Davidson On Disney: Populism Meeting Glitter

Justin Davidson is duly impressed with the L.A. Philharmonic’s new Gehry-designed digs: “It is a building made of visual metaphors: It blooms among the architectural crabgrass of downtown L.A… The hall is a come-on to the city on the part of a high-art establishment that feels miniaturized by the pop-culture machine. Like a maestro going to the supermarket, Disney Hall balances glamour with populism. It is a complex space, yet a straightforwardly spectacular one, too. It flaunts its impeccable sheen, yet invites visitors to touch. People have done so, and unless the maintenance crew proves overzealous, one of the more unexpected features will be the shadow of hands on steel.”

No Money Problem Here!

The UK’s National Theatre is disputing a report in the Sunday Telegraph which claimed that directors at the National were being asked to stage plays for one-tenth the normal budget, and that the cuts were directly attributable to the cut-rate ticket prices which the theater instituted last summer, and plans to continue for the next three years. According to the theater, the low-priced tickets are being completely underwritten by a £1 million grant, which has had no effect on the creative budget. The National does acknowledge a distinct change to its recent design aesthetic, one that is “more minimal, creating a space where metaphor flies.” Coincidentally, the minimalist stages are also cheaper.

Amazon… In Search Of Not Paying For Books

Amazon’s new search function that allows browsers to search pages of thousands of books seems like a great thing. But some authors and publishers have concerns. “Authors Guild staff members had managed to view and print as many as 100 consecutive pages of several books by searching repeatedly for different terms. Recipes from some cookbooks and details from travel books were also available, meaning that users could print recipes or destination descriptions without buying the books. You don’t even have to wait for Amazon to deliver.”

How To Rebuild Iraq’s Arts?

“How do we take what exists in Iraq, how we fortify those institutions, how do we fortify the schools that teach music and art, how do we fortify regional arts organisations and what holes are left? Under Saddam, sculptors got a monthly stipend. They’re not high up on the priority list of people in Iraq, but somebody has to attend to this.”

Santa Cruz: How To Dismantle An Arts Community

Support for the arts in Santa Cruz, California has been evaporating. And the city’s artists are leaving. “In the last couple of weeks, not a day has gone by when I haven’t heard of an artist moving away. The Diaspora of young artists here is evaporating because it’s too expensive to live here and because there’s a serious lack of venues in this town.”

Is Big Read “Anti-Literary?”

The BBC’s Big Read aims to have the public vote on their 100 favorite books of all time. But some criticize the exerciseas being “anti-literary.” “Somebody said that The Big Read was not just un-literary but anti-literary and I think that’s right. It is based on the assumption that the opinion of the public is always beyond reproach.”

Disney Passes Expectations In The Fast Lane

LA’s new Disney Hall got through its opening weekend of three concerts in great style, writes Joshua Kosman. “Taken in tandem with Thursday’s opener, the evenings added up to a beguiling snapshot of musical life in the Southland – venturesome, swaggering and ready to embrace whatever cultural developments may be passing through. In addition to its own extravagant charms, at once noble and puppyish, Disney Hall reveals anew the strength and resilience that this orchestra has attained under Salonen’s leadership.”

In Praise Of Libraries

For all their excellence, libraries are low in glamor. “What can a library do to compete with such events as the International Festival of Authors at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre, the announcement of nominees for the Giller Prize and the Governor-General’s Award, or the celebrity-cookbook author Indigo is bringing to a suburb near you? It’s possible, however, that society’s collective inability to appreciate the public library as a vital institution is the library’s fault.”