NEA Offers Help To Small Orchestras

The National Endowment for the Arts has started a new program to help struggling mid-size and small orchestras. “The program will award a total of $250,000 to 25 orchestras, including the Augusta Symphony in Georgia, the Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra in Biloxi, Miss., the North Carolina Symphony in Raleigh, the Stockton Symphony Association in Stockton, Calif., and the Virginia Symphony in Norfolk. The NEA, the country’s largest supporter of the arts, does not expect the individual grants of $10,000 to solve financial shortfalls in themselves. The idea is to boost programs that might attract other donations.”

Saving Classical Radio In South Florida

When Miami station WKAT-AM changed formats from Spanish language to classical a year ago, classical fans were ecstatic. “The first three months were a honeymoon with the audience. They were appreciative that classical was back. And they had a high level of tolerance for what we were doing. But a few months later, the hero worship was morphing into anger: Listeners didn’t like that the playlist included non-classical works and that many of the classical pieces the station did play were truncated…” So a makeover was in order…

O’Neill Playwright Festival Policy Change Angers Many

“As might be expected, the announcement of the policy change has caused great consternation in the playwriting community. On one prominent, Web-based email service,, word of the policy change preceded the O’Neill’s formal announcement by a week, during which time dramatists took out their frustrations. Among the charges: By moving to a who-you-know-based nomination/submission process, the O’Neill shuts the doors on the unknown playwright who doesn’t happen to be well-connected enough to actually know one of the nominators, and that the new policy, in effect, only serves to solidify the American theatre as a closed, exclusive, artistic plutocracy.”

Agentless Rejected Author Beats Literary Majors For Booker Nomination

“A piano teacher from Birmingham, whose first four novels were rejected by publishers, has beaten Martin Amis to the last six of the Man Booker Prize. ‘I suppose it is a strike for all those of us who have unpublished books under our beds and wonder is it worth going on. Well it is,’ Clare Morrall declared. ‘Keep going’!”

Film Critics Just Wanna Have Fun

Rex Reed’s had it up to here with film festivals. “It used to be called entertainment—an element so sadly missing from film festivals that you couldn’t spot it with a telescope on loan from the Hayden Planetarium. This, according to hard-core festival mavens, is as it should be. You go to Cannes or Berlin or Toronto, they remind you, to see innovative visions of the world you will never see again, not the standard Hollywood fare coming soon to a shopping mall nearby. I’ll buy that, but doesn’t anybody have any fun anymore?”

Carnegie’s New Hall – A Lot At Stake

“Carnegie Hall has decided that the best way to break down the barriers between classical and pop music, jazz and rock is to mix everything up in a brand-new hall situated below the Isaac Stern Auditorium and above the Seventh Avenue subway. Carnegie’s new real-estate venture, which opened Sept. 12, is an early test: Will this game of musical chairs yield real artistic and commercial dividends? Will it reinvigorate our civic concert life?”

Cartoon University

For decades, Disney ruled the animated roost, cranking out blockbuster after cartoon blockbuster, and employing the top animators in the world. These days, the digital pioneers at Pixar have taken up the Disney mantle and are advancing the medium at an astonishing rate. But what these two giants of the animated film have in common is the California Institute of the Arts, which has consistently turned out students who have a passion for animating, and the techinical knowledge to have a profound impact on the industry.

The Unlikliest Pulitzer

When Nilo Cruz got the phone call informing him that his new play, Anna in the Tropics, had won the Pulitzer Prize for drama, he wasn’t entirely sure if he believed it. After all, he was a little-known playwright whose play had only been seen onn stage during a short run in Florida, and he was up against such legends as Edward Albee and Richard Greenberg, both of whose entries were running in New York. But it was no joke: Cruz is the first Latino playwright to win the prize, and his play gets a more auspicious bow this week at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, before moving to Broadway later in the fall.

Guerrilla Girls: Where Are They Now?

When the underground feminist art movement known as the Guerrilla Girls began its in-your-face campaign to broaden the recognition granted to female artists in traditional institutions, its members were considered revolutionaries. Now, a quarter-century later, the group has mostly disbanded, though a few members still keep up the fight. In retrospect, the question of what was accomplished by the Guerrilla Girls, and whether their message has had any lasting effect on the American cultural scene is a matter open to debate, and the remaining members of the group seem to have taken their movement away from a strict focus on art, and towards more general issues of feminism and society.