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March 3-9


Declaration Of Dependence Much of the history of the world has been the story of struggle against the powers that be, a fight for independence. But artists can no longer delude themselves into thinking they are independent - at least not if they want to be successful. "She and he calculate, measure and double-guess their art's compatibility with the rigid rules of the distribution of art, which dictate that art should be packaged in novelty and product-recognition or name-recognition, regardless of the esthetics or ideology represented in it..." ArtKrush 01/03

The Price Is Right? Wrong? Who Knows The price of something rarely has to do with how much it costs to make it. Setting prices is a complicated psychological game. "Anyone who sells anything knows that price is the pivot of business, the ultimate leverage. If you can raise prices - even a bit - you can increase profits dramatically. If you can't raise prices, you feel like your business is struggling, regardless of what is happening with cost, quality, or service. Meanwhile, anyone who buys anything knows that almost nothing has a single price anymore. Want to know the price of something? Well, you get back a series of questions: Who are you? How long have you been a customer? How much are you buying? How good are you at unblinking negotiation? Did you bring your frequent-shopper card?" FastCompany Issue 68

Envisioning The City No one wants their city to become a sprawling, ugly mess. So why do so many cities end up that way, and why is it so difficult to reverse the trend? A combination of economic and political factors make for a wall of resistance against "building smart," and city zoning codes and neighborhood objections (also known as the Not-In-My-Backyard phenomenon) play a significant role in slowing responsible urban growth. As a result, only the most doggedly determined urban planners ever see their visions come to fruition in American cities. The Next American City 03/03

Clamping Down On Free Speech How does the Digital Millennium Copyright Act threaten freedom of expression? "The DMCA gives corporations the power to essentially purge from the Internet what they deem to be copyright and trademark violations, usually by forcing Internet service providers to remove offending Web sites. The act encourages such behavior because the law states that ISPs and Web host companies can avoid liability only if they comply with copyright owners’ demands to quickly remove so-called infringing materials. Search engines are also liable under the law for simply pointing users to Web sites, though they too can avoid lawsuits if they cave to the demands of overzealous copyright owners by removing certain search results. Intellectual property owners can simply make your voice disappear if they do not like what you have to say about them—whether you are liberal, conservative or neither. This is something that was much more difficult in a non-digital world." In These Times 01/03

Venice - A Theme Park Of The Past Venice - it looks so old, so preserved, so of another time. And it is. But it has been a battle - between those who believe it should always look the way it looked and those who wanted the city to evolve. So Venice now sits a prisoner of the past - but not really. Like all theme parks, Venice must be maintained and restored to keep the illusions alive. "In 1966 a great flood deluged Venice, and when it was repaired it looked exactly as it had done. After decades of restoration it looks as well as it ever has. Its international audience luxuriates in Venice. But the numbers of tourists rise uncontrollably and the city is flooded with monotonous regularity." The Economist 03/01/03


The Netherlands of Arts Funding Dutch government spending on the arts is impressive. "The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science's staggering $21 billion budget is the largest of any Dutch government agency. Adjusted to population size, it's roughly equivalent to the military budget of the United States. The culture ministry spends $400 million a year directly on the arts — about $25 for every Dutch citizen. But the free ride may be ending. Recent policy dictates that "artists must be supported, equipped and stimulated to stir up their spirit of enterprise," and institutions must now meet minimum targets for raising private revenues, or risk losing subsidies." The New York Times 03/09/03

Pennsylvania Arts Funding Saved Pennsylvania's governor Ed Rendell has decided not to ask for cuts in his state's arts spending. "Why, then, did Rendell stay committed to arts funding as he sought to make up a $2.4 billion shortfall? Arts supporters across Pennsylvania say it's because he saw how Philadelphia arts initiatives benefited that city when he was mayor. Arts leaders also suggest the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts was spared because whittling its budget would not add much to the cuts Rendell needed to make. Its $14 million budget represents 0.07 percent of Pennsylvania's general fund." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 03/07/03

Michigan Arts Funding To Be Cut 50 Percent Michigan's governor proposes cutting state arts funding by 50 percent. "The steep cuts, which left $11.8 million for arts grants, are a particularly bitter pill for arts groups because the bleak economy has already forced corporations and foundations to slash their arts giving. In addition, arts institutions have seen investment income from endowments plummet along with the stock market." Detroit Free Press 03/07/03

Does How We Applaud Say Something About Who We Are? It is "one of the truisms of London cultural life: standing ovations are rarely seen in the theatres, opera houses or concert halls. Across the Atlantic, however, leaping to your feet is almost the norm. Could it be that national character informs the way that we applaud? Or does our reception of a performance have a direct bearing on our attitude to culture?" London Evening Standard 03/05/03

Melbourne's Arts Funding Woes Melbourne's arts institutions are suffering from underfunding they say. "Critics of the Government have questioned its commitment to the arts, saying there is no obvious cultural policy and that it is operating in a policy vacuum." The Age (Melbourne) 03/06/03

That Arts Degree Will Earn You Less So you have that arts degree and feel you're not earning what you should? Turns out the statistics are against you. Researchers have concluded that university graduates with arts degrees - including history, English and sociology - "should expect to make between 2% and 10% less than those who quit education at 18." BBC 03/06/03

In NJ: Arts Funding As Your Own Personal Slush Fund How did New Jersey (whose governor is proposing to cut state arts funding completely) distribute a $3 million supplemental fund for the arts this year? The state's Secretary of State - with "bare-bones application forms and no written evaluation process" - unilaterally decided how it would be spent. Regena Thomas "conceded the applications were not measured against one another or ranked in any formal way. Rather, the winners - 33 out of 195 applicants - were chosen based on input from legislators and her own personal interests. All but $217,000 of the $3 million announced in January went to organizations located in Democratic districts." A month after the grants were awarded, Governor McGreevey "called for the elimination of all cultural funding and the dismantling of the agencies that distribute that money." Newark Star-Ledger 03/03/03

