Milan’s Missing Documents

An investigation of missing documents at Milan’s State Archive has proven startling results. “Thousands of pieces were found to have disappeared: parchments from the 11th century; papal bulls; official decrees bearing the signatures of Emperor Charles V, Empress Maria Theresa and Napoleon; autograph manuscripts by such Italian literary giants as Alessandro Manzoni and Gabriele D’Annunzio — a substantial slice of eight centuries of European history, as seen through documents from one of the continent’s wealthiest metropolitan centers from the Middle Ages onward. Some 3,000 items from the State Archives and smaller depositories have been recovered, while 1,000 more are still reported missing, probably smuggled into private collections in Italy or abroad.”

The Art Of 7-11 (And Other Businesses)

At a time when some American cities are cutting back on public art, “Menlo Park (Cal.) now requires that public art adorn new commercial buildings and major remodeling. Early next year, Menlo Park residents will see the fruits of this new law when art is installed at the 7-Eleven, a cafe, and a Chevron gas station. To some, it’s a smart way to further beautify this bedroom community without using city money. To others, making business owners spend 1 percent of a project’s cost on art is an expensive annoyance.”

Scotland’s Year In Art

“Monet was the National Galleries’ big hit. You might have thought we knew Monet well enough, but no fewer than 170,000 people visited the Monet exhibition to get a fresh insight into his work. It was the biggest attendance ever for an exhibition in Edinburgh and it must be a comment on something that we have not been doing in between that the previous record of 120,000 visitors was held by the Epstein exhibition in Waverley Market more than 40 years ago.”

Up All Night, Staring At A Screen

Advertisers are famously obsessed with young people, and so television, by necessity, is obsessed as well. In recent years, network brass have been at a loss to explain where all their young viewers have gone. Some say they went to cable, some say they went to the internet, and some say it shouldn’t matter, anyway. But what if the 18-to-34s haven’t deserted TV after all? What if they’ve just moved their “prime time” back a few hours? A close look at demographic ratings shows that young people are watching plenty of TV: they’re just turning on the set a lot later.

Free Music? On Its Way

You want free music? Legally? Coming right up. “You’re going to see lots of free music given out via third-party companies. It’s not going to be Apple and iTunes driving the business. It’s going to be companies like Pepsi and other third parties that are promoting digital music on bottle caps and on labels. Indeed, Apple Computer has inked a deal with Pepsi to give away 100 million iTunes downloads in a promotion that kicks off in February with a Super Bowl ad.”

Actors Equity 1, Homeland Security 0

Canadian actor Geordie Johnson should be on a San Francisco stage today, rehearsing for a new production of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. But thanks to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Johnson’s work visa was refused as the DHS tightened restrictions on foreigners entering the country. The company Johnson was to have worked with was forced to recast his part, since they could not afford to wait for an appeal. Nonetheless, Actors Equity filed an appeal anyway, and this week, it was granted, the union having successfully argued that “the entire framework of agreements under which actors, directors, musicians and even professional athletes gain cross-border employment [was] in jeopardy.”

Corporate Giving: Good For The Bottom Line?

A new study commissioned by the Boston Foundation reports that the public is more likely to patronize corporate businesses which make a point of donating to the arts and other nonprofits than those which do not. The pollster who led the study says that the upshot of the report is that “foundations have got to get out of the purely good guy giving pool and they’ve got to drive the argument that partnerships between nonprofits and corporations help a corporation’s bottom line. If you can make that case, you can start this argument again and maybe you can get more money.”

Big Times In A Small Town

Concord, Massachusetts, is everything a small New England town should be, and the Concord Bookshop, an independent bookseller widely regarded as one of the best in the Northeast, is a large presence in the community. But an in-house dispute between the bookshop’s owners and its employees is tearing the store apart, and the whole town, with its sizable population of well-known writers, seems to be getting involved. Eight employees, including the bookshop’s three top managers, have resigned, with one of them saying that “the fragile alchemy that made it such a great place to work [has] died.” But the owners insist that they love the shop as much as anyone, and are only trying to survive in an increasingly difficult era for indie booksellers.

Kang Quits, DSO Left Wondering Why

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is losing its top executive, just as it is trying to find a new music director and cope with a hefty financial shortfall. Emil Kang, who had earned praise as DSO president for his consensus-building skills and efforts at sharpening the orchestra’s artistic vision, resigned abruptly on Monday, without explanation. The orchestra’s new board chair has refused to comment on whether or not Kang was forced out, but another board member says that, at least, the board “as a group” did not ask for the resignation. Kang, 35, was one of the youngest administrators of an American symphony orchestra.

Hitting ‘Em While They’re Down

“Last week’s court decision preventing the recording industry from forcing Internet service providers to identify their subscribers on peer-to-peer networks offers new hope to file traders who have been sued. But fighting the RIAA may prove costly for anyone hoping to challenge the trade group, which spends an estimated $17 million annually in legal fees. In the wake of Friday’s ruling, which found that the RIAA can’t subpoena Internet providers for subscribers’ personal information without going through the court system, experts say lawyers could feasibly argue that their clients’ information was unjustly obtained from ISPs, and therefore should not be used. But such a strategy would be unorthodox and difficult to carry out.”