“As musical recordings have increasingly shed their physical form, the record industry and its customers have been at odds over what it all should cost. Music fans complain of high CD prices and copy more music illicitly than they purchase legally, while the record companies rail against the devaluation of their product and take file-sharers to court. Since legal ways to experience online music are only now becoming widely available, there is no established record of what the market will bear or how these innovations will be received. Will each song purchased online represent the loss of a whole CD sale in the store? Or will customers respond to the ease and selection of e-commerce by buying more, overall?”
The financially troubled St. Louis Symphony has been doing some management restructuring. But that “restructuring” included dismissing the executive most orchestra observers believe knows the most about how to run an orchestra. So what’s going on?
Two Minnesota theatres are going out of business. That’s sad, writes Dominic Papatola, but not really. “I’m a believer in what one arts consultant calls the ‘limited life organization.’ Not every arts group that pops up should grow into a major institution. To be brutally honest, Minnesota’s historically generous philanthropic support for the arts has kept some groups on life support longer than would be considered merciful elsewhere. We live in a new age of artistic Darwinism: Some groups will expire as the energies of their founders fade. Some will not earn audience support. Some will not have the hustle it takes to find funding and endure.”
Merce Cunningham is celebrating 50 years of his company with a collaboration with two rock bands. Radiohead and its Icelandic cousin, Sigur Ros are performing with Cunningham’s dancers at the Brooklyn Academy, and, as usual Cunningham has engineered the programs for maximum unpredictability…
Merce Cunningham on his Radiohead collaboration: “Well, I don’t know that much about rock bands, but it was a new kind of sound. I thought, ‘Well, that’s interesting.’ As music is greatly concerned with sound and, as John Cage would say, silence, I thought, Well, we’d never done anything like this before, so why not try it?’ But what started out as a relatively simple idea – find an open-minded, nonconforming composer with whom to collaborate on a new piece – quickly became a more complicated venture than Cunningham had ever encountered.”
The Maryland Institute College of Art has a new building-size sculpture for a home. “Designed by Ziger/Snead and Charles Brickbauer to put MICA on the map as a center for digital art and design, Brown Center is that rare work of architecture that lives up to its billing. It is, quite simply, the first great Baltimore building of the new millennium – a world-class home for art in the Mount Royal cultural district.”
“A growing number of states offer tax credits as a way to lure Hollywood dollars. But New Mexico actually is investing in movies – the state has established a fund of $85 million for the purpose. The money comes in the form of no-interest loans, repayable in two to five years. The state will invest as much as $7.5 million in any movie that passes muster with the New Mexico State Investment Council, as long as filmmakers agree to spend most of their shooting schedule in the state and hire a crew made up of at least 60 percent New Mexico residents. On top of that, New Mexico offers any film, whether financed by the state or not, a 15 percent tax rebate for every dollar spent locally.”
Leaders of Hartford’s arts institutions get together to talk about the challenges their organizations face. “I think I see a widening complacency on the part of a big chunk of our audience. Not the best of our audience, which remains smart, risk-taking and just as ambitious in their own way as we try to be as the leaders of arts agencies. But I see a creeping complacency. Maybe it’s a taking for granted of the uniqueness of so many wonderful institutions in this town. Increasingly I fear that our audiences don’t know how good they have it, living in a place like this. I don’t think [the public] gets it the way they used to in the 1930s [up until the] early ’80s. That’s what I’m worried about because that will affect all of us.”
A new report presdicts that movie houses will be revolutionized by digital equipment. “Screenings of things other than normal films will account for one third of cinemas’ profits by 2008, it said. Rock concerts, Broadway musicals, football and wrestling are among the events that have already been screened. Content rights owners are only just starting to grasp the potential that this represents. The digital changes would turn cinemas into ‘entertainment complexes’ – not just movie houses – the report said.”
Pixar, the digital animation studio, once again has another hit on its hands. Finding Nemo has grossed more than #335 million so far this year. “Pixar have the enviable reputation of having a hit with every film they have made – Toy Story, A Bug’s Life (1998), Toy Story 2 (1999), Monsters, Inc (2001) and Finding Nemo. It is a situation few other Hollywood studios can ever have related to,” and one that has changed the business of animation.