Bay Area Arts Groups Downsizing Bay Area arts groups are scaling back and cutting budgets and programs as they struggle to balance their budgets. "Call it the year of 'rightsizing' for arts groups, as many realize funding won't rebound any time soon and they must scale back operating expenses in order to survive. "We're pulling in tight. It's as dark a chapter in the contemporary arts as I've lived in." San Francisco Business Journal 03/03/03

Who Will Get To Control Innovation? Has "digital rights management" which allows copyright holders to control access to their work, gone too far, choking off innovation? And is public access to the airwaves something that should be open or should the broadcast band be tightly owned and managed? Two conferences in California last week chewed over increasingly complicated issues of control of ideas and innovation. The New York Times 03/02/03


Remaking Milwaukee Ballet Milwaukee Ballet's new artistic director Michael Pink isn't wasting any time making changed to the company. Not only is the company's repertoire changing, but at most, only 14 of the company's 28 dancers will be back for a new season. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel 03/09/03

Is America Forgetting How To Dance? In a period when audiences for classical music, museums and opera have grown, the dance audience has shrunk. "Between 1993 and 2000, attendance in the United States for large ballet companies (with budgets of more than $6 million) fell by 25 percent. Audiences for mid-sized companies (with budgets that are $6 million or less) dropped 18.7 percent, according to Dance/USA. It is dramatically clear. By all measurements, audiences for ballet are down." Baltimore Sun 03/09/03

Why Baltimore Doesn't Dance Why doesn't Baltimore have a significant dance company? "It's not only that we don't have a major resident dance company. We also don't present key professional touring companies from around the U.S. Rightly or not, Baltimore has a reputation as a city that doesn't appreciate dance, a reputation fueled by very public failures of flagship troupes." Baltimore Sun 03/09/03

Taking Solace In A Tango? "Argentina is struggling to emerge from the worst economic crisis in its history, and a nine-day tango festival here, which ends on Sunday night, is a government-sponsored attempt to offer some solace to the population. But the event also raises questions not only about the place of tango in contemporary Argentine society but also about its vitality and future." The New York Times 03/08/03

A little Healthy Competition The Kennedy Center's International Ballet Festival presents the rare chance to see major companies daning side by side. "This first week of the festival, featuring the Royal Danish Ballet, the Bolshoi Ballet and ABT performing at the Eisenhower Theater through Sunday, is not to be missed. The evening is buoyed by healthy competition; each company is trying to outdo the others with its best dancers and signature choreography. Does the festival offer a true representation of the performance styles that distinguish these troupes? Not exactly." Washington Post 03/06/03

SF Ballet Cuts Dancers To Save Money San Francisco Ballet has cut four dancers from its roster, including two principals. "Friday's dismissals will leave the ballet with 69 dancers under contract next season, which begins in February 2004. That will save the company about $350,000, said Ballet Executive Director Glenn McCoy. The administrative staff also has been reduced, by 12 percent, and salaries have been frozen." San Francisco Chronicle 03/04/03

Channel Islands Ballet Cancels Performances The Channel Islands Ballet in Southern California told its dancers last week it has a $150,000 debt and can't afford to pay them. "While two performances have been canceled, the company's board of directors is still hoping the money can be raised by April 1 so the troupe can finish the remainder of the season, which ends in June. The company had planned for two more performances in May and June." Los Angeles Times 03/02/03


Study: TV Violence For Kids Makes Them Aggressive Adults A new study reports that "boys and girls who watch a lot of violence on television have a heightened risk of aggressive adult behavior including spouse abuse and criminal offenses, no matter how they act in childhood." Yahoo! (AP) 03/09/03

A Film Fest With Buzz "This week they're celebrating the 10th anniversary of the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference and Festival, a nine-day event that started off as a mere offshoot of the longer-running SXSW Music Festival, but that has quietly proven itself as a must-do stop on the film circuit. SXSW Film now has more genuine buzz behind it than Robert Redford's Sundance Film Festival, which a decade ago was a lot like SXSW is today (a cautionary note, perhaps)." Toronto Star 03/09/03

Is December The Only Quality Movie Month? All the movies nominated for this year's Best Picture Oscar were released in December. "If this becomes the only way to get an Oscar nomination, it could mean Hollywood solely releases its 'quality' movies in December from now on. But if that occurs, what will happen the other 11 months? "Jackass" knockoffs?" Denver Post 03/09/03

One-Stop Media - A Good Idea? Should media companies be allowed to own newspapers, radio and TV stations in the same market? In America, the Federal Communications Commission is considering the idea. In radio, relaxing limits on how many stations one company can own has resulted in mass consolidation of the industry. Critics are concerned: "I don't think it exaggerates a bit to say that fundamental components of democracy are at stake when the airwaves belong to the public. This is about how we discuss issues and how we disseminate them." Seattle Weekly 03/06/03

Will Piracy End TV As We Know It? Hollywood TV and movie execs told Congress Thursday that "without copy protection the threat of extensive piracy will force the industry to move its best programming to pay services such as cable and satellite TV. 'Over-the-air television as we know it today will be a thing of the past'." Yahoo! (AP) 03/06/03

DVD Burners - What, Me Worry? DVD recorders are here. But the movie industry doesn't seem to be greatly concerned. "The reason? Hollywood has learned from the piracy woes of its music-industry cousins. Unlike music CDs, DVD movies have encryption codes that make them almost impossible to burn. And the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has aggressively prosecuted pirates like Norwegian teenager "DVD John" Johansen, who publicized on the Net the copyright-protection code of a range of DVDs." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/05/03

Wanna Make A Movie? Better Start Saving... "The price of making a movie soared dramatically last year, with the average major studio production costing nearly $59 million, a 23% increase from 2001, the Motion Picture Assn. of America announced Tuesday. It was the biggest percentage increase since 1997 and a little more than double the $29 million of 10 years ago." Los Angeles Times 03/05/03

