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Friday, February 17, 2006

The Cartoons: Anatomy Of A Crisis "Protests have erupted in an arc stretching from Europe through Africa to East Asia and, at times, the United States. About a dozen people have died in Afghanistan; five have been killed this week in Pakistan. Muslim journalists were arrested for publishing the cartoons in Jordan, Algeria and Yemen. European countries have evacuated the staffs of embassies and nongovernmental organizations, Muslim countries have withdrawn ambassadors, and Danish exports that average more than $1 billion a year have dried up in a span of weeks." Washington Post 02/16/06

Thursday, February 16, 2006

High-Rises Clash With Green Space: Can Everyone Win? The city of Minneapolis has long prided itself on maintaining a highly livable and green-intensive urban environment, with dozens of parks, lakes, and the Mississippi River serving as the primary selling points. But a downtown population boom has developers champing at the bit, and high-rise buildings have begun to spring up all over the city, much to the dismay of some observers, who were hoping that Minneapolis would stick to its original vision. Minneapolis Star Tribune 02/16/06

Students Sue To Block Atlanta Art School Merger Since the Atlanta College of Art announced plans to merge with the Atlanta branch of the Savannah College of Art & Design, students and faculty have been up in arms, trying to galvanize public support for keeping the schools separate. Now, six students at ACA have filed a lawsuit asking for the merger to be blocked, and for damages to be paid to students who will see their tuition jump at the combined school. Atlanta Journal-Constitution 02/16/06

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Better UK Arts Council? How? So UK Culture Minister David Lammy thinks Arts Council England needs reform. "We must reform the Arts Council," Lammy said. It's got "to slim down", "get smarter" and prove that it is "more than a passive cash machine". But what exactly is he trying to accomplish, asks Rupert Christiansen? The Telegraph (UK) 02/15/06

Showing Opera To 8-Year-Olds Now A Firable Offense A Colorado teacher is on the verge of being fired because she showed her class of elementary schoolchildren a few minutes of the opera, Faust. "Some parents said their children were traumatized by the appearance of a leering devil in the video as well as such objectionable elements as a man appearing to be killed by a sword in silhouette and an allusion to suicide." The teacher has been on paid leave since late January, and says she intends to sue the school district if she is dismissed. Denver Post 02/15/06

Are We Going About Arts Funding All Wrong? A new report from a San Francisco arts task force is suggesting that the city completely rethink the way it funds culture within its borders, and find ways of linking the arts to everyday life through neighborhood connections. "There's also a clear undercurrent in the report: The city's most vibrant, community-based arts organizations don't get their fair share of the money, which goes to big, flashy operations like the symphony and opera. The entire plan has the feeling of a manifesto for more democratic oversight of arts money and more grassroots participation in the funding process. That, of course, flies in the face not only of city policy but also of arts-funding policy in general." San Francisco Bay Guardian 02/15/06

What Are The Arts Worth To A City? Salt Lake City is at a crossroads as it prepares to make a decision on whether the city should fund a new downtown cultural district, which would involve building two new theatres in the hope of drawing more people (and their money) into the urban core. A consultant's report confirmed what some supporters of the plan believe, that a cultural district could generate between $12 and $22 million annually in ticket sales alone. However, the same report states flatly that far from being a money-maker, the district would be unlikely ever to turn a profit, and would probably require constant subsidy to stay afloat. Salt Lake Tribune 02/15/06

No Federal Funds For Edinburgh Fest The Scottish government has rejected calls for it to do more to fund the Edinburgh International Festival, despite strong support for the idea from the government's own Cultural Commission. Supporters of greater government funding point out that the festival is perennially underfunded (it's had to be bailed out by the Edinburgh Council at the last moment several times,) but because the event is stationary in Edinburgh, the government doesn't consider it a national company, and won't get involved. The Scotsman (UK) 02/15/06

