Compromising Public Art (or Like Putting a Ribbon on a Goose)

Posted by Tricia Wasney, Feb 14, 2013

"Flight Stop" at Eaton Centre. "Flight Stop" at Eaton Centre.


A landmark decision stemming from altering a public artwork in Canada in 1982 changed the way the work of artists is respected and entrenched clauses of the Canadian Copyright Act for the betterment of all artists. Michael Snow, an internationally acclaimed artist, was commissioned by the Eaton Centre in Toronto to create an artwork for this popular downtown shopping mall. Flight Stop, consisting of 60 fiberglass Canada geese, was installed in the atrium in 1979. Soaring up six stories overhead, the work is both arresting and strangely calming as it juxtaposes an image of grand freedom with the frenetic business of commerce below. During the Christmas season of 1981, the mall owners thought it would be festive to tie red ribbons around the necks of the geese. Michael Snow was not amused. Snow brought legal action against the Eaton Centre, getting an injunction to have the ribbons removed. He argued that the decorations violated the intent of his work, infringed upon his moral rights, and damaged his reputation as an artist. The court agreed and said “the plaintiff is adamant in his belief that his naturalistic composition has been made to look ridiculous by the addition of ribbons and suggests it is not unlike dangling earrings from the Venus de Milo. While the matter is not undisputed, the plaintiff’s opinion is shared by a number of other well-respected artists and people knowledgeable in his field.”

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Crossing Cultures: A New Necessity? (an EALS Post)

Posted by Joshua Midgett, Mar 08, 2013

Joshua Midgett Joshua Midgett

The expansion of marketplaces from local to global is rapid. As technology continues to evolve and the world ‘shrinks’, cross-cultural exchange and appreciation are vital to the success of an individual in any field. It is especially significant in the field of the arts, where so often culture finds its voice.

In a field where planning is already a difficult task, it is significant to discuss this expansion of perspective. The international aspects of audience, cooperation, cultural differences, and philanthropy add an extra piece or pieces to the organizational puzzle. This new challenge has not gone unnoticed by the arts management community.

Here at American University, a new Certificate in International Arts Management has been recently unveiled. Nearby, the Kennedy Center has been working with and training international arts managers since 2008.

Programs across the country are beginning take notice, and if entire degrees aren't dedicated to the topic, many classes will be. While this field is as young as the technology that is accelerating its development, there is little doubt that it will soon be an integral part of any arts management training. 

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Art as a Process, Not Just a Product for Young Children

Posted by Judy Witmer, Mar 21, 2013

Judy Witmer Judy Witmer

About 5.5 years ago, the Chief Operating Officer and Owner of Hildebrandt Learning Centers (HLC), Bill Grant, offered me the trip of a lifetime, a visit to the Reggio Emilia Schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy. These programs in Italy are known as to be some of the best early care and learning programs worldwide from which many early care and learning programs strive to emulate or incorporate aspects of this program into their own.

To be able to experience firsthand something that I had read and studied for years was inspiring. At the heart of the Reggio Emilia approach is the belief that children are competent, capable, curious, and able to actively participate in their own learning versus a “blank” slate waiting to be filled with information.

The curriculum is flexible and emerges from the interests, thoughts, and observations of the children. The teachers become researchers and participate side by side in the child’s explorations, providing opportunities, materials and a framework from which children can explore ideas, problem solve, and project conclusions.

The approach is a lot more comprehensive than this quick synopsis, but HLC early care and learning programs embrace many of the same principles and is based on the teachings of educational philosophers, such as Piaget, Vygotsky, Howard Gardner, etc. which are also the foundation for the Reggio Emilia approach

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Assessing Cultural Infrastructure

Posted by Scott Kratz, G. Martin Moeller, Jr., Apr 02, 2013

Most of the world’s great cultural capitals emerged organically through a virtuous cycle in which creative people flocked to prosperous cities, where they helped to create or expand prominent cultural institutions, which in turn attracted more creative people, and so on.

During the modern era, however, the historically strong correlation between economic vitality and cultural resources diminished somewhat. In some cases, new centers of economic activity developed with unprecedented speed, making it difficult for cultural institutions—which tend to have long gestation periods—to keep up. In the U.S. in particular, the migration of substantial wealth to the suburbs often left venerable urban institutions impoverished, while depriving nascent cultural organizations of the critical mass necessary for success.

The past couple of decades have been marked by a revival of interest in cultural infrastructure and a growing belief that museums, performing arts centers, libraries, programmed civic spaces and other cultural facilities can themselves foster social and economic progress.

The poster child of this trend is the Guggenheim Bilbao, designed by Frank Gehry, which has been credited with the revival of a small, rather run-down industrial city in Spain. Careful analysis of economic and other data suggests that the influence of this one project is often overstated, but there can be no doubt that it was a significant catalyst for urban revival, not only because of the museum’s mission and content, but also because of its exhilarating architectural form.

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How the Arts and Military Can Help Cultural Diplomacy

Posted by Mr. Nolen V. Bivens , May 15, 2013

Brigadier General Nolen Bivens, U.S. Army, Ret. Brigadier General Nolen Bivens, U.S. Army, Ret.


The conditions have been set and it’s now time to use the arts and cultural engagement at ground and grassroots level to further enhance cultural diplomacy and effectiveness of military security cooperation operations.

The model for military operations has six phases. The recent withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq and the goal of drawing down troops in Afghanistan beginning in July of this year, returns the focus of U.S. Military leadership to preparing for the future and the point in its operational phasing model known as Phase Zero – shaping the environment.

In the 12 years since beginning combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, joint U.S. Military Forces, other governmental and non-governmental organizations, and coalition members have demonstrated unprecedented courage, sacrifice and even creativity to protect national interest in the Middle East region.

Realizing that a key component to success during these operations is winning the hearts and minds of the people, they also learned how vital and necessary the “whole of government” approach is during all phases of military operations; that is, integrating activity across the whole of society – the political, military, economic, social, infrastructure and information components.

Examples include bringing the curatorial skills of the Archaeological Institute of America, Iraq’s Cultural Ministry and U.S. Army Reserve soldiers to address the ransacking of Iraq’s museums and archeological sites by looters and insurgents.  For those not familiar with the story, in the aftermath of the fall of Baghdad, “Mobs of treasure hunters” tore into “Iraqi archaeological sites, stealing urns, statues, vases and cuneiform tablets that dated back 3,000 years and more to Babylon” according to some archaeologists. From a nongovernmental perspective, Greg Mortenson, author of "Stones into Schools" built 130 schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan – an effort that did not go unnoticed by four-star U.S. military commanders. His 2006 book “Three Cups of Tea” was “required reading for all Special Forces soldiers deploying to Afghanistan.”

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Where is Our "Road Map?"

Posted by Marete Wester, Mar 17, 2011

Marete Wester

Marete Wester

As I write this, the clock is ticking on the deadline for the March 18 end to the Continuing Resolution passed by the Congress that allows the government to keep on working—despite the fact that the 2011 federal budget is still being debated.

New members of Congress are working hard to fulfill campaign promises to cut the budget deficit—even if it means reneging on commitments to education and other areas where promises have been made.

Not surprisingly, the fate of 33 grants totaling $40 million to model arts education programs across the country through the U.S. Department of Education lie in this shadow, the outcome still uncertain.

And yet, despite an almost daily offering of news pieces, blogs, and op-eds placing creativity and innovation at the top of what a multitude of experts from economists to educators to engineers say will help the country out of our economic crisis, we find ourselves once again having to make the case for why the arts—the proverbial “primordial ooze” of creativity—is worthy of government investment.   

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