CBC Funding - Down? Up? Who Knows? When the Canadian government announced this year's budget for the CBC last week, it looked as though the national broadcaster was in line for a $50 million cut. Then Heritage minister Sheila Copps indicated that with supplemental funding, the CBC would be funded at an all-time high. Then a couple more budget figures came out, and clarifications failed to make things less cloudy. So will the CBC be getting more or less money? Unclear - even the CBC itself seems bewildered... The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/03/03

Cable TV Prefers Alphabet Soup To Real Names The Learning Channel, The History Channel, Black Entertainment Television - they're all proper names for their respective cable networks. But those networks have been abandoning the names for letters. It's a matter of branding. "If you think about a lot of brands and how they are successful - Tide or Cheer - it's because they have simple, short names that people can remember." Nando Times (AP) 03/02/03


Scoring The Best Orchestras Which is the best orchestra in the world? Donald Rosenberg tries to define criteria. "The temptation to line up orchestras and score them as if they were sports teams is tempting. But it doesn't work. Art can't be assessed on the basis of points. Every orchestra is different. Some are perceptibly better than others. Evaluating an orchestra largely has to do with style, traditions and concepts of sound. Anything else is cheerleading. Still, it is instructive and fun to listen closely to orchestras to discern the qualities that make them unusual and special." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 03/09/03

Orchestra Interrupted The Houston Symphony strike is a wrongheaded debacle that has damaged a fine orchestra and threatens to put it out of business, writes Sam Bergman. Already, musicians are slipping out of town headed to other jobs - four members have won jobs elsewhere so far - and the dismantling has already begun. No question times are tough for arts organizations everywhere, but does Houston really want to abandon one of its major cultural assets? 4th Stand Inside 03/09/03

Looks: 10...Music? How can opera compete in a world of multimedia? "In an attempt to connect with a broad and unspecialized public, opera companies have sought the ministrations of directors who are inventive, fearless - and often indifferent to the music they purport to serve. These theatrical interpreters are granted liberties that musical interpreters would never take: Operas are constantly being shuttled from one era to another, causing havoc with time-bound librettos, yet the score remains more or less sacrosanct." Newsday 03/09/03

Anti-War Songs Absent On Commercial Radio "Songwriters denouncing war with Iraq are trying to speed up an artistic and political reaction that took years, not months, to gather momentum in the 1960's. The new antiwar songs are virtually absent from commercial radio stations, where most programmers wouldn't dream of dividing or alienating their listenership. Instead, songs are arriving from various fringes — on the collegiate indie-rock circuit, in hip-hop's activist wing and among the heirs to folky 1960's protesters." The New York Times 03/09/03

Fogel: Bad Times For Orchestras Going To Get Worse Orchestras across America are struggling to stay in business. And it's going to get worse, says Henry Fogel, president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. "The great economy and high stock market of the '90s helped mask some of the problems orchestras are now facing. And watch out - Fogel predicts that 'next year will be the worst year for orchestras, which by then will have suffered three bad years in a row'." Atlanta Journal-Constitution 03/09/03

The Savannah Symphony's "Death Spiral" The Savannah Symphony's demise was awhile coming - the orchestra has made a series of mistakes over a number of years. "Unable to make payroll, $1.3 million in debt, demoralized by dwindling audiences and backstage squabbles, the orchestra first canceled several weeks of concerts while attempting a "rescue" fund-raising drive. When no major patrons answered the SOS, the season was declared over. In hindsight, the SSO's death spiral started on two paths: budgetary promises made and later broken, and a triangle of acrimony within the organization." Atlanta Journal-Constitution 03/09/03

Houston Symphony Musicians To Strike Musicians of the Houston Symphony say they'll go on strike after Saturday night's concert, rejecting the orchestra's imposition of unilateral cuts in pay. The musicians had offered a compromise pay cut Friday, but the orchestra rejected it. "Our decision is a stand for the principles that we continue to espouse: that Houston deserves a world-class orchestra. It has one now. It stands to lose that now." Houston Chronicle 03/08/03

Opera As A Big Fun Show "Whether or not the Broadway Bohème is an operatic success is almost beside the point. It is a marketing triumph that will likely allow Luhrmann and his investors to recoup the show's $6.5 million investment - and then some. La Bohème's success shows that it's possible, if expensive, to sell opera to non-operagoers. There's a lesson here for opera impresarios. It shouldn't be that hard to persuade people who love the art form to attend performances by giving them a good reason for going. And if opera can go to Broadway, why can't Broadway go to the opera?" Opera News 03/03

The Rap On Rap Music Videos A new US study says that "black teenage girls who view more rap videos are apparently more likely to get in trouble with the law, to take drugs or to become infected with sexually transmitted diseases. Only two factors other than rap-music viewing boosted the teens' rates of promiscuity, substance abuse and violence: lack of employment and lack of parents who monitor teen activities. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/07/03

Opera Australia's New Boss In taking on the top job at Opera Australia, conductor Roger Hickox committed to "moving to Sydney, fund-raising and programming one new Australian opera every two years." Mr Hickox, 55, was the unanimous choice of the board and the advisory committee. He was among a four-person shortlist that included two Australians. Mr Hickox has been involved with the company since 1994 and has conducted five operas for it." Sydney Morning Herald 03/07/03

Just Blow The Damn Thing Up "The cumulative force of years of negative posturing, while successful in increasing musicians' pay scales, in my opinion has weakened the Symphony's prospects and credibility." So speaks Roy Nolen, a former Houston Symphony board member who says that the orchestra's problems do not stem from a lack of management competence, but from the inability of the musicians to accept the reality that the residents of the nation's fourth-largest city simply do not care about orchestral music. "It may be time for the Houston Symphony Society to consider whether a single-city symphony orchestra of high quality is viable in Houston." Houston Chronicle 03/06/03

Live And In Concert (And Recording) Bootleg live concert recording is booming, with fans trading recordings of thousands of concerts over the internet. "It is not just that the recordings of live performances are of far better quality than the scratchy cassettes of 40 years ago. It is that copies of such a recording, and subsequent copies of the copies, are better." The New York Times 03/06/03

