Whose brilliant idea was it to put the end of daylight saving time in the middle of Halloween night? Can we do that every year?

  • NEA Chair Rocco Landesman’s Art Works blog is shaping up to be the must-read of the holiday season. Not just because of what he writes there, but because of the chance it offers for conservative anti-NEA agitators to take their special brand of bile directly to the source — an opportunity they have wasted no time in seizing. Last week, the conservative Power Line blog linked to the article with some snooty remarks about Landesman’s oft-repeated claim that President Obama is “the first president that actually writes his own books since Teddy Roosevelt and arguably the first to write them really well since Lincoln,” as well as his comparison between Obama and Julius Caesar (note that this all comes from one paragraph out of 46 in the speech). The 79 responses to Landesman’s inaugural post (a reprint of the speech he gave at the Grantmakers in the Arts Conference two weeks ago) are thus the oddest mix of arts organization representatives begging Landesman to come to their city, and conservative after conservative after conservative repeating, like dutiful fifth-grade schoolchildren, the same points made by Powerline: that many other Presidents supposedly wrote good books, that Lincoln didn’t even write a whole book, that Landesman is just “bootlicking” Obama, etc.–as if this were all even remotely relevant to the point of his speech. (The teabaggers like to decry “Obamabots,” but it sure seems to me like they invented the form.) Anyway, this past week Landesman actually took the bait, coming back with a post in which he admitted that he probably made a boo-boo about the author thing and he didn’t mean the Caesar comparison seriously and can we please get back to talking about Art Works? Oh man, this one ain’t gonna die for a while.
  • Meanwhile, Fox News isn’t showing any sign of letting up on its not-so-subtle campaign against the NEA. Isaac has the details. Thankfully, actual policymakers clearly could care less what Fox thinks, as Congress just passed a $12.5 million increase for the agency for FY10, bringing funding to its highest nominal level in 16 years (though still far below its inflation-adjusted peak).
  • Speaking of Fox, apparently GE has been looking to unload its ownership stake in NBC and one of the early bidders was…Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation! That would have been interesting. As it is, it looks like NBC will be sold to cable oligopolist Comcast instead, which frankly may not be all that much better an outcome.
  • Now, this is the kind of culture war I can cheer for: Hong Kong is duking it out with Singapore to become Asia’s top cultural attraction. The numbers mentioned in the article are rather staggering: $1 billion to invest in Singapore’s cultural infrastructure ten years ago. $2.8 billion this year to build an entire “arts and culture neighborhood” on 40 hectares of reclaimed land in Hong Kong. Remember, these are city-level investments. Both cities see pumping up their arts scenes as essential to attracting a competitive, global workforce and maintaining their international profile over the long term.
  • How about our own “World City”? Alas, internal politics are turning New York’s grand plans for a performing arts center at Ground Zero into a grand mess.
  • At least Philadelphia has Gary Steuer. The city’s Chief Cultural Officer reports on a fascinating arts leadership convening model and awareness campaign from Canada this week, and has another post explaining the complexities of municipal cultural planning and implementation.
  • When I linked to the discussion of new models in theater a couple of weeks ago, I neglected to mention an important one: the Stolen Chair Theatre Company’s Community Supported Theatre concept, which was recently awarded a $20,000 grant by The Field’s Economic Revitalization for the Performing Arts program. The Stolen Chair idea is similar in many ways to the enhanced-participation paradigms proposed by Chris Ashworth and Scott Walters, but the difference is that theirs has actually made the transition from idea to implementation; the pilot phase starts this coming season. You can listen to artistic director John Stancato talk about the project on this nytheatre.com podcast.
  • Speaking of new models, Darcy wonders why jazz bands don’t include opening acts in their touring the way that indie rockers do. As always, the answer comes down to the moolah.
  • And Barry Hessenius has a monster of a response to my (semi-)live-blogging of the Grantmakers in the Arts Conference two weeks ago. Barry declares it a new day for GIA and looks forward to the organization taking a more proactive role steering its members in a positive direction for the field.
  • Hollywood composers are considering unionization. The Society of Composers and Lyricists would affiliate with the Teamsters local 399.
  • Man, these community foundations are on fire with their online giving campaigns. This is the second story I’ve heard in the last couple of months of a fundraising effort that reached its goal so fast that the website had trouble processing donations. In this case, it’s the Pittsburgh Foundation that ran out of matching funds in all of 23 minutes!
  • The Animating Democracy project, led by Barbara Schaffer Bacon and Pam Korza, has released a triumvirate of new research studies on the social impact of arts and civic engagement initiatives. Included among these are the reflection paper that Maria Rosario Jackson presented during the GIA Conference, as well as a literature review by top-notch Penn academics Mark Stern and Susan Seifert. (h/t APInews)
  • I couldn’t help but laugh at this lede, from an article entitled “West Fest long on vibe, hazy on record attempt”:

    An attempt to top the Guinness world record for largest guitar ensemble, with 3,000 players performing Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” at Sunday’s West Fest concert in Golden Gate Park, fell short by about 2,950 participants – and some of those may have been playing ukuleles.

    A Crimson Grail it was not.

  • Back in college we always tried to get them to allow us to extend party hours, because daylight savings always hit at 2am, the time parties were supposed to be over. Unfortunately, campus security never saw it our way (they probably weren’t being paid for that “extra” hour!). :-)
    On the post – thanks for ALL you do! Your blog really helps me to stay up-to-date with what’s going on the in the arts. As a private voice teacher (also employed as a part-time chorister with a struggling opera company), I feel like I need to keep up with everything. You definitely help and are greatly appreciated!