Has New York Lost Its Political Nerve?

“A brief glance at Broadway confirms that the American market for political theatre is at an all-time low. Domestic dramas dominate; the Tony Awards are bypassing the middleman and going straight to British practitioners. And although no one seriously expects commercial theatres – which are sponsored by large corporations – to champion provocative writing (“Everybody knows you don’t bite the hand that feeds you,” says Shinn), the subscription theatres, the not-for-profit venues which are the breeding ground for new work, seem to be losing their nerve.”

Dinosaurs And Adam And Eve, Oh My!

A $25 million “Creation Museum” is being built in rural Kentucky. It features dinosaurs and Adam and Eve. “Its inspiration is the Bible — the literal interpretation that contends God created the heavens and the Earth and everything in them just a few thousand years ago. ‘If the Bible is the word of God, and its history really is true, that’s our presupposition or axiom, and we are starting there’.”

Getty Gets Transparent

“In a move sure to please all who crave details from lifestyles of the rich and tax-exempt, the J. Paul Getty Trust has followed through on its pledge in June to add a boatload of public disclosures to its website… Many of the figures were already part of the trust’s mandated annual tax filings. But these disclosures, more detailed than those offered by any other Los Angeles arts organization, mean an inquiring Web surfer, having found and learned the details of Rubens and Brueghel’s 17th century friendship from the Getty’s “exhibitions” pages, can then click on “about us” and “governance” and dive into deep numbers or such fanciful reading as the 53-year-old fine print on the trust indenture by which oil billionaire J. Paul Getty created the institution.”

Operate Like Which Business, Exactly?

Arts managers and board members are fond of explaining to anyone who will listen that, in order to survive in today’s world, arts groups “need to learn to operate more like a business.” Andrew Taylor says it’s a profoundly unhelpful bit of advice. “Most businesses are poorly run, and many business practices correlate with mediocrity, not greatness… Business tools are merely ways to see the world, and ways to structure our interaction with it. Let’s be like the artists around us and explore those tools with creative abandon.”

The Trouble With Workshops

Workshops are a popular activity among playwrights, a chance to learn about the craft from others who have achieved success in the field. But playwright Mark Ravenhill says that the whole concept seems more than a bit fraudulent. “There is the unspoken expectation that in two hours, to a group of complete strangers, I am going to deliver a fundamental insight into playwriting, if not all the fundamental insights into playwriting… Tell a workshop participant that there are no rules, that they need to discover what a play means to them and write something that is unique to their sense of the world, and you are likely to be faced with a sullen customer who feels they aren’t getting their money’s worth.”

Roman Circus

Rome’s ancient monuments are crumbling, and as best anyone can tell, the Italian government isn’t doing a thing about it. “Everyone has heard of sinking Venice, but only a restricted circle of academics wring their hands over crumbling Rome. Yet, for lack of funds, the city’s ancient centre is inexorably deteriorating.” Recent torrential rains have brought the situation to a head, with experts fearing the worst if something isn’t done to stabilize the monuments soon.

PBS Ready To Stand And Fight

Tim Goodman says it’s good to hear the new head of PBS lashing out at the FCC’s aggressive anti-obscenity rules. “What’s most important is that, by her words, she indicated that PBS would no longer be a wallflower in the culture wars… The FCC has continued to strike fear in the television industry, and none darker nor deeper than into the heart of PBS.”

Canada’s Next Legendary Architect

“This June, after winning two U.S. prizes, Bruce Kuwabara received the prestigious Royal Architectural Institute of Canada gold medal at age 57, becoming the first of his generation to join the ranks of Jack Diamond, Arthur Erickson and Moshe Safdie… Kuwabara has made it his challenge to build harmonies in the cacophonous cityscape, but his interests are now moving in new directions. [Lately,] he has been reconsidering Toronto’s peculiar challenges.”