Something About Puccini

In America the business of opera is built on Puccini, and on a mere handful of his works, at that. “Puccini, of course, isn’t responsible for the lack of artistic diversity in American opera houses, but a mere trio of his works are so fundamental to the financial stability of American opera that they have had a stultifying effect.” Yet in the history of music, Puccini has not been accorded the respect that his popularity suggests. New books re-evaluate…

Houston Symphony Says Pay Cuts Are Essential

Houston Symphony management says an agreement on a contract with the orchestra’s musicians can’t happen without wage cuts. “The symphony has a near-term financial crisis and a longer-term structural problem of recurring deficits. The society is projecting a deficit of $2.3 million on a $23 million budget, with orchestra costs making up about 50 percent of the budget, management said.”

Robbie Burns – Still Big Business

These days culture is big business. Yes, that extends to poets, too. Even dead poets. A BBC documentary estimates that Scottish poet Robert Burns brings about £157m a year into the country.”The biggest single source of income is Burns-related tourism. It brings in £150m, two-thirds of which goes straight to Ayrshire where Burns was born and lived most of his life.”

New NYT Arts Editor To Shake Things Up

How will the New York Times’ cultural coverage change under new Arts & Leisure editor Jodi Kantor? “I do think you’ll see us playing around with the format, thinking up novel ways to cover culture, and developing more regular features and columns.” Staffers are eager to see how Kantor reshapes her influential section, deals with senior critics and shakes up the ranks of freelance contributors while navigating the paper’s often-choppy waters.

Asian Museums Hurting For Money

Japan’s art museums are facing a serious cash crunch. As the economy has stalled, money for art has become scarce. “In the profligate 1980s, Japanese businessmen lavished money on art, and when in 1987 the Yasuda Insurance Co bought Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers for more than US$36 million the purchase rocked the global art market. Those days are long gone.”

Arts Funding Cuts In The Real World

What does the 62 percent cut in Massachusetts’ state arts funding mean in real terms? “Almost no arts organization – from giants such as the Boston Symphony Orchestra to the smallest local arts groups – has avoided the knife. While no group has lost all its state funding, each has been given less money. These include programs that provide after-school art classes and low-price tickets for students. Some of the toughest cuts are being felt at the council itself. Eight of its 12 core programs have been cut and it has laid off 11 of its 41 full-time employees.”

Christo Project Warmly Greeted By New Yorkers

Why, after 24 years of rejecting the proposal, did New York City agree to let Christo do his “Gates” project in New York’s Central Park? “People don’t realise the reason for the rejection the first time was that the park was in deplorable condition. It was neglected and so worn out that most of us thought—whatever the merits of the project—the park just couldn’t stand it. Since then, the Central Park Conservancy has been established and now the park is in wonderful shape. The proposal has been scaled down and at this scale I think it can work and will be most beautiful.”

Medical Journal Argues Arts Are Good Medicine

An editorial in the British Medical Journal argues that “the government should divert 0.5 per cent of its £50 billion health care budget into the arts, equivalent to an additional £250 million for the sector. Where health professionals are trained, they should be surrounded by art. They should regard it as one of their duties in later life to see that hospitals, for the benefit of patients, their relatives, visitors and staff, contain art.”

London To Cut Arts Funding In Favor Of Sport

London theatres are protesting the London arts councils’ decision to drastically cut arts funding and give the money to sports. “The ALG, which gives £27 million a year to a wide range of community groups and social service providers, said the changes were necessary if it was ‘to properly meet the needs of Londoners’.” Arts groups say the cuts will force some groups to close.