Brandeis University won’t sell works from Rose Art Museum

BOSTON- Brandeis University has stated that it won’t sell pieces from the Rose Art Museum’s collection, according to reports published on Thursday morning.

David Ng of the Los Angeles Times reports that the university has settled its legal dispute with a group of prominent museum supporters who had been seeking to protect the collection from a full or partial sale. In 2009, Brandeis then-President Jehuda Reinharz announced that the university would close the Rose Art Museum and sell off its valuable collection of modern art to lessen the school’s financial problems. But the Massachusetts university backed down after a public outcry, saying that it would postpone the sale.

The museum’s collection is widely admired around the world. It features more than 6,000 objects, including works by Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Willem de Kooning, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg. The collection is valued at more than $300 million.

In a statement released Thursday, Brandeis said that the settlement means the Rose will remain “open to the public and that Brandeis has no plan to sell artwork.”

June 30, 2011

“One Hundred Days of Spring” temporary school closes its doors

SAN FRANCISCO– Just beyond the scope of the perpetual debate of revitalizing Mid-Market — defined as the stretch from Fifth Street to Van Ness Avenue — an extraordinary project is quietly closing its doors on an oblique, no-man’s-land corner of Market near Franklin. There, for one hundred days and nights, an empty glass storefront opened up to spill a swath of light and music onto the cigarette-studded sidewalk — without funding, a business model, or (as founders Will Greene and Sam Haynor are the first to say) much of anything else.

As part of Central Market Partnership’s ongoing efforts to inject arts and culture into revitalization plans for mid-Market, the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development is joining with the Arts Commission to hold a series of focus groups exploring ways to engage artists, small businesses and cultural organizations in the making of a thriving creative district. Five focus groups have already met, according to OEWD’s Jordan Klein, and over the coming weeks, more gatherings — of community residents, transportation advocates, historical preservation advocates, and nonprofit leaders — will provide insight for the Central Market Economic Strategy, to be released in the late summer or early fall.

The hundred days are now over. But if the packed closing ceremony was any indication, Haynor and Greene’s model is one that the community is keen to reproduce. Mark Singer, a research librarian and freelance writer who found the project in what the two founders call the “analog way” — by stumbling across the threshold — told supporters, “I challenge everyone in this room to replicate what we’ve seen here, seen in the last hundred days.”

June 30, 2011

2011 Kresge Artist Fellowships announced

DETROIT- The 2011 Kresge Artist Fellowships in the visual arts were announced yesterday. Each fellowship includes an unrestricted prize of $25,000 and personalized professional practice opportunities. Eleven artists and one artist collaborative were named 2011 fellows, selected from pool of 450 applicants. The fellowships are part of the Kresge Foundation’s effort to advance the artistic careers of Detroit artists living and working in its hometown. All artists are chosen from the Metropolitan Detroit tri-county area and the fellowships are administered by Detroit’s College for Creative Studies. Professional practice opportunities are offered by ArtServe Michigan.

“It is our foundation’s hope that the fellowship will both invigorate the work of these artists in new and unexpected ways and create a closer bond between their work and the broader community’s efforts to energize and revitalize Detroit,” said Rip Rapson, president of The Kresge Foundation. “Each of these visual artists embodies the spirit of creativity and commitment these awards seek to honor. And collectively, they convey the breadth of the visual arts field – from ceramics to sculpture, from painting to photography, from fiber to video art and interdisciplinary media.”

Visual Art Fellows include:

Corrie Baldauf
Liz Cohen
Olayami Dabls
Design 99
John Dunivant
Bruce Giffin
Scott Hocking
Laith Karmo
Richard Lewis
Hubert Massey
Heather McGill
Mark Newport

June 29, 2011

Two-Day Strike in Greece Ahead of Austerity Vote

ATHENS — Police fired tear gas at demonstrators in front of Parliament on Tuesday as Greeks began a 48-hour general strike ahead of a crucial vote by lawmakers on measures deemed critical to international financial support for the debt-ridden country. The strike, organized by the country’s two main unions, is the latest in a series of walkouts and the longest strike in more than 30 years as public outrage has grown over the Socialist government’s austerity drive.

As the strike began, Olli Rehn, the European Union’s top economic and monetary affairs official, urged the Greek Parliament to approve the measures in votes expected on Wednesday and Thursday so that its foreign lenders could release the aid Greece needs to stave off default.

It was the first demonstration in which labor unions joined with the younger demonstrators who have been gathering in downtown Athens every night for the past month. In the square near the other so-called “indignados,” or “indignant ones” — named after the young Spanish protesters this year — Kyriaki Kokkini, 23, a psychology student, said she had mixed feelings about the unions. “On the one hand, we oppose all political parties, but at the same time we need the unions because they’re full of people whose participation we need.”

Inside Parliament, the future of Greece — and perhaps the stability of the European financial system and the euro — seemed to hang on the decisions of a few wavering lawmakers in tense political maneuvering. A growing number of economists have criticized the measures for forcing Greece to cut spending amid a deep recession, but most analysts predicted the proposals would pass, if only because the alternatives are dire.

June 28, 2011

Thousands march for culture in The Hague

NETHERLANDS–Nearly 3,000 people arrived in the centre of The Hague Sunday night as part of the March of Civilisation. Participants made the 25 km trek from Rotterdam as part of protest actions against government cuts to the culture sector.

Demonstrations are set to reach a head on Monday when parliament debates the planned 200 million euros in budget savings.  According to organisers, who call themselves artists, lovers of art and art institutions, the proposed cuts are “uncivilised”.

At 15.30 Monday they will be joined by an estimated 1,000 additional participants in The Hague’s Malieveld for sustained protests over the “breakdown of our country”.

Radio Netherlands Worldwide is one of the many organisations being affected by the cuts. On Friday, Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal announced RNW’s budget would be slashed by 70 percent.

The organisation responded by saying the move was an “unprecedented decimation” which would see 250 people lose their jobs.

June 28, 2011

New open access platform for online scholarship launches

NEW YORK- Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University Wednesday unveiled PressForward, a new open access platform for online scholarship.

“It’s a major new initiative we’re launching to change the landscape of scholarly communication,” said Dan Cohen, a historian and the director of the center. With an $862,000 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, PressForward will collect everything from blogs to conference papers, reports and other projects created specifically for the Web.

What PressForward will also provide is an accelerated version of peer review, the essential quality control that advocates of traditional scholarly publications argue is what distinguishes their discipline from others. The Rosenzweig Center has signed on two journalists, Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic and Adam Aston, a former editor at BusinessWeek and The Economist, to serve on its advisory board. Mr. Cohen said he wants to serve all of the traditional scholarly constituencies, “as well as a broad audience currently locked out of gated scholarship.”

