Tuition Hikes Could Discourage Arts Studies

Critics say that the British government’s plan to raise university fees for students will make arts courses unaffordable. Students will be encouraged not to study the arts because their earning potential after graduation is lower. “The colleges will find themselves in a dilemma because arts courses – with expensive materials and practical tuition – are inevitably costly to run, and yet by charging more affordable fees to attract more students, colleges stand to get less government support.”

Broadway’s Fight Over Music

“In what are expected to be the most bitter contract talks on the Great White Way in recent history, show producers are pushing to eliminate a longstanding union rule that compels Broadway theaters to hire a minimum number of musicians, currently 3 to 26, depending on the size of the venue. And vowing that the shows must go on in the event of a strike, producers are turning to a high-tech offshoot of taped music known as virtual orchestras, capable of simulating the subtle variations of tempo and tone in live music.”

Performers’ Unions Discuss Merger

The main American actors’ unions are discussing a merger. The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists are metting to decide if a combined union would give them more clout. “Shifts in our business dramatically impact SAG and AFTRA’s strength at the negotiating table as well as their ability to protect and improve members’ interests.”

Are People And Machines Cozying Up?

“A scan of recent academic titles reveals an abundance of books drawing on what might be called ‘the cyborg concept’ – the idea that people and technology are converging and merging, perhaps even already inextricably fused. What was once a speculative notion about the shape of things to come has become a normal part of the conversation, at least in some quadrants of scholarly life.”

The Oscar Pirates – For Your Consideration…

Police in the UK have seized tens of thousands of illegal copies of the latest Lord of the Rings movie. Where did the copies come from? From an Oscar voter. Copies of the film were sent to Oscar judges with strict warnings not to copy them. But the illegal copies include a “for your consideration” Academy Award message that pops up every 15 minutes, indicating it was a judge’s copy. “These direct digital copies were a much better quality than traditional pirated movies, which are usually made using a handheld video camera to record the film during a screening.”

The Sam Mendes Formula

Diretor Sam Mendes has earned cachet for the plays he directed at Donmar Warehouse, the “flashy and successful London theatre” he co-founded a decade ago. He “knows, in his post-Peter Brook way, that the play is not the thing; the star is, no matter how ill-equipped he or she may be for the exigencies of the stage. He knows, too, that the theatre nowadays is to movies what jazz is to pop music: it has a certain cachet, but few prefer it to the populist-minded alternative.”

China’s Fake Art Trade

Enormous finds of art in China over the past decade have flooded the art market. But along with the legitimate finds, fakes of every description and sophistication have also appeared to tempt the gullible. “Most of those fakes come through Hong Kong, China’s wildly capitalistic gateway to the world. Trying to quantify the trade in fakes is like trying to get your hands around an octopus. No one keeps records of the illegal trade.”

The NYT And Art Coverage

How will cultural coverage change at the New York Times under its new Arts & Leisure section editor? “You have a special burden when you are writing about the arts because your subject is all about creativity and narrative skill and wit and style and deep meaning, so you have to incorporate all those elements in your coverage, whether it’s straight reporting or criticism or something in between. You have to be a little showbiz about it, and I don’t mean that in a cheap or superficial way. On the one hand you are certainly not going to be competing with your subject, but you shouldn’t pale beside it either.”

The Mystery Grammy Nominee

Just how did a singer by the name of Eartha get nominated for a Grammy for Best Female R&B Artist? “The raw numbers tell quite a story. The albums from which Aaliyah, Ashanti, Blige and Scott’s nominated songs were taken have sold a collective 7 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The total sales in SoundScan-surveyed outlets for Eartha’s album, ‘Sidebars’: 52. You didn’t hear her on radio, either. Her nominated song, ‘I’m Still Standing,’ did not appear among the top 1,000 songs played on R&B or adult R&B radio stations in 2002.”

Libraries Ordering Fewer Harrys

Every time a new Harry Potter book comes out, kids flock to libraries to check out copies. That will be more difficult this summer. “Because of budget cuts, libraries are struggling to have enough Potter books. In New York City, for example, the number of ordered copies has dropped from 956 for the last release, ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,’ to 560 for the new one.”