2005 national arts news archive
Chicago's Millennium Cultural Gamble
Chicago's new Millennium Park is a hit with critics and the public. "In many minds, the vibrant new downtown park represents a spectacular and vital transformation of a city's core, and a populist tide that, especially given all the rhapsodic national press that has flowed its way, cannot help but raise all local cultural boats. But there's a downside. The construction of Millennium Park ate up a whopping $200 million in local arts philanthropic dollars. And it's seeking still more donated money in 2005 to fully establish its ongoing conservancy. Some are starting to suggest that the local moneybags are in danger of being tapped out."
Chicago Tribune 01/02/2005
Predicting What Tickets You'll Buy
John Elliot is getting attention for his direct marketing analysis of arts audiences and how likely they are to buy tickets for a given show. He has "detailed computer analysis of consumers' purchasing patterns and statistical models to track down the most likely ticket buyers for cultural district shows. His secret weapon? A database of 425,000 households based on 14 years' worth of ticket sales."
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 12/30/2004
The Arts Audience: Last-Minute Buyers
The ticket-buying habits of arts groups are changing. "Across the board, concerts in general, everyone is waiting longer to buy tickets than five years ago. It used to be, you had a window that started six weeks out. Now, that's shrunk to three or four weeks, and you see a lot of sales in the week before the concert occurs. The trend creates several problems for performing-arts groups..."
Philadelphia Inquirer 12/30/2004
SF Film Industry Contracts
San Francisco's film industry is suffering. Cutbacks at postproduction facilities owned by local luminaries Francis Ford Coppola and Saul Zaentz have illuminated the struggles of the Bay Area to reassert itself as a filmmaking hub.
San Francisco Chronicle 01/03/2005
Reinventing American Radio
American radio has been stagnant for a few years. So how to revive? "The nation's biggest radio companies are responding to a grousing and mercurial audience by cutting the number of commercials per hour, expanding the range of music played on the air and experimenting with new formats."
Washington Post 01/02/2005
Plan: Create Iowa Public Radio System
A report endorsed by Iowa's three public radio licensees recommends that the state's three major stations combine into a statewide system. "The study found that lack of cooperation and overlapping broadcast areas cause the university stations to lag behind pubradio’s national performance in audience and fundraising. 'Each has probably reached its full potential as a totally independent university station. Public radio in Iowa has not reached its full potential, however'.”
What's Wrong With The Way We Teach Music?
"In the music education of our young, listening—truly active processing and internalizing of sound—is not valued. And we are paying the price for this when audiences—and the composers they all too often come to dread—are not able to hear what is before them. In its passive stead, audiences seem more tuned out than in, experiencing a general wash of comfort or discomfort seemingly tied neither to thought nor feeling, process nor program."
The Music Stops In St. Louis
Management called it a strike; the union called it a lockout. But whatever the terminology, for the moment, the music has stopped. Management's last offer was for around $72,000 this season - less than the $73,900 the players are making now." At a meeting of musicians "there was no pontification (from the floor); people just got up and said, 'I'm really sad, but I can't accept it.' We need to maintain our position of parity (with comparable orchestras), and we can't be bankrupt. We need to be able to afford things we've invested in, like instruments and houses and education and all of that."
St. Louis Post-Dispatch 01/04/2005
Music In Time And Place
"Today, the environments that music occupies have gotten either very small or very large: the isolation chamber of headphones or the anonymity of the stadium. Live, unamplified music still exists in the cloistered precincts of the concert hall; local bars soldier on and dance clubs still find new ways of embroidering a heavy beat. But for much of the world, music has become either a solitary experience or a form of mass ritual. Yet the history of music is inseparable from the history of places where people gathered."
Cleveland Institute Gets Into The Radio Game
The Cleveland Institute of Music is launching a new weekly radio show on WCLV. 'Each show will explore the work of an artist or delve into a musical topic in-depth. CIM described the series in a news release as a combination of great music, interesting guests and slightly off-the-wall commentary."
The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 12/29/2004
Up Next: Rockers For Senate File 2347.63!!
Back in the 1960s, you couldn't swing an acoustic guitar without hitting a folk musician singing a protest song about something that was bugging him, usually something pretty specific. These days, overtly political music is rare, and specific issue-oriented songs are usually eschewed in favor of broader-themed anthems trumpeting such controversial concepts as peace and justice and brotherhood and so on. But a new CD released by aging folkies and frustrated teachers is taking direct aim at the Bush Administration's controversial No Child Left Behind Act, with proceeds going to fund an alternative school that has been hurt by the act's reforms.
The Christian Science Monitor 12/28/2004
A Venue As Big As NYC
"The announcement that former Dublin Fringe director Vallejo Gantner has been named P.S.122's artistic director has quieted fears about the East Village institution's future. But what will Russell—one of the city's most visionary performing arts curators, the man who fostered the careers of John Leguizamo, Eric Bogosian, Spalding Gray, and Danny Hoch—do without a venue to program? Why, program the city, of course..."
Village Voice 01/04/2005
Theatres Find New Income Source On Ebay
Some theatres are finding they can raise real money auctioning off items on Ebay, where fans are happy to bid on props and costumes that have been used in shows. "From live auctions to black-tie balls, fundraisers are a necessity for most arts organizations. But using the enormously popular eBay electronic marketplace to augment ticket sales and local philanthropy is a new wrinkle. It is a different way to connect with the world of people who support the theater, who write an annual contribution, and to reach a larger audience."
Washington Post 12/28/2004
Art For Your TV
Flat screen high-definition TVs are becoming popular. But there still isn't a lot of programming to take advantage of the screens. So one company is introducing the GalleryPlayer. "It will allow subscribers to purchase and display high-resolution digital images of "museum-quality" art and photos on their high-definition digital TV displays."
Central Park "Gates" Begin Installation
Installation of Christo and Jeanne-Claude's "The Gates" in Central Park has begun. "The $20 million project, a quarter-century in the making and financed by the artists, will go on full view on Feb. 12 and remain until Feb. 27. It is expected to attract thousands of art lovers from around the world. The artists are trying to create "a visual golden river appearing and disappearing through the bare branches of the trees, highlighting the shapes of the footpaths," according to a brochure explaining the project. The color was chosen to cast a warm glow over the park at a gray time of year."
The New York Times 01/04/2005
Art Of The Moment (After The Moment Has Passed)
"Art made from obviously impermanent materials that is being painstakingly preserved; art made to stay shiny and new that is being treasured for its age; art challenging the notion of originality that is being scrutinized for that quality; once-standard, off-the-shelf materials that are now hard to find; collectors who cling to a piece of paper that proves their dated light fixture is worthy of a museum, not a recycling bin; and caretakers of a reputation who make decisions that they readily admit run counter to the artist's original intentions. Such is the strange afterlife of work that produces beauty from the banal, an object lesson in how the legacy of a strong-willed radical can be brought to heel by an even stronger force, the market."
The New York Times 01/02/2005
The Big Business Of Investing In Art
"With its yearly sales now reaching an estimated $10 billion in the United States alone, art has quite literally become big business. While money invested in the stock market's S&P 500 Index -- a conservative bet on Wall Street's top 500 companies -- has earned an annualized 11 percent return over the past decade, that same money sunk into the contemporary art market would have produced a whopping 29 percent return."
Miami New Times 12/30/2004
LA Man Arrested In Art Scam
An LA man has been arrested for selling fake art attributed to artists such as Mary Cassatt, Marc Chagall and Roy Lichtenstein." A 66-year-old Mission Viejo doctor managed to generate interest among potential buyers in his collection, primarily of modern masters — a collection that turned out to be bogus."
Los Angeles Times 12/29/2004
Is Progress Killing The Boutique Museum?
Can museums based on one person's vision really survive effectively once that one person is no longer around? The Barnes Museum's pending move is only the latest in a long line of single-collector museums struggles to stay relevant (and solvent), and one could question whether total reinvention is really an effective tool. "Every museum doesn't have to be a major tourist attraction, and people who really want to see the Barnes usually can, with some planning. Some museums -- the Miho outside Kyoto for one -- are valued in part because of the sheer challenge of reaching them, which becomes a sort of pilgrimage."
Boston Globe 12/29/2004
In Praise Of The Parking Garage
Like all buildings, a parking garage can either bring vitality to a city or suck the energy right out of it. There is, of course, the eyesore garage we all know and despise, the three-dimensional cash station for the garage owner that assaults passersby with crumbling concrete and stark fluorescent lights. Yet there also are parking garages with ground-floor shops that enliven sidewalks, and facades that acknowledge that people look at garages as well as drive into them."
Chicago Tribune 12/28/2004
Steinbeck's Hometown Shuts Libraries
John Steinbeck's hometown of Salinas, California has decided to close down its libraries. "Earlier this month, council voted to shut down its three libraries by spring 2005, after residents rejected in November a number of tax increases aimed at funding city services."
Associated Press 12/29/2004
What The Arts Mean To Students
"Students with high levels of arts participation outperform "arts-poor" students in virtually every important measure. We only recently have begun to document the impact of the arts on teaching and learning. But re search has linked arts-based education to the development of basic cognitive skills, skills used to master other subjects such as reading, writing and mathematics."
The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 01/02/2005
Plugged In - How The Internet Has Impacted Artists
How has the internet changed the way artists do their work? "The first large-scale surveys of the internet’s impact on artists and musicians reveal that they are embracing the Web as a tool to improve how they make, market, and sell their creative works. They eagerly welcome new opportunities that are provided by digital technology and the internet."
Pew Internet & American Life Project 12/05/2004
State Department Funds International Cultural Exchange
The U.S. State Dept has announced a competition for international cultural exchange. The grant supports exchanges between arts organizations in the U.S. and overseas. The competition is expected to award 5-10 grants totaling $1 million. Due to the low number, these grants will be extremely competitive and the deadline for applications is February 15th.
U.S. State Department 01/04/2005
Between Madness And Art
"I've never believed there is anything more than a coincidental relationship between madness and making art. For every self-mutilating van Gogh, there's a sane, mild-mannered Matisse. Artistic creativity arises from a variety of fluid inner equations; the old image of artists producing masterpieces in some sort of possessed frenzy is far more common in movies than in life. In actuality, making art is a respite from inner demons. Sanity is necessary for the strategy, planning, and trial and error needed to bring a good artistic idea to fruition."
Philadelphia Inquirer 01/09/2005
Atlanta Arts Exec Salaries Raising Eyebrows
Atlanta's two largest arts organizations, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the High Museum of Art, have been slashing budgets and negotiating wage freezes in recent years, desperately working to balance their books. But the fiscal austerity apparently doesn't extend to the executives in charge of the troubled arts groups: High Museum director Michael Shapiro's salary has jumped $155,000 since 2000, and ASO President Allison Vulgamore's pay has ballooned from $275,000 to $440,000 in the same period.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution 01/09/2005
Promoting The Arts Takes A Backseat To Controversy
“San Diego's cultural tourism program – an aggressive effort to promote the arts community and its creativity as a tourist destination – isn't quite what it used to be. About a year ago, the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau shut down its cultural tourism office, and its manager, Rick Prickett, moved to Hawaii... A city audit of ConVis' finances took issue with bonuses, car allowances and how ConVis spent money on entertaining clients... Amid the controversy, the bureau's budget was slashed by more than 20 percent and it was stripped of responsibility for marketing the San Diego Convention Center."
San Diego Union Tribune 01/09/2005
Fort Worth's Bass Hall Turns It Around
Fort Worth's Bass Performance Hall has taken a $750,000 deficit in 2002-2003 and balanced its books for the most recent season...