June 27, 2011

GM gives $2.5 million to Detroit’s College for Creative Studies

DETROIT- General Motors’ charitable foundation plans to give the College for Creative Studies $2.5 million. The gift, which GM announced today, will bring the Detroit design college within $5 million of completing its $55-million capital campaign for the $145-million Taubman Center for Design Education. The center is in the former Argonaut building, which housed GM’s design department in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s. GM donated the building to CCS in 2008.

The grant continues the post-bankruptcy automaker’s emphasis on using its charitable foundation to improve education opportunities in Detroit. GM North America President Mark Reuss, a native of metro Detroit, has spearheaded the education push, saying GM needs to build the talent base in Detroit to help ensure its long-term success. Most notably, the GM Foundation is giving the United Way $27.1 million over five years to transform seven struggling metro Detroit high schools.

June 27, 2011

“Artbombing’ across Dutch Art Institutions and abroad

NETHERLANDS – On Friday the 24th June at noon local time, people and organisation joined this initiative in shrouding art locations across the world in coloured smoke. This visual act signals a resistance against the growing disdain for the arts within societies and governments worldwide, and a sign of support for colleagues who face major cutbacks.

ARTBOMB describes itself as is a peaceful art intervention initiated in The Netherlands. The Dutch Government is about to cut 40% of all cultural funding. This will result in the disappearance of a multitude of organizations that excel internationally in their field. This loss will be felt not only by the Dutch public but, also by the international community.

One signal, one moment, one act to show support. People and organisations can contribute visual ammunition against the disproportionate cuts to the arts budget. This visible intervention will rise up around the world where people value the arts and want to express their support for artists and cultural organizations.

At noon on June 24th colored smoke bombs went off at art institutions in the Netherlands and across the globe. Among the institutions : Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Kunstacademie St.Joost, Den Bosch, Witte de With, Rotterdam and Rijksakademie, Amsterdam.

June 24, 2011

Nottingham University monitoring of Muslim students

UNITED KINGDOM–Nottingham University officials filmed Muslim students on campus as a method of monitoring “extremists” in the wake of the arrests of innocent Muslim students three years ago, it has emerged.  President of Federation of Student’s Islamic Societies, Nabil Ahmed, described the disclosure by Unileaks as an outrage . “Claims that the University of Nottingham films students – secretly or otherwise – is outrageous and is a new low in the university’s mismanagement of the ‘Nottingham Two’ debacle. That the university filmed issues relating to Palestine and the Middle East demonstrates exactly who the university was seeking to target,” Ahmed said.

In a statement to The Muslim News a spokesperson for students campaign SWAN (Support the Whistleblower At Nottingham), Sam Walton, warned of the dangers of such unfettered spying. “These leaks show how everything can and does go wrong when a brand conscious university is left to deal with security issues such as terrorism. What’s more this case highlights how a leading British university can act with impunity on such a sensitive issue.”

A group of students and alumni teamed up with the whistleblowing website Unileaks to publish over 200 internal University of Nottingham and Government documents.The cache of documents includes highly sensitive material, for example, from the Met Police Special Branch, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the Home Office and Dept for Universities (BIS) and others. Pictures have also emerged of student protesters being filmed covertly by University security.Unileaks published documents detailing the extents of techniques being deployed to monitor Muslim students four days after the Government published its Prevent terrorism strategy.

June 24, 2011

Illegal immigrant youth ‘come out’ in reform push

ATLANTA— Eighteen-year-old Dulce Guerrero kept quiet about being an illegal immigrant until earlier this year, when she became upset after a traffic stop that landed her mother in jail for two nights. The arrest came as Georgia lawmakers were crafting what would become one of the nation’s toughest immigration crackdowns, and Guerrero feared her mother would be deported.”I feel like that was my breaking point, when my mom was in jail,” said Guerrero, who came to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 2. “I felt like, well, that’s it, it can’t get any worse than this. My mother has been to jail.” Guerrero first publicly announced her immigration status at a protest in March, and now she’s organizing a rally under the tutelage of more experienced activists who are themselves only a few years older. The high-stakes movement of young illegal immigrants declaring that they’re “undocumented and unafraid” got a boost this week when a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist revealed he’s been living in the country illegally.

Proponents of stricter enforcement of immigration laws often concede that young people in this situation are among the most sympathetic cases but that legalizing them still raises problems.

“Our own American young adult college grads are in dire straits in the job market — and particularly disproportionately Hispanic and black Americans — so what the DREAM Act does is adds potentially a million, two million more people to compete legally in that job market,” said Roy Beck, executive director of NumbersUSA, which pushes for tighter immigration control. “So, as compelling as the case of these DREAM students is, we have to acknowledge that legalizing them does actually victimize our own young adults.”

Guerrero’s been working to attract participants for next week’s rally by telling friends how relieved she felt after speaking out. But she never tries to push people to reveal they’re in the U.S. illegally unless they’re ready and understand the potential consequences.Abdollahi and 22-year-old Georgina Perez, who have both helped organize other protests and share similar backgrounds. Abdollahi was brought to the U.S. from Iran when he was 3 and was raised in Michigan; Perez arrived with her mother from Mexico at age 2, living first in Los Angeles and then near Atlanta. They offer Guerrero the perspective of activists willing to risk arrest — and the threat of deportation — for their beliefs. Abdollahi, who’s been organizing protests since 2009, was held briefly with three others after they staged a sit-in at Arizona Sen. John McCain’s office last year. Perez was arrested after she and six other young immigrants sat in a downtown Atlanta intersection and blocked traffic.

Deportation proceedings were begun against Abdollahi but haven’t progressed past the initial stages, while immigration authorities took no action against Perez. The Obama administration hasn’t promised not to deport young people in their situation, but Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has made it clear that they are not a priority. Still, the threat of being forced out of the country weighs heavily on those who announce their illegal status.

June 23, 2011

Muskegon Art Museum to become independent of school district

MICHIGAN–After operating for nearly a century as an entity of Muskegon Public Schools, the Muskegon Museum of Art is officially on the road to independence. A formal agreement to transfer the museum to its independent foundation board by June 30, 2014, has been approved by the school board and the foundation board.

Exactly when the transfer will occur depends on a major fundraising campaign needed to build the museum’s endowment fund. The transfer agreement follows a memorandum of understanding to grant the museum its independence that was signed in November.

The school district, which spends $100,000 in school operating funds each year on the museum, instigated the transfer because of its continuing financial problems.

