I, Disney – Welfare Queen

“Scrooge McDuck would be proud. Few have panhandled for taxpayer dollars as successfully as Disney during Eisner’s reign. It has received at least $4.5 billion in subsidies, low-interest loans, land grants and “joint venture” investments from governments in Florida, Pennsylvania and Hong Kong. It even managed to get a handout from the French government—not exactly a fan of things American—which sold 4,800 acres just outside of Paris to Disney at a 90 percent discount so the company could build Euro Disneyland. Disney has gotten even sweeter deals closer to its home base in Southern California.”

The Culture Capital Is…

And the “American Capital of Culture” for 2005 is… (what? You didn’t know there was such a thing? Me neither… shhh, just listen…) the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. OK. “The province has been elected as the American Capital of Culture for 2005 by an organization of the same name with headquarters in Barcelona, Spain. A news release from the group says the designation was made to coincide with the province’s 100th anniversary. But it’s not clear how much money the province would have to spend for that recognition.”

L’Affaire Voigt – Covent Garden Responds

A spokesman for the opera in London’s Covent Garden confirmed on Sunday that Voigt had been dropped from the lead role in a summer 2004 production of Richard Strauss’ “Ariadne on Naxos” and that the reason was her size. The spokesman, Christopher Millard, said Sunday that casting director Peter Katona had selected a black evening dress for the part and believed Voigt would not look right in it.” Still, says the company, Covent Garden hopes Voigt will consent to perform there again in the future

Welsh Opera Slashes Ticket Prices

When an arts organization moves into a shiny new home, it often takes the opportunity to boost ticket prices. Not the Welsh National Opera, though. They’re lowering the tariff to get in. “Top price tickets will be cut by 25% to £35, while cheapest seats will cost as little as £5, a reduction of 37%. The WNO say the increased seating capacity at the new venue makes this possible.”

Giving Weight To The Issue Of Opera Singers

Does being fat help opera singers? “Despite the success of a few far-from-slender singers—Luciano Pavarotti being the most conspicuous example—there is no scientific evidence to suggest that greater mass allows for better range, breath control, or projection without microphones. Nevertheless, heavy opera singers tend to believe their weight aids them. And since singing, like any other human talent, is greatly affected by the performer’s comfort and state of mind, a soprano who believes that her heft helps her with tricky arias may actually give a better performance.”

First A Helping Hand, Then A Slap To The Face

Back in January, the Toronto city council voted almost unanimously to move the Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art from its current home in North York to the center of a growing arts district in the city’s downtown. But budget crunches are forcing the city to cut back all over, and one of the items slated for a serious fiscal blow is the MCCA’s budget. Under the current plan before the council, the museum would lose more than a third of its annual budget, which will force it to curtail most of its programming for the year.

Modernism Meets The Assembly Line

“What if modern architecture could meet up frankly, honestly with mass production the way that French architect Le Corbusier imagined it? What if you could actually afford to buy a house by award-winning architects? If the project of modernism took hold, North America might start to look like a place of gritty, tenacious promise and less like a bad copy of its past. To help undo the prevailing nostalgia for architecture, in which new houses typically look as dated as top hats and waistcoats, there is the Royal Q series of modernist homes or cottages designed by Kohn Shnier Architects.”

Audition Horror Stories

There may be no more stressful way to job hunt than to take an audition for a big-time orchestra. Flying around the country at your own expense for the chance to play the hardest excerpts in the orchestral repertoire for three minutes, before being summarily dismissed by a disembodied voice – it’s not the most relaxing job interview environment. So you can imagine how Boston-based violist Karina Schmitz felt at her last two auditions: the first in Detroit, where airline mishaps got her to the hall after a night of unscheduled flights around the Midwest; and the second in Los Angeles, where the power on stage went out as she was playing her concerto.