Norah Jones Gets Big Grammy Boost Norah Jones' Grammy wins have done wonders for sales of her album. "Come Away With Me," sold 621,000 copies after her Grammy sweep, almost 500,000 more than the week before, the biggest post-Grammy sales spike ever, according to her record company." Hartford Courant (AP) 03/06/03

One-Minute Opera - How To Write Better For The Stage There aren't enough good operas being written. Why? Poor music, bad stories, awkward librettos. Aldeburgh is trying to help. So it invited a group of writers and composers to spend a week together exploring one another's craft. First assignment? team up and write a one-minute scene. It's tougher than it seems... The Guardian (UK) 03/06/03

Setting An Example In San Antonio The mayor of San Antonio announced this week that he will donate $5000 from his office's discretionary fund to the struggling San Antonio Symphony, which missed payroll last Friday and is facing more than $500,000 of immediate debt. Mayor Ed Garza also exhorted other city leaders to match his contribution, and called on corporate leaders to broaden the base of support for the ensemble. The symphony's musicians have agreed to keep playing despite going without their paychecks, at least for the moment. San Antonio Express-News 03/04/03

Forget the Women And Children! Board Members First! The entire board of the financially shaky Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra has resigned after learning that its members could be on the hook for more than a million dollars if the organization were to file for bankruptcy. The resignations occurred after the WSO was informed that its liability coverage was being cut back from $2 million to $1 million. The orchestra is operating under a CDN$1.8 million deficit. For now, the WSO is being run by a 6-member management committee, and the provincial culture ministry is promising to help the organization make payroll in the short term. CBC 03/04/03

  • Pushing Ahead Members of the Winnipeg Symphony management team, as well as leaders among the musicians, are moving to assure the public and the press that the mass resignation of the orchestra's board does not mean that the organization is near filing for bankruptcy. But while the ensemble does not appear to be in imminent danger of collapse, "since the extent of its financial troubles became known late last fall, the WSO has lost three of its four professional fundraisers and three chief executive officers." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/05/03

Will The Big Five Recording Companies Become The Big Three? The recording industry is talking merger again. In this shrinking market, the savings that might be squeezed from a merger offer a lifeline. In the past, European regulators have been an obstacle, repeatedly blocking mergers among the big five record companies—Vivendi's Universal Music, Sony Music, EMI, AOL Time Warner's Warner Music, and Bertelsmann's BMG—which between them control 70% of the global recorded-music market. In 2000, they blocked a merger of Warner and EMI by imposing heavy divestment conditions. They stopped EMI marrying BMG even before a formal proposal was tabled." But with the industry's current woes, the merger proposition might get a more sympathetic hearing. The Economist 03/03/03

Setting The Price Of Music "After years of denial and confusion, belligerence and panic, most of the big record labels have coalesced around a set of prices at which they will make almost all of their music available to an ever-expanding array of legal online services." The New York Times 03/04/03

Houston Symphony To Musicians: Take Pay Cut Or We'll make You Take It The Houston Symphony said Monday that "the organization is dealing with a 'flat-out crisis' in its finances and the 97 musicians need to accept an average 7.4 percent pay cut. The players have until Saturday to decide or risk having the society impose the cut, which it has authority to do under U.S. labor law. Musicians still would have the right to strike." Nando Times (AP) 03/03/03

Berlin's Opera Battles "The future of government-sponsored opera in Berlin may be in the balance. In practice, even more is at stake. In a peculiar way over the last three years the opera story has become a gauge of the still volatile relations between the two halves of this long-divided city and even a test of Germany's willingness to give Berlin the profile of a genuine capital city." The New York Times 03/04/03

Reinvent It - Maybe A Musician Laureate? Maybe it's time to revitalize the idea of a Queen's Musician. "Of course the whole notion of having a master of the queen's music is an anachronism, especially with a royal family that shows little obvious interest in the arts, but then so, equally, is the role of the poet laureate, and the present holder of that post, Andrew Motion, at least has shown how a nebulous role can be used effectively. There are plenty of issues that a publicly confident and committed master of the queen's music could get behind, numerous ways in which he or she could promote new music and expand its audience." The Guardian (UK) 03/04/03

UK Government Backs Down On Live Performnce Licensing British culture minister Kim Howells has bowed to objections by musicians and withdrawn a bill that would have required pubs to license live music. "Musicians believe the bill would have a devastating impact on the number of venues where they can perform. Says Howells: "We saw it as a civilising bill, relaxing licensing laws, cutting down on bureaucracy. It was only when it started going through the Lords we realised how it would be interpreted." The Guardian (UK) 03/04/03

Taking Aim At Norah - Critics Pile On Norah Jones Everyone's focusing on Norah Jones, who won big at the Grammys last week. "Sure, listeners worldwide love her, scooping up 6 million copies of her debut album, 'Come Away With Me.' Yes, the album has been on The Billboard 200 chart for 52 weeks. And fine, Grammy voters awarded her best new artist, best pop vocal album, album of the year, record of the year and song of the year honors." So why are critics taking pot shots at her? Chicago Tribune 03/02/03


Millioniare Faces Opera Ball Ban Viennese high society is looking into how to ban millionaire playboy Richard Lugner from the famous annual Opera Ball next year. He outraged organizers this year by inviting Pamela Anderson and "turning the ball into a cheap PR stunt." "Lugner makes few pretensions to join the elite social set that wants him ousted from the ball, the highlight of the city’s social calendar. His packed-out press conferences usually revolve around discussions about the 'great breasts' of the women he plans to invite." Scotland On Sunday 03/09/03

This Year's National Medal Of Arts Winners: Country singer George Jones, Motown legend Smokey Robinson, Florence Knoll Bassett, the designer and architect; Trisha Brown, the dancer and choreographer; Philippe de Montebello, the art historian and director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Uta Hagen, the actor and teacher; Lawrence Halprin, the landscape architect; the late Al Hirschfeld, the artist and show business caricaturist; and Ming Cho Lee, the set designer and educator. Washington Post 03/07/03