June 23, 2011

Student walkouts may coincide with public sector strikes

UNITED KINGDOM–Public sector strikes have followed student protests against higher tuition fees and the scrapping of allowances. Thousands of school and college students are expected to stage walkouts this month as part of a growing wave of occupations and demonstrations planned to support the co-ordinated strike action organised by trade unions.Students behind last year’s demonstrations against cuts to post-16 education are mobilising in schools and further education colleges as part of a wider campaign to turn June 30 into a national day of action against the government’s austerity programme.

The move follows the announcement this week by the direct action group UK Uncut that it would be joining picket lines and staging a “public spectacular” in London to coincide with the industrial action. Michael Chessum from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, one of the student groups behind last year’s protests, said: “It was the student movement before Christmas that really kicked many of the major unions into action, and we’ll be there again in force on June 30.  One of the successes of the student movement was that we abandoned passive, A-to-B marches in favour of direct action in the streets and on campuses. Mass strike action is the logical extension of that. We’re not here to protest; we’re here to actively resist.” More than 750, 000 public sector workers from major unions including the Public and Commercial Services Union, the National Union of Teachers and the Association of Teachers and Lectures are expected to take part in this month’s industrial action.

The strike, which will be the largest in the UK for several years, is expected to bring schools, colleges, universities, courts, ports and jobcentres to a standstill, and comes as millions of staff face pay freezes, job losses and pension reforms. Activists say the wider campaign of demonstrations, occupations and walkouts will build a broad coalition of people opposed to the government’s programme of cuts and has been inspired, in part, by protests across Europe over recent months – particularly those in Spain and Greece.

As part of the preparations, anti-cuts groups have held a series of “J30 assemblies” across the country under the “generalise the strike” slogan, to plan events and mobilise support. Over the next few weeks, assemblies will be held in Birmingham, London, Leeds, Newcastle, Norwich, Sheffield and Sunderland. Another group, Right to Work, says it has organised more than 40 events to coincide with the strikes.

June 23, 2011

In response to massive budget cuts, UK schools bring back “Saturday Art Clubs”

LONDON- Works by participants in the National Art and Design Saturday Club scheme, which provide free tuition from local art colleges for young people is now on show at the London Somerset House, reports Rebecca Smithers of The Guardian.

The Saturday club is a modern version of an earlier incarnation, which closed in the 1970s. The aim was – and is – to encourage disadvantaged students to consider careers in the creative arts. This year, more than 400 young people attending 100 schools in the UK have taken part in Saturday Club – funded predominantly by the private Sorrell Foundation to the tune of £150,000 a year – but it is hoped to increase this number to 500 next year. It is estimated that there are an additional 100 UK colleges that could offer the program using existing facilities, and the aim is to “scale it up” each year to allow more young people to take part.

The drive to expand the program into a fully national one is given extra impetus given the cuts to arts education funding that threaten to constrict the supply of talent to colleges, universities and, ultimately, the creative sector in the UK. Similarly, many teachers fear that art GCSE is at risk if schools have to comply with the new EBacc curriculum – which for the same reasons could also lead to design technology being downgraded.

Alumni of the original 1970s art clubs included designers John and Frances Sorrell (who went on to form design consultancy Newell and Sorrell and who set up the Sorrell Foundation) and John Hegarty of Bartle Bogle Hegarty.

Sir John Sorrell reflects: “This strikes me as something the government should support as it is all about localism in action. Frances and I were lucky that we could start our careers in a Saturday morning art and design class when we were 14 years old, and by the age of 19 I was running my own business. We believe the club offers a real pathway for youngsters to develop their skills and confidence, and find worthwhile and rewarding careers. Just as we did.”

June 22, 2011

Ai Weiwei released on bail after confessing to tax evasion

BEIJING- David Ng of the Los Angeles Times reports that Ai Weiwei has been released from detainment, though the exact terms of his release remain unclear. Ai had been in detainment since early April, when he was seized by Chinese authorities while trying to travel from Beijing to Hong Kong.

The Xinhua news agency, which is controlled by China’s Communist party, said that Ai is out on bail after admitting guilt over charges of tax evasion and agreeing to pay the amount he allegedly owes. Reuters separately confirmed the report with the artist’s sister, Gao Ge, who said she had spoken with Ai’s wife, Lu Qing.

“I can tell you he’s returned to his own home,” Gao told Reuters.

Chinese state media also reported that Ai’s release was related to a “chronic disease” from which he suffers as well as a “good attitude in confessing his crimes.”

The Associated Press reported that Ai was being detained under residential surveillance somewhere outside Beijing.

June 22, 2011

Thomas N. Armstrong III, museum chief who once led the Whitney, dies at 78

NEW YORK– Thomas N. Armstrong III, who greatly expanded the Whitney Museum of American Art’s holdings when he was its director in the 1970s and ’80s but whose ambitious plans for a museum addition aroused a firestorm of opposition that led to his dismissal, died on Monday in Manhattan. He was 78.Thomas N. Armstrong III in 1985 with a model of the proposed addition to the Whitney museum by Michael Graves. The cause was cardiac arrest, his daughter Amory Armstrong Spizzirri said.

Mr. Armstrong was the director of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts when he succeeded John I. H. Baur as the director of the Whitney in 1974. A patrician figure with a fondness for bow ties and colorful stunts, Mr. Armstrong set about strengthening the museum’s permanent collection, buying Frank Stella’s 1959 black painting “Die Fahne Hoch!” for $75,000 in 1977 and Jasper Johns’s “Three Flags” for $1 million, a price that seemed extravagant in 1980 and a steal today.

In a whirlwind fund-raising drive in 1982, he raised more than $1.25 million to buy Alexander Calder’s “Circus”(1926-31), an assemblage of more than 50 miniature performers and animals. It had been on loan to the museum but looked as though it might be sold in Europe to help settle the Calder estate’s tax debt.

He fostered the careers of several young curators who went on to assume important positions at other museums or, in the case of Mr. Weinberg and the curator Barbara Haskell, at the Whitney. These included Lisa Phillips, the director of the New Museum in Manhattan; Richard Armstrong (no relation), the director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; and Jennifer Russell, the associate director for exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

At the same time, he clashed with the curator Marcia Tucker, a vociferous and ambitious voice for new art at the Whitney. In 1977, after she organized a widely criticized show devoted to the postminimalist Richard Tuttle, Mr. Armstrong fired her. She went on to found the New Museum of Contemporary Art (now called the New Museum) in Manhattan. Some trustees, especially the newer generation of business leaders Mr. Armstrong brought into the museum, found his personal style and sense of fun perplexing: he grew tomatoes on the terrace outside his fifth-floor office and sold them at a produce stand on the sidewalk; he liked to distribute wind-up toys at Whitney dinners.

