Archive for October, 2006

Hell is Too Expensive

Monday, October 30th, 2006

The domain asset management company,, held a domain auction on Friday, October 27th. As reported by Reuters, unexpected news coming out of the auction: Hell is still for sale.

Living in a time when too many politicians berate us for leading lives that will send us straight to hell, and considering the marketing possibilities for all sorts of endeavors, you would think someone would want to buy the rights to use

Turns out, as many of us have known for some time, hell is just too damn expensive.

The minimum bid was set at $1 million. No takers. Even worse, for those of us who follow such economic indicator trends, in April 2000 the owner tried to sell the site name for $8 million. The owner originally registered the site in 1995. Obviously, the value of hell has decreased significantly over the last six years.

The auction did do well for some: $1.5 million for, $120,000 for, and $26,000 for [I’ll leave it to you to think through what these numbers say about web users.]

For the festival crowd, there are some good names available in their next silent auction:

  • ($100k to $500k)
  • (up to $10k)
  • (up to $10k)
  • (up to $10k)

You can also have the site that best describes all festival efforts:

  • ($10k to $25k)

Having spent too much money on these domain names, you might want to pick up this one, as well:

  • ($50k to $100k)

Personal favorite that is still a favorite - only because it makes you wonder:

  • (up to $10k) is still in play — just please don’t say KadmusArts sent you.

- Bill Reichblum

Watching YouTube and YourRights

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

You’ve heard about the sale. You’ve seen the videos. You’ve been told how easy it is to upload your own work. What happens, though, when in your excitement to share a video clip you forget about that pesky issue of ownership?

In a way, YouTube’s success was built on illegal postings. The NBC television network demanded that clips from one of its shows, “Saturday Night Live,” be taken down, since the network owned the show along with reproduction, rebroadcast, and re-use. As the story played out, YouTube received a lot of attention; Saturday Night Live received a lot of attention; and, the video clips became even more popular. (Another proof of the old show biz adage: There’s no such thing as bad publicity.)

We recently posted a story on Jonathan Miller, along with a blog invitation — a free hotel room to help facilitate his next production. In the blog, we had a link to YouTube to see a sample of Miller’s work with Beyond the Fringe. Soon after letting his representative know about the blog invitation, guess what: the material on YouTube was taken off the site for a Terms of Use violation. It appears as though a copyright holder complained. (Currently, you can still see video clips of Beyond the Fringe on YouTube; however, not the ones that include Jonathan Miller.)

This past summer, a journalist filed a suit against YouTube after seeing clips of his own video footage (from the riots in Los Angeles in 1992) on the site. What’s YouTube to do?

Simple: YouTube removes clips when notified of a copyright violation. (Last Friday, 29,000 videos were taken down after Japanese media companies noted infringements.) When served with a subpoena, YouTube will provide identification information of the person who posted a clip to the rightful owner of the copyright. In other words, if you don’t read and honor YouTube’s user agreement, you are the one who is going to be sued by the copyright owner.

This is as it should be. Artists have enough troubles that no one deserves to have someone rip off their work. Still, for the most part the system works incredibly well. After all, YouTube can be a phenomenal resource for research, artistry, and just plain fun.

How amazingly revolutionary web based social communities can be. The web continues to grow and expand based on individual honesty. Consider all the postings, links, and exchanges that take place on the web everyday, everywhere. With all of that traffic we are all building a interconnected community that relies on responsible individual expression. A kind of utopia? (After all, the etymology of “utopia” is no plus place or land: the web is no place or land.)

Not too bad when we think of KadmusArts as playing a part to build utopia: you bring the food, we’ll bring the artists. (And, just maybe, Jonathan Miller will bring some of his funniest clips from Beyond the Fringe.)

- Bill Reichblum

Interview: Ralph Würfel

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

T-Werk, the international theater and theater pedagogy center responsible for the organization of the UNIDRAM festival, is housed in a new building on an emerging cultural “island” in Potsdam, Germany. The neighborhood still looks like a construction site, but T-Werk finds itself in good company: the Hans Otto Theater (Potsdam municipal theater), Fabrik Potsdam (center for dance and movement), and Waschhaus (a party/concert + visual arts space) occupy adjacent spaces. This interview with Ralph Würfel, one of the artistic directors of UNIDRAM, offers a picture of this year’s festival (starting on Thursday, October 26), as well as some musings on the role of the festival in the development of young European theaters.

 Interview: Ralph Würfel [15:29m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Testing Ideologies, Ideas, and One’s Id

Monday, October 16th, 2006

One of our stories in this week’s Festival News, “What Choreographers Talk About,” featured an energizing model of festival development, outreach, and engagement.

The New York Times covered an initiative created by the Springdance Festival of Utrecht. The festival takes place every two years. In the off-years, Simon Dove, director of Springdance, organizes dialogues with choreographers. Artistic organizations in different countries recommend choreographers who are then selected to gather for several days. During the sessions, they have safe conversations about their practices, their careers, and the field. Discussions are followed by performances; and, there are also opportunities for mutual workshops.

For Dove, this is a way of creating relationships with artists and their work rather than just “cherry-picking off the international market.” Moreover, for Dove, facilitating these honest exchanges extends the role of a festival, and its responsibilities. Rather than just presenting the fully flowered culmination of work, Springdance is helping to fertilize the field.

The New York Times eavesdropped on a conversation held in New York with ten choreographers. Although from different countries, they examined the common issues of maintaining artistic independence and/or integrity while attempting to sustain a career in relation to established institutions.

Clearly the conversations, work sessions, and the opening of work to each other challenged the choreographers to test their artistic ideologies, ideas, as well as their individual ids.

