Canada Increases Tax Credit For Foreign Film Productions

Hollywood, trying to encourage producers to stay in the US to shoot their movies, have proposed legislation to give producers tax incentives. But last week, to try to keep producers coming to Canada, the Canadian government said it would increase production tax credits from 11% to 16% for foreign producers shooting there. Hollywood is protesting.

Going Wild Over Van Gogh In Japan

It was to be an ordinary auction in Tokyo, until a work for sale was revealed as a forgotten Van Gogh. “The ensuing media frenzy in Japan ensured that the auction in Ginza was mobbed. Over 500 buyers registered and those who couldn’t squeeze into the main auction room had to be seated on another floor, connected to the action by a television screen. When the Van Gogh portrait now known as “Peasant Woman” appeared, bidding was frenzied.”

National Gallery Gains A Boticelli

London’s National Gallery has a new Boticelli. Well, not new exactly. The museum has reattributed a picture that had previously been attributed to one of the master’s followers. “The picture, ‘St Francis with Musical Angels’, is extremely unusual for a mid-15th century Florentine painting in its patterned, stamped gold background. The painting was purchased (as a Filippino Lippi) by the the National Gallery’s greatest director, Sir Charles Eastlake in 1858 from the Costabili collection.”

Philanthropy Survey Suggests Troubling Trends

The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s third annual survey of “America’s most-generous donors” shows a huge drop in giving – the total for the largest 60 givers declined from $12.7 billion to $4.6 billion. “A troubling sign of the slowdown: a growing tendency among donors to make long-term pledges rather than outright cash gifts. Some donors also are delaying payments on previous pledges, and fund raisers see an increasing reluctance among wealthy people to make new giving commitments of any sort.”

South African Playwright Has AIDS

Gibson Kente, 69, one South Africa’s most prominent playwrights, said last week that he has AIDS, “becoming one of only a handful of celebrities to go public about AIDS in the country worst hit by the disease.” Kente helped pioneer theater in South Africa’s black townships during the years of apartheid rule. Why go public? “I have HIV, why not make some use of it?”

Breathing A Little Easier In Michigan

Michigan arts groups appear to have escaped the full blow of the budget-cutting axe which has been decimating arts funding in other states, at least for now. In the first round of budget-cutting designed to balance the state’s books for the fiscal year already underway, the state will trim 1.5% from the amount allocated to the arts, and the state arts board plans to apply the cut evenly to all its grant recipients. But another, much larger, round of budget cuts will be announced in March, and as one arts administrator points out, “Arts grants can be very tempting to legislators.”

Dogfight Over The Hundred Acre Wood

The Disney company has lost an important legal battle in its fight against a British company which claims it is entitled to a share of the profits from the “Winnie-the-Pooh” franchise. Disney acquired the rights to Pooh and the rest of A.A. Milne’s famous characters in 1961, but a judge ruled that the company had been evasive, and destroyed crucial documents relating to the true nature of the franchise ownership. Marketing of the Pooh characters nets Disney $1 billion per year in profit.

Layoffs In St. Paul

The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, America’s only full-time professional chamber orchestra, has laid off ten administrative employees in an attempt to balance its books in the face of a shrinking endowment and below-average donations. Observers were surprised by the layoffs, since the SPCO finished last season in the black, one of only three American orchestras to do so. The ensemble survived a brush with bankruptcy a decade ago, but has operated without deficits for nine straight seasons.

Producers May Be Backing Down

There appears to be some movement in the contentious negotiations between Broadway producers and the musicians who staff the pits of the Great White Way. The central issue in the talks is over the requirement that a minimum number of musicians be employed for every show. Producers have been insisting that the policy must be eliminated outright, but sources now say that they may be willing to accept reductions in the minimums instead. Why the change of heart? It’s possible that producers aren’t as ready as they suggest to start using canned music as accompaniment to Broadway musicals.

Vivendi To Sell Off Art Holdings

“Vivendi Universal has chosen two New York auction houses to sell its modern art and photography collection – valued at about $15 million – this spring as part of an effort to decrease the Paris-based entertainment conglomerate’s multibillion-dollar debt. Christie’s will offer the modern art holding, which includes works by Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro and Mark Rothko, at an auction that has yet to be scheduled. Phillips, de Pury and Luxembourg will put the collection of photographs on the block April 25-26.”