In addition to his daughter Amory, of Greenwich, Conn., Mr. Armstrong is survived by his wife, Bunty; another daughter, Eliot Armstrong Foote of Vero Beach, Fla.; two sons, Thomas Newton Armstrong IV of Baltimore and Whitney Brewster Armstrong of Manhattan; a sister, Susan Armstrong Watts of Summit; and seven grandchildren.

June 22, 2011

Syracuse University to expand in the Middle East

Syracuse University– recently announced the expansion of its educational presence in the Persian Gulf. In June, an information center will open in Dubai, providing resources and background on the University to prospective students and parents. Punctuated by a ribbon cutting on June 17, the opening underscores SU’s dedication to engaging students in learning opportunities for the world, in the world. Opening the day after the ribbon cutting is a new joint exhibition between SU and the Dahesh Museum of Art.

Already engaged in the region in many ways, Syracuse boasts a highly respected Middle Eastern Studies Program, an expanding, specialized faculty in the Arabic language and Middle East history, and an ambitious publications program at Syracuse University Press. In addition, SU has a long, impressive list of alumni, parents and students from Dubai, including several leaders in their chosen fields.

“Reconnecting East and West: Islamic Ornament in 19th-Century Works from the Dahesh Museum of Art and Syracuse University,” the latest exhibition in a partnership between SU and the Dahesh Museum of Art, opens on June 18 and will run for a month. Open to the public at the Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre (DUCTAC), Mall of the Emirates, “Reconnecting East and West” celebrates and documents the rediscovery of authentic Islamic ornament and design by 19th-century scholars and artists from the west.

June 21, 2011

Emigration among Irish graduates spikes alongside increases in tuition

DUBLIN- Emigration from Ireland to Britain rose by a staggering 25 per cent in 2010 according to a new survey just published – and the figure is set to rise further in 2011. A significant percentage of the emigrants are newly graduated students. Dublin’s leading social policy think-tank, the ESRI, recently estimated that around 70,000 students left for foreign shores last year. At the same, time college ‘fees’ are increasing by €350 — from €1,650 to €2,000. The education Minister recently announced that the fee can now be paid in two, rather than one, installments.

Lack of work at home has meant that forced emigration is part of Irish students’ lives again; commentators have even speculated that this wave of emigration could turn out worse than the wave in the nineteen-eighties. The problem is a lack of viable employment opportunities.

While there has been widespread protest by Irish students regarding the increase in fees, Daniel O’Carroll of the Irish Times argues that real problem is actually emigration. He writes that “this concern about fees seems like a case of us getting our priorities mixed up, and the very real problem of not having a job to work at in Ireland after graduation surely amounts to a more substantial threat than the risk of having to pay an extra €350 per annum to stay in college.” For more information, see O’Carrol’s op-ed here.

June 20, 2011

Donations to Scottsdale Unified schools total $1.3 million

TUCSON- Nearly $1.3 million in goods, services and cash was donated to the Scottsdale Unified School District during the current fiscal year that began July 1, down slightly from $1.4 million in 2010-11.

Mary Beth Faller of the reports that the figure represents the value of gifts that corporations, local businesses, foundations and individuals donated directly to the schools and district office throughout the year – not the tax-credit donations that districts collect in December.

One donor, the Arts in Education Council, dispersed more than $16,000 in grants to various district schools this year. Heather Heroldt, president of the council, predicted the next school year will be more challenging.

The Arts in Education Council likely will hold a performance in November or December to raise money, especially for scholarships to summer fine-arts camps, she said.“The council has not done a lot of specifically driven fundraising,” Heroldt said. “But certainly in this climate that needs to change.”

June 20, 2011

United States Army announces site for National Museum

WASHINGTON, DC- The Associated Press reports that Virginia has been chosen as the home of the National Museum of the U.S. Army.

The Army said Friday that the museum will be located at the North Post of Fort Belvoir.

The museum is scheduled to open in June 2013. Among other things, it will include a museum with exhibit halls, a theater and a veterans’ hall. The museum’s construction will be funded privately through the Army Historical Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the Army’s heritage.

This will be the second national military museum in Virginia. The Marine Corps Museum is located at Marine Base Quantico in Prince William County.

June 20, 2011

Chilean protests turn violent

CHILE– Student protesters and police clash during demonstrations over education reform in Santiago, the latest in a series of protests against the government’s legislative agenda. Carrying posters and banners, students demanded improved education standards, lower university fees and cheaper bus passes from Chile’s center-right government.

The protesters estimated by police at around 70,000, in the capital alone, marched in one of the biggest rallies since President Sebastian Piñera took office in 2001. With hoods and T-shirts pulled over their faces, some students threw rocks at armored police vans that spewed tear gas in the capital Santiago. Police responded with more tear gas and water cannon that fired at students.

As Congress negotiates education reforms, the government of billionaire Piñera is sending it components of a reform package as separate bills, hoping it will speed up their passage. It has already submitted bills that regulate derivatives, as well as the use of insurance contracts. It will likely struggle to push through a plan to eliminate a 7 percent health contribution by pensioners, post-natal legislation and education reforms. Conservative Piñera took power in March 2010, pushing a raft of labor, health, energy, electoral and environmental reforms, although his first year was consumed with reconstruction after a massive quake in February 2010

June 17, 2011

Police accused of oppressive investigations into half-price tuition demonstrations

KOREA–Students participating in the growing “half-price tuition” demonstrations have accused the police of unreasonable investigations into university students that were arrested on June 10 when conducting a flash demonstration near Cheong Wa Dae (the presidential office in South Korea or Blue House). It has emerged that police demanded that a female student being held at Gwangjin Police Station in Seoul remove her bra, and then had her investigated by a male police officer while her bra was still off.

The student victims that belong to the 21st Century Korean University Student Association held a press conference on June 15 at Cheonggye Square on the Taepyeong-ro thoroughfare in central Seoul, claiming, “Oppressive investigations in violation of human rights were conducted on the 72 students arrested by police on June 10. One female student held by police, in particular, was sexually humiliated by being forced to remove her bra then being subjected to investigation by a male officer without having been able to put the bra back on again.”

The students also stated, “At some police stations, warrants were issued for the investigation of students on the grounds that they had ‘refused to give fingerprints’ when they had not even been asked to give fingerprints. In some cases, raids were conducted on students who had not even been shown the investigation warrants. Police officers used verbal use, hit heads with their hands and blocked appeals to the National Human Rights Commission of Korea or access to lawyers.”

The press conference featured a series of testimonies from students that claimed they had been investigated under duress or experienced human rights violations at Jongno, Gwangjin and Songpa police stations.

June 16, 2011

Dutch 2013 Budget puts Rijksakademie under threat

NETHERLANDS–The Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten is currently petitioning the Secretary of Culture Mr. Halbe Zijlstra, and members of the Dutch Parliament in regards to recent proposed funding cuts that would threaten the very existence of the Rijksakademie. The intention to terminate governmental support as of 2013 would likely endanger the future of the institution as it exists now.