A Getty Director's Home Is His Castle, Apparently "Already under investigation for questionable executive spending, the J. Paul Getty Trust recently purchased a $3.5-million official residence for its new museum director's use only to find that the house was contaminated with mold and uninhabitable... The Getty then made an offer on a $5.5-million house near Santa Monica. Spokesman Ron Hartwig said the trust pulled out of the deal Tuesday after inspectors found structural problems with the roof. Meanwhile, the Getty is paying $15,000 a month to rent [the director] a Holmby Hills home with five bathrooms and a swimming pool on a two-acre lot." The Los Angeles Times 02/15/06

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

What Does Australian Culture Need? "The answer to Australia's cultural crisis under Howard, according to the artists and their academic handbags, is more money. Our money, of course, in the form of taxpayer-funded subsidies to the arts. But those calling for more money had better be careful what they wish for. By all means let's start a debate on this issue, but that means, as a starting point, following where the money has gone over the past few years. And it's not a pretty picture..." The Australian 02/15/06

What Led To Munitz's Downfall At The Getty Last month then-Getty president Barry Munitz rewarded his assistant with a huge severance award. "Munitz promised Jill Murphy severance worth twice her annual salary at a time when he was under investigation by both the state attorney general and the Getty board, and despite a clear warning from the board that he should seek prior approval for any controversial moves, several trustees said. By acting 'unilaterally' to benefit a staff member who had come to symbolize his divisive administration, Munitz turned trustee sentiment against him as they were weighing his future at the Getty." Los Angeles Times 02/14/06

Canada's Cultural Capital? How About Baffin Island Okay, maybe not quite. But a new study says the desolate arctic island has more artists per capita than anywhere else in Canada. "Using data from the 2001 census, Hill Strategies Research Inc. discovered that of a total working population of 485 individuals in Cape Dorset, 110, or 22.7 per cent, were working as artists. That's almost 30 times the national average of 0.8 per cent and more than double the country's second-most-artistic municipality, British Columbia's Squamish-Lillooet, between Vancouver and Whistler." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 02/14/06

Monday, February 13, 2006

Bolshoi Embarks On $500 Million Makeover "Six months after it closed on the point of collapse, reconstruction work has begun on the Bolshoi Theatre. Moscow's famous opera and ballet venue is undergoing a $500m (290m) makeover, due to be completed by spring 2008." The Guardian (UK) 02/13/06

New Miami Performing Art Center W/O Parking "More than 10 years after PAC leaders acknowledged the crucial need for nearby parking garages, the center -- which will hold 4,820 people if sold out -- will open this fall with such facilities three to five years away. Maybe more. And instead of profiting from parking fees -- the Los Angeles Music Center takes in $2.5 million a year from its garages -- the Miami PAC could have to pay millions to upgrade the surface lots for temporary parking." Miami Herald 02/12/06

The Rising Cost Of Donations "While it used to be enough to just list a contributor's name in a program book or on a wall plaque, donors expect a little more gratitude. Local arts groups are now offering donors and members gourmet dinners, complimentary tickets, cocktail parties, discounts on merchandise, subscriptions to magazines, valet parking, priority seating, and even all the cookies and coffee you can consume during an intermission." San Diego Union-Tribune 02/13/06

After Munitz, What Next For The Getty? "With the Getty's big endowment, it is thus particularly important that the board be able to exercise sound, independent oversight over whoever is chosen as the next president. There were major questions surrounding the board during Mr. Munitz's term as president--that he had recommended as board members individuals too closely tied to him through past business dealings--and so there was not the effective oversight that is especially necessary in an organization as wealthy as the Getty." OpinionJournal.com 02/13/06

UK Minister To Arts Council: Better Improve England's minister of culture has a warning for Arts Council England. "The record sums of public investment we have made in the arts have not led to a higher profile for the arts in the public's mind. The body must be 'more than a passive cash machine, doling out money to a familiar roll call of organisations and individuals." The Observer (UK) 02/12/06

Can Freedom Of Speech Extend Only Halfway? Suddenly the meaning of free speech and where its boundaries are have become an issue. The issue is being played out in cartoons and on American college campuses... Chicago Tribune 02/12/06

