Five Years Later – Nazi-Looted Art Still Missing

“Five years after the German government and states vowed to track down and give back cultural artifacts seized from Jews by the Nazis, only a few are back in the hands of the works’ rightful owners. The reasons for the lack of success are complex. When taken together, they make recovery extremely difficult. First and foremost, nearly 60 years after the war, the survivors with firsthand knowledge are passing away.”

Arts + Office Space = Civic Rebirth

Times are tough for corporate real estate brokers operating in Center City Philadelphia. But one area of the city’s urban core which had been considered dead and worthless fifteen years ago has been reborn in the eyes of private companies looking for an attractive place to locate their headquarters. South Broad Street, which was rechristened the Avenue of the Arts under former mayor (now PA governor) Ed Rendell, has flourished since becoming home to the Kimmel Center (home of the Philadelphia Orchestra) and multiple theaters. In fact, at the end of 2003, the Avenue of the Arts had an office vacancy rate of only 5%, compared to nearly 13% citywide.

Micro-Radio Kicks In

In the US there are growing number of “low-power radio stations operating in small towns and rural communities. They broadcast from an odd assortment of basements, garages, garden sheds, schools, and churches in an effort to return localism to the FM dial. About 238 of these noncommercial stations are currently on the air, while another 670 organizations have been granted construction permits by the FCC, and 897 more are awaiting approval.”

Why Not Just Ban All Recording Devices?

Having sued thousands of file-traders and launched a full legislative assault on the makers of online file-trading software, the recording industry is now setting its sights on digital radio, claiming that “U.S. regulators at the Federal Communications Commission should ensure that the broadcast format limits… copying so radio stations don’t turn the airwaves into a giant file-sharing network.” Yes, you read that right: the industry is worried that millions of listeners will record songs off the radio and begin sharing them amongst themselves. Sort of like listeners to terrestrial radio have been doing for decades? Yeah, like that.

Scottish Opera Hits Back

“Sir Richard Armstrong, the artistic director of Scottish Opera, launched a scathing attack yesterday on Frank McAveety, culture minister, over what he described as brutal and shameful behaviour and an agenda to reduce the size of the company. Speaking at length for the first time about the new deal which will lead to more than 80 job losses and a “dark” season in 2005/6 with no major performances, he said the Scottish Executive had deliberately targeted the opera’s mainscale work because it believed it was watched only by a select and elitist audience.”

Is Country Radio Ignoring It’s Left Wing?

“Country music artists are hardly united in their support of the war in Iraq but you’d never know it from listening to the radio. While Toby Keith, Darryl Worley and Charlie Daniels have scored hits with patriotic, war-themed songs, others such as Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Nanci Griffith released anti-war, or at least questioning, songs that went nowhere.” Part of the problem may be that most of the protest songs are being released by artists with a “classic country” or “alt-country” sound which doesn’t get a lot of play on today’s slick, corporate airwaves. But market researchers say that the most basic reason for the snub is that country programmers know that their listeners would flay them alive if they deviated from the flag-waving.

The Reagan Arts Legacy

Ronald Reagan “was a man of many paradoxes whose cultural legacy is colored in shades of gray,” says John Hayes. And while the left-leaning arts world, which is still fuming over Reagan’s deliberate ignoring of the AIDS epidemic that decimated the American cultural scene, is unlikely to remember Reagan as one of its favorite presidents, the fact is that under his leadership, public arts funding hit an all-time high. In fact, at a time when many Congressional conservatives were ready to launch an all-out assault on the National Endowment for the Arts, Reagan steered a gentle course between warring parties, and may have saved the NEA in the process.

Did Avenue Q Put One Over On Tony Voters?

A controversy is brewing over the tactics employed by the producers of Avenue Q, which won the Tony award for best musical, and then promptly announced that it would forgo a national tour in favor of an exclusive (and lucrative) deal to mount the show in Las Vegas. At issue is whether the Avenue Q crew misled road producers, who make up a sizable chunk of Tony voters, telling them that a national tour was a foregone conclusion, even as they were negotiating a secret deal with Vegas promoter Steve Wynn.

Celebrating Joyce. Or Just Sitting Around Drinking. Whichever.

The fellas who make up Denver’s James Joyce Reading Society are devoted to the author’s work. But they’re also quite devoted to Guinness beer, Irish whiskey, and talking politics, so you’ll excuse them if they don’t always get around to the reading. Of course, Joyce would probably approve of such meandering loyalty, and as the 100th anniversary of the date that was the setting of Ulysses approaches, the Bloomsday revelries are set to begin not only in Denver, but in 60 countries worldwide.