“In this time of exploding budget deficits, economic paralysis, and persistent revenue contractions, 2003 to date has offered very little news on the subject of state and local arts funding to give cause for good cheer. Dozens of states and hundreds of localities have cut arts appropriations – by half, two-thirds, three-quarters, or more. And while it’s been a useful time for arts advocates and thousands of not-for-profits to join together in common spirit, the whole definition of victory at the moment is oddly perverse: If cuts are less draconian than first feared, if arts agencies are spared abolition, that’s considered a win. Missing in all this, meanwhile, are pro-arts words from elected figures.”
These are not good times for the corporate art collection. “Many companies – including Reader’s Digest, CBS, IBM and Time Warner – sold off expensive collections in the late 1990s when the economy was good and they could turn a profit on the art. Others, such as Chicago-based accounting firm Andersen, have liquidated collections during economic crises. The commitment to corporate art has been shrinking since the boom years of collecting in the 1980s.”
“Amy Sullivan, a leading Connecticut-based arts fundraiser, has been named executive director of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. She will replace Howard Sherman, who ended his three-year tenure in that position earlier this year.”
Ordinary people are forced to learn more and more about technology. “Time and again, attractive new technologies have trickled out of the labs and into homes and offices, forcing ordinary users to develop skills that once would have seemed far too advanced for them. Early automobiles were so unreliable that drivers carried tool kits and learned to fix the balky machines. Early radio sets were handbuilt by avid hobbyists. ‘This is all part of a fairly predictable pattern. Folks have been doing that since the days of telegraphs and radios and televisions. There’s a real love of technology, and people want to get inside and tinker with them’.”
Why are movies intended to be blockbusters this summer, failing? Movie studios blame text messaging by teenagers. “The problem, they say, is teenagers who instant message their friends with their verdict on new films – sometimes while they are still in the cinema watching – and so scuppering carefully crafted marketing campaigns designed to lure audiences out to a big movie on its opening weekend.”
“The television industry has not brought in Hispanics in proportion to their burgeoning numbers and buying power. While Latinos make up 13 percent of the national population, Latino characters make up only 3 percent of the prime-time TV population. While some progress has been made – “The George Lopez Show” is considered a viable hit for ABC – the Hispanic market remains an afterthought for network TV, despite dramatic new evidence of its growing clout.”
“Accumulating news reports underscore how visa problems are depriving U.S. audiences of an array of foreign performers.” As visas make it more difficult for foreign artists to get into the US, the cancellations mount.
Laguna Beach California’s 70-year-old Pageant of the Masters Festival attracts 250,000 people each summer. “But the festival is barely breaking even. From revenue approaching $6.5 million annually, its latest financial statements show it earned a small surplus of $275,000 in 2001 — not even enough to make up for the combined $325,000 it lost the previous two years.” A plan to license the festival internationally, though, has traditionalists opposed.
“The British symphony is dead, its life support system switched off some years ago by concert managements and public indifference. No active British composer has achieved 12 symphonies. The few who have struggled over decades to maintain the heritage – chiefly Sir Malcolm Arnold and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies – have been cruelly sidelined by administrators who prefer minimalisms and classipops to daunting works of real substance.”
Greeks are building a museum in Athens they hope will someday house the Elgin Marbles. “But paradoxically, those behind the museum – which is being built to house priceless ancient artefacts – stand accused of destroying many such artefacts in the process. Greek heritage is being lost from the building site, say critics. And the complaints are coming from the Greeks themselves. They are not part of some underhand British plot to scupper the mounting pressure for the return of the marbles within the next 12 months.”