Archive for August, 2008

Nothing’s Rotten in Denmark

Monday, August 25th, 2008


Photo by Jan Ingemansen — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Hamlet, Kierkegaard, and Smilla had it wrong.

Life is good in Denmark. In fact, life is at its happiest.

Following a spring post in KadmusArts’ Culture News that highlighted Denmark’s position as the best country for technology, now Business Week magazine highlights two recent studies that show Denmark is the happiest place to live.

More Hamlet 2 than Hamlet, Denmark tops the list for taking care of its citizens to maximize happiness.

Forget the darkness of Kierkegaard or the rage of Metallica (co-founder Lars Ulrich is Danish), a University of Leicester study and a World Values Survey both recommend Denmark as the place to live if you are in search of happiness.

The Leicester study analyzes economic data including quality of health care, standard of living, and education access. The Stockholm based World Values Survey looks at the issues around freedom of choice, gender equality, and minority support.

Denmark appears to lead the way in a most important national goal. Obviously, if you are not worried about being able to afford to live, you can really live.

Perhaps the defining Danish characteristic is the Danish word hygge (or German gemültichkeit , or Russian уют, or Czech pohoda); not easily translated, hygge creates its own sense of being cozy, comfortable within one’s home and at ease within one’s community. [At KadmusArts, we call this feeling “festival!”]

This kind of living means that you also have the time to be happy as an audience, and or as a cultural creator.

After all, any country that has hosted and supported the world’s longest running theatre ensemble, Eugenio Barba’s Odin Teatret, clearly has something wonderful. In addition to its cultural exports, Denmark produces 57 festivals throughout the year.

So, take a moment to contact your Danish friends, cook a Danish meal, or celebrate Danish culture.

Congratulations, Denmark. We are happy for you!

- Bill Reichblum

Arts Presenters: Jonathan Secor

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Jonathan SecorJonathan Secor is Director of Special Programs at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.  He has also worked at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, and BAM, while at the same time running his own production company.

In this interview Jonathan talks with KadmusArts about his philosophy of presenting, the creative economy, and why he unleashes a group of students at the Arts Presenters conference each year.

This interview is part of an ongoing series with the Association of Performing Arts Presenters.

 Arts Presenters: Jonathan Secor [15:32m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Best Tag Cloud

Monday, August 18th, 2008

Ernest Borgnine

Photo by Alan Light — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Artists create the opportunity to say what no one else will say.

Television prays for a spontaneous moment to make news.

Online sites search for the best tag cloud.

How wonderful when all three come together in one priceless moment:

As posted in KArts Culture News this week, Ernest Borgnine, at age ninety-one, offers one of his most astonishing, dramatic, and just pure fun performances.

To extend Ernest’s reach, as it were, here’s a start to the perfect, the best tag cloud:

Academy Award, Masturbation, Ethel Merman, B Movie Actor, Rupert Murdoch, Barter Theatre, All Dogs Go to Heaven, Book Sales, From Here to Eternity, Broadway, Classical Actor, Charles Bronson, Male Nurse, Conservative News, Embarrassment, High Art/Low Art, Marty, Oscar, Poseidon Adventure, Live TV, Fatso, Spencer Tracy, Frank Sinatra, James Dean, James Cagney, McHale’s Navy, Squarepusher, Grand Clown, Freemason, Weird Al Yankovic, YouTube, Viral Star.

Oh, thank you Ernest.

Surely, there are more tag possibilities here.

Now your turn: Other tags?

Tag — You’re It.

- Bill Reichblum

Arts Presenters: Stacy Klein

Monday, August 18th, 2008

Double EdgeStacy Klein is the Founder and Artistic Director of Double Edge Theatre. Since 1982, Klein and the ensemble have created several performance cycles. The troupe lives and works at “The Farm” in Ashfield, Massachusetts, which is also home to its International Center for Performance, Training, and Exchange.

In this interview, Stacy talks with KadmusArts about how Double Edge found a way — after its first 14 years of existence — to create the environment necessary to its long-term survival, the creation and function of The Farm, and how the group develops its projects.

This interview is part of an ongoing series with the Association of Performing Arts Presenters.

 Arts Presenters: Stacy Klein [17:00m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Solzhenitsyn v. Culturegarchs

Monday, August 11th, 2008


Photo by Mikhail Evstafiev — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Artists have helped to change the way we see, the way we listen, and the way we read, but there has been only one artist who helped to change the world.

This past week, Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn died at home, in Russia.

Has the work of any one artist had more of an impact to affect the lives of millions? Has the work of any one artist contributed so much to not only the downfall of a government, but to strip away the validity of an economic, philosophical, and political system?

Where so many twentieth century intellectuals saw a dream of a perfect society, Solzhenitsyn understood the nightmare of a reality.

Thirty million copies of his works have made their way across forty languages. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich raised the question of a nation’s legitimacy; The Gulag Archipelago answered the question. Solzhenitsyn’s artistic wheel began to roll, and the Soviet Union’s socialism began to come apart.

