For All That Reading, They Sure Can’t Write…

“Scholars in the humanities spend much of their time writing, and are forced constantly to read the work of superb writers. Yet they pour out streams of gnarled and barbarous sentences and don’t even know they are doing it. Professors in English departments, after lives spent close to the best literature, usually produce the worst prose.” How could this be?

Not Exactly Tanglewood Just Yet

Christopher T. Dunworth has resigned as executive director of the brand new Mountain Laurel Center for the Performing Arts in northeast Pennsylvania, raising further questions about the viability of the center, which was to become the summer home of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra this year. “Originally delayed from opening Memorial Day weekend by poor interior roads, the center will make its debut a day later than announced,” and the PSO has halved the number of concerts it originally planned to play there. Dunworth isn’t giving any reason for his departure, and Mountain Laurel officials have already announced his interim replacement.

How Costco Hurts The Book Business

Blockbuster books have led to huge sales this summer at places like Costco and Walmart – as well as smaller bookstores everywhere. But bookstore owners are not smiling. “The major discounting efforts of these non–bookstore chains are not stimulating and growing the market but simply shifting consumer dollars away from bookstores and other potential book sales. Consumers buying a mega–seller at a Walmart will not be discovering a book of promise, as such chains do not invest in authors and non–bestselling books. Bookstores do, and we are losing an opportunity to handsell other good books to these consumers who do not regularly visit and browse in a bookstore.”

Delaying Hall Might Put Austin Arts Groups On The Street

Because of funding problems, a long-awaited new performing arts center in Austin, Texas might be delayed. And that could be a disaster for the city’s performing arts groups. “It remains to be seen whether the opening of the Long Center will come before the University of Texas must close Bass Concert Hall for safety improvements in 2006. If neither large hall is open, the city’s symphony, opera and ballet and major touring shows will be left without a suitable home.”

Air & Space Museum Needs Money To Fly

The Smithsonian’s new $225 million Air & Space Museum still needs $97 million before it starts construction. But “when it’s finished, the center will be the largest construction project in the Smithsonian’s history and the only one built completely with private funds. The main hangar, which will house some 200 aircraft, will be the length of three football fields and 10 stories high. On June 12, the annex accepted delivery of an Air France Concorde. Work is also under way to refurbish another big draw, the Space Shuttle Enterprise. And a newly reassembled Enola Gay, the bomber that flew the missions to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, will be displayed as well.”

The Orchestra Healer

To suggest that classical musicians are physical workers, like athletes, is to invite a wave of snickers and snide jokes about the fat guy in the back of the second violins. But the repetitive motion of playing a string instrument, for example, is tremendously stressful to the muscles involved, and increasingly, orchestra musicians have been sustaining career-threatening injuries from the simple act of pulling a bow back and forth. Enter Janet Horvath, who is on a one-woman crusade to teach orchestral musicians how to avoid such injuries. Horvath’s credentials: she’s a cellist who, back in college, was hurting so badly that she couldn’t turn a doorknob, but who has now served as associate principal cello of a major American orchestra for 20 years.

Will California Wipe Out Its Arts Funding?

California – known as a center of creativity – could soon become the first American state to eliminate its arts funding. “Cultural groups and artists say the death of the 28-year-old agency would have a ripple effect throughout the state. They predict as many as 14 regional arts councils receiving Arts Council funding could be eliminated, and the National Endowment of the Arts would divert $1 million earmarked for Arts Council distribution to other states. The state ranks 40th in the nation in per capita arts funding.”

The Summer Of The Documentary?

While big blockbuster movie fatigue seems to be setting in this summer, a handfull of documentaries are finding traction. A few can even be called big successes – by documentary standards…”Even the most costly docs rarely exceed a $1 million budget. Whereas a blockbuster like ‘Terminator 3’ might play on 3,500 screens, documentaries are lucky to make it onto 100. In the world of blockbusters, the (box office) mark to hit is $100 million, but in the world of documentaries, it’s $1 million.”

PBS And CNN Need To Update Their Resumes

PBS is in a world of denial. “For the most part, it creates fine programming, the kind that TV critics would love to champion. But PBS hasn’t learned that it’s in a competitive environment. No longer is the business so starkly simple that one can say, ‘We make quality programming, and everyone else airs garbage.’ The fact is, cable channels do much of what PBS does, equally well, and market it better. The disadvantage for PBS is that the system it operates under is a gigantic mess – the local stations wag the dog and always have.”

Alternatives To State Arts Funding?

“The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies has reported that total funding for state arts councils will be $354.9 million in 2003, down more than 13% from the $408.6 million recorded for 2002. And with budgets in California and a few other states in limbo, that figure could still take a tumble.” So are there alternative public arts funding plans that could work?