Fort Worth Business Press 01/07/2005
How The Rockettes Stole Christmas
This was the first year in Boston for the touring Radio City Christmas Spectacular, and now that the holiday dust has cleared, local arts groups are reporting that everyone's fears about the touring Rockettes were entirely justified. "Business was down at the Boston Pops, Handel and Haydn Society, Revels, and Boston Ballet... The Boston Symphony Orchestra, the corporate entity that oversees the Pops, canceled three Holiday Pops concerts because of slow ticket sales," and the ballet, which was booted from its traditional home to make way for Radio City, reported disappointing ticket sales for its revamped and Nutcracker. Meanwhile, the Rockettes sold 200,000 in less than a month.
Boston Globe 01/06/2005
Saving An Indie Underdog, With Help From Goliath
"The Boyd Theatre, Philadelphia's last movie palace, is to be saved under a deal that will allow Clear Channel to stage concerts, musicals and Broadway-sized productions there, [the city's mayor] is to announce today... Clear Channel emerged in the fall of 2003 as the angel that would help Goldenberg rescue the once-grand art-deco theater."
Philadelphia Inquirer 01/05/2005
Rockwell On Dance
Longtime New York Times arts writer John Rockwell is preparing to take on a new position as the Grey Lady's chief dance critic, and he sees much to recommend a corner of the arts world which seems always to be on the edge of fiscal collapse. "Dancers are paid less than other performing artists. Dance companies, even the big ballet troupes, must furiously run in place, like terpsichorean hamsters, just to sustain themselves. But that means dancers do it for love, not fame or fortune, though some are famous, and a very few earn modest fortunes. Dance critics can still cover any and all forms of dance without feeling that they're sullying themselves."
The New York Times 01/09/2005
More Pay Cuts Loom in Pittsburgh
The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre is seeking a pay cut from its pit musicians for the third time in three years, in a desperate effort to balance a budget which has been swimming in red ink in recent years. The situation was exacerbated by disappointing ticket sales for the company's 2004 Nutcracker performances, after which PBT asked the musicians to reopen their contract, which officially expires in summer 2005.
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 01/06/2005
Deficit Forces Cuts In Salt Lake
Utah-based Ballet West has announced its intention to make big cuts in its performance schedule and company size in order to compensate for three years of red ink. The company "will drop its poorly attended fall repertory program, and begin its 2005-06 season with The Nutcracker next December. Other cuts include a reduction from 40 to 35 dancers, and a trim to artists' contracts from 38 weeks to 35."
Salt Lake Tribune 01/05/2005
The Rambert Dance Company is producing a new work based on Einstein's theory of relativity. "The work is the inaugural choreographic piece from Rambert artistic director Mark Baldwin and was commissioned by the Institute of Physics. A professor of physics is working with Baldwin to advise on the technical aspects of the work."
New York Offers Tax Breaks To Film Productions
New York's film industry is tired of seeing productions set in New York filmed elsewhere - like Canada. So the Big Apple is copying other cities and offering tax breaks for producers. "The new tax credits for New York state and New York City send a clear message to Hollywood producers that film and television shows about New York should be filmed in New York."
Back Stage 01/06/2005
America's Newest Orchestra Has A Season
"The Boca Raton Philharmonic Symphonia has announced the schedule for its inaugural 2005-2006 season, and a very impressive one it is. The new chamber orchestra, composed largely of former Florida Philharmonic members, will offer five concerts that serve up a bracing and imaginative mix of the familiar and adventurous."
The Sun-Sentinel (South Florida) 01/09/2005
Kentucky Opera Ditches Orchestra For Students
Kentucky Opera drops the Louisville Orchestra for performances of its next production in favor of using students from the University of Louisville. Why? The company explains that "scheduling conflicts made it difficult, if not impossible, to use the orchestra for this particular production, which involves parallel student and professional casts. When you are rehearsing two casts you have a lot of orchestral rehearsals, and there were several services where (the Louisville Orchestra) would be unavailable because of contractual restrictions." But an Louisville Orchestra spokesperson expressed surprise at the decision...
Louisville Courier-Journal 01/09/2005
Pittsburgh Symphony Decides Against European Tour
For the second year in a row, the Pittsburgh Symphony has decided not to tour Europe. "The PSO never signed contracts for the tour -- therefore it didn't officially cancel -- but the tour was listed as being in development for almost a year on the Web site of European concert promoter Hans Ulrich Schmid. It was to include stops in Italy, Slovenia and Austria."
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 01/07/2005
Anatomy of a Work Stoppage
At the heart of the dispute between the St. Louis Symphony's managers and musicians are the dueling issues of fiscal sanity and competent oversight. The SLSO flirted with bankruptcy in 2000, a financial crisis brought on by years of dipping into its endowment and mismanaging the money on hand. In the years since that low point, the organization has raised $130 million, bolstered its endowment, and paid off a lot of debt. The musicians, who accepted major salary cuts to allow the SLSO to get back on its feet, now believe that they've earned the right to get back some of what they lost. The management insists that it isn't yet financially stable enough to take that step.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch 01/06/2005
33 Wannabes Left Hanging
The work stoppage at the St. Louis Symphony came at the worst possible time for dozens of hopeful players who had spent the weekend piling into the city for two auditions scheduled to be held this week. The auditions were canceled after the musicians and management could not come to a contract agreement, and the orchestra is reimbursing the auditionees for their travel expenses. The SLSO musicians were willing to allow the auditions to go on as scheduled, but that would have required the audition committee to be paid a small gratuity, which the orchestra's managers refused to allow.
The New York Times 01/05/2005
Does Anyone in Florida Like Music?
In the wake of the Florida Philharmonic's bankruptcy and the demise of Miami's lone classical radio station, many observers have been wondering aloud whether South Florida really just doesn't have any use for the form. Now, more evidence for the affirmative: the Palm Beach Chamber Music Society is slashing its current season by a third, and may close up shop completely before fall 2005. Poor ticket sales and sluggish donations are cited as the major reasons for the society's problems. A lack of local product may also be a factor - the internationally known Miami String Quartet decamped for Ohio last year, and many local performers have left town with the Philharmonic's shutdown.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel 01/05/2005
A Music Camp's Controversial Modernizing Plans
Large-scale changes are underway at Interlochen Music School, where faculty dismissals and program changes have riled some fans of the school. The school's board chairman says that the changes are essential because "declining enrollment, fewer applicants, higher cancellations and fewer returning campers were threatening the camp's reputation and even survival. At the same time, the student-staff ratio last summer was two to one. 'That is not a sustainable ratio'."
The New York Times 01/05/2005
Closing Libraries, Missed Opportunities
So the Salinas (California) public libraries are shutting for lack of money. There's got to be a better way to fund libraries, writes David Kipen. "Of course, the danger isn't that the next young Steinbeck will have to take a bus to borrow some Waugh. The danger, plainly, is that he'll find something better to do. To paraphrase P.T. Barnum, there's a Steinbeck born every minute. The trick of a literate society lies in cultivating him, carefully but generously, so that he actually grows up to be Steinbeck."
San Francisco Chronicle 01/06/2005
Now Montana: Because, Ya Know, Poets Don't Need To Be Paid...
Montana becomes the latest US state to want to name a poet laureate. "Under the bill, the Montana Arts Council would supply the governor with the names of three qualified Montana poets. The governor would then appoint a poet from the list to hold the honorary post for two years. The poet laureate would receive no compensation but would promote the arts throughout Montana."
Billings Gazette 01/05/2005
California In Verse (If Anyone Wants The Job)
"California is in the market for a new poet laureate. With an official state dirt, a state fossil and a state tartan, we need a state bard. And as a blue state, it's our obligation to demonstrate that airport bookstore thrillers and bodice-rippers are not the alpha and omega of literature and that just because poetry usually comes in slim volumes with even slimmer royalty checks doesn't mean it don't kick heinie."
Los Angeles Times 01/05/2005
Broadway Of The Midwest
Five years ago, it seemed that the out-of-town pre-Broadway trial run was dead, the victim of high production costs and increasingly devastating critical reaction. But these days, nearly every big-budget Broadway show is getting a trial run outside the Big Apple, with Chicago having replaced the various Northeastern cities that used to host tryouts. "With a metro area of about 9 million, it has the requisite population base. It has a sophisticated theater audience with a track record of interest in new work. It has an ample supply of technical crew and stagehands who, due to union concessions, come considerably cheaper than their counterparts in New York."
Chicago Sun-Times 01/09/2005
An Unusual Rescue Plan For Tacoma Theatre
Tacoma Actors Guild, which suddenly shut down last month, has bought a little time. A suburban Seattle theatre will take over the theatre's building for the next 2 1/2 years while TAG tries to regroup. Bellevue Civic Theatre, a semiprofessional compared to TAG’s fully professional status, will "hire actors and crew on a show-by-show basis. TAG’s staff might get occasional work, but will not be rehired."
Tacoma News-Tribune 01/05/2005
The Sad Story Of Tacoma Actors Guild
Last month, after 26 years in business, Tacoma Actors Guild suddenly closed its doors. "By December, TAG had only $30,000 in the bank, enough to cover a single two-week payroll. But when the bank heard about the indefinite closure and layoffs in the newspaper, it froze the $30,000 against the $165,000 note. Staffers refused to work without pay, and the Christmas play ended abruptly, its set left standing onstage."
Tacoma News-Tribune 01/04/2005
Reconsidering Kahn's Roosevelt
In 1972, Louis Kahn designed a memorial to FDR on New York's Roosevelt Island. It never got built, and now the city is considering another plan for the site. But "devotees of Roosevelt and of Kahn are hoping that it is not too late to reconsider Kahn's 2.8-acre memorial as part of the 14-acre site. With renewed interest in the art of memorial-making (because of plans for ground zero) and in the work of Kahn (because of a film made last year by his son, Nathaniel), the time is finally ripe, they say, to realize Kahn's plan."
New York Times Magazine 01/09/2005
Grand Opening Set For Baltimore Museum
Baltimore's much anticipated new museum of African American art and culture finally has an official opening date, after months of delays and setbacks. The Reginald F. Lewis Museum will open to the public on June 25 as the second-largest museum of its kind in the U.S.. The state of Maryland will pick up the tab for 75% of all operating costs for the museum's first year of operation.
Baltimore Sun 01/08/2005
Art Amidst The Ads
Amid the inescapable glut of billboards and oversized wall advertisements in New York City, a giant 1300-square-foot digital video screen is garnering attention. And it isn't selling anything. "Operating on the notion that New York deserves art where it least expects it, SmartSign Media is presenting a month-long exhibition of images from Magnum Photos, the legendary photojournalism collective." The images appear on the giant screen which wraps around Port Authority, the city's main bus terminal.
New York Daily News 01/05/2005
Central Park "Gates" Begin Installation
Installation of Christo and Jeanne-Claude's "The Gates" in Central Park has begun. "The $20 million project, a quarter-century in the making and financed by the artists, will go on full view on Feb. 12 and remain until Feb. 27. It is expected to attract thousands of art lovers from around the world. The artists are trying to create "a visual golden river appearing and disappearing through the bare branches of the trees, highlighting the shapes of the footpaths," according to a brochure explaining the project. The color was chosen to cast a warm glow over the park at a gray time of year."
The New York Times 01/04/2005
The Growing Budget Gap
Atlanta's arts scene is rapidly losing its middle class. Some organizations seem to be flush with cash, mounting hundred million dollar expansions and bolstering already-sizable endowment funds, while the city's have-nots see their budgets shrink and donations dwindle.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution 01/09/2005
Is St. Louis A Canary In The Coal Mine?