Music & Murder: The Life and Death of a Canadian Composer Twenty years ago this week, French-Canadian composer Claude Vivier was murdered in Paris by a teenage prostitute. "His grisly demise was the mirror opposite of his music, which often sparkles with a delicate and loving grandeur. And it endures. Most of his 48 completed pieces have been recorded... His output heightened Canada's international stature more than any other composer's. Dangerous living fuelled his inspiration, helping polish salacious experience into a diamond in sound. Yet it also proved his undoing." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/06/03

Studio Libeskind: The Daniel And Nina Show Nina and Daniel Libeskind are a power couple. "The couple, who invite constant comparison to characters from Mike Myers' 'Sprockets' routine, do not look like the shark-suited developers or heavy-lidded bureaucrats who have dominated the downtown-redevelopment story. But in the decade or so since Daniel, the distinguished professor, and Nina, who shares a starring role in Studio Daniel Libeskind as the driving force of its business side, have been designing actual buildings rather than promoting architectural education, they have become a political force to be reckoned with." New York Observer 03/05/03

The Woman Behind KaZaa Nikki Hemming is the 36-year-old chief executive officer of Sharman Networks, Kazaa’s parent company. It is based on Sydney’s north shore with a staff of 18. Sharman is being sued by Hollywood and the American music industry for alleged breach of copyright over pirated music and movies. But Kazaa is fighting back, counter-suing household names such as EMI, Sony, Warner and Disney for alleged collusion and anti-competitive conduct." Hemming says she'll win, and that she still buys CDs and goes to the theatre for movies.... The Age (Melbourne) 03/05/03

Atlanta Opera GM Resigns Russell Allen has resigned as general manager of the Atlanta Opera. "Allen suffered a heart attack Aug. 13 and underwent quadruple-bypass surgery two days later. His recuperation time was brief, however, as he was back on the job by the end of September." At;lanta Journal-Constitution 03/04/03


Motion: Young Writers Don't Know The Classics Students aspiring to be writers have too little knowledge of classical writing, says England's Poet Laureate Andrew Motion. "We turn out students from schools and into universities who have not been educated in a rounded way. There is incredibly little time allowed for reading. It's the fault of the structure of the curriculum. They bone up on their texts, thinking they will only get questions on those." BBC 03/09/03

English Books That Fall Apart On average, books made in the UK are physically inferior; they discolor, warp and fall apart more easily than American books. Why? "England should be the very last country making bad books. In terms of its capabilities, the British print industry may be the most technologically advanced in the world, having assimilated all the tricks of the computer age by the 1980s, a decade before any of its American counterparts did. If the problem is not a technological one, what is it?" Slate 03/07/03

Authentic England - As Told By An American So UK voters in an online poll vote American Bill Bryson as the author who has best defined contemporary England. "What makes Bryson a curious choice is that, if there is one thing the English enjoy more than a bit of self-mockery, it's laughing at foreigners, especially Americans, whom we've traditionally considered as lacking our refined wit, culture and learning. But one of the claims made repeatedly for Bryson, as if it's the greatest compliment he could hope to receive, is that, having lived in England for 20 years, he - and his humour - have become sufficiently anglicised to give him honorary status and a licence to laugh at us. But is it true that, as Bryson suggests, England spent the twentieth century 'looking on itself as a chronic failure'?" The Observer (UK) 03/09/03

Censorship Or Taste? Do some books cause more harm than they're worth? Critics are asking the question in regards to a Canadian book that resurrects details of horrible crimes committed a decade ago. "Karla Homolka, a diabolical criminal will be a free woman in 2005, after serving only 12 years for heinous crimes against schoolgirls in a quiet Ontario town." Should the public know more about Homolka "before she disappears into Canadian society, perhaps to commit more crimes under the camouflage of a new name and an altered appearance?" But in dredging up details, "the families of the victims are publicly traumatized once again" and some booksellers have declined to carry the book.
The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/09/03

The Poetic Politics Of Poet Protest As thousands of poets protest a war with Iraq, some wonder why poets have taken a lead on the issue and what effect their art might have on the issue. Robert Pinsky: "What poetry does have is the ability to speak memorably in the breath of each reader. Poetry's strength was the inner universe. The power of poetry has to do with its intimacy and human scale. The poems that were presented to the President were an idiosyncratic mix: wildly various in content, point of view, cogency, literary distinction... That variety represents a certain power, more than a weakness. It reflects something profound about both American culture and the art of poetry". The Age (Melbourne) 03/10/03

Indie Bookstores Weathering Downturn The book business is suffering in the economic downturn, just like everything else. But there are signs that independent booksellers are weathering the downturn better than they have in the past. "Before stores might have had five employees and now they have three. People who leave aren't being replaced." Publishers Weekly 03/07/03

New Books - No Refunds, No Returns? Borders chief Greg Josefowicz suggests that it is time to stop the practice of book stores being able to return books they haven't sold to publishers. "This practice arose during the Great Depression when publishers needed a way to reduce the risk of buying books, so they gave retailers the opportunity to return unsold orders for a full refund. Today, nearly seven decades later, we're still playing by the same rules. While this certainly offers obvious benefits to companies like Borders, I wonder if it is the best way to run the book business in 2003 and beyond..." Publishers Weekly 03/07/03

Pope's Poetry An Instant Bestseller In Poland Pope John Paul II's first book of poetry since he became Pope was published this week. In Poland the book has already become a best-seller. "Buyers have locked up orders for about 80 per cent of the initial printing of 300,000 copies - a publishing phenomenon in a country where literary works reach bestseller status at 50,000. 'The Roman Triptych' was written after John Paul's emotional visit to his homeland last summer." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/07/03

Will US Supreme Court Allow Library Internet Porn Filters? The US Supreme Court hears arguments on whether public libraries should be required to filter porn sites on their computers. "The case pits free speech rights against the government's ability to protect the public from the seamy side of the Internet. Solicitor General Theodore Olson argued that libraries don't have X-rated movies and magazines on their shelves and shouldn't have to offer access to pornography on their computers. Librarians and civil liberties groups contend that filters are censorship and that they block a vast amount of valuable information along with the pornography. Some of the justices seemed skeptical of the challenge to the Children's Internet Protection Act." Wired 03/06/03

