Dallas’ Theatre Boom

“More ambitious new theaters have popped up here in the last two years than in any comparable period in memory. Nobody seems to have told their founders that the 21st century is supposed to be hostile to all live theater except frothy Broadway musicals, and even those get little respect…”

How Much Is Music Worth?

Is 99 cents a fair price for a downloadable music track? “Some analysts are beginning to realize that lower prices could greatly expand the size of the digital-music market, still minuscule despite iTunes’ success. A July survey by Jupiter Research of 2,500 adults who use the Internet found that 35% of people are willing to pay 51 cents to $1 for a song by a favorite artist; 20% are willing to pay 50 cents or less; and 19% would pay more than $1 (26% say no price is right, they’ll pay nothing). Problem is, online-music services cannot significantly lower prices without losing money.”

Crime Does Pay, Apparently

“It’s not every day that you meet the winner of Britain’s biggest literary prize and end up conducting the kind of forensic interview you might with a yob on an antisocial behaviour order. But in the past week, astonishing things have been said about the enigmatic, 42-year-old Mexican-Australian who penned his debut novel, Vernon God Little, under the pseudonym, DBC Pierre.” In fact, the author’s shady past goes far beyond even the rumors which have dogged him recently, and Peter Finlay (Pierre’s real name) isn’t apologizing for any of it.

Now That We’ve Scared The Pants Off You…

The recording industry, pleased with the drop in file sharing activity since it began suing file-swappers this past summer, has announced that it will now begin warning offenders that they are about to be sued, and offering them an opportunity to settle out of court if they respond within ten days. The move is seen as an effort to quiet consumer advocates who decried the industry’s heavy-handed tactics after it was revealed that the targets of the lawsuit campaign included a 12-year-old girl and a 71-year-old grandfather.

Well, That’s One Way To Get Exhibited

A well-known British graffiti artist snuck one of his own works into the Tate Britain museum this week, and glued it to the wall, along with a typical title card describing the work. “The picture consisted of a rural scene with an image of police tape stencilled on to it,” and the card explained that the artist “argues that ruining the work in this way reflects how our nation has been vandalised by an obsession with crime and paedophilia.” No one at the Tate noticed the unscheduled addition to its collection until the painting came unglued and crashed to the floor several hours later.

Latino Museum Plan Takes A Step Forward

The idea of starting a National Museum of the American Latino has begun to gain traction in recent years, and this week, supporters got a legislative boost, when a California congressman introduced a bill to authorize a feasibility study for the museum. “The museum would be based in Washington and might be under the umbrella of the Smithsonian Institution.” If it were built, it would join two other new museums dedicated to American minorities: “A museum dedicated to Native American culture is nearing completion at the southeast corner of the Mall. An African American museum is awaiting full congressional approval.”

We Want Our Free DVDs!

“Rarely in recent Hollywood history has there been an uprising of this magnitude over such an apparently trivial matter. But ever since the Motion Picture Association of America announced two weeks ago that studios had to stop sending out free DVDs of their movies to voters during the coming awards season, the mob has been storming the castle gates. The ban on so-called ‘screeners’ was intended to stop unauthorized duplication of the films, a problem that concerns many in the industry. But to read the daily headlines in the industry trade papers, nothing less than the future of creativity in the movies is at stake.”

Progress, Slow But Steady

Racial diversity is slowly coming to American TV, according to a new report from a media watchdog group. Hispanics have made the greatest gains in recent years, with Hispanic characters being introduced in many mainstream shows, but Asian-Americans are still grossly underrepresented on U.S. screens. The coalition that issued the report singled out CBS’s new drama, Joan of Arcadia as being absurdly devoid of Asian-Americans, since it takes place in the heavily Asian town of Arcadia, California. Still, the coalition is no longer calling for the network boycotts it threatened a few years ago, and acknowledges that real progress is being made.

New Leadership In Houston Brings Hope For Stability

“The board of the Menil Collection in Houston named its new director yesterday: Josef Helfenstein, director of the Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Mr. Helfenstein succeeds Ned Rifkin, who resigned almost a year ago to head the Smithsonian Institution’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington.” The Menil Collection has functioned amid considerable internal turmoil over the last several years, but with the appointment of Helfenstein, it is hoped that an organization which has sometimes had trouble defining itself will finally have a chance to establish a firm direction.

First Impressions In Detroit

As part of the massive expansion of the Detroit Symphony’s Max M. Fisher Music Center, a new 450-seat chamber music hall was built, and the DSO is hoping that it will be the key to drawing new audiences to classical music in the city. The new hall looks great, but how does it sound? “Judging acoustics based on only one night in the hall is a bit like tasting Bordeaux from the barrel, but with that caveat in mind, the sound-bite summary is this: The hall is not perfect, but the acoustics Wednesday were promising enough that it’s safe to call the Music Box the best hall for chamber music in metro Detroit.”