called Dancing Queens. Reporter Priti Salian meets them.
Community engagement practitioners are frequently asked to justify their work using traditional arts marketing/development metrics: ticket sales and donations. Don’t get ahead of me. This is not a touchy-feely objection to practical outcomes. … read more
AJBlog: Engaging Matters Published 2018-06-19
The Crossing’s Month of Moderns : A masterwork is born
The great but tragic American poet Hart Crane (1899-1932) can’t help but exert a magnetic attraction to composers with his fusion of lyricism, modernism and mad, extravagant fantasy. Of course, … read more
AJBlog: Condemned to Music Published 2018-06-19
Verdi v Shakespeare? Falstaff‘s no contest
Verdi’s Falstaff seems a modern piece to me; despite its première being 1893, it feels as musically up-to-date as say, Puccini’s 1926 Turandot. Verdi knew what was up in music. … read more
AJBlog: Plain English Published 2018-06-19
El Paso, Kurt Weill, and Tornillo’s Tent City
Readers of this blog may remember my last filing from El Paso – a “Kurt Weill’s America” festival, part of the NEH-supported “Music Unwound” consortium I direct, that ignited a week of discussion and … read more
AJBlog: Unanswered Question Published 2018-06-19
“Our intention and our focus will be to try to save that building and to find a future for it but it is very, very early days.” Experts have estimated the cost of rebuilding the gutted Mackintosh Building would be at least £100 million, if anything can be salvaged at all.
“Directed by Kip Williams, this particular production … comes from Sydney Chamber Opera and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, and the performers and artistic directors are all aged in their 20s and 30s. They found one way around the gender problems of the text by reversing the roles of men and women in many scenes, including the rape scene.”
“[Leonard] Blavatnik’s company Access Entertainment, headed by Danny Cohen, the former director of BBC Television, announced it had purchased the Theatre Royal Haymarket for an undisclosed sum. … The theatre has an interesting history going back to 1720. It opened in its current John Nash-designed grade I-listed building in 1821 with a production of Sheridan’s The Rivals followed by a season which included Edmund Kean as King Lear.”