Author Archive

Do Reviews Matter? Sure, But It’s A Complicated Question In The Digital Age

Of course reviews matter. That’s easy and predictable enough for someone writing a review to say, but it can be proven. Reviews matter in two ways: as filters, and as shapers of opinion. In his 1991 book, U & I, Nicholson Baker describes “book reviews, not books” as “the principal engines of change in the history of thought”; because no one has time to read all the books they... | Read More

When Does A Piece Of Art Violate A Subject’s Rights?

What is the line between art and commerce? It is an important question, given that art enjoys broader free speech protections than the latter. It’s unlikely a Nike TV spot can successfully claim to be art—but what about a painting with limited edition prints sold through a website? When does that line get crossed?

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Scottish Arts Funding Mess Suggests Need To Reconsider How We Support The Arts

"The increase in the number of network bodies in the Creative Scotland portfolio signals an acceptance of a model of competitiveness inherited from the Thatcherite government. We quite liked pretending to be business people, but we didn’t anticipate that we would need to accept responsibility for the future of cultural delivery. It’s hard work running a successful non-profit organisation... | Read More

How I Fell In Love With Opera

"I was by no means always an opera fan, and it was the singing that got me in the end. My grandmother and parents had taken me to see a couple of productions when I was younger in the hope of firing some latent interest, but it didn’t really grab me. Then, one day in my 20s, I heard a CD of my wife’s of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. I had no story to go on, no costumes, no set, no visuals at... | Read More

‘The Parrotheads Were After Me’ – New York Times’ Jesse Green On Writing Negative Theater Reviews

"I don't take writing pans lightly. For one thing, I'm as thin-skinned as anyone else, and don't enjoy being excoriated on Twitter or mocked as a theater snob or told on Facebook to just 'relax' - as if my being uptight were what made the show bad. ... So when I get home from the theater with my notebook bristling with scribbles like 'what is happening?' and 'kill me now,' I ask myself a few... | Read More

Are University Degrees In Curating Useful?

"The result of BA courses in curating will be a bunch of 21 year olds who will be theoretically savvy, but have little idea why particular works of art have a particular resonance at a particular time. They will be around £30,000 poorer after paying tuition fees – probably more, given their living costs – and they will realistically have few immediate employment prospects in the field of... | Read More

Surgeons Removed A Chunk Of His Brain, But His Virtuoso Guitar Skills Remained

"Pat Martino had brain surgery in 1980 to remove a tangle of malformed veins and arteries. At the time he was one of the most celebrated guitarists in jazz. Yet few people knew that Martino suffered epileptic seizures, crushing headaches, and depression. Locked in psychiatric wards, he withstood debilitating electroshock therapy. It wasn’t until 2007 that Martino had an MRI and not until... | Read More

Why Studying Dance Is As Important As Studying Math (Or Science)

"The low status of dance in schools is derived in part from the high status of conventional academic work, which associates intelligence mainly with verbal and mathematical reasoning. The studies collected by Nielsen and Burridge explore how a deeper understanding of dance challenges standard conceptions of intelligence and achievement and show the transformative power of movement for people... | Read More

‘Opera Isn’t Elitist. If I Can Learn To Love It So Can Anybody.’

British comedian Chris Addison writes about how a chance event in a bar on a beer-soaked Friday night helped turn him into an opera fan - and how the same thing could happen to most anyone. "I've never seen a four-pints-down crowd focus like that; there was a stillness to the place - a wonder, really - as she sang. And when she finished, they went crazy. Standing screaming crazy."

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What’s Killing Venice? The Moral Failure Of Its Government, Says Curator

"He rightly identifies one of the reasons behind the decline as being economic liberalism, which has led to the opening up of the Italian cultural sphere to private enterprise. He sees that it has encouraged a naive selling-out to the profit motive —as with the huge advertisements that for years defiled Venice—but he could, perhaps, have added that this has happened because the reasons for... | Read More

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