Broadway Strike – Silence On The Negotiating Front

Broadway’s musicians strike headed into Sunday night without any negotiations or progress. ” ‘They handed us a proposal – typed very clearly at the top ‘final proposal’ – and left the building. There have been no talks since then.’ Outside the theaters, the strike scene is becoming increasingly familiar. Musicians picketed and passed out leaflets urging people to “save live music on Broadway,” while disappointed theatergoers exchanged tickets for later dates or refunds. Stagehands and performers were honoring the picket lines.

A Film Fest With Buzz

“This week they’re celebrating the 10th anniversary of the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference and Festival, a nine-day event that started off as a mere offshoot of the longer-running SXSW Music Festival, but that has quietly proven itself as a must-do stop on the film circuit. SXSW Film now has more genuine buzz behind it than Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival, which a decade ago was a lot like SXSW is today (a cautionary note, perhaps).”

The Netherlands of Arts Funding

Dutch government spending on the arts is impressive. “The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science’s staggering $21 billion budget is the largest of any Dutch government agency. Adjusted to population size, it’s roughly equivalent to the military budget of the United States. The culture ministry spends $400 million a year directly on the arts — about $25 for every Dutch citizen. But the free ride may be ending. Recent policy dictates that “artists must be supported, equipped and stimulated to stir up their spirit of enterprise,” and institutions must now meet minimum targets for raising private revenues, or risk losing subsidies.”

A Highly Visible Strike

“Strikes by performing artists are rare, and the public reaction to them is usually quite different from the reaction to strikes by others, like steelworkers or construction workers. Broadway is a highly visible business, important to New York’s image and economy, and the public, not just New Yorkers but tourists from across the country, will pay great attention to this strike. It is not clear whether the public, in this case theatergoers, will buy the musicians’ argument that a minimum number of musicians are needed to maintain the vitality of pit orchestras or the producers’ argument that smaller orchestras — and perhaps virtual, electronic orchestras — might be acceptable to improve the economics of producing musicals and to help more survive.”

How A Strike Shut Down Broadway Musicals

Broadway producers were “stunned” that stagehands and actors decided to support the musicians strike. The producers evidently “thought that the stagehands’ union had given strong back-channel signals that they would not side with the musicians” But hopes for a quick settlement were dashed over the weekend when producers cancelled performances.

New Hope For Old Vic

The Bristol Old Vic is the oldest working theatre in Britain, its main house, originally the Theatre Royal, built in 1766 by William Halfpenny. You happen upon it like a jewel that has strangely parted company from a ring. But dilapidation – however severe – is not the theatre’s most pressing concern. For the truth is – although everyone is too polite to be forceful about it – that the Bristol Old Vic has been an artistic casualty for years now, suffering from underfunding and weak leadership.” But now, finally, things might be looking up…

Censorship Or Taste?

Do some books cause more harm than they’re worth? Critics are asking the question in regards to a Canadian book that resurrects details of horrible crimes committed a decade ago. “Karla Homolka, a diabolical criminal will be a free woman in 2005, after serving only 12 years for heinous crimes against schoolgirls in a quiet Ontario town.” Should the public know more about Homolka “before she disappears into Canadian society, perhaps to commit more crimes under the camouflage of a new name and an altered appearance?” But in dredging up details, “the families of the victims are publicly traumatized once again” and some booksellers have declined to carry the book.