The work stoppage at the St. Louis Symphony may be indicative of a larger systemic problem that no one in the industry wants to face: orchestras are very, very expensive, and the majority of cities may simply no longer be able to afford them as they now exist. "Intense and often divisive contract negotiations consumed three of the nation's top orchestras last fall: Chicago, Cleveland and Philadelphia... [and] close to 90% of the country's orchestras ran a budget deficit last year."
Los Angeles Times 01/09/2005
Tough Times For Libraries
The American Library Association gathers for its annual meeting. Libraries are facing a rocky future in the US. "More than $80 million has been cut from public library budgets in the past year alone, which has weakened or closed libraries in more than 40 states. In addition to budgetary issues, about 70 percent of librarians will reach retirement age within the next 20 years. Who will take their place?"
Boston Globe 01/07/2005
Baltimore's Architectural Future Takes Shape
Like many other American cities, Baltimore is in a building boom, and new office towers and residential complexes are rising at a nearly unprecedented rate. "While there is no shortage of new buildings opening in the Baltimore region this year, many simply reinforce the status quo. For those seeking signs of fresh thinking about architecture," though, there are a number of diamonds in the rough just waiting to be built
Baltimore Sun 01/16/2005
Chicago, City Of Wacky Bridges
"Offering a major surprise, the City of Chicago on Friday will announce winners in its international design competition for pedestrian bridges along the lakefront, choosing a bold new look for the North Avenue Bridge instead of a plan that would have echoed the gently curving profile of the existing bridge." Among the winners are a boomerang-shaped bridge with solar-powered lighting, two S-shaped specimens, and a curving suspension bridge. Each bridge will cost several million dollars to build, and construction is slated to begin in 2007.
Chicago Tribune 01/14/2005
Alaskan Museum Counting On "Bilbao Effect"
Fairbanks, Alaska's Museum of the North is expanding, hoping to generate some Bilbao-type publicity in the hopes of becoming a tourist destination. "Other museums that have created what we call signature buildings have experienced the same 'Bilbao effect,' where the building becomes a destination. I said, 'We really need to do this because we need to get tourists here in the summer to help us pay our bills."'
Entry-Level Art On The Internet
Selling art online was one promise of the internet. But it's never really caught on. Now an artist in Washington State is offering art to be digitally printed for prices beginning at about $25. It's not schlock but the kind of art you might find in reasonable galleries. Artists receive 75 percent of a sale, with the remaining 25 percent going to maintain and expand the site...
Seattle Post-Intelligencer 01/11/2005
MoMA's Art For The Hard-of-Seeing
The Museum of Modern Art now offers audio description tours for the visual-impaired. "The regular tour takes about two-and-a-half hours, with 75 stops, and is available in six languages. What's new here is a multiplicity of voices, including some from the past read by actors. Also, instead of hearing from one curator, visitors now hear from many, with additional perspective from conservators and artists, including Chuck Close, Marcel Duchamp and Lorna Simpson."
The New York Times 01/11/2005
Study: Broadway Audience Is Out-Of-Towners
Confirming many long-held beliefs, a new demographic study shows that 6 in 10 Broadway audience members do come from outside the city and its suburbs, and that the single most important factor in ticket buying is "personal recommendation." The study, conducted by the League of American Theaters and Producers, a trade group, found that during the 2003-4 season only 16.7 percent of the Broadway audience came from inside the New York City limits, with an additional 22.9 percent coming from suburban areas in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. About half of the 2003-4 crowd came from the rest of the United States, while a little more than 10 percent consisted of international tourists."
The New York Times 01/13/2005
Is Google's Library Deal Legal?
There's one problem with Google's deal to put online millions of library books. "It is not at all clear that Google and these libraries have the legal right to do what is proposed. For work in the public domain, the right is clear enough. But for work not in the public domain, Google's right to scan — to copy — whole texts to index is uncertain at best, even if it ultimately makes only snippets available. When permission has been given by the copyright holder, again there's no problem. But when permission has not been secured, the law is essentially uncertain. If lawsuits were filed, and if Google and its partner libraries were found to have violated the law, their legal exposure could reach into the billions."
Los Angeles Times 01/12/2005
Mississippi Libraries Un-Ban Stewart Book
A Mississippi public library board has reversed its decision to ban Jon Stewart's book "America" after waves of protest. "The board voted 5-2 Monday to lift the ban, and the book was returned to circulation in the system's eight libraries Tuesday. "We have come under intense scrutiny by the outside community. We don't decide for the community whether to read this book or not, but whether to make it available."
Associated Press 01/12/2005
Yes, But What Do You Do?
Tampa has an art czar. Officially, he's the city's Manager of Creative Services, his name is Paul Wilborn, and he makes $90,000 per year, a figure which everyone in the city's moneyed classes seems to know. Wilborn's salary is of interest because many observers have had a very difficult time figuring out exactly what it is that he does for the money. "Here's what he doesn't do: Raise funds. Distribute grants... His days are filled with meetings, which he attends on behalf of the mayor... His job - albeit unofficially - is also hobnobbing."
St. Petersburg Times 01/16/2005
Turnaround In Minnesota
By the standards of the orchestra industry, Minnesota Orchestra president Tony Woodcock did not have a smooth first few weeks on the job in 2003, as a bitter behind-the-scenes battle over his appointment spilled into the press. But in a little over a year on the job, he has "led a financial turnaround at the venerable institution and now plans to further strengthen it with a $50 million fund-raising campaign." On top of the financial success, Woodcock's employees say that he has begun to heal the deep wounds left by previous managements, and to reassert the orchestra as one of the Twin Cities' most valued cultural mainstays.
Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal 01/14/2005
Strathmore Nears Completion
The Music Center at Strathmore, in suburban Washington, D.C. is very nearly ready for its close-up, and if successful in its mission, it will change the face of the arts in the Baltimore-Washington corridor. "The state-of-the-art building is unique in the way it embraces art from its tiniest beginnings to its loftiest expressions. Five-year-olds learn how to hold a violin correctly; 3-year-olds can take tap dance with their mothers or fathers. When the concert hall opens next month, cellist Yo-Yo Ma will be center stage; later, Sauvion Glover will bring his thrilling kind of tap to the hall."
Washington Times 01/15/2005
A Phoenix Rises In Texas
The San Antonio Symphony was supposed to be dead and buried by now, the victim of endless deficits, questionable management, and meager community support. Instead, SAS officials are in a jubilant mood after meeting the requirements of a major challenge grant, and are preparing to launch a major PR initiative designed to increase ticket sales and make the orchestra more attractive to high-rolling donors.
San Antonio Express-News 01/16/2005
Adding Some Color To Classical Music
Classical music may not be as elitist as some claim, but there's no disputing the obvious fact that it attracts almost none of America's famous racial diversity. In fact, an African-American musician in a symphony orchestra is such an unusual sight as to be jarring, and token attempts to bridge the racial gap have generally been short-lived and unsuccessful. So when an entire ensemble of minority musicians starts to achieve commercial and critical success with a classical product, it's worth taking note, and Imani Winds, which brings together African-American and Latino composers and performers with an interest in serious new music, is establishing itself as a unique voice in the lily-white classical wilderness.
Hartford Courant 01/14/2005
The New Women Conductors
Three women conductors lead orchestras in New York this weekend. "These artists represent a new wave of female conductors in their late 20's through early 40's. Others are Joana Carneiro, Sara Jobin, Sarah Ioannides, Sarah Hicks, Keri-Lynn Wilson and Anne Manson. They confront significantly less prejudice than did their counterparts who are only a few years older: Gisèle Ben-Dor, Catherine Comet, Rachel Worby, JoAnn Falletta, Marin Alsop and others, performers who have made women a familiar presence on the orchestra podium."
New York Times 01/14/2005
SF Symphony Gets Major Funding For Multimedia Project
The San Francisco Symphony gets a $10 million grant - the largest in its history for use in 'Keeping Score: MTT on Music,' the orchestra's multimedia effort, started last year, to build new audiences for classical music. The gift will be delivered once the Symphony raises $10 million during the next three years. "Keeping Score" was initiated with a two-part national television show last year, which featured Thomas and orchestra members talking about Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony and then performing the piece."
San Francisco Chronicle 01/12/2005
PBT On The Brink
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre is on the verge of fiscal collapse, and prospects for the future are so bleak that the company is considering either merging with another area arts group, or even folding altogether. Disappointing holiday sales and slumping subscriber renewals have exacerbated PBT's already precarious situation, and the company has been without a managing director since last May.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 01/16/2005
Northern Ballet Cancels Season
The Northern Ballet Theatre is one of only two professional arts groups still operating in Nashua, New Hampshire, and this weekend, two will become one, as the ballet announces the cancellation of the remainder of its 2004-05 season. The company will use the next several months to retool and raise money, with the aim of mounting a 2005-06 season.
Nashua Telegraph 01/16/2005
Penn Ballet's Nutcracker Holds Steady
Though houses at the Academy of Music ran at 70 percent sold, the same as last year, the number of performances was down by three, and Nutcracker income crucial to the company fell by about 4 percent. Last month, the ballet performed its Tchaikovsky-Balanchine classic 25 times, generating revenue of $1,940,000, down from last year's $2,015,070. About 38,000 paying listener-viewers experienced The Nutcracker this season, down from 40,500 last season."
Philadelphia Inquirer 01/11/2005
Cooperation Ain't The Way
Cleveland arts groups have been ratcheting up efforts to improve the city's cultural scene, but many have discovered that joining forces can be the most effective way to compete in a world with seemingly endless entertainment options. "So why aren't the creators of two significant new Cleveland arts festivals working together?" The Cleveland Play House is planning a theater and arts festival for May 2006, but the creators of a Labor Day arts-and-technology festival will beat them to the punch by nine months. So why not let two become one? Well, for one thing, the Play House's artistic director thinks that Labor Day weekend is "box office poison."
The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 01/15/2005
Studies: Studying Arts Makes Better Students
Schools that go beyond basics and include arts studies produce better students. "A study of 23 arts-integrated schools in Chicago showed test scores rising up to two times faster there than in demographically comparable schools. A study of a Minneapolis program showed that arts integration has substantial effects for all students, but appears to have its greatest impact on disadvantaged learners. Gains go well beyond the basics and test scores. Students become better thinkers, develop higher-order skills, and deepen their inclination to learn. The studies also show that arts integration energizes and challenges teachers."
Washington Post 01/08/2005
Health Care Cut Off For St. Louis Musicians
The work stoppage at the St. Louis Symphony has been remarkably civil thus far, but tempers are beginning to flare over the issue of health insurance, which was cut off to the musicians when they rejected management's final contract offer. The SLSO had prepaid the musicians' premium, and received a rebate from the cancellation. Meanwhile, the 2-year-old son of an orchestra cellist had a seizure last week, and his mother found herself stuck with a major hospital bill when her insurance was found to have been terminated. The musicians claim that their health insurance was never affected during previous work stoppages.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch 01/15/2005
California Arts Council Gets New Director
The California Arts Council has a new director. Muriel Johnson, is a recently retired chairwoman of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, where she helped direct a budget of about $1.5 billion. She takes over an agency whose budget was slashed last year from $18 million to aboput $1 million.
Sacramento Bee 01/11/2005
Will Utah Kill Salt Lake's Arts Tax?
The state of Utah is considering leveling its sales tax across the state. That concerns arts supporters in Salt Lake City, because a major source of revenue for the arts comes from a special sales tax levy...
Deseret News (Utah) 01/10/2005
Proposed California Arts Budget Lowest Per-Capita In US
The California Arts Council has a new director - Muriel Johnson, a veteran Republican politician and arts advocate from Sacramento. But she won't have much to work with. The $3.2-million arts budget governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed Monday means that California again will likely rank last in the nation in per-capita state spending on the arts.
