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The Digest of Arts, Culture and Ideas
Updated: 19 min 14 sec ago

Alison Bechdel’s Excellent, Wonderful Year

September 18, 2014 - 2:50am

She got a fellowship to an artists’ retreat in Italy; the play based on her memoir Fun Home won rafts of award nominations, was a Pulitzer finalist, and became a minor cause célèbre in South Carolina; the “Bechdel test” became common currency in movie circles – and then she got a MacArthur award. (includes video)

Why You Should Read Alison Bechdel’s Old Comic Strip

September 18, 2014 - 2:49am

“Just as Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series wended its leisurely, funny and warm way through the evolving gay and transgender communities in San Francisco, Dykes to Watch Out For dives deep into a fictional lesbian community, considering the impact of transgender politics, marriage and even the death of independent bookstores on her characters. … Did I mention that the strip is fabulous, funny reading?”

There’s One Place Where They’re Still Buying CDs

September 18, 2014 - 2:43am

“Around the world, the music business has shifted toward downloads and streaming. But in Japan, the compact disc is still king” – and Tower Records still has 85 stores.

Finally, Playwriting Awards Are Going To People Who Want To Write Plays (And Not Hollywood Scripts)

September 18, 2014 - 2:34am

Charles McNulty: “Don’t look now, but a positive trend seems to be developing: A bumper crop of talented American playwrights more interested in artistic expression than commercial validation is being recognized with the most prestigious awards and lucrative fellowships available.” Exhibit A: the MacArthur Fellowship that just went to Samuel D. Hunter.

Decision On Gehry’s Eisenhower Memorial Design Put Off Again (They Couldn’t Get A Quorum)

September 18, 2014 - 2:25am

“With only five of its 12 members in attendance, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission could not resolve a major design decision Wednesday, forcing another delay in the controversial project.”

Getty Foundation Launches Program To Fund Conservation Of Modern Architectural Landmarks

September 18, 2014 - 2:16am

“The Getty Foundation has announced a major new conservation initiative for modern architecture, funding work on 10 landmark designs around the world including Jørn Utzon’s Sydney Opera House in Australia, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House in Chicago and the Ray and Charles Eames residence in Pacific Palisades.”

An Idea To Encourage New Musicals In Chicago

September 17, 2014 - 11:08am

“The idea behind the project is to create a seed organization that exposes new musical works to producers, directors and the public.”

Meet This Year’s MacArthur Genius Arts Recipients

September 17, 2014 - 11:05am

There are six of them…

Amazon Becomes A Big Player In Hollywood

September 17, 2014 - 10:59am

“Like other online video services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, Crackle and YouTube, Amazon has been investing heavily in original programming to grab some business from traditional networks and cable channels.”

Last Summer’s Matisse Show Was The Tate’s Most Popular Show Of All Time. So What Makes A Popular Show?

September 17, 2014 - 10:57am

“This summer 562,622 people visited the exhibition (exact figures of how many suggested that their children could have been responsible for them remain unclear, although it appeared to be a common enough observation).”

So Big Data Will Make Us Better? There’s A Flaw… Us!

September 17, 2014 - 10:51am

“Data analytics in support of human decision making, however, has one flaw — the human. This weak link in the data-driven agility chain becomes apparent as we move to Big Data: as the data grow so too do the results of the analyses, and yet people have a limited attention span and with it, the ability to process information. It doesn’t matter how wonderful the reports your newfangled Big Data tool generate if no one has the time or predilection to read them — or even worse, understand them.”

How Are Our Online Relationships Impacting Our Real World Interactions?

September 17, 2014 - 10:45am

“For something so prevalent in our society, there is surprisingly little conclusive research on how social media affects our offline relationships. Yes, there have been articles proclaiming the downfall of personal relationships because of social media, but there have also been studies arguing that social networking leads to greater amounts of personal interaction.”

The World’s Art Online (And So The Museums…)

September 17, 2014 - 10:40am

“The 15 newcomers will be joining more than 500 partners from over 60 countries who already have put online more than 6.2 million objects and artifacts. Art lovers around the world are clicking to show their appreciation. The Google Cultural Institute had more than 19 million unique visitors from June 2013 to June 2014, and they generated 200 million page views in just one year.”

Canada’s Prestigious Giller Prize Doubles To $140,000

September 17, 2014 - 10:30am

“Founder Jack Rabinovitch announced Tuesday that the Scotiabank Giller Prize is now worth $140,000. The winner will get $100,000 and the other four finalists $10,000. It represents a doubling of the prize and makes it the highest payout for a literary prize in Canada, richer even than Britain’s Man Booker Prize of 50,000 pounds (about $89,000 Canadian).”

Report: Majority Of UK Musicians Work Without Contracts

September 17, 2014 - 10:24am

“Nearly 70% of musicians accept work without a written contract, a survey by industry body the Incorporated Society of Musicians has shown.”

Should Arts Groups That Offer Audience Participation Get Priority In Funding?

September 17, 2014 - 10:21am

A UK parliamentary report, “called Wellbeing in Four Policy Areas, recommends that subsidy for these types of activities – such as taking part in a dance or singing workshop – should be improved as they increase wellbeing for participants.”

Chopin’s Preserved Heart Indicates What Might Have Killed Him

September 17, 2014 - 10:13am

“Polish medical experts say that the preserved heart of 19th century composer Frederic Chopin shows signs of tuberculosis and possibly some other lung disease.”

San Francisco Is Pricing Out Teachers, Artists… (And What Does That Mean For City Life?)

September 17, 2014 - 10:10am

“Is a teacher who can’t afford to live in the city any more or less worthy than an artist? We need to adopt a more holistic approach and think beyond class and occupation. We need to work in partnership with colleagues from every sector.”

Stephen Adly Guirgis Wins $200K Steinberg Playwrighting Award

September 17, 2014 - 4:02am

“With their abrasive characters and often profane language, the plays of Stephen Adley Guirgis aren’t crowdpleasers in the conventional sense. The New York playwright specializes in chronicling the rougher side of city life, and has earned critical raves and a Tony Award nomination for his work.”