The National Endowment for the Arts want to fundraise privately, but one of New York’s most important arts advocates – Norma Munn Chair of the New York City Arts Coalition – is strongly opposed. “As a matter of principle, I’m opposed to government using fundraising in the private sector to supplement an agency budget at the city, state, or federal level. It means they’re competing directly with not-for-profits for precisely the same funds; and their clout and ability to publicize their efforts is a lot greater than other arts groups. It’s a substitute for public funds and a move for privatization of funding that isn’t appropriate.”
In a surprise move, heirs of Jim Henson have bought back the Muppet creator’s company for the discount price of $78 million. “The Henson family decided only two weeks ago to bid for The Jim Henson Co., which they will buy for a fraction of what Munich-based EM.TV paid for it, according to Brian Henson, the son of the company’s late founder. Munich-based EM.TV bought the company, and the rights to characters such as Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, in February 2000 for $680 million in cash and stock.”
A professor at Seoul National Universityt laments that the humanities are not being studied in Korea. Humanities and literature have turned to ‘cultural studies’ that emphasize the interrelationship of ethnic identities, gender studies, postcolonial studies, and film studies. This means that the humanities and literature are now almost always explored and discussed in relation to their cultural and social implications, hegemony, ideology, and history. In many countries this cultural approach seems to succeed, at least partially, in bringing students’ interest back to the humanities and literature. But alas! Not in Korea, where highbrow culture and traditional values are esteemed more than any other country on earth.
Philadelphia is home to nearly 2,000 professional dancers who use about 20 rehearsal spaces and 45 different performing venues. Those dancers and the small companies they work with want to build a home where they can work. Wait for it, warns a new study. “The primary issue, the study said, is that most of the city’s dance groups are tiny and do not have the business side of their operations in order.” It advises waiting three to five years to get better established.
One takes £1 million in banknotes and burns them in an existential statement – an act of art. The other invests in trying to save the beleaguered English National Opera. “Why does Bill Drummond get cult status for burning a million and Martin Smith villain status for giving a million? The answer is simple. Drummond, as a rock hero, appeals to our instinct for anarchy. Martin Smith, and many of his friends, are bankers – or stockbrokers, financial consultants, and the like. They deal in money. To some sections of the arts world, the persona of ‘banker’ is villainous.”
Critics are blasting the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, saying the organization is in deep trouble. But Simon Crookall, the orchestra’s executive director deflects all worries. “His robust attitude permeates every aspect of his analysis of the orchestra: denying players are deserting the RSNO; defending his choice of programmes in the new season; resisting the accusation that he is sacrificing any need for freshness, challenge, or innovation in the RSNO’s repertoire at the altar of the box office; and that the orchestra is being led inexorably down the road of commercialism.”
The bankrupt Belgian airline Sabena has auctioned off a Magritte painting it owned to help pay laid-off staff. “The picture, appropriately of a sky bird – L’Oiseau de Ciel – has sold at auction for €3.4m (£2.4m) to help the staff that the line was forced to pay off when it went into bankruptcy in November 2001.”
There has been a campaign to erect a statue of Nelson Mandela in London’s Trafalgar Square, “close to South Africa House, the scene of 40 years of anti-apartheid demonstrations and 28 years of protests against Mr Mandela’s imprisonment.” But the government’s public art commission has rejected the statue on aesthetic grounds. London’s Mayor Ken Livingstone disagrees with the decision. “I am appalled that an all-white committee sitting in Westminster can dismiss the idea of putting a great international statesman in this prominent place.”
Why doesn’t Hollywood make more quality movies? Do they really think we’re too stupid to appreciate them? Is the movie industry run by brain-damaged 6-year-olds? Are the studios being paid off by Adam Sandler and the guys from Jackass? Nope. Hollywood would love to make more good movies, truth be told. Trouble is, they almost never turn a profit.
Russian-born conductor Yakov Kreizberg will replace ailing Philadelphia Orchestra music director Wolfgang Sawallisch on the orchestra’s upcoming tour of North and South America. Kreizberg, a rising star in the conducting world, has conducted recently in Philadelphia, but will get only two rehearsals with the Philadelphians before the start of the tour. Sawallisch was forced to bow out of the tour this week when fatigue and other health problems caught up with him during a recent stretch of high-profile performances.