Booking Space At Ground Zero

“More than 10 well-known New York arts and cultural institutions are working on plans to be part of the new center that will be built at Ground Zero. The proposals, from institutions ranging from off-Broadway theaters to museums, are in response to the Lower Manhattan Development Corp.’s recent request for formal expressions of interest from cultural groups that wish to be part of the site.” Among the groups which have already declared their wishes to relocate to the site are the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New York City Opera, and the Joyce Theater.

A Billionaire’s Vegas Dream

“Billionaire Steve Wynn seems like one of those characters who could only exist in Las Vegas. Now 60, he has played as great a part in the creation of modern Las Vegas as anyone – and is now poised, with his latest, most spectacular venture, to leave his name permanently on the city’s skyline… A couple of months ago, he spent more than $25m in the space of 24 hours, buying works by Cézanne and Renoir at Christie’s and Sotheby’s in New York – but in Las Vegas he is casino magnate, philanthropist, city father and enigma all rolled into one.” Wynn’s latest venture is a multi-billion dollar resort hotel, in which he will place his legendary art collection, and open two theaters featuring performances by the likes of Cirque Du Soleil.

Austin Arts Scene Drooping

Austin, Texas is frequently cited as the Lone Star State’s cultural oasis, a small city with a legendary music scene and more arts than it knows what to do with. But things are tough all over. Last year, “Austin Lyric Opera fired one of its founding members, the Austin Musical Theatre couldn’t afford to finish its season, and the city slashed arts funding by 33 percent across the board. With these uncontrollable events behind them, the need for adequate performing space persists along with a fierce competition for patrons’ dollars.”

Could The Arts Pull Detroit Back To Respectability?

Detroit has been losing population for years, and the city’s image in the national consciousness is hardly a positive one. Everyone wants to see a turnaround, but where to begin? Other cities have harnessed to power of the “creative class” to make their urban core more attractive, more exciting, and therefore more attractive to homebuyers. Paul Horton writes that Detroit has plenty of artists, so why not see what a little unity can do? “A hip and happening atmosphere is a crucial element in a city that ‘works’ and is a key to prosperity… If the elements needed to draw new residents are not in place, Detroit and other urban cities will continue to lag behind.”

Dayton Remembered As Selfless Donor

Minneapolis philanthropist Ken Dayton, who died this past weekend, was one of the last of a dying breed of arts supporters: the generous donor who is content to watch his money do good things without expecting or even desiring a personal payback. Dayton, who gave well over $100 million to the Minnesota Orchestra and the Walker Art Center over the past half-century, never wanted his name on a building, and despised the trend towards such self-aggrandizement among younger donors, saying “They want – in giving as in everything else – a quick payout, an immediate return. Alas, in too many instances giving is becoming cause-related marketing.”

Big Boost For UK Museums

“A cash injection of £2m has been handed to museums and art galleries to improve public access and presentation, the government has announced. A total of 14 institutions will receive grants from the government, with payments ranging from £3,000 to £400,000. The biggest recipient is London’s British Museum, which will get £400,000 to improve major exhibition spaces and environmental conditions.”

Does The British Museum Have Anything That Really Belongs To It?

The British Museum is facing yet another call to return an object that someone else thinks was illegitimately acquired, and this time, it isn’t the Elgin Marbles. The Egyptian government is requesting that the museum return the Rosetta Stone. “The artefact is one of the British Museum’s most prize pieces, helping to attract millions of visitors each year. The stone was discovered in 1799 at the mouth of the Nile and provided a key insight into hieroglyphics because it was accompanied by the Greek translation. The French yielded it to the British in 1801 and it has been housed in the British Museum since 1802.”

Painted Livestock Exhibit Called Off

An exhibit of live cows, pigs, and sheep which had been painted head to hoof by a British graffiti artist has been shut down early after the animals, which had passed muster with the UK’s SPCA, became “hot and distressed” from the combination of the sultry weather and human attention. Organizers insist that the early closure had nothing to do with the animal rights protesters who had descended on the exhibit.

All Right, Erik, You Got Us

A widely reported story that the rock group Metallica was suing a little-known Canadian band for trademark violation over the use of the chords E and F (in that order) has turned out to be an elaborate hoax by a Canadian satirist and aspiring musician. Erik Ashley got the story (very realistically masquerading as a news item on MTV’s web site) past dozens of radio news directors, the online news source Ananova, and (sigh) not one, but two ArtsJournal editors. The beauty of the hoax, of course, is that the story is preposterous, yet, given Metallica’s litigious history, entirely plausible as well. No word on whether Metallica plans to sue Ashley for defamation.

They’re Old, But They’re Smart, Too

A new study by the National Endowment for the Arts finds that audiences for live classical music events grew slightly in the last ten years, but that a slightly smaller percentage of the public attended concerts than in 1992. “At 49, classical music audiences have the highest median age of any of the categories in the survey… Classical and opera audiences have also become more educated. About 85 percent of concertgoers had at least a partial college education in 2002, up from 77 percent in 1992.”