The Perils Of Choice?

“We live in a choice-addled society. The jargon of choice, a second cousin of diversity and multiculturalism, undermines intellectual integrity and coherence. “Choice” and “diversity” are universal passwords that unlock all doors. Who can oppose them without appearing authoritarian? But the jargon of choice and diversity actually corrodes academic freedom, which once referred to the freedom of college instructors to teach what they considered salient, subject to the review of their peers, not outside authorities. Today, it increasingly means the freedom of students to hear what they — or their parents — want.”

The Art Of Illness

A California pathologist believes that artists’ physical ailments are often represented in the art they made. “Environmental poisons and drug use may have colored the creations of Michelangelo, Raphael and Vincent Van Gogh and left their impression on the work of Renaissance sculptor Benvenuto Cellini.”

Boston Globe Arts Staff Takes A Big Hit

The Boston Globe’s A&E section takes a big hit as prominent critics take buyouts. “Veteran reporters slated to leave that section of the paper include pop/rock music writer Steve Morse, theater critic Ed Siegel, feature writer Jack Thomas, classical music critic Richard Dyer and arts reporter Maureen Dezell. The Globe announced the buyout package in October as a cost-cutting attempt to avoid layoffs by cutting 35 newsroom positions.”

Harvard To Sell Cassatt

Harvard has decided to sell a Mary Cassatt painting worth as much as $5 million. “Painted in 1906, the work was given to Harvard in 1922 by Ernest G. Stillman, a member of the class of 1907. The painting has rarely been on display. Money from the sale will go into the museums’ acquisitions fund and is most likely to be used to buy a work by the same artist.”

Hollywood’s Disappointing Fall Box Office

Hollywood has not had a good fall. “The North American box-office total for the fall was $1.34-billion, down nearly 4 per cent from the $1.39-billion registered in 2004. The latest tally was down 18 per cent from the record-shattering $1.63 billion collected in 2003. Because ticket prices have increased slightly, estimated admissions for the fall presented an even bleaker picture of the season. Estimated ticket units were 208.1 million, down nearly 8 per cent from the 223 million reported a year earlier and well shy of the record 268.3 million rung up in 2003.”

Canadian Arts Funding Questioned

Canadian Auditor-General Sheila Fraser says oversight of Canada’s cultural spending is a mess. “The general state of oversight in funding and tax credits for the arts is poor, Fraser’s report found. Canadian Heritage, Telefilm Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency do not apply controls rigorously enough to ensure that requirements covering Canadian content, project selection and eligibility of expenses are met.”

Cologne Orchestra – Opportunity Or Exploitation?

Musicians of the New Cologne Philharmonic are freelancers and earn less than their European union colleagues. “While other major orchestras charge anything from $21 to $72 for a seat, the Cologne New Philharmonic has just one price — $24. It opts out of the familiar European formula of state support and job security, gets no state subsidies and relies on box-office receipts alone. The influential French and German musicians’ unions contend that his use of mostly Eastern Europeans at nonunion wages amounts to exploitation.”

Seattle Newspaper Cuts Classical Music Critic

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reassigned its classical music critic, making him a general assignment arts writer. The paper says it’s not cutting back on classical music coveraqge, and that it wants to cover it differently. But “even if the classical crowd winds up with as much coverage as ever, some fret that the switch from a staffer to a freelance critic might signify to readers a lesser commitment to the arts.”