Dollar’s Woes Helping US Art Market

“The US dollar’s decline has boosted the US art market, with collectors increasingly inclined to buy at the big New York auctions where they can pick up pieces more cheaply… Because of the strong euro, works from European collections that would normally fuel the US market are now more costly for a New York investor. On top of this, insurance costs have rocketed. Both factors are tending to choke off the transfer of artworks to the US, although demand there remains strong.”

Fight the Power

A consortium of 2,000 independent record labels is lodging a complaint with the European Union in an effort to block the pending merger of super-labels Sony and BMG. According to the group, the merged company would control fully 25% of the global music market, and would be able to crush its competition, particularly small, independent labels.

Feeling Used By The Hollywood Machine

As trendy, glamorous American cities go, Seattle ranks pretty far up the list. And during the 1980s and ’90s, when Seattle’s star was rising, Hollywood couldn’t get enough of the place, filming movie after movie in its picturesque urban settings. But these days, the filmmakers’ dash for the Canadian border has left Seattle bereft of new productions, and forced to watch in disbelief as movies set in the city are filmed in Vancouver and other foreign cities. City officials are trying desperately to lure Hollywood back to town with financial incentives and other deals, but so far, nothing is working.

Rewarding Midwest Diversity

“The Joyce Foundation, a Chicago-based philanthropy with nearly $750 million in assets, on Monday night [awarded] grants of $50,000 each to four Midwest cultural groups for the commissioning of works by artists of color.” Recipients of this year’s awards are Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. The awards are slated to continue for at least two years, at which time the foundation will reevaluate the program.

It’s Not Just Culture, It’s A Smart Investment

“Armed with new custom-created research claiming Chicago-area theaters are worth a whopping $347 million in total economic activity to their home metropolis, the League of Chicago Theatres is on a newly energized mission to convince local corporate leaders that Chicago theater deserves to be taken more seriously by business interests… The study, to be released on Monday, argues that Chicago’s live theater industry has doubled its direct and indirect economic impact in just seven years — from $164 million in 1996 to $347 million in 2002.”

Now That’s a Mayor Who Supports The Arts

The under-construction Dallas Center for the Performing Arts gets a very public boost this week, with a donation of $1 million from the family of late Dallas mayor Annette Strauss. “Supporters of the $275 million performing arts center hope to raise $257 million in private funds for its design and completion, with the rest coming from city bond money. The center’s opening is targeted for 2009. The Strauss family contribution brings the amount of private donations to $140 million.”

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Mimic ‘Em

Taking on Ticketmaster is not generally considered a sound business plan. The ticket-selling behemoth seems to be everywhere, and artists, venues, and rival companies which have tried to break free have typically been stymied or flattened. “But even with annual revenues around $700 million US, Ticketmaster only controls less than seven per cent of the global ticketing industry, a sector that is growing at 7.5 per cent a year,” and two Calgary-based entrepreneurs are making a real stab at grabbing a share of the remaining 93%. “Since its September 2000 launch RepeatSeat has grown quickly. Last year it handled $7 million in transactions, up from $5,000 the year before.”

Is CD Armageddon Nigh?

The final sign that CDs had supplanted cassettes, record albums, and 8-tracks as the dominant recording media may have come when services began popping up, offering to convert your old vinyl collection to disc for a fee. So what does it say about CDs that there are now companies eager to convert your thousands of shiny discs into MP3 files?

From Bad To Worse

“According to Dance/USA, a Washington, D.C.-based national service organization, 60% of the large dance companies it surveyed finished 2002 with their budgets in the red — the most in at least a dozen years. Anecdotal evidence, the group said, suggests that 2003 wasn’t any better, and that 2004 looks grim too.” Dance has always been a tough sell to general audiences, and the hit that many troupes took in annual donations during the recession hasn’t abated with the current predictions of economic recovery. As more and more companies are forced to the precipice of insolvency, the dance world is realizing just how small its pool of supporters really is.

Don’t Label Us!

“Rock veterans Peter Gabriel and Brian Eno are launching a provocative new musicians’ alliance that would cut against the industry grain by letting artists sell their music online instead of only through record labels.” The point is to encourage musicians to break free of traditional recording agreements enforced by profit-driven corporations and tradition-bound unions, and to see for themselves wich aspects of new technology are useful, and which are not.