Los Angeles Times 01/12/2005
TicketMaster Starts Arts Division
American ticketing behemoth TickeMaster has established a new division for the arts. "Ticketmaster sold 100 million tickets valued at $4.9 billion in 2003. It serves more than 8,000 clients worldwide."
Los Angeles Business 01/11/2005
Study on pay: Working in arts is labor of love
"The new study finds that only 10 percent of Illinois arts leaders receive any employer contribution whatsoever to their retirement savings. Other fringe benefits are in similarly short supply. And a striking 50 percent of Illinois arts groups make no contributions to the costs of their employees' health care. The study finds arts managers to be mature, highly educated and highly skilled. Nonetheless, it finds, their tenures tend to be shorter than in other non-profits, and their paychecks relatively small. Although higher than the national average, the average salary in Illinois for a non-profit arts leader is $49,911. Workers at major cultural institutions, of course, earn significantly more. Still, the most frequent salary amounts were $35,000 and $25,000."
Chicago Tribune 01/13/2005
Aiming For A More Transparent SPAC
As a new management team begins to rebuild the mess left behind by the previous administration at upstate New York's Saratoga Performing Arts Center, details are emerging that paint a bleak picture of SPAC's previous management practices. Still, the center's new treasurer is already hard at work sketching a new path for SPAC's fundraising apparatus and fiscal management, and like the rest of the new leadership team, he talks a great deal about bringing a new "transparency" to the organization.
The Saratogian 01/29/2005
Seattle's 911 Hits The Skids
Another Seattle arts group is facing a crisis. 911 Media Center has laid off three of its five staff, and is cutting back after a costly move and a downturn in fundrasing. "The immediate problem is money, but the real problem is a crisis the organization survived two years ago, when a four-person board out of touch with the membership fired a popular and effective director and triggered a membership revolt."
Seattle Post-Intelligencer 01/27/2005
Boston Ballet Cuts Salaries
"After a disappointing holiday Nutcracker run, Boston Ballet has cut the salaries of virtually all its employees, with some workers taking short, unpaid leaves. The move is part of an expense-cutting plan meant to keep Boston Ballet on track for a balanced annual budget." The company's holiday struggles were due in large part to increased competition from the big-budget Radio City Christmas Spectacular, which forced Boston Ballet to move its Nutcracker to a much smaller theater. The company is assuring its employees that no one will be laid off.
Boston Globe 01/29/2005
Colorado Ballet Fights To A Draw With Holiday Rockettes
Colorado Ballet, like dance companies in several cities around America, fretted before Christmas when the Rockettes Christmas show came to town. The company, like many, depends on annual Nutcracker revenues to survive. So how'd the Rockette showdown go? "Not surprisingly, the Rockettes drew huge numbers: 155,063 paid attendance for 64 performances. That translates to an impressive 88 percent capacity. More remarkable are the final numbers from Nutcracker. December's Paramount engagement held its own, compared with the previous, Rockettes-less run. Some 33,600 attended 31 shows (30,100 paid). That total matches numbers from 2003 - 33,400 (29,250 paid)."
Rocky Mountain News 01/24/2005
Foreign Video Sales are Hollywood's New Cash Cow
"By most estimates and anecdotal evidence, revenues from international home video sales are the fastest-growing part of Hollywood's business. The most reliable estimate comes from Screen Digest, a British data company, which calculated that the home video divisions of the United States studios garnered $11.4 billion in wholesale revenues from the $24.6 billion that overseas consumers spent buying and renting home video products in 2004. What is more certain is that the windfall from overseas home video sales is affecting how the movie business is run. It is inflating budgets for films with big international potential."
The New York Times 01/31/2005
Culture Wars Pull Buster Into the Fray
Even though PBS president Pat Mitchell viewed the episode of Postcards From Buster and called it appropriate, the network pulled it from the schedule after education secretary Margaret Spellings criticized it for portraying lesbian characters.
New York Times 01/27/2005
FCC Crackdown Confuses Broadcasters
American broadcasters are complaining that the FCC's crackdown on content has left them unclear about what will be deemed acceptable and what will not. But the pressure group Parents Television Council is unsympathetic: "They're lucky they got away with as much as they did. It reminds me of a person who has been speeding as much as they wanted and now they're getting tickets."
Chicago Tribune 01/25/2005
Report: Kimmel Center Needs Acoustic Overhaul
Philadelphia's Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts has been open for less than four years, but an internal report by the acoustic engineer of Verizon Hall, the center's main stage and the home of the Philadelphia Orchestra, suggests that a major interior renovation will likely be necessary to fix what are described as "serious acoustical problems." The hall has received mixed reviews from critics since its opening, but the concept of a major renovation is likely to face opposition, and debate has not even begun about who would pay for such a project.
Philadelphia Inquirer 01/30/2005
The Management Carousel Spins In St. Louis
"The St. Louis Symphony has named Jeremy Geffen, artistic administrator of the New York Philharmonic since 2000, as its own vice president for artistic administration... Geffen replaces Kathleen van Bergen, who succeeded Simon Woods in a similar position at the Philadelphia Orchestra last fall, after Woods was named president of the New Jersey Symphony."
Florida Orchestra Signs Contract With Musicians
After about 10 months of on-again, off-again negotiations, musicians of the Florida Orchestra ratified a labor contract Friday. Terms of their three-year agreement with the board of trustees include a base salary that rises from $25,120 in the current season to $30,090 in the 2006-07 season.
St. Petersburg Times 01/22/2005
The Integrated Orchestra
"Black and Latino musicians account for about 3 percent of the musicians in American orchestras nationwide but about 30 percent of the Chicago Sinfonietta. Most orchestras have practically all-white boards of directors and audiences, but about a third of the Sinfonietta's board is non-white and about 40 percent of its audience is minority. Most orchestras rarely play music by minority composers, but the Sinfonietta integrates these works throughout its entire season."
Detroit Free Press 01/23/2005
American, Cuban Musical Ties Broken
The Bush administration has severed the fertile connection between Cuban and American musicians—and audiences—by reversing American policy. The security crunch following 9/11 has given immigration authorities the excuse they've long sought to exclude many foreign musicians from the United States. But against Cubans, the resistance runs far deeper. This is a Cuban music crisis—a development that has more to do with the Cold War than the War on Terror."
Village Voice 01/25/2005
How Snow Changes An Orchestra Audience's Demographics
What happens to an audience when snow shuts down a major American city? Well, in Philadelphia, "the orchestra put $10 snow tickets on sale starting Friday, and so at least an audience of about 750 showed up. Not surprisingly, they seemed to come mostly from Center City, and perhaps through weather-induced natural selection, they were overwhelmingly younger. On this single night, the median age of the orchestra audience shed at least 35 years."
Philadelphia Inquirer 01/24/2005
The People's Choice Awards Of Books?
A new philanthropy called the Quills Literacy Foundation has announced the formation of the Quill Awards, a slate of 19 annual book awards, most of which will be voted on by the general public.
The New York Times 01/27/2005
Weak Dollar Sending Art Back Across The Atlantic
The American dollar's slide against other currencies has apparently sparked a push by European art institutions to reacquire some of the countless works which had been bought up by American collectors over the decades. "The weak dollar offers European buyers some remarkable bargains. At Sotheby's Old Masters sale in New York, a Botticelli sold for the equivalent of £246,000. Sources said Italians were particularly active buyers. Italy having produced so much good art, there are plenty of works for Italians to repatriate."
The Guardian (UK) 01/29/2005
Long On Art, Short On Space
Harvard University's art collection is the envy of museums worldwide, comprising more than 250,000 pieces. But having that much art is one thing: finding the space to display, or even to store it all is another matter entirely. For the recently arrived chief of the university's museum system, keeping the collection intact and secure is becoming a major challenge, especially with much of the available gallery space in desperate need of new climate-control technology and other upgrades.
Boston Globe 01/30/2005
A Connecticut Renaissance
Greenwich, Connecticut "is the last place... that you would expect to find a major Vermeer on loan from Europe, or several roomfuls of works by Rubens - or, for that matter, hard-core Manhattanites on an art pilgrimage." But in the last four years, Greenwich's Bruce Museum of Art & Science has transformed itself into a major player in the East Coast art scene, under the stewardship of director Peter Sutton, who has mounted high-profile exhibits previously though to be beyond the Bruce's reach. "At the same time, playing on Greenwich's reputation for private wealth, he has provocatively embraced the art market, organizing exhibitions showcasing high-end private art collections - and even artworks currently for sale."
The New York Times 01/30/2005
Living Here In Allentown, Tearing All The Sculptures Down
"More than 23 years ago, an artist with a growing international reputation for public art made a brief stop in Allentown, [Pennsylvania] to grace the west wall of a popular downtown gathering place with a light sculpture. With much fanfare he strung together 35 galvanized steel bars, etched to catch the rays of the sun and reflect them in an ever-changing prism. Over time, the downtown struggled and the restaurant closed [and] officials made plans to tear down the former Good Spirit eatery and replace it with shiny new offices." Dale Eldred's sculpture very nearly went down with the building, but now, thanks to the tireless efforts of a city official, the work has been preserved, and will be moved to a prominent position on Allentown's new Arts Walk.
Allentown Morning Call 01/29/2005
Termite-Infested Eyesore... Or ART?
What was the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission thinking back in 1978 when it recognized a "22-foot stack of Schlitz beer pallets" as a historic monument? Now the tower is a crumbling, termite-infested hazard, and the artist's heirs want to tear it down and sell the property. But there's that problematic cultural designation...
Los Angeles Times 01/25/2005
Poland Pressures Cleveland Museum To Return Nazi-Looted Drawings
"Poland is putting new pressure on the Cleveland Museum of Art and other major museums to return a widely dispersed collection of Albrecht Durer drawings looted by the Nazis during World War II. The 27 drawings, three of which are owned by the Cleveland museum, were removed by Nazi officers in 1941 from the Ossolinski Institute in the city of Lviv, which was then in Poland."
The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 01/26/2005
In Virginia: Squabbling Over An Arts Funding Plan
There's a proposal in Virginia for the state to borrow $86 million for arts and cultural projects. But officials in Hampton Roads and the mayors of Norfolk and Virginia Beach said their cities are being shortchanged since 35 percent of the funds go to Richmond. Then there is the state legislator who attacks the funding plan as "vulgar."
Virginia Pilot 01/28/2005
Philly Mayor Proposes Big Cut In Museum Funding
Philadelphia Mayor John Street proposes big reductions in the city's support of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Street's austerity budget proposes to cut city support for the Philadelphia Museum of Art by $250,000 to $1.75 million. City funding for the art museum provides for security and maintenance. By 2010, under the mayor's proposed five-year financial plan, city support would be scaled back to $500,000. Art museum officials called the proposed cuts a "major setback" and noted that there already had been a 7 percent reduction in staff and elimination of Wednesday-evening programs due to city funding cuts last year."
Philadelphia Daily News 01/28/2005
Strathmore - Suburban Culture, Urban Ambition
The new Strathmore Music Center in a Maryland suburb of Washington DC is an ambitious undertaking for a suburb. Benjamin Forgey writes that "the $100 million center is a traditional urban institution in a fast-changing suburban setting. It'll contribute most significantly to the cultural life of its home county, of course, but, with the Baltimore Symphony treating it as a 'second home,' it'll add choices for many music lovers in the metropolitan area. The architecture itself will be an attraction, eventually. In an age of prominent, in-your-face, innovative civic architecture, the center is a deceptive exception."
