Joseph Chaiken, 67

Joseph Chaiken, the much-esteemed actor and director who was involved in dozens of regional theatre productions in Atlanta and Los Angeles, along with his work in New York’s off-Broadway scene, has died. “The esteemed actor and director, who founded New York’s avant-garde Open Theater in 1963 and won five Obie Awards, died Sunday at his Greenwich Village home of congenital heart failure. He was 67 and had suffered from aphasia since experiencing a massive stroke in 1984.”

Music Industry – Steps Behind

The music recording industry is chasing consumers to punish them for downloading music. But perhaps it’s because the industry has not kept up with what consumers want. “The problem for the industry is: Who makes the money in the future? The people who are making the money now are much less interested in making these changes. It is not an industry that has had to change much. Traditionally the music industry has been about selling product on a piece of plastic. The industry has been clinging to CDs for too long.”

Challenge Grant Could Be Big Boost In Colorado

“An unprecedented grant will speed the tempo of the new Colorado Springs Philharmonic’s march toward solvency – if the orchestra can raise $650,000 in four months. A quartet of regional foundations… have joined forces to offer a 2-to-1 challenge grant of $325,000, orchestra officials announced Tuesday. It’s the largest grant in the history of the former Colorado Springs Symphony, which went bankrupt earlier this year, then re-formed as the Colorado Springs Philharmonic.”

Dallas Shrinks A Deficit

With many large American orchestras facing multi-million dollar deficits, bloated budgets, and uncertain futures, the Dallas Symphony is continuing to be a model of fiscal sanity, without compromising artistic integrity. The DSO “came within $150,000 of balancing its $21 million budget for the 2002-03 fiscal year. That’s a big improvement over the $847,000 deficit during 2001-02– and a considerable achievement in a year marked by bankruptcies, multimillion-dollar deficits and contract rollbacks for other orchestras.” The news isn’t all good – ticket sales in Dallas are down again – but in the current economic climate, the DSO has to be considered a major success story.

Gerhart Resigns In San Diego, Likely Headed to Pittsburgh

San Diego Symphony president Douglas Gerhart has resigned from that position, saying that his candidacy for the top job in Pittsburgh had become a distraction. The financially embattled Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra isn’t returning phone calls on the subject, but it’s possible that Gerhart has already been hired. The San Diego prez first surfaced as a leading candidate for the PSO job two weeks ago, based on his record of service with orchestras attempting to navigate dire economic straits.

Recording Industry To Hunt Down Swappers, Demand Big Bucks

The Recording Industry Association of America wants to go after music file-swappers and fine them – demanding $150,000 from each. “The organisation says it wants to track down the heaviest users of song-swapping services, and then sue them for thousands of dollars in damages. ‘We’re going to begin taking names and preparing lawsuits against peer-to-peer network users who are illegally making available a substantial number of music files to millions of other computer users’.”

West End To Get A Facelift

Theatrical producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh, the man behind such smash shows as Les Miserables and Miss Saigon, has pledged to pump £35 million (about $58.25 million) into London’s struggling West End theatre district. Mackintosh, who owns many of the West End’s venues, will significantly revamp six of his properties, and build a whole new 500-seat theatre, to be known as The Sondheim. The pledged amount is thought to be more than 10% of Mackintosh’s estimated personal fortune.

TV’s Diversity Problem

Television in the US is still more white than the population. “Hispanic characters received only 3 percent of screen time in fall 2002 programs on the six major networks, according to the study by the University of California, Los Angeles. Hispanics make up 13.5 percent of the U.S. population. Whites received 81 percent of screen time and blacks 15 percent, the study said – both disproportionate to their population.”

BBC’s Out-Of-Practice Arts Efforts

The BBC debuts its new TV arts series, but the cobwebs are showing. The BBC has become rusty when it comes to arts. “Over the past six years the BBC has all but abolished television arts coverage, scrapping The Late Show, Arena, Omnibus and one-off documentaries. Live performance also died, except at Proms time and Christmas. A corporation that once set the world standard for arts presentation resolved under director-general John Birt to dispense with art as an expensive nuisance. His successor Greg Dyke made a gestural restoration, employing the animal-lover Rolf Harris to enthuse about painting and recommissioning some live performance, though only for the minority channel, BBC4. It didn’t work.”

Vanguard Comes To The Front Again

The legendary Vanguard Classics label is being resurrected. “Artemis Classics, a division of Artemis Records, will begin releasing both Vanguard’s printed catalogue as well as previously unreleased material from this autumn. In addition, Artemis will also be working with a handful of young artists, including violinist Gil Shaham, cellist Matt Haimovitz and composer Michael Hersh.”