While 60 percent of American states this year cut their arts funding, North Carolina went the other direction, increasing arts funding by $377,000. This in spite of a proposal by the state’s governor for a six-figure budget chop. So how’d it happen? “The majority of the members of our legislature are much more attuned to what the arts are doing back in their home districts than most people would assume,” notes Regan. “I don’t think it was that difficult for the arts community to make the case, because I think what the arts community was saying to the legislature was very quickly recognized as being the facts.”
“The Royal Ballet’s Zenaida Yanowsky has been a fully-fledged principal since 2001 but, despite countless one-act triumphs, these meaty full-evening roles continue to elude her. The 28-year-old Spaniard isn’t the first Royal Ballet dancer to be principal in name only – Deborah Bull seldom got to carry a three-act ballet at Covent Garden – but Yanowsky, with her cool blonde beauty, sure technique and dazzlingly broad dramatic and stylistic range represents a serious waste of resources” writes Louise Levene.
“Elliott Smith, whose fragile melodies and voice positioned him as a Nick Drake for a new generation, died yesterday of a knife wound to the chest, an apparent suicide; he was thirty-four… Smith’s life and career eerily reflect that of Drake, who mined a similar vein of melancholy folk-rock before an overdose (it has never been determined whether intentional or not) ended his career at age twenty-six. Like Drake, Smith’s output is striking and spare: Six full-length solo albums, three with his old band Heatmiser, and, true to the independent ethic that defined and dogged him throughout his career, a few handfuls of EPs and seven-inch releases.”
Vernon God Little, a novel by DBC Pierre (a pseudonym,) was listed at 1,124 on the UK’s bestseller lists two weeks ago. Then, Pierre was awarded the Man Booker Prize, and his satirical poke at American life shot up to 18th on the list. Not a bad upgrade, but Pierre still trails last year’s winner, Yann Martel, which remains at #10.
With the New York Philharmonic back at Lincoln Center, attention is again turned on the need to rebuild New York’s West Side cultural campus. “While Lincoln Center jump-started gentrification around Columbus Circle, this case study in superblock architecture also provided city planners with a definitive lesson in how not to design cultural institutions. Nor has the center exactly stood the test of time—with 10 million visitors annually, the place is in need of major repair, plagued as it is by pesky plumbing and crumbling floors.”
The British government is launching an online culture site. “The venture, designed to for both adults and children, will sponsor 20 to 30 projects and will go live next year. One of the first projects is called Webplay and allows school children to direct a play online. Others include Scoop for would-be journalists and a virtual collection of plants curated by Kew Gardens.”
Seattle’s Bookfest saw attendance this drop to 9000 this year – less than half its regular number, after the festival instituted a $10 ticket fee. Now organizers are pondering whether this is the end for the 13-year-old event. “Bookfest’s continuing travails may seem surprising in a city that boasts one of the country’s most active book cultures. But Seattle’s prominence as a book town has been a blessing and a curse for Bookfest.”
Fresh Air host Terry Gross responds to NPR’s ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin’s criticisms of her interview with Bill O’Reilly: “I think some of his criticisms play into the hands of O’Reilly. O’Reilly has the attitude, I believe, that if you criticize him, or ask him anything critical, then you are therefore a part of the, quote, liberal media and therefore you are part of the, quote, cultural jihad against O’Reilly.”
Book Magazine is going out of business. “The magazine, which was founded in 1998, has lost more than $1 million this year and needed more cash. Barnes & Noble, which invested $4.2 million in the publication in 2000 and gave the operation a loan of $2.5 million a year later, has decided to make no further investment.” The magazine once had as many as 1.4 million subscribers, but only because B&N gave free first-year subscriptions. Lately its subscriber base was only 150,000.
To avoid letting important artwork be bought and shipped out of Britain, Britons have bought many artworks over the past century. The Saved! show at the Hayward Gallery in London features some 400 artworks “saved” in this manner. The show features work by Michelangelo, Velasquez, Boticelli, Picasso, Mondrian, Rodin and Titian. “It is dedicated to sculptures, paintings and treasures saved by the National Art Collections Fund over the past 100 years.”