Is Calatrava’s Chicago Spire A Pyramid Scheme?

“For those of us who have long advocated that forward-looking, inventive architecture and planning form the basis for good development, that they provide enhanced value and longevity, the selection of a design genius like Calatrava for an iconic project such as Fordham Spire should represent the fulfillment of a cherished ideal. Instead, it signals that developers now believe that today’s best-known architects not only sell condos, they sell financing. Developers are beginning to wave their architects around like letters of credit to get bankers on board, or like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval to tame community boards and critics. Such newfound zeal for design can and should be a good thing, and we should applaud it. Unless it’s a pyramid scheme – and this slender, twisting triangle is a physical expression of such.”

The Slush Pile Rediscovered?

“Publishers are increasingly alert to sources of undiscovered gems that in the past might have slipped through the net. The slush pile is one, word of mouth another, as well as books being launched by risk-taking small or independent publishers. Some of these titles are successful in their own right, while others are taken up by mainstream publishers.”

Revitalization, The Right Way

Using the arts to revitalize urban areas is an old trick, of course, but seldom is it really done well, for the simple reason that doing it well isn’t all that easy. “A single arts building or initiative can’t redirect the tidal forces of urban activity. Instead, it requires the synergistic efforts of government, for-profits, nonprofits, and citizens — whether working collaboratively, or accidentally, toward a common goal.” A new paper from the Brookings Institute aims to break down exactly how successful turnarounds have been achieved, and what the essential steps are for getting there.

Tough Times To Be A Controversial Playwright

“These are awkward times for provocative playwright Dennis Kelly. In May, he had a play at London’s Hampstead Theatre with the controversial title Osama the Hero, and now his new one, After the End, shows what happens in the wake of a terrorist nuclear attack… Does Kelly have any doubts about writing about a terror attack now that one has happened? ‘The bombs in London are so recent that I’m not really sure what I feel. The play is about how we behave, and it argues that terrorism, no matter how terrible, cannot change our society – only we can do that. It’s us that choose to become monsters – terrorists can’t make us monsters.'”

Lebrecht on Alsop: A True Musicians’ Conductor

Norman Lebrecht says that Marin Alsop handled the Baltimore dust-up with all the aplomb, dignity, and compassion one would expect from her. “This seemed to be just another of those occasions when musicians pick the worst possible moment to air unrelated internal grievances,” but Alsop responded by quietly asking to meet with the musicians directly, and then asking what she could do to help them. “That’s Marin Alsop, through and through. Of all current conductors, she is probably the best facilitator, the one who gets things done.”

Rea Blocked From American Appearance

“American Equity, the professional actors’ union, has invoked contractual and financial barriers that make it impossible for Stephen Rea, noted Irish film and stage actor, to appear in Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre’s long-advertised world premiere of “Henry” by Irish playwright Thomas Kilroy… The impasse between Equity and PICT over Rea was because the Small Professional Theatre contract with Equity under which PICT operates states, ‘Non-resident aliens shall not be employed in Small Professional Theatre productions.'”

Payola Got Creative In The ’90s

Paying radio DJs to play certain songs has been illegal since the 1960s, but by the late 1990s, the recording industry and the radio world were essentially winking at each other as more sophisticated and creative forms of payola came to be almost routine. New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s settlement this week with Sony may be only the first of many legal proceedings to come.

Good News/Bad News At MIA

“The Minneapolis Institute of Arts balanced its $21 million annual budget and raised attendance but saw its membership fall more than 8 percent in the fiscal year that ended June 30. The year was a difficult one in which the museum continued a $50 million expansion designed by architect Michael Graves even as it lost longtime director Evan Maurer, whose resignation for health reasons became effective in February. Maurer, who had been incapacitated much of the previous year, began a leave of absence in September that culminated in his departure after 16 years at the museum’s helm.”

The Next Davidson

It’s not easy being the son of a legend. Just ask Adam Davidson, who has started to carve out a name for himself in the L.A. theatre scene, even as he simultaneously attempts to slip out from under the considerable shadow cast by his father, Gordon, head of the Center Theater Group for 40 years.