Washington Post 01/30/2005
The 2005 Challenge: Raising Money
Fundraisers expect 2005 will be a difficult year in which to raise money. "With fund raising growing more competitive, charities of all kinds are lavishing attention on individuals who have the potential to make significant gifts -- especially after such efforts paid off handsomely last year."
Chronicle of Philanthropy 02/07/2005
Where's The Dance Audience?
How do you build a new audience for dance? "Creating an environment where experimentation can flourish requires rethinking dance appreciation from the bottom up. It requires expanded school field trips and in-class curriculum where dance is seen as an integral part of world history, public television broadcasts and dance in other free media, lecture-demonstrations, explanatory pre-concert talks, sophisticated program notes and a return to serious, in-depth arts criticism that recognizes that the arts deliver the news the culture tells about itself -- whether that work is presented for one ephemeral night or enjoys a lucrative, year-long run."
WBUR (Boston) 02/09/2005
SLSO Strike Mediation Delayed
Musicians and managers have finally agreed to mediation in the St. Louis Symphony strike, but bizarrely, the first session isn't scheduled until the middle of next week. Meanwhile "more of the orchestra's younger musicians than usual have been auditioning for other ensembles around the country. Though the SLSO is generally considered to be among the top 10 orchestras in the United States, St. Louis ranks 19th in base pay for its musicians." In other words, time is of the essence in this dispute, and the lack of urgency on both sides is beginning to grate.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch 02/10/2005
Cleveland Orchestra Headed To Miami
Since the demise of the Florida Philharmonic two years ago, observers have been wondering just exactly who the under-construction Greater Miami Performing Arts Center is being built for. Now, an answer has emerged, courtesy of the chairman who presided over the Phil's disbanding: the center will open in 2007 with a 3-week residency by the Cleveland Orchestra. It's good news for South Florida music lovers, of course, but some former Philharmonic musicians are furious, suggesting that chairman Daniel Lewis, who has given $12 million to the Clevelanders over the years, allowed the Phil to die knowing that he could bring in a visiting orchestra more cheaply.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel 02/10/2005
A Design For Atlanta's New Concert Hall
A design for Atlanta's new concert hall, designed by Santiago Calatrava, has been unveiled. "The building, roughly as tall as 13 stories, features a ribbed-glass roof surrounded by a metal collar. A smaller version, which houses a recital hall and learning center, nestles on the south side. Each is adorned with a free-standing, ridged steel arch that is 186 feet (about 18 stories) at its highest point. The Spanish architect calls it the feather."
Atlanta Journal-Constitution 02/08/2005
Wright Starts Poetry Press
Charlie Wright is chairman of timber and development company R.D. Merrill is known in art circles for restoring solvency to the New York-based Dia Foundation. Now he's turning to another big interest - poetry - and starting a new publishing house. "We'll be focused on mid-career American poets. There will be some exposure to emerging poets, also reprints and translations - sort of a mixed bag."
Seattle Post-Intelligencer 02/08/2005
How A South Dakota Library Stuck Up For Imprisoned Cuban Librarians
In March 2003, Castro's State Security police arrested independent librarians who provided access to books excluded from Cuba's censored library system. "These 'subversive' independent public librarians were sent to Castro's foul prisons, along with the other dissenters. During the raids on these independent libraries, the offending books were confiscated, and many of them burned." A tiny library in South Dakota "adopted" a Cuban library, sending books and drawing attention to the plight of the librarians...
Village Voice 02/08/2005
Vegas Gets The Theatre Bug (And Builds Big)
Fantastic new-generation theatres in Las Vegas eclipse anything Broadway can produce. "Freed of the constraints of space that are a struggle in jam-packed Manhattan, and armed with shocking amounts of money from wealthy casino conglomerates, show producers can dream far bigger and bolder than in New York. The theater at a Vegas resort is a piece of a much larger business model in which the patrons are also diners, shoppers, hotel guests, and casino players, making it worthwhile for Caesars Palace to plunge $95 million into a showroom for pop star Céline Dion, even though the hotel shares the ticket revenue with Dion and her production company."
Christian Science Monitor 02/11/2005
Broadway Courts Kids
Broadway producers worried about developing a next generation of theatre fans are concentrating on more programs for kids. "Family fare has taken off on Broadway (think "The Lion King," "Beauty and the Beast"), and a survey from the League of American Theaters and Producers shows that the number of kids filling seats is up slightly. In the 2003-2004 season, the league reports that nearly 1.3 million kids under 18 attended shows, the second highest turnout in more than 20 years (the highest was in 2000-01 season)."
Christian Science Monitor 02/11/2005
Lincoln On Historical Steroids
It's three months before the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum is supposed to open in Springfield, Illinois. "Museum officials say they're blending scholarship and showmanship on a scale never attempted before, without undermining the accuracy of the history they present. If they succeed, they contend, museums all over the world will imitate them. If they fail, they know -- because it's started to happen already -- they'll be savaged for Disneyfying the past."
Washington Post 02/15/2005
Is Tampa Museum Up To A New Building?
The Tampa Museum wants to build a signature $54 million building downtown to house its collections. But is the museum director described as "nice" up to the job of getting it done?
St. Petersburg Times 02/14/2005
Business: Cheering For Christo
New York businesses are cheering Christo and Jeanne Claude's The Gates. "City officials said they expected tens of thousands of people to show up for the exhibition, which is to be up for only 16 days, and whose $20 million cost is being borne exclusively by the artists. By the time the 7,500 gates are taken down in two weeks, the city expects to generate $80 million in business, with $2.5 million in city taxes alone, according to the city's Economic Development Corporation."
The New York Times 02/14/2005
Factory Artists (21st Century Model)
"Cities like New Haven are installing artists in factories and other workplaces to see how technology, be it vintage or cutting-edge, can inform art in the 21st century. Under the auspices of Artspace, a local arts organization, 10 artists were selected last year to be in residence at Connecticut businesses."
The New York Times 02/09/2005
South Florida's New Music Glut
Since the collapse of the Florida Philharmonic, an interesting thing has happened in South Florida: a proliferation of small music groups. New ensembles are forming everywhere. "But with the upturn comes irony: There's now a player shortage. It's common for a musician to perform in several groups, creating a scheduling headache for the organizations. Conductors complain that they aren't sure who'll be playing, say, second violin from concert to concert."
Palm Beach Post 02/13/2005
Is Philly Ready For A Permanent Arts Fund?
While some American cities have created dedicated arts funds to insure a steady flow of capital to cash-starved cultural groups, Philadelphia's arts scene has remained largely pay-as-you-go. Now, the mayor is making it clear that he supports the idea of a $50-$100 million fund dedicated to the arts, and the business and political communities may be ready to back the plan.
Philadelphia Inquirer 02/13/2005
Baltimore Bid To Help Schools With Giant Crabs
Baltimore city officials have a plan to raise money for schools. Art. Giant fibreglass crabs. "The goal is to put 200 of the sculptures around town -- and to raise $1 million from businesses, foundations and individuals for a city-sponsored campaign to make physical improvements in school facilities, including money raised from an auction of the sculptures after they have been on display through the spring and summer."
Baltimore Sun 03/08/2005
Piecing Together A City's Art Index
Members of a San Francisco synagogue has discovered a "treasure trove" of 19th-century art hidden in plain sight on its walls and ceiling. The discovery that two prominent local artists working in concert were responsible for the temple's beautiful, Renaissance-inspired interior has touched off a renewed round of interest in San Francisco's often cloudy art history. "The 1906 earthquake and fire destroyed public records and personal papers, erasing much of the city's artistic history from current memory."
San Francisco Chronicle 03/12/2005
Chicago And Music Make Up
The City of Chicago and its musicians have been on uneasy terms for several years. But "a multifaceted dialogue involving city officials, club owners, record-company and studio owners and music-industry veterans has created the Chicago Music Commission, which aims to raise Chicago's profile internationally, turn its musical variety into a major tourist attraction and bring millions of additional dollars into city coffers and businesses. One city official called it the Chicago cultural equivalent of the Czech Republic's "velvet revolution," in which the communist regime quietly gave way to the coun-try's first free elections in 40 years."
Chicago Tribune 03/13/2005
Arts Bundling - Charlotte Tries For More
Charlotte (NC) arts leaders are struggling to keep $147 million worth of arts projects bundled in a request to the state for funding. "The wish list encompasses a 1,200-seat performance hall, a museum for an art collection owned by Andreas Bechtler, a relocated Mint Museum of Art, a new home for the Afro-American Cultural Center, rehearsal space for the N.C. Dance Theatre and renovations at Discovery Place."
Charlotte Business Journal 03/07/2005
Dallas Expands Arts District
After months of wrangling over zoning codes and property rights, the Dallas city council has voted to expand the city's downtown arts district. The move is largely an effort to bring several "weed-choked lots and run-down gas stations" into line with what has become one of Dallas's most elegant and well-designed neighborhoods.
Dallas Morning News 03/10/2005
Cleveland Goes Looking For Big Money
Cleveland arts organizations are looking for big money. Can they find it? "Three of Cleveland's nonprofit institutions have campaigns that together hope to raise more than $700 million. The Cleveland Museum of Art's $300 million effort is the newest, seeking money to expand and renovate the University Circle museum."
The Plain Dealer 03/11/2005
Landscape Architects Stake Their Reclaim
"Architects grab more attention with their imposing skyscrapers. But landscape architects are emerging as the heroes of modern urban existence. They reclaim the wastelands," of which there are certainly no shortage in America's big cities, and turn them into, well, whatever you like, really. "After 53 years, mountains of garbage piled 225 feet high on New York's Staten Island have begun a slow transition to parkland... In Duisburg, Germany, a derelict iron mill was reborn three years ago as a sort of theme park of the Industrial Age... In Beirut, a Garden of Forgiveness (Hadiqat As-Samah) is being constructed on a 5.7-acre site that was reduced to rubble by Lebanon's 16-year civil war."
Washington Post 03/26/2005
Ugly But Important?
Choosing one's battles is always a difficult proposition for a preservationist, and by and large, most advocates for old buildings have not bothered to be too terribly vocal in their support for the Modernist structures of the mid-20th century. For one thing, Modernist architecture doesn't tend to be terribly eye-catching, which means that any attempt to preserve it inevitably embroils one in a debate of aesthetics vs. historical significance, an argument which can be seen as a lose-lose proposition for preservationists. But two ongoing battles in New York suggest that a movement may be afoot to start protecting important examples of Modernist architecture before they are all replaced by newer, more attractive buildings.
The New York Times 03/24/2005
A Proposal To Save Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation
Can the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation (based in Scottsdale, Arizona) be saved? "The foundation has been beset with financial woes, revolving-door management, turmoil on its board of directors and faculty and student turnover in its famed architecture school." One solution being proposed to to try to work with the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy...
Arizona Republic 03/19/2005
Letter Touches Off Playwrights Controversy
Earlier this month, playwright Roy Close sent a missive to the Playwrights Center and several of its funders, severing his ties to the organization and complaining that the Minneapolis-based writer's haven has become an elitist autocracy, more concerned with its own glory and hosting America's hottest playwrights than with helping locals build and develop their skills as playwrights. Director Polly Carl is attempting to mold the center, founded as a glorified support group for stage writers, into an organization with national membership and outreach. The conflict has stirred conversation among playwrights, theater practitioners and philanthropic organizations."
St. Paul Pioneer-Press 03/20/2005
NY Public Library And Its Digital Democracy
"Officially launched on March 3rd, the New York Public Library DIgital Gallery is presently offering 275,000 images (stored on a 57-terabyte, a thousand billion bytes of data, network of servers) for public perusal and free personal use ("...individual private study, scholarship and research..."). Most of the contents of the Gallery is in the public domain, and if you can obtain your own reproduction of any image you find here, you can probably use it as you see fit. The digitized copies on the NYPL website, however, are protected by copyright, and the Library charges a usage fee if an image is used in any "nonprofit or commercial publication, broadcast, web site, exhibition, promotional material, etc" contexts."