Norman Mailer On Writers On DH Lawrence: "He was perhaps a great writer, certainly full of faults, and abominably pedestrian in his language when the ducts of experience burned dry, he was unendurably didactic then, he was a pill, and at his worst a humourless nag...On Jonathan Franzen: "It is too full of language, even as the nouveaux riches are too full of money. He is exceptionally intelligent, but like a polymath, he lives much of the time in Wonkville Hollow, for Franzen is an intellectual dredging machine." The Telegraph (UK) 03/06/03

The Poets Who Supported WWI A large number of poets have mobilized to protest a war with Iraq. But "the mood was quite different some 89 years ago, when poets (and writers generally) deployed their pens in support of the Allied military effort during World War I." Tech Central Station 03/05/03

Why People Don't Read "Serious" Fiction Terry Teachout writes that "it's common to run across 'well-read' people who no longer read any new literary fiction at all, American or otherwise. I don't, and neither do many of the professional writers I know. Like most Americans, we go to the movies instead." So why is that, he wonders. "Our 'major' writers tend to be chronically verbose, stylistically ostentatious and agonizingly earnest (though the flippant Irony Lite of Generation X now appears to have replaced earnestness as the style du jour). Such books are unreadable, and so nobody reads them, save under academic duress." OpinionJournal.com 03/06/03

Norman Mailer On "Finding" The Book You're Trying To Write Planning out a plot isn't always a good thing. "I look to find my book as I go along. Plot comes last. I want a conception of my characters that's deep enough so that they will get me to places where I, as the author, have to live by my wits. That means my characters must keep developing. So long as they stay alive, the plot will take care of itself. Working on a book where the plot is already fully developed is like spending the rest of your life filling holes in rotten teeth when you have no skill as a dentist." The Telegraph (UK) 03/05/03

Children's Books, Madonna Style Joe Queenan's excited at the prospect of Madonna writing children's books. "The English Roses will be based on the adventures of a red fox and a young prince. Presumably, at least one will be androgynous; though probably not the fox, as the species already has enough image problems. It sounds quite fascinating. But better still are the brief outlines industry sources have leaked of the other four books in the series..." One working title: "Ricco Has Six Mothers and at Least as Many Fathers" OpinionJournal.com 03/05/03

  • Wouldn't You Like To Write A Children's Book Too? So Madonna's got a contract for a series of children's books. That's got Malene Arpe thinking about other "role models" who might have a future in kiddie books. How about "Chemistry For Toddlers" by Saddam Hussein, "The Silly Silly Voices In My Head Head" by Phil Spector, or "Look At You! You Forgot Your Pants" by Pee-Wee Herman? Toronto Star 03/04/03

Alexandria Library Wants To Offer All Books In The World - Online The ancient library at Alexandria claimed to own copies of all the books in the world. Now "the directors of the new Alexandria Library, which christened a steel and glass structure with 250,000 books in October, have joined forces with an American artist and software engineers in an ambitious effort to make virtually all of the world's books available at a mouse click. Much as the ancient library nurtured Archimedes and Euclid, the new Web venture also hopes to connect scholars and students around the world." The New York Times 03/01/03

Fire In Alexandria Library Fire broke out in the new Alexandria Library on Sunday. "No books or Bibliotheca Alexandrina resources were damaged, according to a library spokesman. Bibliotheca Alexandrina was inaugurated in October amid great fanfare. The £150m project aspires to reflect the spirit of the ancient Alexandria library, which was founded around 295BC by Ptolemy." The Guardian (UK) 03/03/03

The Year In British Publishing Last year was a pretty good one for British publishers. "There are two universal anxieties for British publishers, one shared with their American counterparts, one not: the shared problem is that of an essentially flat book market, with sales that are simply not keeping pace with a growing population. The anguish that is special to British publishers is the extraordinary pressure on margins created by the ever-increasing push for higher discounts, especially by supermarkets that sell books." Publishers Weekly 03/03/03


Striking Broadway Musicians Grateful For Actors/Stagehands Support Broadway theatres were quiet over the weekend as a strike by musicians closed down musicals. "But live music filled the Theater District when hundreds of orchestra members and their supporters marched through the streets, buoyed by an unexpectedly strong show of solidarity among key unions." New York Daily News 03/09/03

  • A Highly Visible Strike "Strikes by performing artists are rare, and the public reaction to them is usually quite different from the reaction to strikes by others, like steelworkers or construction workers. Broadway is a highly visible business, important to New York's image and economy, and the public, not just New Yorkers but tourists from across the country, will pay great attention to this strike. It is not clear whether the public, in this case theatergoers, will buy the musicians' argument that a minimum number of musicians are needed to maintain the vitality of pit orchestras or the producers' argument that smaller orchestras — and perhaps virtual, electronic orchestras — might be acceptable to improve the economics of producing musicals and to help more survive." The New York Times 03/09/03
  • How A Strike Shut Down Broadway Musicals Broadway producers were "stunned" that stagehands and actors decided to support the musicians strike. The producers evidently "thought that the stagehands' union had given strong back-channel signals that they would not side with the musicians" But hopes for a quick settlement were dashed over the weekend when producers cancelled performances. The New York Times 03/09/03

New Hope For Old Vic The Bristol Old Vic is the oldest working theatre in Britain, its main house, originally the Theatre Royal, built in 1766 by William Halfpenny. You happen upon it like a jewel that has strangely parted company from a ring. But dilapidation - however severe - is not the theatre's most pressing concern. For the truth is - although everyone is too polite to be forceful about it - that the Bristol Old Vic has been an artistic casualty for years now, suffering from underfunding and weak leadership." But now, finally, things might be looking up... The Guardian (UK) 03/09/03