The Rijksakademie was founded by law in 1870 to keep Dutch artists in the Netherlands and to attract talent from abroad. The Rijksakademie holds State Collections on artistry and organizes the Prix de Rome. The internationally acclaimed residency program has enabled artists to make an essential contribution to the local and global art scene. For 141 years the institute has delivered artists like George Breitner, Piet Mondriaan, Karel Appel and more recent Michael Raedecker, Folkert de Jong, Fiona Tan, Meshac Gaba and Yael Bartana. Artists who have been able to excel and achieve a strong independent position. Their work is shown in leading museums, galleries and biennials and acquired for important collections all over the world.

To sign the petition click here

June 16, 2011

High School And University Student Protests Expand Across Chile

CHILE–School protests continued to spread throughout the country from Arica in far northern Chile to Puerto Montt in the south. Now, students, teachers, administrators and government officials are gearing up for nationwide demonstrations planned for this week.

University student protests have been going on for weeks, but high school student protests are just beginning.  High school student demonstrations spread from Santiago and Concepción to six schools in Copiapó, two in Los Andes in the Valparaíso Region, two in Chillán, one in Valdivia, and one in Puerto Montt. Education Minister Joaquín Lavín confirmed that at least 40 high schools were “on strike” as of Friday. Student leaders at the Assembly of High School Students (ACES) expect that another 30 schools will

join the movement Monday for a nationwide strike. Meanwhile, the national teachers’ union and the principal university-level student organization, the Confederation of Chilean Students (Confech), have declared a nationwide strike for this Thursday. The groups are awaiting government approval for a march in Santiago, starting at the Plaza Baquedano at 11:00 a.m. A third demonstration this week will be held Thursday by the High School Parents’ Association, in support of peaceful student protests.The demonstration will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Plaza de Armas in Santiago.

At the center of all of these demonstrations is the demand for greater state involvement in the education system. At the university level, a key demand is greater regulation of the private higher education industry. Other major demands are a revision of the university admission system to emphasize talent over financial means, and an overall increase in government funding for education.

June 15, 2011

What do the Egyptian Student Elections Mean?

EGYPT–The situation of Egyptian universities reflects the immense challenges and conflicts the country faces in the transformation since Mubarak was forced to step down on February 11th. The Minister of Higher Education of the caretaker cabinet announced that there would be no new policy initiatives until a new full government takes over. Moreover, in reality the Ministry and the Supreme Council of Universities (SCU) have made several decisions. These are designed to gain trust and “stability” at Egyptian universities, avoid further demonstrations by students and faculty, and thus preserve the status quo. Student elections were held in all nineteen public universities during March and April; they took place in all faculties with no exceptions. Private universities, not controlled by the Ministry, made their own decisions about holding elections, sometimes pushed by student demonstrations. This essay deals with only the public sector (where the great majority of enrollment is concentrated).

After the national revolution, which took place during the mid-year break, the results of the 2010 elections were no longer viable and students en masse called for fair and free elections. The SCU, a body of university presidents appointed by the old regime, admitted that the elections had lacked transparency and that some students had been prevented from running for illegitimate reasons. It disbanded all student unions in all public universities, ostensibly to pave the way for fair and free elections—but within just 60 days. As with prospective national elections, one could fear that quick elections could unduly favor the most organized groups: pro-government and Muslim Brotherhood. And of course the student elections did come much more quickly than the national elections, though one should not suppose that student elections generally need as long a gestation period. The new government, aiming to distance itself from the old regime, found in student elections a step to show its good intentions as well as a way to buy time for larger reforms. The objective of the SCU evidently was to maintain power and to forestall wholesale change

Rather than security forces or university administrators, a committee including a member of the faculty and 7 students representing different groups monitored the electoral procedures in each school or college. Additionally, the Ministry of Higher Education allowed representatives from civil society and human rights organizations to monitor the elections. Glass voting ballot boxes and phosphoric ink were used to ensure transparency. All students were allowed to vote, even those who had not paid their tuition fees. However, reports of manipulation soon surfaced. Complaints cited university presidents favoring selected students or student groups intimidating voters with some officials refusing to stop inappropriate behavior. One dean replied to such complaints saying, “You [students] are the ones who asked for free elections.” Elections in Cairo University, the nation’s leading higher education institution, saw low voter turnout in its first round due to an incident one day prior to elections at the School of Communication. A demonstration calling for the dean to resign resulted in a university official calling in the army that arrived and used laser guns to break up the protest.

June 15, 2011

Spanish 15-M movement abandon tents for assemblies

One month ago, Jon Aguirre Such was just another Madrid student. Now, as one of the spokespersons for the “15-M” protest movement, he has become a celebrity, with the media seeking interviews with him and people recognising him on the street. What represents 15-M signifies, is that “It is about us, the ordinary people, playing the main roles and writing history.”
The activist movement demanding reforms of Spain’s democracy has shone a spotlight on the country’s nearly five million unemployed as well as people unable to pay mortgages, living on insufficient pensions, or students with little hope of finding permanent jobs.  Aguirre has  dismissed criticisms that the movement was losing steam as protesters leave the city squares they have occupied for the past month around the country.The movement is merely changing tactics, switching from protest camps to neighbourhood assemblies, Aguirre said. The movement known as 15-M or as The Indignant Ones was launched by young activists like Aguirre on the Internet, sparking a response they could not have imagined.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets on May 15, one week before Spain’s local and regional elections. They demanded an end to corruption, to politicians’ and bankers’ privileges and to the power of financial markets over politics.
Protesters ended up occupying central squares in more than 60 cities and towns. The protest camp at Madrid’s Puerta del Sol Square, for instance, was complete with tents, sofas and food stalls, with passers-by joining the heated political debates, until it was dismantled on Sunday.
“The point is, that ordinary citizens have started thinking and talking about politics,” Aguirre says. He belongs to Real Democracy Now, an association that has been one of the main driving forces behind the movement.
A manifesto published by Real Democracy Now calls for strict limits to politicians’ mandates, an end to rescues of ailing banks, job sharing and guaranteed access to housing.
The 15-M movement as such, however, does not yet have a common programme. It is being discussed at neighbourhood assemblies which are debating proposals to improve living conditions on the local and national levels.
In Madrid alone, such assemblies have been constituted all over the city. The plan is for the local assemblies to then unite in a federation which would make use of existing mechanisms — such as popular legislative initiatives or referendums — and try to form new ones to allow citizens to have a direct impact on political decision-making, Aguirre said.
The requirement for a consensus, however, has slowed the work of the assemblies, which often get bogged down in endless debates. “We are making it up as we go along,” Aguirre admits.

