The Battle For Florida

The state of Florida slashed arts funding last year. But arts supporters were cheered in the past few weeks when members of the legislature proposed a cultural trust fund that would provide long term funding for the arts, restoring last year’s cuts. But Governor Jeb Bush has been throwing cold water on the plan: “The priorities of the future should be established by future governors and legislatures. That’s the general principle that I support and believe in.”

The Curious Mindest That Puts Brooklyn On The Fringes

“When people talk about N.Y. as the cultural capital of the world, they usually mean Manhattan. The rich institutions in the other four boroughs live marginalized lives, always clamouring for a sliver of mindshare and deeply resenting the inertia that keeps people stuck on the island in the middle of the city. Take the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Built more than a century ago as an expression of the manifest dreams of Brooklyn, which was still its own city, at 560,000 square feet it is the second-largest museum of art in the city, and one of the largest in the United States, with an outstanding collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts.”

TV Commercials – From Rage To Oblivion

People are reported to watch 714 commercials a week, or 37,000 a year, yet it is difficult to think of five of them offhand. For a decade or so, watching ads was as fun as joining the kind of religious cult that plays heavy-metal albums backward, laboriously noting the various shout-outs to Beelzebub. Such fun insists that pop culture is a game run by evil, Orwellian masterminds, who can’t fool us! If a certain innocence predated our almost insane distrust of the advertising industry, then this same distrust has now melted into ennui and fatigued resignation. If any of you have ever lived near a smelting plant or airport, you understand perfectly this process, from novelty to rage to obliviousness.”

Arts Against Bush

“Anti-administration politics are busting out of their usual homes in music, books, fine art and standup comedy, and crossing easily over into feature films, theatre, and even mainstream television shows in the run-up to this November’s U.S. presidential election. At the same time, many of the flag-waving, administration-friendly movies that Hollywood rushed to produce in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001, either foundered in development or are bombing at the box office, including the current The Alamo.”

Two Decades Of AIDS And Theatre

In the past 20 years an astonishing number of plays have been influenced by the AIDS epidemic. “With all the loss, it would be a mistake to ignore the astonishing theater that has grown in the dark soil of cataclysm. We can almost put our arms around a definable body of AIDS dramatic literature that has energized the theater in the years between the first “Normal Heart” and this one.”

Reinventing Scottish Ballet

Ashley Page took over Scottish Ballet a year ago as the company relaunched itself as a modern dance company. In that time, he’s reinvented everything. “Page is reclaiming the past while updating the repertoire with his own works, curator as well as creator. How Scotland reacts to this policy has yet to be determined. The Festival Theatre was by no means full, though Edinburgh audiences are notoriously wary of Glasgow-based culture, and Scottish Ballet has a damaged reputation still to repair.”

Globe-Trotting Nagano

Conductor Kent Nagano is suddenly the man of the moment. “Nagano, 52, was in the news last month when the Montreal Symphony Orchestra put an end to weeks of rumors and officially announced that he would become the orchestra’s music director starting with the 2006-07 season. In February, the Bavarian State Opera named him to succeed Zubin Mehta as general music director, also beginning in 2006-07. He is currently music director of the Los Angeles Opera, Berlin’s Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester and the Berkeley (Calif.) Symphony Orchestra, a post he has held for more than 25 years.”

Modern Music In Modern Art

“For whatever reason – and speculation could fill many a book – modern visual art is far more widely accepted than modern classical music. Exhibitions of Picasso and Matisse draw huge crowds, and even hotels mount abstract art on their walls. But mainstream modern music by the likes of Stravinsky, Poulenc and Janácek, some of it nearly a century old, remains a hard sell. Genuinely atonal music, from Arnold Schoenberg to Elliott Carter – the equivalent, you might say, of abstract expressionism in painting – isn’t popular even among highly trained professional musicians. Surrounded by modern painting and sculpture, though, modern music can make more sense.”

Liechtenstein Museum Reopens For First Time Since WWII

The Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna recently reopened. “The collection is one of the largest and most valuable private collections in the world, and belongs to the royal family of Liechtenstein, the tiny country wedged between Austria and Switzerland. The museum closed on the eve of World War II in 1938 and since then the artwork has remained hidden behind castle walls in Liechtenstein. Until its closure the museum was regarded as a must-see among Vienna’s cultural wealth.”