CBS Expands Tony Coverage For years, the Tony Awards, which honor the best of Broadway, have been the awards show nobody wanted. CBS has aired the show for a quarter-century, but only the last two hours of it, allowing PBS to air the first hour for the last five years or so. In fact, earlier this year, there were rumbles that CBS might drop the telecast altogether. But now, CBS has picked up its option to air all three hours of the Tonys, shutting a stunend PBS out of the process entirely. So what suddenly made the Tonys a desirable commodity? Couldn't have anything to do with this year's unexpected blockbuster of a Grammy Awards show, could it? Nah... Los Angeles Times 03/06/03

And The Winner Is...Musicals "For the second year in a row, musicals are creating a big buzz in Hollywood. Last year, it was Baz Luhrmann teaching audiences a whole new way to envision musicals with 'Moulin Rouge!' This year 'Chicago' heads into the Academy Awards as the front-runner for Best Picture, and it's up for a dozen other awards. In the theater world, the hope is that this high-profile attention will spike interest in seeing musicals on stage - and that it will help nurture a new generation of theater-goers." Townonline.com 03/05/03

Kennedy Center To Do Williams Following up on its critically received Sondheim retrospective last summer, The Kennedy Center plans to present a 10-week celebration of the plays of Tennessee Williams this summer. Included will be new productions of his major plays including "A Streetcar Named Desire," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and "The Glass Menagerie." Last summer's Sondheim fest drew audiences from around the US. The New York Times 03/05/03

Cleaning Up Stratford The town of Stratford needs to clean itself up, pull itself together, and start acting like the major attraction it is. The Royal Shakespeare will announce a new plan for its theatre in the town - one can only hope for the best - but the whole operation needs a thorough refurbishment if it's going to survive. Otherwise... The Telegraph (UK) 03/05/03

Lysistrata In LA On Monday, peace activists read Aristophanes anti-war play "Lysistrata" at locations all over the world. In Los Angeles "about 250 people gathered at L.A. Filmmakers Co-Op to watch AlfreWoodard play the title role, supported by Julie Christie, Christine Lahti, Mary McDonnnell, Eric Stoltz, Roscoe Lee Browne and other celebrities. The scene was reminiscent of a movie opening or an exclusive club. Only about 100 could cram into the small brick building, while the rest of the crowd watched a televised simulcast on the adjacent patio." Los Angeles Times 03/04/03

  • 10,000 Offers To Read Organizers report they had about 10,000 e-mail messages from people wanting to take part in readings around the world. In New York City alone, there were 60 performances planned." The New York Times 03/04/03
  • And All Over... The readings took place all over the world. "The latest count was heading beyond 919 readings in 56 countries, including Venezuela, China, India and Honduras." BBC 03/04/03

Broadway-In-A-Can? The consequences of a musicians strike on Broadway could be big. "There are about 325 musicans working in the 19 musicals running on Broadway, but overall the shows are responsible for most of the 6,000 people employed by the industry each season. The theatre scene is responsible for $4.4 billion (US) pouring into N.Y.'s economy." So the shows are practicing using canned music in case musicians walk later this week. Reports are that "aasts of shows such as 'Chicago' and 'Thoroughly Modern Millie' had no trouble in performing to the canned music. Over at 'La Boheme', however, it was a different story, with the rehearsal coming to a disastrous halt. Whereas it's one thing to perform a tap routine to pre-recorded sound, singing Puccini is obviously another matter." Toronto Star 03/03/03

Keith Haring, The Musical "Radiant Baby" the new musical about the life of artist Keith Haring, opens on Broadway. Nice try, but "the show never brings either Haring or his world into crisp focus, relying instead on a blurry shorthand of artist-bio clichés (the agony, the ecstasy, the egomania, the triumph of the creative spirit) and composite social archetypes. Haring's insistently vital art is so spectacularly in evidence — thanks to the splendid projection designs of Batwin and Robin Productions — which only underscores the musical's limitations." The New York Times 03/03/03


SF Asian Art Museum Reopening The San Francisco Asian Art Museum is one of the largest in the Western Hemisphere devoted to Asian art. Next week the museum reopens in a $160 million new home. "The museum's move to downtown will allow it to display nearly 2,500 works from its renowned collection, more than double what it could show in its old Golden Gate Park location, in a lavishly renovated landmark that is a destination on its own." Los Angeles Times 03/09/03

Repatriating Art Is Compicated Business Kenneth Baker weighs in on art repatriation issues: "The furor over Nazi looting has touched off a transnational frenzy of new and renewed demands for repatriation of artworks stolen, liquidated or otherwise lost during wartime or colonial occupation. These range from Greece's perennial demands for Britain's return of the Parthenon 'Elgin marbles' to Korean demands for the return of artifacts stolen by Japan during the Second World War and earlier. Reflecting on the weight of such claims, it is worth remembering that Hitler's cultural officers frequently looted art treasures on the pretext of repatriating them in the aftermath of the wars of centuries past." San Francisco Chronicle 03/09/03

Don't Mess With Rodin Should museums be allowed to alter works of art in their care to create other works of art? James Fenton protests. "Tate 'conservators' have conspired with the exploding-shed-monger and brass-instrument-crusher, Cornelia Parker, to wrap Rodin's marble group, 'The Kiss', in a mile of string. They should not have done this. It should be a principle of conservation that nothing unnecessary is done to an original work of art in a public collection, and I don't care what the 'conservators' say about the care they took in executing this banal intervention. They wouldn't have dared do this to Brancusi. They shouldn't have done this to Rodin." The Guardian (UK) 03/08/03

On The Trail Of A Stolen Dali Police say they're close to solving the theft of a Salvador Dali painting from New York's Riker's Island jail. The penal institution has enlisted the help of the artworl'd stolen art resources, putting it in the company of collectors and museums. "In terms of dollar value, art crime stands out among illicit industries, ranked just below narcotics and the illegal arms trade. Experts estimate that worldwide losses range from $2 billion to $6 billion a year." The New York Times 03/08/03

Scottish Parliament - An Extraordinary Building Shouldn't Be All About Money Scotland's new parliament building has been awash in controversy - almost all of it about the enormous cost. But this is missing the point, writes Duncan Macmillan. "We seem unable to lift our eyes from the cost of the building itself to see what we are getting for our money. But sheathed in scaffolding and polythene sheeting, our parliament is a chrysalis. In a month or two a marvellous butterfly is going to emerge to astonish us all. Or maybe not a butterfly. Really, it is a flower." The Scotsman 03/06/03