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Creative Scotland Awards Fall Behind The Creative Scotland Awards are six years old, but £250,000 worth of winning projects have yet to be finished. "With less than a month to go before this year's awards are announced, the revelation has caused outrage among Scotland's artistic community, who complain that the awards are an indulgence and are not properly monitored." Scotland on Sunday 02/12/06

Arts: The (Alarming) Wage Gap At a time when the economics of the arts world seem particularly challenging, there's a category of arts worker who is doing quite well. The artistic directors and upper management of arts organizations are scoring huge salaries, while the rank and file artists are getting squeezed. Wall Street Journal 02/11/06

New Orleans May Lose Historic Theatre Hurricane Katrina dealt a devastating blow to New Orleans' four major theatres, and while the rebuilding effort has made progress in some areas, the 85-year-old Orpheum Theatre may be a total loss. "Floodwater filled the theater's 20-foot basement, wiping out all the electrical and mechanical equipment stored there, and rose to more than a foot in the performance hall. The Orpheum's original oak floors swelled and buckled and likely cannot be salvaged. The stage, which sat under water for weeks, will also have to be replaced." Making matters worse, the Orpheum had no flood insurance. Picayune Item (AP) 02/12/06

Portland Arts: A Perpetual Crisis? Portland is frequently cited as a city on the rise, with a vibrant urban core and a young and growing population. But for the city's arts groups, the mythical "big time" frequently seems a distant dream. "After four precarious seasons at the 'majors' -- the Oregon Symphony, Portland Opera, Portland Center Stage and Oregon Ballet Theatre -- donations rose for the fiscal year ending in June. Ticket sales, however, fell behind. Talk about a mixed message. Donors seem to be saying, we'll give you more money, but we won't go to more concerts... It's possible that these old-fashioned institutions that rely on audiences driving downtown to sit in formal halls can't adapt to a digital age. Maybe they're doomed to live in perpetual crisis." The Oregonian (Portland) 02/12/06

Are Images Of Muhammed Really Forbidden? At the heart of Muslim outrage over the Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammed has been the generally unchallenged contention that any visual depiction of the prophet is banned under Islamic law. But the ban may not be as clear-cut as many seem to think. "Although rare in the 1,400 years of Islamic art, visual representations of Muhammad were acceptable in certain periods. Today, his likenesses grace collections around the world," and religious scholars say that "there is nothing in the Quran that forbids imagery." San Francisco Chronicle 02/11/06

Cartoon Scandal Editor Leaves Paper "Flemming Rose, the Danish editor whose decision to publish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad helped provoke weeks of fury in the Muslim world, said in an interview on Friday that he was leaving his newspaper on indefinite vacation." Rose stands by his decision to publish the cartoons, but says that the stress of being blamed for international riots and anti-European protests led him to step away. The New York Times 02/11/06

Rallying Around The New Chief The museum community is wasting no time in offering support to the Getty Trust's new interim CEO. "In her 23 years at the Getty, [Deborah] Marrow has emerged as its longest-tenured department head and the administrator with perhaps the broadest hands-on experience of its multifaceted operations." Perhaps more importantly, those who know her say that her level-headed style and established connections in the art world will serve the Getty well as it attempts to rebound from a terrible year. Los Angeles Times 02/11/06

Getty Needs To Get Back To Basics The scandals enveloping the Getty Trust came to a shrieking climax with the resignation of President and CEO Barry Munitz last week, and Christopher Knight says that it is time for the flailing institution to take a deep breath and remember that its mission is supposed to have something to do with art. Los Angeles Times 02/11/06

Are Getty Severance Packages Illegal? The troubling issues of executive compensation and severance pay have joined the myriad other controversies plaguing Los Angeles's Getty Museum. "Questions are being raised about whether excessive severance packages were paid to two senior executives who resigned recently... The severance packages could prove troubling to the Getty because such payments might violate federal tax laws governing spending by nonprofit foundations, which specify that they must use their resources for the public good." The New York Times 02/11/06

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