(September 12, 2009) - (Retelling) the nation's history at the heart of where it happened is one of the city's main selling points for tourists, and the Betsy Ross House is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region. With suggested donations ranging from $2 to $5, the house receives close to 300,000 visitors each year, said Heather Kincade, a representative for the house.
While the economy has reduced the city's draw, Philadelphia continues as a tourist mecca, attracting 29 million domestic visitors in 2008 - up 35 percent from 1997, according to the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp.
(September 11, 2009) - Ladies and gentlemen, before our show begins, we ask that you unwrap all your candies and lozenges and anything else that may disturb the actors or those sitting around you. Silence your beepers and pagers. And turn your cell phones on.
. . . On? That's right. Turn your cell phones on.
And now, the newest - if counterintuitive - concept in audience interaction, right inside the theater: Fire up those cell phones and text your reaction to the show you're watching.
Called "Turn Your Cell Phone On!," the instant-review initiative, which appears to be the first of its kind, is rolling out at the likeliest of places for ideas that not only cut the edge, but slice the fabric - the expansive Live Arts/Philly Fringe festival, now beginning its second and final week of performances.
(September 11, 2009) - For five months, the telescope built by the master himself served as the centerpiece of the Franklin Institute's summer exhibition "Galileo, the Medici and the Age of Astronomy."
In that span - which Derrick Pitts, the institute's chief astronomer, described as "a semi-religious experience" - the museum's attendance swelled beyond expectations. Though museum-goers were not allowed to handle the priceless artifact, it did not take much imagination to put themselves in the 17th-century scientist's shoes.
(September 10, 2009) - (The) 34th Toronto International Film Festival promises 271 features and more than 500 filmmakers and red-carpet-treading stars.(Most of the 271 films are not about historic 19th-century Englishfolk.)
...Of particular interest to Philadelphia-area residents, and art lovers the world over, is Don Argott's The Art of the Steal, a conspiracy theory-documentary about the Barnes collection and its controversial move from Merion to a new site on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Although the film will have its world premiere Saturday at North America's biggest and most prestigious festival, The Art of the Steal was screened for a handful of critics in New York last week.
(September 10, 2009) - Steve Powers, working with a fluctuating tag team of street painters, is transforming a skein of Market Street rooftops into an episodic multi-block chain of garish love letters, a combination of street art, neighborhood homage, and true grit. He calls the piece Love Letter and it is nearly complete - as much as love can ever be complete.
Love Letter - done in conjunction with the Mural Arts Program and funded by the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage through the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative - will eventually consist of roughly 50 "letters," or giant postcards or murals or whatever you choose to call them, stretching from 46th to 63d Streets on either side of the Market-Frankford El.
(September 9, 2009) - Entering her fourth year as Temple University's president, Ann Weaver Hart soon will unveil what could become her signature project: making Broad Street the focal point of the university.
She envisions an eye-catching flagship library - a new academic soul for Temple that would be accessible to both neighborhood residents and students. Also in the plan, soon to be unveiled as part of the university's recognition of its 125th anniversary, are a high-rise residence hall and a spacious student center that may or may not be part of the library, both along the Broad Street corridor.
(September 8, 2009) - New York - After so many centuries, Beethoven isn't always hot stuff. But on a recent Thursday here, the composer's cello sonatas packed in the customers at the Bleecker Street club Le Poisson Rouge - in conditions so steamy that pianist Simone Dinnerstein dressed as if she'd just come from playing with her son in the park and cellist Zuill Bailey shed his natty suit coat between movements. No complaints, though. They had a kind of success not possible at their usual haunts.
"The closeness of the audience, the fact that people are in a much more relaxed setting . . . that's what concerts should be like," said Dinnerstein later. "In concert halls, the separation from the audience feels antiquated to me."
(September 4, 2009) - I recently wrote a critique of the art community’s lack of dissent in the face of many controversial decisions made by the current administration. Entitled “The Artist Formerly Known as Dissident,” one of the key points argued in the article was the potential danger associated with the use of the art community as a tool of the state. Little did I know how quickly this concern would be elevated to an outright probability.
Sometime between when I finished the critique and when it went live online, I was invited by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to take part in a conference call that invited a group of rising artist and art community luminaries “to help lay a new foundation for growth, focusing on core areas of the recovery agenda – health care, energy and environment, safety and security, education, community renewal.”
Kira L. Schlecter, Harrisburg Patriot-News
(September 1, 2009) - It was all over but the shouting Aug. 29, when country superstars Rascal Flatts closed out the Hershey summer concert season at the Stadium. And all told, it was indeed a season to shout about.
For one, in a nod to the current economic times, Hershey promoter LiveNation offered various discounts to fans who purchased tickets on Wednesdays. They started June 10 in Hershey with a no-service-fee offer on the company's Web site for the Nickelback, Kid Rock, Creed, Blink-182, Demi Lovato, and Rascal Flatts shows.
The company also offered "buy one, get one free" lawn seats for Creed and Demi Lovato, as well as other deals for particular shows.
The goal was to entice more people to concerts, and it worked.
(September 1, 2009) - Ten or 15 years ago, as record companies were dropping orchestras right and left, classical music argued that the culprit was the delivery system. It wasn't that audiences didn't want their Brahms and Ligeti anymore, but that "greedy" recording companies, having tasted the instant profit gratification of pop music, were no longer willing to record orchestras only to wait around for the slow-simmer sales of classical.
Now the middleman has been cut out, and orchestras and opera companies are bringing themselves directly to the customer. Yet classical is still scrambling to recapture something resembling its former marketplace presence. It seems unlikely that TV networks, big-city newspapers, and department stores will ever achieve the hegemony they held until the end of the last century, but orchestras - seemingly in the same dinosaur category - keep dreaming.