What To Do With Controversial Australia National Museum Review? Officials are wondering what to do with a controversial review of the National Museum of Australia. One thing they're not doing so far is making the findings public. "The review was set up against a background of debate about the presentation of indigenous history, which has pitted the celebratory 'three cheers' view of the impact of white settlement against the black-armband view so disapproved of by the Prime Minister, John Howard. It has been criticised by several historians as politically driven, a motive denied by the council's chairman." Sydney Morning Herald 03/07/03

US Prosecutors Crack Down On Art Buyers Trying To Avoid Taxes US prosecutors are going after art buyers who have made deals with galleries to avoid sales taxes. So far, "34 Manhattan families had coughed up $6 million in back taxes on art purchases since June, when former Tyco International CEO L. Dennis Kozlowski was indicted on charges he evaded sales taxes on $13 million in art in a widely publicized case. Art dealers say they believe the government is looking for quick ways to collect revenue in a weak economy." USAToday (AP) 03/06/03

Bacon Heir's Death Leads To Speculation About The Artist's Paintings What will happen to a number of important paintings by Francis Bacon now that the painter's primary heir has died? "John Edwards, who died in Thailand on Wednesday aged 53, was Bacon's friend and muse for many years. He inherited the artist's £11m estate when Bacon died in 1992." BBC 03/06/03

A Plan To Help Museums With Insurance Since the Sept. 11 attacks, U.S. museums have struggled to obtain works for major exhibitions from overseas due to skyrocketing insurance rates and jittery art lenders who fear losing their pieces in a terrorist strike." Now legislation has been introduced in the US Congress that "would raise the amount of indemnity coverage that can be provided at any particular time from $5 billion to $8 billion. It also increases how much coverage the program - run through the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) - can provide to one exhibition, from $500 million to $750 million." The Star-Tribune (Minneapolis) 03/06/03

Long Lines And Crushing Crowds - Welcome To The Art Museum! A heavily promoted 'blockbuster' exhibit of the work of Degas at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is drawing huge numbers of visitors, and that may be a problem. "On those most popular days for museum attendance, Degas devotees holding timed tickets have reported waits of up to an hour to see the critically lauded show, devoted to the great impressionist painter's lyric images of ballet dancers. And once inside, it was tough for the packed-in art lovers to see the art." Part of the crowd-control problem can be attributed to a series of crippling snowstorms in the area which prevented many ticketholders from making it to the museum during the exhibit's first two weekends. Philadelphia Inquirer 03/06/03

Fabled Ancient Library Reopens The amazing Villa of the Papyri, Herculaneum's most famous building, finally opened this week, some 2000 years after it was enveloped in mud in the eruption that buried Pompeii. The "largest Roman villa ever found, it was the magnificent seafront retreat for Lucius Calpurnius Piso, Julius Caesar's father-in-law. Piso, a literate man who patronized poets and philosophers, built there one of the finest libraries of its time. Many believe that the mud filled lower terraces could hide the fabled second library, which probably contains lost plays by Sophocles, Euripides and Aeschylus, lost dialogues of Aristotle, and Livy's History of Rome, of which more than 100 of the original 142 books are missing." Discovery 03/05/03

Tin Can Wins Sculpture Prize Gereon Krebber, who graduated last year from the Royal College of Art, won this year's Jerwood Prize with a proposal for "Tin, a 1.5-metre can with the top slightly open - or almost closed, creating uncertainty and ambivalence, the artist says. Krebber beat seven other sculptors, shortlisted from 90 proposals, for the prize, which is open to sculptors who have graduated from art school in the past 15 years." The Guardian (UK) 03/05/03

Australia's Booming Art Market Australians spent $100 million on fine art last year, "with a record $80 million passing through the hands of the nation's art auctioneers. Despite the uncertain economic and world political climate, that record could be broken this year as well-to-do newcomers who boosted sales last year by taking their money out of the sharemarket continue their splurge on paintings, prints and drawings. Salesroom turnover last year was up by $10 million on the previous year and four times greater than a decade earlier." Sydney Morning Herald 03/04/03

UK Churches Call On American Museums To Return Artwork Two English churches are demanding the return of three priceless tomb brasses stolen from the churches' flagstone floors in the 19th century. The brasses were discovered in the vaults of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. "The churches remain scarred by the holes left in the floor where they were prised out" and officials want them restored. But a spokesman for the churches says the museums have denied the request. The Guardian (UK) 03/04/03

Bay Area Art Schools Call Off Merger The San Francisco Art Institute and the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland have called off a previously announced merger. "The merger would have produced one of the nation's largest fully accredited, independent school of visual arts outside of New York City. Currently, the Art Institute has about 650 students and 137 faculty members; California College of Arts and Crafts has about 1,300 students and 370 teachers." The schools said that after much negotiation, "at the end of the day, out of respect for the two institutions, we concluded it just couldn't be done." San Jose Mercury-News 03/03/03

Did American Investigation Of Nazi Looted Art Fail Its Task? A Clinton commission investigating Nazi-looted art, did not do an adequate job, and overlooked solid leads, says some scholars. "Objections to the panel's work were so strong that some staff members said they contemplated writing a minority report. Their comments, and similar ones from leading experts in the field, were not publicly expressed when the commission reported its findings. Now critics say the commission was a lost opportunity to determine how much Nazi looted art flowed through America. The New York Times 03/03/03

Free Museum Admission Fails To Attract Low-Income Visitors A report says that free admission to British museums has resulted in hordes of new visitors, but that the policy had failed to attract lower-income visitors. "Its figures show the Natural History Museum in London attracted 72% more visitors last year compared with 2001, the Science Museum had 101.4% more visitors and the Victoria & Albert Museum had 111% more. However, numbers visiting the British Museum fell 4.14% last year." BBC 03/02/03

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