The Plays That Never See New York

There are many good plays that get produced in America that never get to New York. “Why would a great work go unproduced? The answer is multifaceted, but much conversation swirls around non-profit business models, the economic climate, and changes in funding bases. Simply put, many theaters? particularly those invested in new and challenging work?don’t proffer as many plays as they used to.”

Political Action

“What has happened to political theatre in the US? Engulfed as we are by the coverage of the chaos in Iraq and the ongoing threat of terrorism, it’s hard not to wonder what kind of rarefied world our playwrights are living in. Suffice it to say that the great wealth of work seems strangely removed from anything approaching the urgent reality of our daily headlines. But critics should be clear on how they’d like the theater to respond. Are we merely looking to theatricalize the same journalistic images that CNN and its rivals have transformed into Nielsen rating packages? Or is it a bit of didacticism that we’re after, a cup of moral advice sweetened by a dose of drama?”

Arts Funding Cuts Hurt Economy

Americans for the Arts president Robert Lynch wonders why governments are cutting arts funding just when it’s been shown that investment in the arts helps the economy. “When governments reduce their support for the arts, they are not cutting frills. They are undercutting a nonprofit industry that is a cornerstone of tourism, economic development and the revitalization of many downtowns. When governments increase their support for the arts, they are generating tax revenues, jobs and the creative energies that underlie much of what makes America so extraordinary. Every time our governments, at any level, talk about reducing support for the arts, Americans should demand to know: Who will make up for the lost economic activity? Who will provide the 8-to-1 return on investment that the arts provide in the form of federal, state and local tax revenues? Who will replace the jobs that the arts support?”

Pavarotti Says He’ll Return To The Met

When fans thought that Pavarotti was singing his last performance at the Metropolitan Opera last year (before he canceled) they gladly paid as much as $1,875 per ticket to be there. Now the tenor says he’ll return to the Met next March. “My great friend, Joe Volpe, and I have been talking for some time now to try to reschedule the performances I unfortunately had to cancel last year. I’m so delighted to be returning to this great, great opera house to sing in ‘Tosca’.”

Court: No Acropolis Museum

Greece’s high court has ruled that the Greek government cannot build a new museum at the Acropolis to house the Parthenon Marbles. Sources “are quoted as saying the decision was influenced by fears that the construction work on the slopes of the Parthenon – the proposed site for the new museum – could damage nearby antiquities. Correspondents say such a ruling is a serious setback for the Greek Government’s efforts for the return of the Parthenon frieze known in Britain as the Elgin Marbles, which once adorned the Parthenon temple on the Acropolis, from the British Museum in London.”

Musicians Not Panicking

You won’t see the Pittsburgh Symphony musicians screaming over management’s proposal to slash their salaries and cut benefits – at least, not yet. The musicians’ negotiating committee yesterday turned down the PSO’s proposal, but made a point of saying that they understand that the orchestra was only making a first proposal in what is expected to be a long negotiating process. Both sides will likely continue to tread carefully, at least in the near future.

Auctioning Off A Masterpiece

“In an era when the publishers of such ephemera as comic books and trading cards routinely set aside a few thousand copies as prefabricated ‘collectors items,’ a spectacular rarity is set for auction at Sotheby’s in London tomorrow. It is nothing less than a near-complete manuscript of what may be the most celebrated work of music in the repertory — the Symphony No. 9 in D Minor by Ludwig van Beethoven.”

Politics In Art? We’re Shocked, SHOCKED!

“After grilling Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence M. Small yesterday about the changes to a photography exhibit on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a Senate panel asked the Smithsonian to clarify its policy on exhibition captions. The controversy… started last month when the National Museum of Natural History acknowledged that it had moved a show of photographs by Subhankar Banerjee and also had changed the captions because they contained language that advocated no oil drilling in the refuge.”

Death March – Getting To Know You

Why the fascination with the final moments of great composers? Do these accounts illuminate the music in some way? Not really. “The root, I suspect, is social rather than art-critical. It has something to do with the function that classical music fulfils for many listeners in a secular age, its surrogacy for a forsaken Christian faith. The mortal agonies of a great composer have come to represent the sufferings of a saviour figure, a ritual of veneration. We observe in awe, anticipating redemption.”

There’s That Vast, Right-Wing Conspiracy Again!

Conservatives may be fond of compaining about the ‘liberal media,’ but increasingly, right-wingers are becoming the most audible media voices. Books written by right-wing pundits to repudiate the liberal worldview are flying off shelves, and the Book-of-the-Month Club recently announced plans to launch a conservative-themed series. Pundits like Ann Coulter and Michael Savage are nothing new to American politics, of course, but their embrace by a traditionally wary New York publishing industry is a very recent development.