June 14, 2011

Parents, union members join ‘half-price tuition’ demonstrations

SEUOL–Five hundred apples made a surprise appearance at Seoul’s Cheonggye Plaza, the site of a candlelight vigil demonstration for “half-price tuition” Friday evening. The fruit was furnished by the members of a student parents’ group, who cut the apples in half and shared them with the university students attending the assembly. The meaning of the gesture was as an apology from the established generation to students faced with expensive tuition rates. In Korean, the words for “apple” and “apology” are both pronounced sagwa.

Prior to the assembly, progressive party leaders held one-person demonstrations at Cheonggye Plaza beginning at 1 p.m. Friday. At 5 p.m., students, working people, and others took on the roles of part-time workers and politicians for dancing and singing around the streets near the plaza. This was the set of a “lip dub” suggested on Twitter by SungKongHoe University media studies adjunct Professor Tak Hyun-min. “Lip dub,” a combination of “lip-syncing” and “dubbing,” refers to a video in which people dance to music and mime singing. Tak, who handled the production, said he planned to post the lip dub on the Internet to share the situation with the world.

A “kicking” performance also took place near the Chosun Ilbo building across from Cheonggye Plaza. The performance was given by 30-year-old Internet shopping mall model Ha Sin-a, who is famous for costume play. Ha dressed up as Chun-Li, a character from the computer game Street Fighter, and broke a plaque bearing the words “expensive tuition.” A “book demonstration” followed, with books being shared with assembly participants. Youth Union, an organization representing young unemployed individuals and temporary workers, shared 100 copies of the recently published book “Real Youth” with people in their teens to thirties.

Following up on a similar appearance Tuesday, members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Union’s Women’s League delivered around 1,000 rice balls to students at the assembly. The “moms” who held a sit-in for a minimum wage across from Cheonggye Plaza said, “We are joining with the hearts of mothers. Let’s raise the minimum wage and lower tuition.”

Conservative-leaning civic groups countered with their own assembly and press conferences. Christian Social Responsibility and Advanced Citizen Action held an assembly in front of the Dongwha Duty Free Shop in Seoul’s Jongno neighborhood Friday afternoon, while Right Korea held its own in front of the KT building at Gwanghwamun. The groups contended that the tuition assemblies have deviated from the purity of their original goals and transformed into political demagoguery and anti-government political gatherings.

June 13, 2011

Tel Aviv professor Mordechai Omer dead at seventy

TEL AVIV- Mordechai Omer, the director and chief curator of the Tel Aviv Museum and professor at the faculty of arts at Tel Aviv University, died of cancer last week. He was seventy years old.

Greer Fay Cashman of the Jerusalem Post writes that Omer contributed immensely to Israeli art by championing young artists and exhibiting their work alongside more established artists. He also wrote a number of books. The Tel Aviv Museum suggested he be buried in the old Trumpeldor Cemetery, the final resting place for many of Tel Aviv’s cultural icons, but his family refused due to religious reasons.

June 13, 2011

Study on doctoral dissertations show art history candidates favor modern art

LOS ANGELES- According to lists compiled by the College Art Association, a venerable professional group whose membership includes the vast majority of American academics in the field, the most-studied area for doctoral candidates in Art History in the U.S. and Canada last year — by a long shot — was art made in roughly the last 100 years. Christopher Knight of the Los Angeles Times reports that Paul Klee, Eduardo Paolozzi and Kazimir Malevich were among the subjects of 67 doctoral dissertations in the category.

The Middle East/North Africa and Oceanic/Australian areas are the least studied, each with only a single champion — both on historical subjects.

The 29 categories listed by CAA range alphabetically from “African (Sub-Saharan)” to “World Art,” a cross-cultural, transnational discipline. Twentieth century painting, sculpture, design and other art had 50% more doctoral dissertations accepted in 2010 than the next most popular field.

In 2002, the earliest listing on the CAA’s publication review website, the most popular field for study was Europe’s Renaissance and Baroque era, from the 15th through the 17th centuries (34 dissertations).

June 13, 2011

Cuts to Los Angeles Schools budget hit art programs hard

LOS ANGELES- Jason Song of the Los Angeles Times reports 7,000 Los Angeles school district employees have received preliminary layoff notices’. The nation’s second-largest school system is facing an estimated $408-million shortfall, and many unions have agreed to their members’ taking four unpaid days off. But, depending on the state’s budget, district officials could still approve cutting jobs over the summer.

Almost no academic program has been spared, but Los Angeles Unified’s arts program has been particularly hard hit. In 2008, there were 335 full-time elementary arts teachers. This year, after state and federal funding dried up, there are about 250, according to district officials. The district and state have also allocated less funding to the arts.

“I’ve had to beg principals to allocate money for one ream of white drawing paper,” said Michael Blasi, who teaches at nine campuses in South Los Angeles.

June 13, 2011

Providence’s innovative arts department is confident about the future

PROVIDENCE — In 2003, the City of Providence and its then-newly elected mayor, David N. Cicilline, did something that few American cities have ever done: they created a new public agency, the Department of Art, Culture and Tourism, to oversee arts-related events and activities. At the stroke of a pen, art, music and theater joined public safety and pothole repair on the list of basic city services. Eight years later, a lot has changed. Providence has a new mayor, Angel Taveras, and a new agenda shaped less by the so-called “creative economy” — a Cicilline buzzword — and more by forecasts of looming budget deficits and public pension shortfalls. Cicilline, meanwhile, is a first-term congressman whose once-sterling reputation has been tarnished by accusations of financial mismanagement during his years in City Hall.

Making good on a campaign pledge, the Tavares administration has submitted an ordinance that formally certifies the Department of Arts, Culture and Tourism as a city department. If, as expected, the council approves the ordinance, the department would have the same legal standing as other city agencies, such as housing, public works and communications. (Cicilline, by contrast, took a faster but less binding route — issuing an executive order — when he created the department in 2003.) Faced with an estimated $110-million deficit in next year’s budget, the Taveras administration has asked all city agencies to trim their operating budgets by 15 percent. For the Department of Art, Culture and Tourism, that means a drop of about $75,000 over its 2010-2011 budget of $500,000.

More ominously, the city has just begun to grapple with a public-employee pension shortfall of nearly $1 billion. Even if city and union officials can agree on a package of benefit cuts the city’s finances could remain on shaky ground for years to come. That, in turn, could lead to further cuts in arts funding and knock arts and cultural programming off the city’s to-do list.  In addition, the department is working with a national group — Americans for the Arts — to gather information on the economic impact of arts and cultural programs throughout the city.