Christian Science Monitor 03/21/2005
Art That Makes You Go 'Huh?'
Everyday life in Toronto has gotten decidedly weird lately. "You may have stumbled recently across neatly wallpapered bus shelters, perhaps being attended by a primly dressed man in a crinoline skirt... Trees, at times, have worn sweaters. Fire hydrants have been garlanded in cake icing. There have been knitted cosies for bike locks and public phone receivers, dress-up parties in Trinity Bellwoods Park, and a well-tended garden of ferns growing from the toilets and urinals of Metro Hall. Tiny gold trophies have been affixed around town, engraved with the slogan 'Good For You.'" Meet the Interventionists, artists determined to bring their work directly to the public, and to do so with tongue planted firmly in cheek.
Toronto Star 03/26/2005
Playing Through The Pain
"Until recently, musicians didn't talk about their ailments -- especially professionals, who feared losing their livelihood. Doctors weren't trained to deal with these specialties, but that's changing; clinics have sprung up. A recent survey of orchestra musicians found that 76 percent had suffered at least one playing-related injury serious enough to keep them from working for a period of time. An ear specialist in Texas, after screening Houston Symphony Orchestra members, found permanent hearing loss in some violinists' left ears, the left being the side exposed to continual sonic blasts from the rest of the orchestra. A 2001 survey revealed that 80 percent of female keyboard players ages 10 to 20 have a muscle-skeletal problem, although no one knows why it's worse for women."
The Star-Tribune 03/27/2005
World Recording Sales Down, US Up
Worldwide sales of recorded music declined 1.3 percent to $33.6 billion last year as the U.S. market grew for the first time since 1999 and consumers bought more concert and video DVDs. The figures released on Tuesday, which reveal the fifth straight year of falling sales for the record industry, do not include digital downloads or mobile phone ringtones, which music companies say would have made 2004 sales flat against 2003."
Associated Press 03/22/2005
Broadcast "Indecency" Wars Are Just Heating Up
"Leading lawmakers and the new leader of the F.C.C. have proposed a broad expansion of indecency rules, which were significantly toughened just last year. They are also looking for significant increases in the size of fines and new procedures that could jeopardize the licenses of stations that repeatedly violate the rules."
New York Times 03/28/2005
A Supreme Court Case That Could Change The Course Of Technology
The US Supreme Court hears arguments in a case this week that could determine the future development of technology. "The highly anticipated case, MGM Studios v. Grokster, pits all the major movie studios and record labels against Grokster and StreamCast Networks, two operators of file-sharing services." The case is an appeal of a decision that "file-sharing companies are not liable for their users' copyright infringement. The decision upheld a lower-court ruling from April 2003."
What If We Give It Away?
"It looks like television networks have embraced an idea that record companies still find difficult to accept: Giving away your product -- temporarily, anyway -- can be a great promotional tool... Building online buzz by putting full episodes online has become such a hot marketing tool that there's speculation the BBC was behind the recent 'unauthorized' online release of an episode of its new Dr. Who series."
Chicago Tribune 03/26/2005
Is The Movie-Going Experience Running Out Of Steam?
Movie attendance in the US has dropped in the past two years from a high of 1.63 billion in 2002 to 1.53 billion in 2004. Before 2003, attendance regularly increased each year. The numbers give some theater owners pause. In the '50s and '60s, everybody went to the movies. "We need to do more to develop the habitual moviegoer. Once movies can be delivered directly into the home, she adds, all the cheap popcorn and clean floors in the world won't matter. How long is it before they just won't need us at all?"
Christian Science Monitor 03/24/2005
Big-Time TV Censorship On Its Way?
"Hollywood better wake up. Remember the Hays Office, which imposed family-values censorship on the movies in the 1920s — a ham-fisted squelching of “indecency” that cramped and crippled scriptwriters and moviemakers for decades thereafter? Well, what one of the most powerful Republicans in the U.S. Senate is now talking about sounds very much like the same thing, except now it’s about cable TV and the Net."
When religion and art collide
Kansas-based preacher Fred Phelps, an ultra-right-wing activist best known for parading with his followers at the funerals of victims of AIDS and gay bashings while shouting through a megaphone and waving signs reading "God Hates Fags," is taking on a Colorado Springs arts center that has accepted funding from a gay/lesbian action group. The reverend's merry band says that the arts center has signed on to promote "the radical homosexual agenda" by accepting the money. The reality of the situation, unsurprisingly, bears little resemblance to the Phelps interpretation, but that isn't deterring protest organizers in their crusade to wipe out the "sodomite juggernaut" that is apparently running rampant in Colorado Springs.
Denver Post 03/27/2005
Ailey Company's New Home Signals Place
Alvin Ailey's new home is a symbol of its status. "The $54 million structure - touted by its occupants as the largest in the United States dedicated exclusively to dance - symbolizes both the success the Ailey company has achieved and its commitment to making dance accessible. The increased space will allow the Ailey to do more of its signature outreach work, offering classes in dance and fitness to the general public for the first time starting in April."
Christian Science Monitor 03/24/2005
Small Jazz Label Signs Up To Save Detroit Jazz Festival
A small jazz recording label has signed on to become the new sponsor of the annual Detroit Labor Day weekend jazz festival, which "found itself on the brink of extinction last month when Ford Motor Co. chose not to renew its title sponsorship for the first time in a decade."
Detroit Free Press 03/25/2005
Ingenuity = Big Bucks In Cleveland
A new arts-and-technology festival in Cleveland is attracting serious donors, despite an overall malaise in the local cultural scene. Ingenuity, as the fest will be called, has in recent weeks picked up $100,000 from the George Gund Foundation, as well as $60,000 from governmental sources (with another $150,000 in county funds still on the table) and a $20,000 challenge grant from Case Western Reserve University. The festival, which kicks off in September 2005, is expected to cost $1.4 million.
The Plain Dealer 03/24/2005
Chicago Art Institute To Expand
The Art Institute of Chicago is acquiring land next to its current building so it can build a 230,000 square foot addition. "Art Institute officials last year placed the cost of the addition at $198 million, more than half of which they had already raised. They also planned to raise another $87 million for an endowment for the addition, which according to district documents will house modern, contemporary, Asian, Islamic and architectural collections. About 65,000 square feet would be dedicated to gallery space and another 15,300 square feet will be dedicated to educational programs."
Chicago Tribune 04/12/2005
Secret Service Investigates Art Exhibit
The US Secret Service is investigating an art exhibit at Columbia College in Chicago. "Two federal agents arrived at the exhibit’s opening night Thursday, took photos of some of the works and asked for the artists’ contact information. The agents were most interested in Chicago artist Al Brandtner’s work titled “Patriot Act,” which depicted a sheet of mock 37-cent red, white and blue stamps showing a handgun pointed at Bush’s head."
Marketing The Smithsonian - It's Big Business
Last year such marketing ventures grossed $156.3 million, returning $26.7 million in profit to the museums -- nearly half the Smithsonian's unrestricted funds, to be spent any way it pleases. Marketing has become so important that the Smithsonian now knows from surveys that the kids in the school groups that fly through the National Air and Space Museum each have about $5 to $10, and just about that many minutes to spend them. That's why the gift shop at the world's most visited museum is stocked with budget-friendly items such as military dog tags and marbles designed to look like planets. That's why last year 200,000 packs of freeze-dried astronaut ice cream were sold."
Washington Post 04/13/2005
US State Department, NEA, Agree On Biennale Selection Process
The National Endowment for the Arts and the US State Department have signed an agreement to create a new committee to choose American artists for international biennales. "The committee will comprise “up to seven people”, appointed by the NEA for terms of “no more than three years”. They will include curators, artists, museum directors, specialists in American contemporary art, and perhaps persons from outside the field as well. Important details remain uncertain, including the names of anyone who will serve on the newly established panel, precisely how the selection will take place, and how exhibitions will be administered and funded."
The Art Newspaper 04/15/2005
California's Venice Fights Over Nude Sculpture
In usually free-wheeling Venice California, a controversy has sprung up over plans to erect a headless nude sculpture. "In keeping with the community's contrarian reputation, unexpected alliances have formed on both sides: Conservative church leaders have joined with staunch feminists in opposition; some old-guard activists have connected with ambitious developers to defend the torso."
Los Angeles Times 04/16/2005
Denver Hall Needs $40 Million Fix
An acoustical fix for Denver's Boettcher Hall is going to cost more than $40 million. Last year the director of Denver's Division of Theatres and Arenas, estimated the project's price tag at $25 million to $40 million. But he now says he believes that "when the firm completes the second half of its study later this spring, it will recommend gutting Boettcher and essentially building a new, reconfigured concert hall within its existing walls."
Denver Post 04/10/2005
Vintage US Propaganda Films From The Marshall Plan
The Marshall Plan helped rebuild Europe after WWII. "But in addition to rebuilding, it also plowed about $650-million into information dissemination, including the creation of more than 260 films to help convince the populations of 16 disparate countries to jointly accept American aid and embrace U.S.-style democracy. The films were seen everywhere, from movie palaces in big cities such as Paris to tiny, mountainous villages in countries like Portugal and Italy. But until recently many of them had never been seen in the United States because of a 1948 law prohibiting Americans from being propagandized with their own tax dollars, a restriction removed only 15 years ago."
The Globe & Mail (Canada) 04/11/2005
Will Indecency Law Pass Congress?
Proposed indecency legislation that includes heavy fines against performers might pass in Congress. "No one wants to be in a position of being in favor of indecency. But very few [in Congress] want to risk trying to state their position in 30-second TV ads -- trying to explain the First Amendment and self-censorship and that there are better ways of protecting kids with V-chips and software. It would take a lot of money to reply."
Back Stage 04/13/2005
Video "Cleaning" Riles Artists
growing number of companies are offering "sanitized" versions of music and movies. They remove scenes or language they believe is offensive and sell the cleaned up versions. But what about the integrity of the original work? What about the rights of the artist to control how his or her work is used? "The challenge of ensuring artistic integrity in a digital age will only grow as the free market offers new ways to customize what we view, read and hear. Copyright protections have changed enormously since the introduction of the printing press to England in the late 15th century. They're about to change again."
Philadelphia Inquirer 04/14/2005
In Minneapolis: Wireless Internet As Basic Public Infrastructure
The city of Minneapolis is to go wireless. The city will be covered with a wireless internet connection available to anyone. "Consumers would be able to buy broadband access of 1 million to 3 million bits per second for $18 to $24 a month -- a bit slower than wired cable modem service but about half the price. The network also is expected to create an economic incentive for businesses to locate in Minneapolis. If someone gets off a plane at the airport and signs up for Minneapolis Internet service, they can sign on with one password anywhere in the city."
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune 04/12/2005
Is US Falling Behind In Basic Research?
The US has been a world leader in basic research for generations. But budgets for that research on many levels is being cut. Many scientists fear that "the United States unwittingly may be positioning itself for a long, steady decline in basic research - a key engine for economic growth - at a time when competitors from Europe and Asia are hot on America's heels."
Christian Science Monitor 04/14/2005
Ground Zero Arts Center Plans Put On Hold
New York City's $500 million campaign to rebuild Ground Zero has officially kicked off, but buried in the celebratory press conference was a disturbing change of plans: "As originally planned, the $500 million would help finance a memorial and a museum complex as well as [a Frank Gehry-designed] performing arts center, to be shared by the Joyce Dance Theater, which specializes in dance, and the Signature Theater Company, an Off Broadway group. But now the performing arts center will be part of a 'second phase.'" Worse, officials at the Joyce and Signature groups appear to have been left uninformed about the change of status for their new home.
