America: Tallying Up State Arts Cuts

In America, state budget season has ended for another year, and the arts didn’t make out very well. “State art spending dropped from $409 million in fiscal year 2002 to $355 million in 2003, and, with State deficits projected to balloon from $60 million to $80 billion this year, arts funding will fall another 23%, bringing the 2004 total to around $274 million.”

Barnes Strides Toward The Future

The way seems clear for the Barnes Collection to move to Philadelphia and have a shot at becoming self-sustaining. But still, some “critics worry that the groundwork is being laid for a new ‘MacBarnes’, a user-friendly museum/mall of gift shops and computer nooks designed to maximise the number of visitors. For now, the Barnes’s petition retains Albert C. Barnes’s ban on lending or selling works from the collection but critics warn that this might be reconsidered in the future if expansion plans collapse.”

Baryshnikov Selling Home

Mikhail Baryshnikov is selling his New Jersey home. “He has lowered the price on his 4-acre suburban retreat to $8 million from $9.5 million. The Palisades, N.Y., property, which went on the market in January, includes a 3,900-square-foot main house that dates to the 1870s. It has five bedrooms, 41/2 baths, a great room and sauna. “

Music Piracy Outside The US – What Are The Tactics?

“Music executives abroad are scrutinizing the American industry’s legal campaign against people who share files on the Internet. But many doubt such tactics would work in their countries, given the relative weakness of laws protecting copyrights and the ubiquity of the activity. ‘People in their 60’s are burning CD’s at home. Housewives, who should be cooking, are burning. It’s not like we can go after 80-year-old men or 12-year-old kids. We have to find the right approach’.”

Inventing American Music

In the 19th century, as America began to grow from an infant nation into a world power, its musical development lagged far behind that of Europe, and no one had yet succeeded in capturing the distinctive musical voice of the New World. It took the keen ear of the Czech composer Antonin Dvorak to identify the native melodies which would become the American Sound, and to begin incorporating them into his own music. “In a famous interview, he declared: ‘Inspiration for truly national music might be derived from the Negro melodies or Indian chants.’ The response from some composers was racist outrage,” but the next century of American music would eventually belong to Dvorak’s populist vision.

The Ethics Of The Biopic

At those times when truth is stranger than fiction, you can bet that Hollywood is going to want to make a movie about it. In fact, the film genre known as the ‘biopic’ – a movie based on the facts of a real life situation, but not necessarily adhering to them strictly – has gained increasing popularity with both filmmakers and moviegoers in recent years. But the subjects of these films are almost never compensated for having a fictionalized account of their lives playing at the multiplex. Worse yet, many media outlets sell the film rights to biographical articles, without ever consulting with the subject. It’s legal, sure, but is it ethical? More importantly, does anyone care?

Are Method Actors Worth The Trouble?

Method acting is arguably America’s greatest contribution to the world of film. But these days, many method actors seem hesitant even to admit to using the techinique, which involves the complete immersion of oneself in the character. In fact, the term “method actor” seems to have become synonymous with “difficult prima donna.” And that’s a shame, says Geoff Pevere: “As derided as the method has historically been as the refuge of spoiled, unwashed and overindulged millionaire bohemians, it stood for something which has now apparently been pronounced dead: The presumption that there was more to a performance — and to the movie that contained it — than what appeared on-screen.”

Broadcasting From The City’s Heart

Pittsburgh public radio station WQED has unveiled a new downtown satellite studio, which the station and the city hope will pave the way for a revitalized cultural district to begin drawing crowds. The studio will be used for live broadcasts five nights a week, focusing on whatever is currently going on in the cultural district. Live performances and interviews will be scheduled on the fly, with performers able to make a quick stop at the studio before or after their main appearance of the night.

Democracy Conquers London. Is New York Next?

“Leave it to Michael Frayn, author of the Tony Award- winning Copenhagen, to take a 30-year-old European political scandal and turn it into a play that’s packing the National Theatre to the rafters. The play is Democracy, and it’s about the spy scandal that brought down Willy Brandt, the West German chancellor who reconciled his country with its communist neighbors in the East. Already, the groundwork is being laid for a Broadway transfer, probably in the spring.”