Paul Taylor At 72

“Scan back through his career and you’ll find that Paul Taylor has, across half a century of prolific choreography, managed to delight and infuriate almost every faction in the modern dance world. The 1950s found him hailed in avant-garde circles as a champion of radical ideas and unconventional work. A decade later and the establishment was triumphantly claiming him as a brave new standard bearer for traditional forms. In fact then, as now, Taylor was simply following his own inclinations; playing around with concepts as he pleased, ignoring trends, and thereby becoming one of America’s most distinctive and distinguished dance-makers.”

Reinventing Scottish Ballet

Scottish Ballet has a new director, new dancers and new choreography. “The dance world has moved on a lot in recent years, almost without Scotland, it seems, and we are now trying to close that gap. Not just catch up with the rest of the world but, I hope, be at the forefront of making interesting things happen.”

What Happened To The Well-Made Book?

What’s happened to the physical quality of books? “Setting aside magnificent art books and the sometimes quite extraordinary over-production of commercial ‘jackets’, the heft, boards, paper and design of a typical new novel or biography are decent and serviceable, certainly, but beautiful – no. Why should this be? Is it merely economics? A lack of aesthetic excellence is often blamed upon this quite nebulous excuse and on the declining standards of the book-buying public, which leave publishers under no obligation to make their books any better than they are.”

NAJP Chooses New Arts Journalism Fellows

“The National Arts Journalism Program (NAJP) at Columbia University has selected this year’s fellows. In a departure from previous years, all seven of the critics and arts writers chosen for the program will participate in a research project – Reporting the Arts II – which will follow up on a 1999 study which measured arts coverage in 10 cities across America. This year’s fellows include: Caryn Brooks, arts and culture editor, Willamette Week; Willa Conrad, classical music critic, Star-Ledger (Newark); Paul de Barros, jazz and world music critic, The Seattle Times; Bill Goldstein, books editor, The New York Times on the Web, and contributing editor, WNBC-TV; Laurie Muchnick, book editor, Newsday; Valerie Takahama, staff writer, Orange County Register; Lily Tung, segment producer and writer, KRON TV (San Francisco).”

Foundations Upset At Potential Law Changes

The US Congress is considering a bill that would force charitable foundations to give away five percent of their assets each year. This would result in a big increase in money going to charities (and arts non-profits). “The bill has created a furor in the philanthropic world, with foundations warning that they could be forced to squander their assets and spend themselves out of existence. Its supporters, however, say it will actually rein in wasteful spending ? on salaries and overhead ? as it gives charities needed help in a time of withering government budgets and growing economic pain.”

Is Fewer Media Voices A Good Thing?

What will media ownership deregulation mean to you, asks Howard Rosenberg? “Meaning more media control in fewer hands. Meaning more cross-promotion. Meaning less diversity. Meaning fewer independent voices in news and entertainment. Meaning less competition and fewer options for information. It’s true that what we have now is often unreliable, a fact underlined by tag-along TV’s generally feckless, ever-manipulated, go-with-the-flow, yassah-Mr. President coverage of the war in Iraq and its aftermath. Everyone would profit if the quality of today’s journalism were higher. Diverse media, however imperfect, are essential to us all, however.”

Getting Inside Einstein

A new website explores the mind and world of Albert Einstein. “In addition to the voluminous collection of Einstein’s writings, some never before published and none previously available online, the website will house an extensive database of 40,000 documents, images and research on Einstein’s life and work, as well as digitized copies of Einstein’s professional and personal correspondence and pages from his notebooks and travel diaries.”

Reality TV That’s News Rather Than Entertainment

The cable news networks have ceased being anything about news – they’re reality entertainment vying desperately to hook our attention. So where is there decent non-fiction TV? “I?m sometimes ambivalent about the self-declared good intentions of public television, as I am about a culture that now gives trophies to kids for merely participating in a sport, regardless of how well they perform. And public television itself often seems ambivalent about its identity, unsure whether it wants to be a macramé plant holder or a shiny electric scooter from the Sharper Image. It often ends up somewhere in between, resorting to middle-of-the-road, commercial fare?Deepak Chopra, Suze Orman, nostalgic pop-music shows?to pull in money at fund-raising time. But, at the end of the day, I would, and do, support public television?s inclusiveness, with all its occasionally tedious shagginess.”

Who’s Supporting Media Deregulation? (It’s No Coincidence)

The US Senate is holding hearings on whether to deregulate media ownership. “When the Federal Communications Commission was debating whether it should give away or sell $70 billion worth of digital broadcast spectrum in 1996, newspaper editorial pages weighed in. Senator John McCain’s list, a consumer group survey, found that every paper favoring a giveaway was owned by a company that also owned television stations that, naturally, wanted the spectrum for free. Every paper opposing a giveaway was owned by a company with no substantial interest in television.” A coincidence, wondered senators…?