The New York Times 04/09/2005
FBI 'Dead Wrong' Yet Again
Steven Kurtz is an artist. That much, no one is debating. But Kurtz uses various legally acquired biological agents (read: farm chemicals) in his work, some of which also appear on an FBI list of chemicals frequently sought by wannabe terrorists. When Kurtz's stash was discovered by authorities following his wife's death, he was pursued, jailed, and charged with crimes which could net him 20 years in federal prison. Now the art world is coming together to defend Kurtz, and raise money for his legal defense.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 04/09/2005
American U's Fall Back In Programming Competition
"American universities -- once the dominant force in the information technology world -- fell far down the ranks in a widely watched international computer programming contest held this week. Asian and Eastern European schools have been scoring increasingly well in the world championship. A U.S. school hasn't won since 1997, when students at Harvey Mudd College proved best."
San Francisco Chronicle 04/11/2005
Staking Out The Creative Process
"The new Calgary-based Institute for the Creative Process -- or ICP@ACAD, for short -- is being built on the belief that artists and designers should be making meaningful contributions to the real world beyond the design of a new Coca-Cola bottle or simple manufacture of product. The ICP will be working with businesses and various community groups to apply creative design solutions to everyday social and organizational problems. In addition to developing partnerships and thinking up new graduate-degree possibilities for the college, the ICP will be responsible for cultivating dialogue and research activities that directly address the nature and application of the creative process."
The Globe & Mail (Canada) 04/12/2005
Is Hong Kong Culture Misfiring?
Hong Kong is trying to be a cultural hub. But are the government's efforts to develop the city's creative sector backfiring? Some critics say the state investment in culture lacks a long-range plan...
HK Standard 04/13/2005
Another Boston Theatre Project
Boston continues on its arts-building ways with a new plan to rennovate the old Paramount Theatre. "The $70 million Paramount Center project would redevelop the Theater District landmark and two neighboring properties to provide two theaters, rehearsal rooms, student residences, and restaurant space."
Boston Globe 04/13/2005
Denver is remaking itself "combining an old pragmatism with an intensifying progressive bent. Some longtime residents are worried the large flock of newcomers are reshaping Denver to resemble the coastal cities they left behind, while others celebrate the new push toward public transit and a vibrant downtown."
Christian Science Monitor 04/15/2005
A New California Arts Tax?
A member of the California state assmbly proposes a dedicated tax to support the arts. "The bill calls for imposing a 1% surcharge on arts and entertainment admissions — a dime for a $10 movie ticket, about 53 cents for admission to Disneyland or a buck for a $100 seat at the opera or a top arena-rock band. That would raise at least $23 million in annual guaranteed funding for the California Arts Council, the state's main arm for fostering nonprofit arts organizations through annual grants. From a peak of more than $30 million four years ago, the Arts Council has seen its annual funding cut to just more than $3 million."
Los Angeles Times 04/16/2005
In Ohio: Smoking For The Arts
"The Ohio House Finance Committee made a change to the proposed state budget Monday morning that would allow cigarette taxes in Cuyahoga County to be raised by as much as 25 cents per pack to support a countywide arts and cultural district."
The Plain Dealer 04/12/2005
Seattle Theatres Snared By How They Pay Actors
Seattle-area theatres are being told by the state that they can't treat actors as contractors, and must pay them as employees. "At least three theater companies in the region say they are facing fines from the state Employment Security Department. And dozens of others -- along with the broader arts community -- are worrying about what the change could mean."
Seattle Post-Intelligencer 05/27/2005
A Look At A New Opera House For Dallas
Revised designs are unveiled for a new opera house in Dallas. "The opera house is the centerpiece of the $275 million Dallas Center for the Performing Arts, which also includes the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, designed by Rem Koolhaas and his Office for Metropolitan Architecture; and the City Performance Hall by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill of Chicago and Corgan Associates of Dallas."
Dallas Morning News 05/28/2005
Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance receives $2M from the Pew Charitable Trusts for Campaign for Culture
The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance and The Pew Charitable Trusts today announced a $2,000,000 grant by the Trusts to provide core funding for $3,000,000 in marketing initiatives managed by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. The grant will run from 2005 through 2007 and will support the continuation and expansion of the key marketing initiatives of the “Campaign for Culture” including PhillyFunGuide.com, the region’s leading online events calendar; FunSavers, a popular half-price ticket email program; cooperative advertising and direct marketing projects; industry research, and professional development for arts marketers.
Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance 05/24/2005
Art In The 'Burbs
Suburban communities across the US are getting into community art projects. "Some of those forms aim for the sublime. Some are utilitarian. And some are all about community pride and boosterism.
St. Paul Pioneer-Press 06/03/2005
Surviving The Dot-Com Boom And Bust
For many arts groups, the tech bubble of the late 1990s was a boon unlike any other in recent history, a time when businesspeople were rolling in cash and eager to dole it out to needy nonprofits. But in San Francisco, one of the centers of the dot-com boom, the arts were nearly drowned by the concomitant tidal wave of rising real estate prices. "The real estate crunch may have eased when the boom went bust, but now the focus has shifted to battling even more aggressively for financial support, as public and private funding dried up." The crisis gave new direction to the Bay Area group known as Intersection for the Arts, which has been connecting artists, performers and audiences in an attempt to promote a citywide sense of community ownership of the arts.
San Francisco Chronicle 06/16/2005
In SF: An Alternative Art Space At Middle Age
Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco's oldest alternative art space, is turning 40 this year. Its name is now synonymous with the Mission District, and as hipsters flow out onto the street after an evening of experimental theater, art, or jazz, it's hard to imagine the organization existing anywhere other than on that scruffy block of Valencia between 15th and 16th streets.
San Francisco Weekly 06/16/2005
A Tax Break For Performing Arts Radio?
A proposal before the US Congress would give tax incentives to a commercial radio station that gave over its license to performing arts groups. "The Cultural Radio Tax Credit Act of 2005 (or HR 2904) was introduced June 15 and would provide a tax credit to the owner of a radio broadcasting station that "donates the license and other assets of said station to a nonprofit corporation for purposes of supporting nonprofit fine arts and performing arts organizations."
Cultural council sees increased funds
Three year after absorbing a brutal 62% cut in its state funding, the Massachusetts Cultural Council has made slight gains at the legislature, receiving an additional $1.3 million in public funds for fiscal 2006. The increase, signed into law by the state's Republican governor last week, puts the council's overall budget at $9.6 million. Most of the additional money is meant to restore grants that were eliminated in the wake of the budget cuts in 2002. The governor had originally threatened to veto the increase, but changed his mind under pressue from legislative leaders and the public.
Boston Globe 07/06/2005
Foreign Travel To The US Is Way Down
"Planned federal passport and visa rules and other measures intended to safeguard the nation are creating the perception of a Fortress America overseas, tarnishing this country's reputation for hospitality and personal freedom. As a consequence, visa applications from foreign travelers have dropped by one-third from pre-Sept. 11 levels, and fewer foreign students are applying to U.S. schools. Moreover, travel agents report booking foreign travelers away from the United States, and airlines that serve overseas hot spots say business is down on their routes to the United States."
San Francisco Chronicle 07/03/2005
Massachusetts Considers Culture Stimulus Plan
The Massachusetts legislature is considering a big injection of money for the arts. "The new Cultural Facilities Fund, part of a $296 million economic stimulus package proposed for fiscal 2006, would be among the first of its kind in the nation. Aimed at enriching the lives of Massachusetts residents, the fund is also supposed to bolster the state's economy by shoring up attractions that bring tourists and their dollars to the Bay State."
Boston Globe 07/29/2005
Charlotte Proposes $150M Arts Package
The city of Charlotte is considering a package of arts proposals totalling over $150 million, which backers say would revitalize the city's cultural scene. But as with any expensive project involving taxpayer funding, there is controversy brewing. "At a recent City Council meeting, member Nancy Carter contrasted the council's hesitation on the arts plan with its 'stampede' to promise money to a NASCAR Hall of Fame -- if NASCAR lets it go up here... The proposed Hall of Fame would cost $137.5 million -- not far from the price of the five arts projects combined. The city voted unanimously to give the hall nearly $104 million."
Charlotte Observer 07/24/2005
Campbell Touts Traditional Tourism
Cultural tourism and not casinos is the future of economic development for tribes in Indian Country, former U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell said Thursday at the Institute of American Indian Arts.
"Indian tourism has a long way to go," said Campbell, a Republican who was a senator in Colorado from 1993 to 2005 and is a member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe. "Either we do it or someone else is going to do it."
Santa Fe New Mexican 07/22/2005
Wichita - Car Tax For The Arts?
Earlier this year the Wichita (Kansas) City Council agreed to set aside an additional $719,000 in next year's budget for about 27 local arts groups. But that is only a temporary fix, city officials say. The council wants to set up a fund dedicated to the arts." How to do it? A tax on car rentals, but rental companies are complaining..
Wichita Eagle 08/10/2005
Today, thanks to ever more sophisticated software, urban planning itself has increasingly come to resemble a SimCity-style public-policy game. Since the game's debut, the maturing technology known as Geographical Information Systems (GIS)--software for synthesizing database, mapping, and modeling data--has supplanted the paper blueprint roll as the urban planner's dominant tool, enabling planners to map over a geographic region everything from gas lines to transit systems to weather patterns. But it's not just professionals who have their hands on the technology."
Boston Globe 08/07/2005
Early Piano Practice Gets Brain on Course
A study reports that practicing the piano in early childhood boosts the brain. "Childhood is the best time in life to boost the brain's so-called white matter, according to the study, and boost the pyramidal tract, which is a major pathway of the central nervous system, transmitting signals between the brain and the pianist's fingers. The scientists, who investigated the brains of eight concert pianists in their 30s who started practicing as young children, found that the pyramidal tract is more structured in pianists than in non-musicians."
In Minnesota: How About Restoring Arts Funding?
Minnesota's state legislators "gutted arts funding" in 2003. Dominic Papatola writes that with the State meeting to consider funding for stadiums, they shouldn't forget about restoring some of that arts money. "Yes, a bundle of money got tossed at the Guthrie and Children's theaters. But cuts to the Minnesota State Arts Board — which serves individual artists, arts organizations and school kids from Moorhead to Ely to Rochester — cost the agency a third of its budget and two-fifths of its staff. Don't forget that states and municipalities across the country are returning to the arts-funding table."
St. Paul Pioneer-Press 08/21/2005
Mayor: Kill Richmond Performing Arts Center Plans
Richmond, Virginia mayor Douglas Wilder wants the foundation charged with building a new performing arts center in his city to drop their plans and renovate an existing facility. Doing so would "eliminate a new music hall, community playhouse and jazz club that are envisioned by the Virginia Performing Arts Foundation. Wilder said he is tired of waiting for foundation officials to respond to his concerns that they can't raise the money to pay for the $112 million project. He said he is also concerned that the foundation may have misused the $7.6 million of city funds it has received so far."
Richmond Times-Dispatch 08/24/2005
Will Menlo Reinstate Arts Commission?
Last year all seven members of the Menlo Park, California Arts Commission quit when the city decided to repeal its percent-for-art ordinance. Now a proposa; to reinstate the commission has drawn hesitation from the mayor. "Personally, I would love to see a huge number of commissions. But the amount of staff time devoted to a commission can be quite intense. If we reinstate the Arts Commission, we have to ask ourselves what it would displace."
