Can Barnes Prove It Is Financially Unsustainable?

This month the Barnes Foundation goes before a court to try to win approval to move to Philadelphia. As part of its case, the Barnes wants to prove that its financial situation is so precarious it is unsustainable in its current home. “Yet while it is clear that many factors that are beyond the current management’s control have put the Barnes in dire straits, the Barnes management failed to control one important thing it has had power over: working within a budget.”

Inspiration By Design

“Ever since the Romantics, we have thought of artists as following their muses and of designers as chasing the market. An artist preoccupied with sales will risk being written off as a mercenary, while a designer neglectful of his audience will soon be out of work. In reality, designers and artists aren’t separated by so sharp a line. When a designer sets out to improve an existing product, or to create a product that fills a newly perceived (or fabricated) need, she does not usually call in a focus group. She thinks, she tinkers, she reassesses – much like an artist.”

Rambert On Track

The Rambert Dance Company looks better than it has in years. “Rambert’s dancers, always good, are taking possession of their repertoire in a way they haven’t dared for years. A spirit of inquiry has replaced their iron discipline, freeing each one to be a soloist. Even when they dance en masse they’re thinking for themselves. A company for choreographers to love.”

Nutcracker’s Rocky Start

Nutcracker might be one of the most popular ballets, but when it was first presented, it didn’t fare well. “The reviews that stuck to it are the really bad reviews. That’s because the really bad reviews say, “This is not even a ballet,” and “If the Imperial theater keeps doing shows like this it will go downhill.” We will all go to hell in a handcart, in other words. And also that Tchaikovsky’s music was not danceable – they said that about it.”

“Angels” On TV In A New Context

Getting “Angeles in America” from the stage to the TV screen puts it in a different context. “The arrival of “Angels” on television now puts this work into new frames of reference and understanding. First and primarily, because this adaptation preserves so much of the play’s thematic complexity, bracing intellect and ravishing language, both its panoramic sweep and visionary intensity come through. That was by no means a given.”

The Shaw Festival’s Rotten Year

Ontario’s Shaw Festival had a terrible year. “From a creative point of view, it was not a season without high points, but from a financial perspective, this was the kind of year in which everything that could go wrong did go wrong. The result: after 10 consecutive years of budget surpluses, the once invincible Shaw Festival will be looking at about $2 million of red ink. The bottom line: A big chunk of the regular audience failed to show up — especially Americans. SARS was one big factor, but not the only one. There was also the war in Iraq, the power blackout and the declining value of the U.S. dollar.”

Gay Art And The Margins

What kind of art outrages people today? “It’s not just obscene art that gets people riled; art with any suggestion of same-sex affection or eroticism will do almost as well. In a more closeted era, gay artists would speak in a subtle and complex code to gay audiences, a code that usually went over the head of the general populace. Today, the general populace is quite good at discerning even the sliest feints in the homophile direction.”

Getting Angels From Stage To Screen

“Too often, big stage deals have hit the screen, large or small, with an audible thud, making viewers wonder what was so special about the originals anyway. For some of us, “Angels in America” is a happier story. Building on his astute and graceful 2001 HBO adaptation of the Margaret Edson play “Wit,” director Mike Nichols has taken the hospital bed so prominent in that drama, about a cancer patient, and wheeled it over to another, more expansive wing.”

St. Louis New Contemporary Gem

St. Louis’ new Contemporary Art Museum is an $8 million gem. “The museum’s architect, Brad Cloepfil, eschewed such gestures in a simple but sophisticated design that consists of interlocking concrete planes, not unlike a house of cards. But this house of cards is anything but flimsy. It’s at once solid and permeable, a skillful geometric exercise that blurs the divisions between inside and outside, creating a serene but dynamic environment without the benefit of grand stairs, towering atriums or flapping wings.”

Better CD’s, Better Sound

If regular CD’s aren’t selling so well now, how about super enhanced sound CD’s? “Introduced four years ago, SACD boasts superior fidelity and surround-sound capability when played on an SACD player. Though the format is not widely established, a renewed interest in rock classics and a considerable uptick in SACD sales have given its supporters reason to be optimistic.”