Design For Design’s Sake – Must We Always Be Entertained?

“Highly noticeable design in itself has become an acknowledged competitive strategy, so that the public now expects to be perpetually captivated and entertained and flattered by the novelty and the variety of design in every kind of commodity, not just in the aspect of goods but in their physical ambience. Restaurants are as over-designed as the meals they serve; new boutiques selling wine or cheese or jams or cookies are fitted up like exquisite art galleries, with hushed spatial arrangements so arcane that the goods cannot readily be distinguished from the décor. Such establishments might not sit on the same street with the fake-ethnic diners, but the source of their overt allure is the same.”

Pop Goes The Culture

Pop culture is everywhere. TV is pop culture. Ergo, there’s more and more TV about pop culture. “The extent to which pop culture has become the focus of more and more TV networks is undeniable. It’s the nature of it. Pop culture is the stuff everybody is talking about, and if everybody is talking about it, networks are naturally going to want to find programming that taps into that.”

San Jose Opera – Dreading A Move To A New Home

Opera San Jose is supposed to move in September into a theatre renovated for $75 million. But the finances of getting into the building and living there scare the company. “We are running frightened,” general manager Irene Dalis said. For 20 years, she has looked forward to moving the company from the 515-seat Montgomery Theater to the California Fox, she said, “and now I dread it.”

Charitable Giving Down In US For First Times In 12 Years

“Private contributions to US charities declined last year for the first time in 12 years, according to an annual survey of the 400 largest charities in the country. The report, compiled by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, indicated that donations in 2002 fell 1.2% (adjusted for inflation) compared with an average gain of 12% during the previous five years. The total dipped to $46.9 billion from $47.5 billion the previous year.” And how’d the arts do? Down 26 percent, says the report, but the drop is exagerated because of big one-time gioftes recorded the year before.

Whither Canada’s Arts Ministry?

Canada has a new prime minister, and Paul Martin’s choice to head the nation’s Ministry of Canadian Heritage is already causing arts groups to wonder about the intentions of the new government. “A first-time cabinet minister, Hélène Scherrer is largely unknown among Canadian arts groups… The heritage minister is responsible for a broad range of issues and agencies, including arts and culture, citizenship, multiculturalism and sport.” Scherrer’s background is almost entirely in sports, and her spokesman has already said that the ministry will no longer be the “bank” for the arts that it was under former minister Sheila Copps.

Is It Or Isn’t It? “Van Gogh” Auction Delayed

“The auction of a controversial painting attributed to Vincent Van Gogh has been delayed to re-examine its authenticity. The work was spotted at a Paris flea market in 1991 and bought for 1,500 euros ($1,800). It was expected to fetch more than 1 million euros ($1.2m) at auction on Saturday, but was withheld to allow further scrutiny by experts.”

Canada Enacts Tax On MP3 Players

Canada is imposing a new tax on MP3 players. “A price increase of between $2 and $25 will come into effect after the Copyright Board of Canada gave the go-ahead Friday on a new levy for digital audio recorders, including Apple’s hot-selling IPod. The move is part of several efforts underway to combat music downloading and copying.”

Italy On Sale

A bill likely to pass in the Italian parliament would allow the state to sell off state assests – including buildings and possibly artworks. “Although the Colosseum and the Uffizi, for example, are both State property, no one believes that these will be carrying For Sale signs. Most people agree that the State owns vast numbers of former barracks, redundant post offices and stations, holiday homes for civil servants, and other unimportant buildings that can usefully pass into private hands. There might, however, be unrecognised treasures among these.”