Katharine Reid is stepping down as director of the Cleveland Museum of Art after five years in the job. Reid’s surprise announcement comes “a month before trustees are to vote on going ahead with a major expansion and renovation. She said she was stepping down for personal reasons and in the best interests of the museum. She wants to give the institution a chance to find fresh leadership if it begins a construction project that could last five years or more.”
Kurtz Fights Bioterrorism Charges
University at Buffalo professor Steven Kurtz is in court trying to get charges against him dismissed. “The attorney for an artist accused of illegally obtaining bacteria for his artwork is asking a judge to throw the case out, saying authorities have sought to portray his client as a bioterrorist.”
Spellings: PBS Should Be “Straight Down The Line”
New American education secretary defends her concerns about the cartoon Postcards from Buster on PBS because it shows gays in the background. “When people turn on the Public Broadcasting System, they expect to get something that is very straight down the line that is educationally oriented. And I think that particular topic, of sexuality and lifestyles, are things that need to be introduced by parents and families in their own way and in their own time.”
NY Mayor Proposes Arts Funding Cuts
“New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented a preliminary budget last week, forecasting a $1.4 billion overall surplus and proposing a Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) cut of some $20 million.” The arts budget cuts weren’t a surprise. Bloomberg had told arts groups in December of his intentions.
Virginia’s Desperate Arts Groups (And A Creative Play For Funding)
Virgina’s culture groups have hit on a creative way to try to fund their projects after the state legislature cut them off. “The proposal’s sponsors are respected organizations. Their projects will be a boon to Virginia. The annual cost of what they’re seeking, $6.8 million in debt service, is a modest sum, a footnote in the state budget. Their claim on state funding is valid and their strategy, in a difficult legislative environment, creative. But instead of backing cultural organizations into the corner, Virginia should recognize their value in regular appropriations from general funds.”
Seattle’s Empty Space Theatre Rises From The Ashes
Seattle’s Empty Space Theatre will resume operations after raising enough money to continue. “Crippled by debt and non-existent financial reserves, the board decided in October that unless $350,000 could be raised by Jan. 31, the Space would go out of business. As of yesterday, $403,865 had been raised.”
Rhetorical Punches Finally Thrown In St. Louis
The St. Louis Symphony strike/lockout (depending on whom you ask) is now a month old, and the odd civility that initially surrounded the situation appears to be all but gone. As the musicians crank up the PR machine, playing a free children’s concert at a local church, they are also taking shots at the SLSO management for refusing mediation and failing to make any counterproposal to what the musicians offered several weeks back. In return, the orchestra’s president is calling the musicians “really dumb” for not being willing to accept the management’s last contract offer, which would have dealt them a pay cut of more than $10,000.
Sanctuary Vs. Urban Sanction
“Burning Man’s renowned temple-builder, David Best, was one day from completing a towering art project dedicated to the day laborers in San Rafael’s canal district when the city decided it was all too much. ‘The Chapel of the Laborer,’ a small-scale version of the respected plywood structures that Best builds for the weeklong festival in the Nevada desert and then burns in remembrance of the dead, was to be a temporary sanctuary where Latinos could gather, pray or light a candle for loved ones… But this week the city received a complaint and ordered Best to stop construction immediately. Yellow caution tape now lines the front of the 30- foot-tall structure, and a stop-work order sits near the Virgin Mary’s hand.”
From PBS To PBT
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre has tapped the former COO of the city’s public television station to serve as its interim managing director. Robert Petrilli is credited with helping station WQED out of a serious fiscal hole, a relevant bit of experience, since PBT is running a $1 million deficit and recently asked its pit musicians to take a 50% pay cut.
Forget Classical! Is Rock Music Dying?
“Not quite. But judging from its performance on the charts – and compared to its biggest bands and trends from a few years ago – it’s wheezing. Cast your eye down 2004’s Top 10-selling album list and you won’t see a single new rock band.” Even as the popularity of country, hip-hop and R&B continues to soar, rock groups can’t seem to buy attention, and many blame the influx of crossover sugar-pop acts for diluting rock’s pool. “When rock was more muscular – during the eras of grunge (mid-’90s), punk-pop (late ’90s) and rap-metal (turn-of-the-century) – no such tepid pop crossover was even necessary.”