Books Are Dead…Good Riddance

“Books suck. Most books are dopier than television or movies or even advertising (many books tend to be just collateral promotions or the lesser offspring of dopey television, movies, and advertising). Even if there are precious exceptions, the overwhelming number of big-money, industry-sustaining books are incontrovertibly dum-dum things. More cynical, more pandering than any other entertainment product. Working at a magazine where every day random books come flying in by the bushel you get a sense of the magnitude of the wasteland. Books may be the true lowest-common-denominator medium. What’s more, in the book business, you have to work in really deadening conditions…”

Ballet San Jose To Stay Open, For The Moment

“Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley — which just Monday told a city panel that it might close by week’s end without an emergency $100,000 grant — on Tuesday said it could stay in business because it raised some of the money in pledges within the past 24 hours, Executive Director Andrew Bales said. Even if Bales is able to make payroll for now, it’s unclear how the ballet will solve its underlying funding problems. Last year, the ballet had to be rescued by four board members who came up with $2 million in donations. And it remains unknown what would happen if projected ticket sales fail to materialize.”

Calgary, From The Ashes

“The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra’s creditors agreed Wednesday to a repayment plan that will give them half of what they’re owed. It puts the orchestra one step closer to being able to perform again, which they haven’t done since mid-October when they asked the courts for bankruptcy protection… The CPO has developed a restructuring plan that required $1.5 million in new money, and that those they owed money to accepted 50 cents on the dollar. With the creditors unanimous agreement and the city and province kicking in $250,000 each, the orchestra is close to re-opening.”

Martha Graham – Back From Hibernation

So had the Martha Graham Company survived its time away from the stage? “The good news is that the tremendous effort that’s gone into keeping the company together and bringing it to this level of performance has paid off: This is not yet great Graham, but it’s intelligent, ambitious and often satisfying. There’s a platoon of young dancers devoted to what they’re doing; you can see it in the expressive and energized corps. In certain works — Dark Meadow, for one — the corps is now the strongest element. But then the famous Dark Meadow, with its step-right-up-and-stroke-me phallic impedimenta, is looking dated these days.”

Old Vic On The Rise

News that Kevin Spacey is going to help lead London’s Old Vic Theatre is just the latest of the theatre’s high-profile news. “The Old Vic now stands bang at the centre of the celebrity, glitz and charity nexus. Its board is an awesomely terrifying display of the new establishment. It is well connected, glitzy and hot. All it lacks are shows. This strange anomaly, a furious amount of excitement, spectacle and glittering noise around a peculiar emptiness, is not so surprising since it is so resonant of the age we live in. And the Old Vic, more than any of our theatres, has always reflected the age it lived in back to itself.”

No New Copyright Legislation Likely This Year?

Tech and entertainment industry leaders say they don’t expect new bills On copyright law to be introduced in Congress this year. It’s possible that copyright issues have become become so murky that they lack consensus among various industries and “would keep Congress from acting on significant mandates. Initiatives likely to stall include those requiring electronics firms to install controversial copy-protection devices, restricting peer-to-peer file sharing or expanding the rights of consumers to copy their favorite movies and music.”

A Virtual Culture Online (And It’s Evolving)

More than 500,000 people are paying $13 a month to participate in a virtual world role-playing game. They choose characters and interact with other players. An interesting thing has happened – a culture is evolving in the game, an economy is being built, and the complexity of the game system is such that anything a player does impacts others. “The intriguing part is that most players expand their assets and abilities not through violence or chicanery, the modus operandi of a typical single-player computer game, but through virtual market transactions.” Economists are fascinated…

Arizona Also To Zero Out Arts Funding?

American state governments are going after arts funding with a vengeance. “In Arizona, where the state Commission on the Arts has received $5.1 million in each of the last two years, a joint legislative committee on Jan. 27 proposed zeroing out that spending in 2003-04. The committee also proposed emptying the state’s $7-million arts endowment and spending the money elsewhere.”

New Jersey Arts Groups Brace For Cuts

Cultural leaders are predicting that if New Jersey eliminates all its arts funding, as threatened, that 100 cultural organizations could fold. Arts groups would have to slash programs, and many would take a decade to recover. “The 20 to 30 arts leaders who sat through the half-hour meeting told the governor that the impact would go beyond quality-of-life issues.” Studies have shown that the arts annually generates $1 billion in economic activity in New Jersey.