San Francisco Examiner 08/22/2005
Facing The Music In Pittsburgh
It's trial by fire time for 25 arts and culture organizations in Pittsburgh, as the city's Allegheny Regional Asset District prepares to distribute some $78 million in funds. Rather than simply considering grant applications, the RAD board grills representatives of applying groups at a series of public meetings, then renders its decisions based on the board's impressions of the stability of the applicants. This year, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, which recently dropped its live orchestra and is struggling to stay afloat, is on the hot seat, with the RAD board worrying that PBT is "draining its endowment to balance its budget."
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 09/07/2005
Katrina ruins some Gulf cultural sites
As it ripped through Mississippi's coast and submerged New Orleans in a toxic stew, Hurricane Katrina laid waste to some of the region's cultural institutions but spared others with slight or moderate damage.
Associated Press 09/07/2005
An American Tragedy, Live & All Too Local
Nick Spitzer's popular public radio program, American Routes, has always been heavily flavored by New Orleans, the city from whence it originates. Now the program, like everyone else in the Big Easy, is in exile, and Spitzer is using the program as an unofficial catalog of the cultural loss of one of America's great musical centers. According to Spitzer, Katrina "[may be] America's biggest cultural disaster - in the sense of the loss of New Orleans's cultural stuff, the loss of the communities there that interact and the lack of will to move as quickly as if these houses being flooded were on the coast of Kennebunkport. And even for those of us who got out, there's this grinding uncertainty of whether we'll ever get back and ever live the same again."
New York Times 09/07/2005
The Cultural Devastation of Katrina
Katrina struck at the very heart of the Deep South's cultural community, and while some individual organizations may have escaped relatively unscathed, the rebuilding effort for the arts will take many, many years. The head of the National Endowment for the Arts points out that "culture is the second largest industry in Louisiana," and across the Gulf Coast, venues have been damaged or destroyed and artists themselves are scattered to the winds. And while overall relief efforts are well underway, priorities of safety and livability are necessitating a "hurry up and wait" approach for many arts organizations.
Birmingham News 09/18/2005
KC PAC Goes Back To Original Plan
The contentious negotiations to build a new performing arts center in Kansas City have taken another turn, this time sparking a return to the original plan to build the PAC on a downtown hilltop. "The decision ends months of uncertainty that began in April when the center board voted to examine an alternative — renovating the historic Lyric Theatre at 11th and Central streets and adding a new concert hall. Backers said the concept did not save enough money to justify abandoning the earlier plan." Funding for the project, which is estimated to cost $304 million, is still somewhat uncertain, but backers are hoping to start construction by fall 2006.
Kansas City Star 09/18/2005
A Famous DC Literary Bookstore Vies To Be Non-Profit
Washington DC's literary bookstore Chapters is 20 years old. But to make it to 21, the store is attempting a radical reinvention. "Without help -- in the form of a fundraising drive that will allow it to be bought out by a nonprofit foundation -- the bookstore may have trouble making it to 21. The strategy is similar to that employed by the Avalon Theatre Project, which succeeded two years ago in reopening Washington's oldest surviving movie house by converting it to nonprofit status."
Washington Post 09/15/2005
In Minneapolis: A New Ten-Year Plan For Arts
"Mayor R.T. Rybak says under the guidance of the new plan, the city will develop cultural leaders, double funding for public art, and promote Minneapolis arts and culture both locally and nationally. He says a key aspect of the plan is to support those small and mid-sized arts organizations that don't have a large staff or wealthy boards. But this is the same mayor who drastically cut back his Office of Cultural Affairs four years ago in an effort to dig the city out of some major debt."
Minnesota Public Radio 09/22/2005
Scalia: Government Has Right To Deny Arts Funding
US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says the government has the right to deny funding for art of which it disapproves. "The First Amendment has not repealed the basic rule of life, that he who pays the piper calls the tune. When you place the government in charge of funding art, just as when you place the government in charge of providing education, somebody has to pick the content of what art is going to be funded, what subjects are going to be taught. The only way to eliminate any government choice on what art is worthwhile, what art isn't worthwhile, is to get the government totally out of the business of funding."
The New York Times 09/23/2005
Baryshnikov Center - Building To An Opening
Mikhail Baryshnikov is getting close to opening his new arts center on Manhattan's West Side. "I did not want something designed purely for dance. While we were planning, we went to almost every theater and studio space built in New York over the last 60 years and saw what worked and what didn't. The specifics of the spaces, the adaptable walls, the height of the ceilings, the technical possibilities all had to make opera, cabaret or plays feasible, too."
New York Times 09/25/2005
LA Schools Build Arts Education Percent At A Time
The ten-year program is designed to "help the 80 Los Angeles County school districts develop plans for putting arts into the curricula for all students and to encourage school boards to work toward committing 5% of their operating budgets to arts education. It is a modest program, at least in terms of making up for years of diminished funding for the arts. Many of the county's 1,800 public schools provide a spotty arts program at best. And, the emphasis on standardized testing coupled with district budget shortages in recent years have left arts educators wondering whether their subjects will ever be a school priority."
Los Angeles Times 09/28/2005
Michigan Proposes Major Arts Funding Cuts
Michigan's state legislature proposes cutting arts funding by 17.5 percent. "Cuts to the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs leave $9.1 million for grants, down 63% from a recent peak of $24.4 million in 2002."
Detroit Free Press 09/28/2005
Arts Education Council Member Receives Leadership Award
Pennsylvania Governor Rendell announced the recipients of the 2005 Governor's Awards for the Arts honoring outstanding artists, arts organizations and patrons of the arts in Pennsylvania for their excellence and achievement in the arts.
The first award for Outstanding Leadership and Service in arts in Education will be presented to Dr. Sarah Tambucci, Executive Director of the Arts Education Collaborative in Pittsburgh and member of the Arts Education Council at Americans for the Arts.
Dr. Tambucci's experience as a visual arts teacher, art department chair, elementary school principal for the Chartiers Valley School District, and adjunct faculty member provides her with an extensive education background. Among her most noteworthy leadership positions is Past President of the National Arts Education Association (NAEA) and Past President of the Pennsylvania Art Education Association (PAEA). She is a passionate advocate for the role of the arts as part of a comprehensive education.
State of Pennsylvania 09/29/2005
US Opposes UNESCO Initiative
The United States is opposing a major new UNESCO convention on cultural diversity. "The convention's supporters argue that the treaty will protect and promote cultural diversity in the face of cultural globalization, but the United States believes it is intended to restrict exports of American audiovisual products, particularly Hollywood movies and television programs.
The New York Times 10/13/2005
City rejects arts group's $2 million
An ongoing feud between the mayor of Richmond, Virginia and backers of a new performing arts center ratcheted up several notches this week when representatives of the PAC attempted to deliver a check for $2 million to the city. Under the terms of a 2004 agreement between the city and the PAC, the land on which the center is to be built will revert to city control in 2007 if a building permit is not secured by that time, unless the PAC chooses to pay the city $2 million. PAC officials decided to exercise that clause early, after months of wrangling with the mayor and other opponents of the project. But the mayor directed the city to refuse the check, and declared the entire 2004 agreement void, saying that PAC leaders were trying to buy the land well below market value.
Richmond Times Dispatch 10/11/2005
State Funding Increases Reported
Of the 50 states, the analysis found, 33 increased their state arts appropriations, 10 made cuts, and seven remained the same in comparison to the 2005 fiscal year. According to the report, this translates into a $21.9 million overall increase, or about 8%."
New York City's Arts Mayor
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is not a connoisseur of the arts. But his administration has been the most supportive administration of the arts in a very long time. "Under Mr. Bloomberg, public art has flourished in every corner of the city - from 'Element E,' a Roy Lichtenstein sculpture in the center of the former Tweed Courthouse, to a classic limestone statue in the Bronx, to 'The Gates,' set up by Christo and Jeanne-Claude last winter in Central Park, a project for which he personally lobbied for almost a decade. The city's art commission, once knee-capped by the Giuliani administration as an elitist irritant, has been empowered at the highest level, with a voice in every significant public-works project in the city."
The New York Times 10/23/2005
A Go For $326-Million Kansas City Performing Arts Center
Arts backers in Kansas City say they're going ahead with plans to build a $326-million performing arts center designed by Moshe Safdie. The project has been in the planning since spring 2002. "The board of the center has approved groundbreaking for fall 2006 contingent upon reaching an interim funding goal of $45 million prior to Feb.1, 2006. The plan calls for two 1,600-seat halls, one for symphonic music, the other for opera and ballet. Backers have raised $228.5 million so far, leaving them $97.5 million short of their goal."
Kansas City Star 10/24/2005
Philly's Mann Center To Get Major Upgrades
"Philadelphia's Mann Center for the Performing Arts broke ground Wednesday on a $14.2 million upgrade. ... The Mann Center, which is in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park, was opened in 1976 as the summer home of the Philadelphia Orchestra. ... In July 2004, [the center's CEO] outlined a $30 million plan to modernize the center. Wednesday's ground breaking signals the first phase of that work. Among the improvements will be an education center to provide dedicated facilities for the 25,000 school children the center receives each year."
Philadelphia Business Journal 10/27/2005
Boston Globe Arts Staff Takes A Big Hit
The Boston Globe's A&E section takes a big hit as prominent critics take buyouts. "Veteran reporters slated to leave that section of the paper include pop/rock music writer Steve Morse, theater critic Ed Siegel, feature writer Jack Thomas, classical music critic Richard Dyer and arts reporter Maureen Dezell. The Globe announced the buyout package in October as a cost-cutting attempt to avoid layoffs by cutting 35 newsroom positions."
Boston Herald 11/23/2005
SF: Portrait Of An Arts Scene
San Francisco is bursting with arts activity. And most of the region's myriad arts groups are doing well, both artistically and financially. Still, 63 percent of artists in the Bay Area earn less than $7,000 a year from their art...
San Francisco Chronicle 11/26/2005
Clinton praises Westchester Arts Council
Art is not a luxury, but a necessity for a productive society, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton told Westchester County arts patrons at a black-tie dinner last night. "The arts are essential to our well-being," she said. "The arts have really transformed neighborhoods. When you bring artists back, you bring life back."
Westchester Journal News 11/20/2005
Battle For The Architectural Soul Of The South
America's Gulf Coast is rebuilding. But a battle has broken out about what rebuilding will look like. "The idea that New Urbanists may be helping to write plans for the new Gulf Coast has horrified many architects and left-leaning cultural critics — revealing, in the process, quite a bit about the ambitions and anxieties that mark contemporary architectural practice in this country."
Los Angeles Times 12/04/2005
New York's Arts Ed Battle
Arts education in New York City schools is still a spotty thing. The system suffers from "a lack of such facilities as art or dance studios, an inadequate supply of basic material and equipment such as musical instruments, and a shortage of arts teachers. Some 150 public schools –- more than one in ten -- still have no full-time arts teachers of any kind."
Gotham Gazette 11/30/2005
Art town, USA
A string of provincial pearls - including Paducah, Ky.; Rising Sun, Ind.; Fergus Falls, Minn.; and Cumberland, Md. - are banking on the arts for economic revival. "The eruption of these rural culture capitals also means more Americans can find original art to view or buy on a weekend or day trip. In recent years, surveys by the Travel Industry of America have called arts- and culture-based travel a strong and growing segment."
Christian Science Monitor 12/02/2005
Kansas City Arts Scene Prices Out Artists
"It's a process familiar to anyone who has watched the evolution of SoHo in New York or most other downtown revitalizations. However positive the impact on the Kansas City art scene - attracting new galleries and people like the Tylers away from the East Coast - urban renewal has also threatened to squeeze out the artists who pioneered its progress."
The New York Times 11/29/2005