What could be a better way of spending a few days?

Springdance’s model of engagement is one to watch develop and, as the sincerest form of flattery, imitate.

- Bill Reichblum

No Laughing Matter: Jonathan Miller Wins a Free Hotel Room

Monday, October 9th, 2006

Our daily Festival News features stories from around the world about all festival elements: art, artists, business, management, performance, politics, the strange-but-true, and travel. Usually, there is a good dose of humor, as well. After all, creating a festival is not the easiest way of life. A day without laughter is as bad as a day without art.

This week we have a story that is no laughing matter. Jonathan Miller has been giving interviews on his impending retirement from directing opera. This would be a loss. His productions have been integral to the success of many festivals, and brought new life to a too-often stultified art-form.

Of course, Miller’s career started with the goal of making people laugh. As a founding member of Beyond the Fringe, Miller and his collaborators loved to tweak the establishment, the pompous, and the too-highly-minded.

Miller’s opera productions were noted for doing the same, albeit not always playing for laughs. This was opera determined to make a direct connection to an audience, cutting through the jewels, the gowns, and the socializing boxes.

Why is he fed up? Although at the top of the artistic ladder, his work barely covers his costs, including a hotel room. He’s annoyed at the three hours of paperwork it takes to work in America; he’s angry at the indifference of critics; he can’t find a way to respect managements who hold onto the past, and its money.

He’s not that happy with a lot of productions he sees, as well. He has described one recent production as so bad it was “like receiving a maple syrup enema.” (Wow. Hadn’t thought of that one. Then again, our home state produces the most maple syrup — is this a new market?)

Miller is too well trained, too smart, too talented, and too perceptive for his words to be taken lightly. He is far from the character description: a bitter crank coming to the end of a career. He is rather, as always, shining a light on something that deserves attention.

Wouldn’t it be better if we could create work - and working environments - that would make a Jonathan Miller proud? Wouldn’t that be a great legacy?

Jonathan Miller deserves this - and so do opera audiences.

At least, KadmusArts will cover his hotel room and help him speed through the paperwork. It’s a start.

What will you do?

- Bill Reichblum

Interview: Kathy Randels

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006

Photo: Kathy RandelsAna Maria interviews Kathy Randels, artistic director of ArtSpot Productions in New Orleans, Louisiana. ArtSpot is celebrating its tenth anniversary with the Artistic Ancestry Festival, taking place from December 1-10th. Artistic Ancestry acknowledges and celebrates the theatre groups that have influenced the work of ArtSpot - proving that we all stand on someone’s shoulders.

 Interview: Kathy Randels [13:39m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Cultural Diplomacy

Sunday, October 1st, 2006

This week we featured a story on the latest initiative from the Bush administration: the Global Cultural Initiative. (September 28, 2006 - New Idea: U.S. Tries Cultural Diplomacy)

These days it seems rather easy to find fault with the Bush administration. For example, it must be a tough week for them when the best selling books on the administration are Bob Woodward’s State of Denial, Thomas Rick’s Fiasco, and Michael Isikoff’s and David Corn’s Hubris. Surely, it is time to redirect when one’s approach, management, and leadership are described as state of denial, fiasco, and hubris.

So how wonderful to hear Mrs. Bush announce a new cultural and diplomatic program for the United States. The four main partners in the project are the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the American Film Institute, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The goals of the initiative are:

  1. Connect foreign audiences with American artists and art forms;
  2. Share American expertise in arts management and performance;
  3. Educate young people and adults in the United States and abroad about the arts and cultures of other countries.

What could possibly be wrong with this? Doesn’t it sound incredibly noble, high-minded, and embracing?

Leave aside for a moment the cynic’s characterization of the partners: the Kennedy Center’s leader earns over a million dollars a year, the most money of any not-for-profit arts organization in America, albeit one that serves the Washington, D.C. political establishment; or that the American Film Institute celebrates Hollywood films; or that the NEA’s budget for all of America is less than the arts budget for the Netherlands; or that the NEH used to be run by Dick Cheney’s wife. Even more, of the four partners only the Kennedy Center actively interacts with artists and companies from outside the United States.

What makes me hesitant to stand-up and applaud is that the program appears to be a bit of… well, a state of denial, a fiasco, and a healthy dollop of hubris.

Is the issue that the world doesn’t know enough about American culture? Seems as though everyone knows plenty about dominant American culture from the Hollywood films and television programs that are exported every day, everywhere. Will Mrs. Bush and the partners want to make sure that the work of America’s leading dramatist, Tony Kushner, is exported?

Is the issue that the world needs our special expertise in arts management and performance? Wow. Going through the 5,000 pages of KadmusArts aren’t you shocked to hear that the rest of the world doesn’t know how to create art, and do it well? If only they had American arts management and performance “expertise” then things would really be cooking.

Is the issue that both audiences in American and in the rest of the world need to learn about culture from other countries? Certainly no harm in that, in fact something to be encouraged. So much so that many countries are far ahead of the United States in bringing arts and culture to their nations. Yes, it’s an issue — but one that America needs to address more than other countries.

Each of the State Department’s initiatives comes across as America knows best, does the best, and has the best — in other words, a kind of state of denial, fiasco, and hubris.

I will always support any step that helps give culture resources, a platform, and an audience. I am also a believer in diplomacy. But, maybe my kind of diplomacy is the old fashioned kind: listen first, be open to another’s point of view, and never assume that you know best.

So, I will try to be diplomatic and entertain the possibility that the program will be a positive effort, embrace and connect other cultures, and create a new kind of engagement with the world.

And you…?

- Bill Reichblum