In the wake of his artistic accomplishments and passing, newspaper editors, journal writers and foreign policy participants have noted Solzhenitsyn’s influence. Perhaps Canada’s Globe and Mail best summed up Solzenhitsyn’s impact: “He belongs to a very select set of people whose courage and example lit the darkness of the century past, among whom are the names of Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Gandhi.” In this group of remarkable men from our collective modern history, only one artist: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

And yet — there are armchair culturegarchs who appear to take pride in refusing to believe that one man could have had such influence.

Why don’t they want to believe in his role in history? Why don’t they want to acknowledge what he, an artist alone, accomplished?

Culturegarchs can’t believe in heroes. They can’t allow one person to make a genuine difference. They can’t understand what it means to have the courage of convictions. They don’t know what it means to live in the service of something greater than themselves.

Culturegarchs want artists for entertainment, for culturegarchs don’t believe in the possibility of enlightenment.

Solzhenitsyn’s message, his life force, was never in the “can’t” category, but always positive, full of faith, full of optimism.

Find time to read Solzhenitsyn. Create art to resist the culturegarchs. Keep Solzhenitsyn’s words close to heart:

“For in the struggle with lies art has always triumphed and shall always triumph.”

- Bill Reichblum

Arts Presenters: Jason Freeman

Monday, August 11th, 2008

Jason FreemanJason Freeman is a composer and assistant professor in the Music Technology Group at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. With the assistance of technology, Jason’s musical creations break down barriers between composers, performers and audiences. His work has been performed at the American Composers Orchestra, Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne and the Lincoln Center Festival.

In this podcast we talk with him about how his students and colleagues influence his work, paradigm shifts in arts participation and the joys of making audiences an integral part of the creative process.

This interview is part of an ongoing series with the Association of Performing Arts Presenters.

 Arts Presenters: Jason Freeman [11:49m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Culture’s Best Number: 6.6

Monday, August 4th, 2008

Photo by Glenn Zucman — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Myth becomes truth. World becomes smaller. Art becomes better.

As posted in our KArts Culture News, John Guare was right — we are all separated by Six Degrees of Separation. Really. It’s true. Isn’t this incredible?

Researchers Eric Horvitz and Jure Leskovec from Microsoft have examined data from the Microsoft Messenger network in 2006, which covered about half of the world’s instant message traffic at the time, or 180 million people.

These two are no live-at-home-with-nothing-to-do game players of Six degrees of Kevin Bacon. (Two of the weirdest Bacon numbers of separation: Ronald Reagan 2, Pope John Paul II 3; go figure.)

Horvitz and Leskovec expanded the approach employed in Stanley Milgram and Jeffrey Travers’ pioneering work in the 60’s, based on a study in Nebraska and Boston: how to find out the degree of social separation between any two individuals. Milgram and Travers estimated the number to be around 6. Six steps, on average, to get a connection between one person and another one.

From the instant message traffic, the number came in at 6.6: only 6.6 steps to find a connection between you and me.

Obviously, it is easy to knock the approach, especially where the use of a relatively new technology is the basis for extrapolating to any complete population figures. However, the implications are still startling — especially for the creators and audiences of arts, culture, and entertainment.

Think about the number this way: there are 6.6 steps between the creator of a work of art and each audience member for the work of art. In other words, the community of artist and audience is connected in a way that is not so different from our ancient ancestors.

The fantasy of bringing back the immediacy and natural flow between what happens on stage and what takes place in the audience is now not only within our reach (listen to Staniewski act on this ideal), but could be the driving force for increasing audiences and making art better.

Creating art for a community that you know is always going to be more immediate, more deeply felt, and have a greater impact than creating work for an unknown, transient mass. Similarly, as an audience member for an artist you know or with whom you have a connection, you are going to listen more carefully, be more open to the intent, and work harder to fully capture the expression.

The more we know, the more we understand. The more we know each other, the better art we create.

- Bill Reichblum


Want to participate in another Six Degrees experiment? Check out the solicitation on Facebook in the Just for Fun section.

With thanks to John Guare’s Ouisa Kittredge:

“I read somewhere that everybody on this planet is separated by only six other people. Six degrees of separation between us and everyone else on this planet. The President of the United States, a gondolier in Venice, just fill in the names. I find that extremely comforting, that we’re so close, but I also find it like Chinese water torture that we’re so close because you have to find the right six people to make the connection. It’s not just big names — it’s anyone. A native in a rain forest, a Tierra del Fuegan, an Eskimo. I am bound — you are bound — to everyone on this planet by a trail of six people. It’s a profound thought — how Paul found us, how to find the man whose son he claims to be, or perhaps is, although I doubt it. How everyone is a new door, opening into other worlds.”

Arts Presenters: Neil Barclay

Monday, August 4th, 2008

Neil BarclayNeil Barclay is the President and CEO of the August Wilson Center for African American Culture in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the August Wilson Center, he was the Associate Director of the Performing Arts Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

In this interview we talk with him about how he arrived at the August Wilson Center, how the cultural landscape of Pittsburgh is changing, and the importance of excellence and authenticity.

This interview is part of an ongoing series with the Association of Performing Arts Presenters.

Photo by Armand Wright

 Arts Presenters: Neil Barclay [9:50m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download