Turns out you can tell who’s important in a group of people by tracking the email traffic within the group. “Researchers have developed a way to use e-mail exchanges to build a map of the structure of an organization. The map shows the teams in which people actually work, as opposed to those they are assigned to. The technique can also reveal who is at the heart of each sub-group. These people often correspond with company-designated leaders such as project managers. But unofficial de facto leaders can also emerge. The approach might even help to pinpoint the heads of criminal or terrorist networks.”
Despite a down economy, four museums in Ohio are embarking on big expansion projects. The Cleveland Museum of Art announced plans two months ago for a $225 million renovation and expansion, the Toledo Museum of Art is spending $27 million on a new, 47,000-square-foot center for glass art, in June, the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati will open its new $37-million Lois and Richard Rosenthal Center, designed by Zaha Hadid of London, and the Akron Museum is raising $34 million for an expandion.
“Between the 8th century, when it was constructed, and the 13th, when it was destroyed, Baghdad was the wealthiest, most learned and most opulent, city in Islam. Baghdad in the 10th century had a million inhabitants. In Europe at the time, where most people lived in huts, there was nothing to compare with it. Baghdad had 100 bookstores. And the grandest library assembled since the sack of Alexandria’s. The city represents, and not only for Iraqis but for Arabs across the board, a time when the Arab world knew itself to be the center of civilization, of science and art and mystery. The symbol of Baghdad is richer, and deeper, than whoever is messing it up right now.”
New Jersey arts groups are certainly happy Governor James McGreevey is reconsidering eliminating state arts funding. Instead, the cut might be 50 percent. But this isn’t good enough some say. “The chop would actually represent a 60% slice over two years, since the State Legislature cut the arts budget by 10% last session. A 60% cut will cause a lot of damage to cultural institutions in the state in an already difficult economy. ‘We feel we are a solution to economic problems because we generate a lot of money for the state of New Jersey. We continue to be puzzled by the governor’s decisions to slash our funds when we’re a billion-dollar industry to the state.”
Should the Oscars go on as scheduled? Jack Mathews thinks not. “To go on with the Oscar telecast now would be wrongheaded in more ways than the average Joan Rivers red carpet interview. The awards show has great professional and financial importance to the participants, but it’s a cultural bagatelle to the rest of us – a good reason for a high-carb party and some jocular elbowing over the relative merits of our favorite movies, and nothing more.”
With Gerge Bush’s Iraq war, there are some entertainment programming changes in America. The Academy Awards “announced Tuesday that it will eliminate this year’s red carpet festivities, citing concerns among many attendees about how such a celebration would look in light of world events. In addition to television, that decision has repercussions for other industries, such as publishing and fashion, which build glitzy events around the Academy Awards.”
Oscar handlers are changing their prep for Sunday’s Oscars. “No Lara Flynn Boyle tutu moments. No hordes of snapping photographers. No embarrassing faux pas from perennial gadfly Joan Rivers. And for the fashion world, millions of dollars in lost publicity. ‘This is a huge disappointment for the industry. The Oscars are the emotional crescendo of the fashion and glamour season – the No. 1 most important showcase for the latest fashion and jewelry. Now it’s no bigger than the SAG awards’.”
CanWest, which owns 11 big-city newspapers and 16 TV stations across Canada, is hiring a new team of national arts journalists to be based around the country. The team will be used on TV and in print, and the company says it wants to create some stars. But “the creation of the arts team has CanWest’s current arts editors, reporters and reviewers worried. They fear that the company’s long-term plan is to reduce local reporting and criticism and that, over time, coverage of film festivals, concerts and events will diminish.” CanWest’s track record on arts coverage is terrible; when it acquired the National Post two years ago, it dismantled the paper’s first-rate arts and culture section. “CanWest continues to treat its newspaper customers as though they were buying dog food — bigger box, less food. What do the dogs know?”
Tuesday, after George Bush declared war on Iraq, Oprah Winfrey used her TV show to ask “why do so many hate the United States?” The show “presented a distinct alternative to the perspective presented by every mainstream American broadcaster in the last few months.” In normal circumstances, “the perspectives she presented would not be truly notable, but in the contemporary context, they were amazing. The problem is that the program said more about the rest of American television than it did about Oprah Winfrey.”
The World Affairs Council of Philadelphia has seen a big spike in attendance for its programs as tensions over George Bush’s war with Iraq have heated up. But corporations, “which contribute a third of the council’s budget through sponsorships and memberships, are paying about half what they once did to sponsor events. Some are not sponsoring them at all” prefering not to be associated with such a controversial topic.