An Argentinian physicist has analysed the patterns of music and of written words and concluded that musical notes are strung together in the same patterns as words in a piece of literature. “His analysis also reveals a key difference between tonal compositions, which are written in a particular key, and atonal ones, which are not. This sheds light on why many people find it so hard to make sense of atonal works.”
As the Barnes Collection continues the long, slow legal process required to allow it to move to Center City Philadelphia from the suburban plot it has called home for decades, the case being brought by three Barnes art students in an attempt to block the move seems increasingly quixotic. But the students don’t necessarily lack legal standing, merely the financial wherewithal to pursue their agenda as aggressively as the pro-move forces have done. “To keep up their fight, the students want to raise at least $100,000 to hire expert witnesses for the second weeklong hearing in the case, slated for September in Montgomery County Orphans’ Court.”
The phrase “dumbing down” has long been a catch-all term used by arts aficionados to take potshots at any organization daring to try to update their programming for modern audiences. More often than not, the changes aren’t dumbing anything down, merely acknowledging that the line between high culture and pop has blurred significantly in the last century, and that the average American’s frame of reference is defined not by symphonies and plays, but by rock albums and TV shows. At the National Performing Arts Convention in Pittsburgh, arts groups have been sharing ideas for embracing 21st-century culture without alienating their base or losing their souls.
An agreement has been reached between the recording industry and the union that represents TV and radio performers which would give the artists the right to audit their recording companies to insure proper royalty payments. The deal must be approved by the California legislature before becoming law.
Michigan is hoping to restore the 50% of state arts funding that was cut from last year’s budget with an unprecedented per-ticket tax on sports and entertainment events. Despite the financial difficulties faced by many of Michigan’s arts groups, the state ranks sixth in the nation in arts funding, and the new tax would bump it up to second. But the proposal faces a tough road ahead in the conservative state legislature, and the governor has yet to even take a position.
The upscale Marshall Fields department store chain is being purchased from Minneapolis-based Target Corporation by the decidedly cut-price May Department Stores, and the changeover is causing some nervousness in the Twin Cities’ top arts organizations. Marshall Fields has a history of being extremely generous to Minnesota cultural groups, and while May insists that it has no immediate plans to scale back Fields’ charitable arm, such largesse doesn’t seem to fit May’s overall business plan.
Filmmaker Michael Moore is kicking dust yet again over the American distribution of his anti-Bush film, Fahrenheit 9/11. This time, his wrath is directed at the Motion Picture Association of America, which is apparently engaged in a vast conspiracy to prevent teenagers from viewing Moore’s work by giving it an ‘R’ rating. The MPAA points out that the film contains graphic images of burned and dismmbered corpses being dragged through the streets of Iraq, but Moore counters that, since the 15- and 16-year-olds of today are very likely to be recruited to be the military men of tomorrow, they should have the right to see the nightmare into which they could be sent.
The UK Arts Council has released a study indicating that the arts are more popular than ever in Britain, and yet, the Council is concerned about its own future. “The council is a government arts body to promote, fund and develop the arts. Its current funding deal will see it receive £412m in 2005/6. But it is worried it may lose out when it learns details of its new funding settlement in the next few months.”
The US Congress is questioning a Smithsonian deal that brought the museum four Stradivarius violins for $50 million. “The high-profile gift, one of the museum’s largest ever, allowed its donor, Herbert R. Axelrod, a New Jersey businessman, to claim what his lawyer confirmed was a tax break of around $32 million. Mr. Axelrod fled to Cuba in March after being indicted on unrelated charges of tax evasion.”
The pop art movement is hitting the Pacific Rim in a big way, with the legacy of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein dramatically in evidence among young Asian artists. A combination of encroaching capitalism and the global influence of American popular culture is fueling the movement, but the Asian version of pop art isn’t a perfect mirror of the Western version. “What’s different is the way the Asian artists approach it in their portrayal of identity issues, alternative lifestyles and fashion consciousness of the people.”