Orchestras As Fun Machines

A number of symphony orchestras are experimenting with their concert formulas to “lighten up” and “have more fun.” Tim Smith isn’t much impressed: “While I applaud the determination of orchestras to fight for their lives, I’m not convinced that any amount of bells and whistles attached to such a tradition-crusted activity as a symphonic concert can bring to the box office previously uninterested listeners. And if you did manage to reel someone into the concert hall because of assorted “enhancements,” aren’t you setting yourself up for greater expectations – not for the actual music, but for more enhancements?”

Satellite Radio Threatens The Traditional Variety

“Satellite radio has finally evolved from an expensive fantasy into another booming category of entertainment for the digital decade, alongside DVD and MP3 players. Traditional radio broadcasters, which lobbied the FCC against issuing licenses to the companies in the ’90s, are growing increasingly alarmed by their popularity and plans for expansion.”

A Man, His Computer, And A Movie Editing Program

“Tarnation may be the first feature-length film edited entirely on iMovie, and it cost $218.32 in videotape and materials. Despite its low budget, the film has already earned a high profile. Both John Cameron Mitchell, the actor and director of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and independent film maverick Gus Van Sant have signed on as executive producers.”

Marketing Arts Like Sports

Marketing of the arts is getting more aggressive. And one of the models arts organizations are looking to is…professional sports. “People have always assumed that the sports audience and the arts audience are two entirely different entities. But our surveys have shown that people who go to professional sports events are the most likely to attend professional arts events. It’s about having a robust social life, and as more people realize that there is a crossover of these two audiences, we’ll see this type of marketing increase.”

Charities Report Income, Expenses Up

A survey of American charitable institutions reports that while many organizations raised more money in 2003, their expenses were also higher. “While 64 percent of the 236 organizations across the country that responded reported more income, 66 percent said they had higher costs for health and liability insurance as well as for wages and salaries and other expenses. More than half of the respondents reported being in “severe” or “very severe” financial stress.”

National Book Critics Awards Nominees

The National Book Critics Circle anounce their finalists for this year’s awards. “Ninety-one-year-old Studs Terkel, the oral historian and self-described champion of the “uncelebrated,” will receive a lifetime achievement prize. Competitive nominations went to two books released by McSweeney’s, an irreverent publishing house founded by best-selling author Dave Eggers.”

Ivories Stolen From Ontario Museum

Five le Marchand ivory cameos were stolen from the Art Gallery of Ontario this week. The pieces are so well-known, it’s likely the thieves will have difficulty selling them. Art theft is said to be rare in Canada. “Observers say it’s likely about 150 art works, antiques or artifacts are stolen or reported stolen each year in Canada from galleries and homes. The return rate tends to be less than 20 per cent.”

Clamoring For John Cage (Who Knew?)

Who could have predicted that last weekend’s London festival dedicated to the music of John Cage would be a hit? But it was. “Surely three larger factors counted for more. Cage’s wide reputation, even posthumously, as a witty, pawky, down-to-earth maverick (though he was no real subversive); the fact that this was another BBC-Barbican weekend which promised a grand, enlightening survey of one composer’s work, like others in past years; and above all the super-intelligent programming of the main concerts, which surrounded a few key Cage pieces with comparable and enticing works by his “maverick” American contemporaries.”