An Arts Town Success Story

Not so long ago, the city of Somerville, Mass. was “dilapidated, a place where artists got harassed; they certainly didn’t hold court at major intersections or thrash about in the street like dying fish. Over the past 20 years or so, the stigma of living in Somerville has been reduced, if not completely removed. Whatever the general explanation, most folks credit local artists — and, on a larger scale, the visible integration of art into the community by the Somerville Arts Council (SAC) — for helping to revitalize the city and improve its residents’ quality of life. The SAC is much more than a funnel for state grants. It’s a relatively high-profile, community-based collective that not only produces independent cultural programming all year long, but works to draw out the artistic strengths of its community. Which makes Somerville a kind of local-arts-scene success story, a city in which the influence of art isn’t merely discernable, but recognized for helping improve the town’s very tenor.”

World’s Languages Are Disappearing

Ninety percent of the world’s languages are expected to die out within a generation. “The social status of a language is the most accurate way of predicting whether it will survive, argue researchers in a paper appearing in the journal Nature. They also suggest that active intervention to boost the status of rare and endangered languages can save them.”

Math’s Great Challenge

It’s the greatest unsolved problem in mathematics. Will it ever be solved? “With a pedigree linking many of the greatest names in the field, the Riemann Hypothesis runs like a river through vast swaths of seemingly distinct mathematical territory. Andrew Wiles himself has compared a proof of this proposition to what it meant for the 18th century when a solution to the longitude problem was found. With longitude licked, explorers could navigate freely around the physical world; so too, if Riemann is resolved, mathematicians will be able to navigate more fluidly across their domain. Its import extends into areas as diverse as number theory, geometry, logic, probability theory and even quantum physics.”

Bay Area Early Music Fest Canceled

Cal Performances has dropped its biennial early-music festival, the Berkeley Festival & Exhibition, scheduled for next summer, citing lack of funds and a weak economy. “Begun in 1990, the festival produced 15 to 35 concerts every other year featuring early-music artists from around the world. The cost of producing it ranged from $250,000 to $750,000.”

Play On, Says Orchestra

The San Antonio Symphony still hopes to perform this season. “We were a little surprised by that. I’m not sure we’d support taking it totally down. I’d like to work at keeping a few concerts. It is important to keep some music out there, keep some musicians at least partly compensated.”

Art To Represent All We Do As A Government Agency

The US Interior Department is creating art on a grand scale. “Employing artistic symbolism, the mural is intended to present their missions and activities in terms of Norton’s oft-expressed philosophy of arriving at environmental and conservation decisions through “collaboration and cooperation” (i.e., with the help of mining, oil drilling and logging companies). Not even Robert Rauschenberg, with all his glued-together-trash collages, attempted anything so ambitious.”

When The Beirut Museum Was Looted

The Baghdad National Museum is not the first to be looted during war. “During Lebanon’s tumultuous 15-year civil war, the Beirut National Museum lay in ruins. The museum was hit by artillery shells. Snipers fired from its upper floors, even boring a rifle hole into one of the ancient pieces of art. The fate of its priceless collections was unknown…”