Funding Cuts Threaten Florida Culture

The chair of the Miami-Dade Cultural Affairs Council writes to protest proposed cuts in Florida’s state arts budget. “The Senate is proposing zero dollars for the state’s Division of Cultural Affairs’ grants programs and the elimination of the Cultural Institutions Trust Fund, one of three so targeted out of the state’s 450. For years, the Trust Fund has provided a stable, dedicated source of funds for the state’s arts grants programs. The House’s position is $6.1 million in cultural support, a 78 percent reduction from the current year. Gov. Bush’s fiscal-year 2004 budget of $12 million for culture is a 57 percent reduction from the FY 2003 state budget. These cuts are disproportionate to other reductions proposed to address the state’s budget crisis.”

Ian McKellan: Shakespeare Was Gay?

“Sir Ian said the complexity of the sexuality in Shakespeare?s comedies with their cross-dressing and disguises was immense’. We don?t really know for sure if Shakespeare was gay and it is not especially that important. But was he interested in the variety of human sexuality? Absolutely. Did he know about it? Better than anybody.”

US Government Investigating Artists Who Protest?

The family of an outspoken member of a San Francisco hip hop band says the musician has allegedly been investigated by the US government. “The mother, whom Michale Franti declined to name for her safety, said plainclothes investigators appeared at her door on March 16, showing pictures of the band performing at an anti-war demonstration the previous day in San Francisco, Franti said. They questioned her about entries made in her son’s checking account, his travel records for the past several months, and his general whereabouts.”

San Diego Sushi Stale After AD Resigns

Vicki Wolf, longtime director of Sushi, San Diego’s leading cutting-edge performance venue, has resigned. Wolf’s departure, which is said to be motivated by “personal reasons,” leaves Sushi “artistically rudderless at a crucial point in its 24-year history. Sushi’s home, the distinctive and historically designated Carnation Building, has been sold to housing developers who plan to build high-rise condominiums on the footprint where artists now do their work.”

“War Porno” And The Voyeurization Of America

The constant barrage of exciting video, exploding tank columns, belligerant journalists who make themselves the story, and endless nationalistic jingoism from the American media have congealed into a phenomenon best described as “war porno,” says Joanne Ostrow. “Here we are in the middle of Act 2, just past the rescue of Jessica Lynch as a riveting subplot, awaiting the promised climactic act break in which we monitor the siege of Baghdad around the clock. We are at our posts, remotes in hand. You can tell you’re a glutton for war porno when you arrange your day around Pentagon briefings to track Donald Rumsfeld’s crankiness.”

Baltimore Musicians Take Preemptive Wage Freeze

“Musicians of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra have voted to accept a wage freeze and other financial concessions over the next 2 1/2 years to help the organization deal with its financial troubles. The move, which will save the BSO about $3 million, comes midway through the musicians’ current five-year contract.” It is extremely unusual for a functioning orchestra to renegotiate a contract in the middle of its run, but the Baltimore musicians and management agreed to try to head off at the pass the possibility of a future crisis.

Big Cuts in South Florida

The Florida Philharmonic’s musicians have also renegotiated an ongoing contract, agreeing to allow the management to reduce the length of the orchestra’s season by six weeks, and further agreeing to a freeze in the weekly pay scale. “In addition, health insurance co-payments will be increased from 12 percent for families and 15 percent for individuals to a flat 27 percent for everyone. Long-term disability coverage will be eliminated. Contributions to a pension fund for the musicians will be cut from 8 to 4 percent. And four weeks of paid vacation time this season will be reduced to two weeks next season.”

Michael Kelly, 46

Michael Kelly, editor-at-large of the Atlantic Monthly, has been killed in a Humvee accident in Iraq. “Kelly is credited with revitalizing the respected but sometimes dull Atlantic, which won three National Magazine Awards last year and carried many high-profile cover stories, including a three-part series on the cleanup of the World Trade Center site. He took the reins after Washington businessman David Bradley bought the Atlantic from Mort Zuckerman in 1999. Kelly stepped down as editor last fall and also planned to write a book about the history of the steel industry.”