UK’s Arts Boom – But Where’s The Beef?

The UK National Lottery has funded some 53 arts centers at a cost of about half a billion pounds. “We’re witnessing an expansion of national arts facilities on a par with the nineteenth century, when local philanthropists and businessmen funded art galleries, theatres and concert halls across Britain. But the striking feature of today’s cultural institutions is that they don’t seem to be based on an artistic agenda.”

Good Foreign Movies Ineligible For Oscars This Year

Some of the best and most-popular foreign movies of the year are ineligible for foreign-language Academy Awards this year. “The main dispute centers on an old academy directive that allows overseas countries to submit only one film a year for Oscar consideration. Critics say the rule punishes prolific filmmaking countries such as Spain, which had to choose between two very strong contenders this year. The academy guidelines also ignore the boom in international co-productions, where any number of countries may join forces to make a single movie.”

The Louvre: Coming To America

The Louvre is going to open an outpost at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta in 2006. “The two museums have been in discussions since spring and expect to sign an agreement next month. Under the terms of the collaboration, the French museum is to lend hundreds of its works to the High Museum for an indefinite period in return for an undisclosed sum, estimated at $10 million for the first three years.”

Art Helps Fight Sickness

“St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London has come under attack from medical professionals and politicians because of its decision to spend £250,000 ($467,000) on works of art for its new breast cancer screening centre. The hospital has defended its decision to purchase 12 paintings and installations—paid for with private donations and not through National Health Service funds—because, it says, there is evidence that, art will speed patients’ recovery by improving their spirits.”

“Reality” TV – The Art Theft

A gang of art thieves is assembled and set the task of breaking in to a gallery and stealing art. On TV. “In Channel 4’s The Heist, they plan to penetrate state-of-the-art security at the Business Design Centre in Islington and remove The View From The Bandstand by Andrew Gifford – described by critics as a modern masterpiece. Each of the ex-criminals was once notorious in a certain field before going straight – an armed robber, jewellery thief, gangster, extortionist and internet hacker.”

West End Theatres Need Major Cash Refurbishment

London’s West End theatres need major investment if they’re to remain viable, says a new report. “The theatres need £250m to fund a major refurbishment programme to bring them into line for the 21st Century. Half of the money needed over the next 15 years would come from the theatres themselves but the rest may have to come from the public purse.”

Festive La Scala Opens With Pageantry

“The holiday offered downtown Christmas shoppers a look at the theatre’s newly painted facade, decorated for the occasion with red roses and green foliage. The 18th-century theatre was commissioned in 1773 by Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, then ruler of Milan. Large video screens were set up in Milan’s elegant passageway, the Galleria, opposite La Scala, inside the city’s San Vittore prison, and other places around town.”

Di Stefano Still Unconscious After Attack

Eighty-three-year-old Giuseppe Di Stefano is still unconscious in hospital in Kenya, but doctors are hoping for his recovery after the tenor was attacked near his home last week. “Unidentified assailants attacked Di Stefano and his wife last Tuesday at their villa in Diani, located about 435 kilometres southeast of Nairobi. He was struck in the head as he tried to defend his wife from the attackers, who were attempting to steal her necklace.”

Romania’s New Contemporary Art Museum In Controversial Palace

Romania has a new National Museum of Contemporary Art. It’s located in an enormous palace that former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu had built but never occupied. “At 270 by 244 metres the building is the second largest building in the world (after the Pentagon). Construction began in 1984, but the massive structure was never completed. To clear land for it, Ceausescu bulldozed 7,000 homes and 26 churches in southern Bucharest and relocated over 70,000 people to the outskirts of the city.”