Education is another area where the department’s role is expanding. Among other things, the department is compiling a list of local arts education providers. The goal: to offset cuts in school-based arts programs with arts workshops and other activities supported by outside grants. “Basically, the mayor has tasked us to do better with less,” McCormack says. “That’s our mandate.”

June 10, 2011

New leadership expected at Los Angeles arts high school

LOS ANGELES- Howard Blume of the Los Angeles Times today reports that a new leader is expected at the flagship arts high school in downtown Los Angeles. Kim Bruno, who currently heads New York’s prestigious LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, is said to be the new principal, though there is no official confirmation.

The decision “substantially involved” billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad, who has been instrumental in getting the school off the ground. The Times’ article cites documents revealing a May 13 meeting with Bruno, new L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy and Gregory McGinity, the Broad Foundation’s managing director of policy.

The arts high school — whose cumbersome official name is the Central Los Angeles High School No. 9 School of Visual and Performing Arts — opened its doors in 2009 and has since experienced a high rate of administrative turnover.

In addition, there has been controversy concerning the departure of a dance teacher and the issue of whether auditions should be required for admittance to the school. Currently, no audition is required and neighborhood students have an admission preference, a policy that troubled Broad, who was instrumental in advocating for the school’s construction. He has said he’d prefer the school to be run outside of district control.

June 9, 2011

New York schools lose 135 arts teachers, prior to layoff plan

NEW YORK- For the first time in four years, the number of certified arts teachers in the city’s public schools is declining, according to a report to be released by the Center for Arts Education on Thursday.

Anna Phillips of the New York Times reports that in 2009-2010, there were 135 fewer arts teachers in the city schools than in the previous school year, after principals chose to cut positions from their budgets or not replace arts teachers who left. The 5 percent drop puts the number of certified arts teachers working in the schools back to where it was in 2007, when the city first began to survey principals.

The situation is likely to worsen next year if the city goes through with its plans to layoff 4,100 teachers to save $269 million. Estimates released in February project that 350 of those let go will be arts teachers, which would be a 15 percent drop in art, music and performing arts teachers.

“When you look at those numbers, it paints a really dismal picture,” said Doug Israel, the director of research and policy for the Center for Arts Education. “These cuts mean you’re more or less giving up on the arts.”

June 9, 2011

MFA in Boston and the Metropolitan Museum of Art raise admission fees

NEW YORK- The Metropolitan Museum of Art Monday announced a rise in admission cost and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston followed suit, announcing an increase in their admissions hours after, both effective July 1.

The recommended fair at the Metropolitan will now be $25 for adults, $17 for seniors, and $12 for students. Rates are currently $20, $15, and $10, respectively. At the MFA in Boston, admission prices have been raised from $20 to $22 for adults and $20 instead of $18 for students and seniors. Admission at the Metropolitan will continue to be “recommended.”

“We are sensitive to our visitors, from both around the city and around the world, for whom rising costs in all sectors create a constant challenge. But like other New York institutions, the Met faces a number of daunting, ongoing budgetary challenges of its own … as with many not-for-profit institutions, the fundraising environment, and other revenue streams continue to pose challenges in this current economic climate,” said Thomas P. Campbell, director and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum. “In particular, income from our endowment has flattened, the average visitor contribution at the door is lower, and public sector operating support has fallen. Since the average cost to the Museum of each visitor is $40, we believe it is fair and, above all, necessary, to increase recommended admission levels at this time.”

June 8, 2011

Azerbaijani sculpture removed in Venice


please distribute


I was invited by the Ministry of Culture of Azerbaijan to be the advisory curator of the exhibition of Azerbaijan Pavilion in 54th Venice Biennale. From September 2010 on I have worked with Mr. Chingiz Farzaliev, who acted as commissar and local curator. All the works of these artists have been evaluated in meetings in Baku and Venice. Aidan Salakhova has presented her sculptures in every detail which have been produced in Carrara and these works together with the works of the artist have been published in the catalogue and announced in the website from April 2011 on.

31st of May, when I came to the pavilion I was informed that Ministry of Culture has found Salakhova’s two sculptures which were installed in the entrance of the Palazzo controversial to the prestige of the country.

Aidan Salakhova and me, we felt very concerned and responsible of the image of the exhibition and respecting the position of the other artists we tried to be positive and find a solution. As it could not be removed during the opening days, the sculptures were covered with textile. Until 5th of June, every day   we have discussed with the authorities and responsible people of the pavilion and explained that:

-Removing the sculpture will mean “censorship” and it will do more harm to the image of the country than the sculpture itself; it would be much effective, if the officials would place a label next to the sculpture and declare that the authorities are not acknowledging and approving the form, message or concept of this sculpture, that it is the interpretation of the artist.

-The concept of the sculptures has been misinterpreted and misjudged by the authorities or by their advisers; all symbols, signs, objects Salakhova is using have a historical and traditional knowledge and anchorage.

-The meaning and message of this work is extensively explained in my catalogue text and is eventually the artist’s interpretation of “being woman under the religious dictums”; here the religion is not only related to Islam but also to Orthodoxy and other religions, which before Islam introduced the veil;

-The selection of artists and the works have been made by me and by Mr. Farzaliev with utmost responsibility and prudence; during this process there was not one negative hint that came on Salakhova’s work.

-The Venice Biennale is a platform for extreme artistic freedom, for sensitive topics, for limitless criticism; therefore all countries must consider and accept this context before participating.

However, we were not able to convince and stop the removal of these sculptures.

In my 25 years of curating profession, I have never experienced this kind of conflict. However, lately I am observing – probably most of my colleagues also do – the growing intrusion of the political and official power on contemporary art production and on the artists and curators in many countries, including the developed democracies. Contemporary art production and its theoretical and critical context is being employed and exploited by the official power as well as by the private sector as a tool for high prestige and glory; but at the same time its content and concepts are not tolerated and acknowledged.

We in the production sector of contemporary art are witnessing and enduring this use/abuse process. We release protests and supports for the victims of these attitudes. Journalists investigate and write about it. However, at the end the damage is done and the artist or the curator suffers.

In the case of Azerbaijan Pavilion, I think from now on this is the problem of the artists and curators living and working in Azerbaijan. I have done my best, to bring the Azerbaijan contemporary art production into the agenda of international contemporary art; however I must acknowledge that I was naive and I failed. The artists, art critics and curators in Azerbaijan should act and liberate art making, art production and creative criticism and take their long deserved position in the international art.

On the other side, this is also becoming a general problem in the art world and I think the artists and curators should have an international legal protection against these conflicts.

