Tourism Chief: Failure To Invest In Arts Harms Economy

A former Scottish tourism chief says Scotland’s failure to invest in the arts will hurt the country’s economy. “As soon as an arts organisation looks for money, it is described as eating up money for a group of people who can well afford the ticket price. That view has far too much credence in government and needs to be challenged; government needs to identify the arts as an important component of what we are as human beings. Instead every penny towards the arts is questioned, almost begrudged.”

ACT Theatre Woes Fail To Impress Critic

So Seattle’s ACT theatre is on the verge of going out of business. The theatre declared a life-and-death emegergency, then gave itself a little breathing room when board members ponied up some operating money. Roger Downey isn’t impressed. “Why was the theatre’s board so ignorant of the organization’s precarious financial situation? Many Seattle arts groups seem headed down this same path – ACT is just the first. Why do we let it happen? “It’s entirely in keeping with the way arts groups, in Seattle and elsewhere in this country, are governed and financed. The system is rickety even in good times, and bad times expose its shortcomings cruelly.”

How Should Arts Money Be Split up?

A recent report by the Boston Foundation said that 65 percent of arts donations went to two percent of the area’s cultural organizations – the ones with budgets of more than $20 million. This has led some to call for spreading the wealth among the rest of the arts organizations. But leaders of two of Boston’s largest arts groups say the portion of funding for major groups is right because they serve the widest audiences. “That chart doesn’t show audience served. That’s the number one point.”

Prokofiev, Conflicted

Prokofiev was unquestionably one of the great composers of the 20th Century. But “there is something profoundly suspect about Western attitudes to this composer. Instead of subjecting him to continuous critical assessment, we repeat favourite works and shun the rest. Prokofiev makes us uneasy in ways that Ravel does not. He reminds us of things we would prefer to forget – first and foremost of our obeisance to Stalin. Yes, ours, not his.”

Libeskind Chosen For WTC

The proposed design by Daniel Libeskind for the World Trade Center site has been chosen. “The new building is planned to be taller than the trade center towers, which briefly stood as the world’s tallest at 1,350 feet. Libeskind’s tower also would surpass Malaysia’s 1,483-foot Petronas Twin Towers, the tallest buildings in the world.”

Big Cuts At SFMOMA

“The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art plans to cut its exhibitions by as much as 25 percent in the wake of an expected $1 million budget deficit for 2003 and stock market losses that have left its endowment fund $13.9 million in the red. SFMOMA, which has built an international reputation in the past decade, will gradually reduce its exhibits from about 25 per year to perhaps 18 to bring its spending in line with the shrinking economy and the realities of the museum business.”

San Antonio Symphony On The Brink

The latest North American orchestra crisis appears to be heading for a flashpoint in south Texas, where the San Antonio Symphony board is preparing to make a presentation to its musicians today, laying out the cuts the board believes will be necessary to save the financially strapped ensemble. One board member insists that layoffs and payroll cuts are not on the table, but another is ominously quoted as saying, “I think there’s some people who feel, ‘Go ahead and let the symphony fail. It will come back as a smaller orchestra. San Antonio can’t afford this full-service orchestra.'”

Marketing A Memorial

Let it never be said that the two finalists in the Ground Zero sweepstakes were content to sit back and let others decide the fate of their designs. Both Daniel Libeskind and Rafael Viñoly have been working overtime in an effort to make their respective proposals attractive to New York’s political and artistic bigwigs. “With talk of truth and beauty, memory and monument, these architects have been selling themselves like movie stars… Not since Gary Cooper appeared in The Fountainhead has the public been so riveted by architecture and architects.”