Chronicling NY’s Downtown Theatre

Michael Feingold has written about theatre for the Village Voice for 34 years. “That so many Voice critics have been, openly, practitioners has often given uptown journalists pause. But it had to do less with the long-standing tradition of the critic-playwright than with the communal nature of what had evolved, by the early 1960s, into the Off-Off-Broadway movement. While Off-Broadway itself became more upscale and commercial minded, the Downtown theater had burgeoned into a large, loose pool of extraordinary talents that was a community in itself. Not to participate actively would have marked one as hardly more than a tourist in an audience where, it sometimes seemed, everyone was a practitioner, and usually a multitasker at that.”

See Edinburgh Wirelessly

The city of Edinburgh is planning to put a wireless system in place so tourists could get “wireless tours” of the city on their mobile phones and hand-held computers. “The service, which could be in place as early as next summer, would help tourists pre-plan their visits and also provide regular messages updating them about events taking place in the capital.”

Canadian Artists: More Money Please

Canadian artists are lobbying the federal government to increase arts funding to a rate of $5 per capita per year. The group has asked that any new arts money be directed to the Canada Council for the Arts, which supports 2,200 arts organizations and more than 2,000 individual artists. The council invests $156 million in the arts each year; but the coalition wants to double that amount. An increasing number of arts organizations and individual artists are requesting money from the council as Canada’s artistic community gets more diverse.”

Reinventing Ottawa’s National

Peter Hinton is the new director of Ottawa’s National Arts Centre Theatre. “A new artistic director should be an opportunity for a theatre to look at itself, to re-examine what it’s doing. My appointment to the place begged a lot of questions about what kind of future there would be.” Since it opened in 1969, the NAC has never done an all-Canadian season, notes Hinton. “That’s really interesting to me. It speaks to the brevity of our history and the way new-play development has grown and reached its own ceiling.”

Montreal Symphony Back On Stage

The Montreal Symphony plays its first concert since ending a strike that started last May. “Montreal’s Salle Wilfred-Pelletier seemed to be bathed in the warmth of a great big homecoming. After a long and bitter feud it was forgiveness and laughter, and even a few teary eyes in the audience, as Montrealers roundly applauded their orchestra even before Kent Nagano had taken the stage.”

Miami PAC: Designed In Public

It has taken 27 years to get a performing arts center built in Miami. The building is still under construction, late, and $100 million over budget. Designing the project was a particularly public process. “The competition process was very unusual. We moved a whole design team into the host hotel for nearly a week. We had one of the conference rooms downstairs as our design studio, we moved our desks, our lamps, our materials, our supplies, and essentially designed the building in front of the community. It was almost completely open to the public.”

The Next Threat To Recording Industry – Magazines?

“As if the record business doesn’t have enough problems, the coming trend in magazine publishing may be free CDs. While magazine publishers tout the arrival of authentic interactivity and deeper connections with readers by adding free CDs to every issue, the music industry worries that yet another route has been found around buying records to obtain music, even though most of the free magazine CDs are compilations.”

Of Art And A Cult Of Celebrity

“Celebrity demands a suspension of judgment; there are no objective criteria and it is meaningless. Famous for being famous is circular and nowhere does that circle touch the real world. Art, though, demands judgment, belongs in the real world and promises meaning. For that reason, contemporary art has developed an industry of spurious commentary.”

Do-Over TV

Time Warner Cable is offering its customers the ability to “rewind” shows. “With Start Over, digital cable customers who miss the beginning of certain shows, but who tune in before the end, can push a button and go back to the start. They also can pause and rewind the show — but can’t fast-forward through commercials. The service lets viewers act on impulse or because of unexpected delays. They don’t have to plan ahead to record a show, as they do with digital video recorders.”

Looking At This Year’s Canadian Poetry Award Shortlist

Traditionally, Canada’s Governor General’s Award poetry shortlist “offers a mix of old hands and new faces, a modest range of styles and at least one what-were-they-thinking title. Extravagantly experimental work seldom gets a mention, but inventively tweaking the standard lyrical narrative often helps a book stand out from the crowd. (And it is a crowd: the 2005 jury read 144 collections.) This year’s list follows suit, though there’s neither an oddball choice nor a brand-new ‘It’ poet to be found.”