Beral Madra

Tuesday, 07 June 2011

beral madra

curator, art critic

BM Contemporary Art Center, Istanbul

June 8, 2011

Minneapolis Institute of Arts appoints new head of Asian Art department

MINNEAPOLIS- The Minneapolis Institute of Arts yesterday named Liu Yang curator of Chinese art and head of the museum’s department of Asian art, effective June 2011. Lang has worked as the senior curator of Chinese art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney since 2011.

The MIA also announced the establishment of two new, midlevel curatorships in Asian art, which have yet to be filled. The curatorships are being funded through a Mellon Challenge Grant, a National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant, and $2.5 million in matching funding pledged by longtime museum patron Jane Emison and an anonymous private donor.

“Dr. Liu’s experience as a senior curator of Chinese art positions him well to manage our magnificent and world-renowned collection of Chinese art and architecture,” said Kaywin Feldman, director and president of the MIA. “Yang has demonstrated excellence in building collections, curating exhibitions, and writing publications, all of which will add to and complement the strengths of our curatorial area. We also look forward to welcoming two other new Asian art curators as we expand and deepen the scholarship and exhibition of our collection. The two curators, one focusing on India and Southeast Asia, and the other on Japan and Korea, will be selected by the MIA in the coming year.”

June 8, 2011

S.W.A.T. team breaks down doors looking for student loan defaulters

CALIFORNIA– Kenneth Wright of Stockton, California was almost knocked down by a S.W.A.T. team breaking down his door one morning. He says they then handcuffed him and put him in the back of a police car.  Federal agents confirmed that the Department of Education was behind the raid on Wright’s house. They were in search of his estranged wife, who had defaulted on her loans.

Recent college graduates face an unemployment rate nearly double that of the rest of the population, and African-American grads (like Wright and his wife) are looking at an unemployment rate of 19 percent. Meanwhile, the cost of a college degree is at an all-time high, up 3,400 perent since 1972.

With the continuing state of low job creation, even a bill that would allow grads to clear student loans off their slate in a bankruptcy filing will do little to help those laboring to pay back their loan burden.  If this incident is any indication, it looks like those borrowers will be facing more than just bad credit when they default.

June 8, 2011

Remembering Ahmed Abdallah

CAIRO—Ahmed Abdallah, political scientist and activist, died in 2006, five years ago today. Professor Roger Owen gave a talk at Cairo University on the first anniversary of Abdalla’s death.

In his talk, Owen called for instituting an annual lecture at Cairo University in his memory – the call fell on deaf ears. The talk was recently republished online renewing the call.  Please click here to see full lecture

June 7, 2011

Head of art education non-profit charged with having child pornography

SAN FRANCISCO- The head of a San Francisco nonprofit group that teaches art to children has been charged with possessing child pornography, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

FBI agents traced Anthony Josef Norris’ log-on name of “Spanky” to his home computer and discovered 600 pornographic images of children, according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in federal court in San Francisco. Norris, 46, who lives in San Francisco, surrendered Thursday to FBI agents.

Norris founded the nonprofit group Kid Serve Youth Murals about 12 years ago and is its director. He said in a 2009 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle that his goal was to help youths from preschool to high school develop their design talent and create mosaic murals.

June 6, 2011

RISD dean Dawn Barret finishes post, begins as president of MassArt

PROVIDENCE- Dawn Barret finished her post Saturday as dean of architecture and design at the Rhode Island School of Design [RISD]. She leaves RISD to assume her appointment as president of the Massachusetts College of Art in Design.

The Providence Journal reports that as the president of MassArt, Barrett will be responsible for making a case at the State House in Boston that a public arts college is essential in fostering a well-educated citizenry. Barrett, 54, is a graduate of the Massachusetts public college system. She says she believes in the arts “very deeply as one of the best kinds of education you can get,” adding that an arts education is “not the icing on the cake. It is the cake.”

June 6, 2011

Louvre Museum creates fund to support educational programs on Persian art and culture

NEW YORK- American Friends of the Louvre announced that it has received a $3 million grant through the generosity of Pierre Omidyar, a member of Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute’s Board of Directors and the founder and Chairman of eBay Inc. The grant will be used to create an endowment fund that will support educational and scholarly programs on Persian art and culture. The fund will be named after founder, Chair and President of Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute, Dr. Elahé Mir-Djalali Omidyar.

According to, income from the Elahé Mir-Djalali Omidyar Fund will support educational programs dedicated to Persian art and culture from antiquity to today, presented at or in collaboration with the Louvre, including special exhibitions, installations, conferences, and publications. The Louvre will also draw upon the Fund to create “Elahé Mir-Djalali Omidyar Fellowships” for outstanding scholars engaged in research and publications on Persian art and culture. An agreement was signed between Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute and American Friends of the Louvre, a U.S.-based not-for-profit which serves to strengthen ties between the Louvre and its American public.

To recognize the generosity of Pierre Omidyar in support of Dr. Elahé Mir-Djalali Omidyar’s work at Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute, the Louvre will name a gallery in her honor in the Department of Near Eastern Antiquities. Dr. Mir-Djalali Omidyar declared herself “exceedingly honored and humbled” by the gallery naming.

June 6, 2011

Heath Fox named deputy director of Broad Art Museum

LOS ANGELES- The Broad Art Foundation has hired arts administrator Heath Fox as deputy director of operations for The Broad, a new contemporary art museum that philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad are building in downtown Los Angeles. Fox will assume his duties June 27.

Since 2006, Fox has been assistant dean of arts and humanities at the University of California , San Diego, where he serves as the senior administrative officer for six academic departments and is responsible for planning, policy development and resource administration.

“I am excited by the opportunity to help build a vibrant new arts institution in a dynamic cultural capital like Los Angeles,” said Fox. “This museum has the potential to redefine what we have come to expect from a contemporary art museum and is one of the most important museum building projects of the decade. I am delighted to be part of this growing professional team.”

June 6, 2011

Senate page protests on floor of Canadian Senate

OTTAWA — During the reading of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s throne speech today, a young page was yanked from the Senate Chamber as she tried to hold up a stop-sign placard reading “Stop Harper.”

“Harper’s agenda is disastrous for this country and for my generation,” Brigette Marcelle says. “We have to stop him from wasting billions on fighter jets, military bases, and corporate tax cuts while cutting social programs and destroying the climate. Most people in this country know what we need are green jobs, better medicare, and a healthy environment for future generations.” Brigette Marcelle (aka Brigette DePape), 21 and a recent graduate from University of Ottawa, has been a page in the Senate for a year, but realized that working within parliament wouldn’t stop Harper’s agenda.

“Contrary to Harper’s rhetoric, Conservative values are not in fact Canadian values. How could they be when 3 out of 4 eligible voters didn’t even give their support to the Conservatives? But we will only be able to stop Harper’s agenda if people of all ages and from all walks of life engage in creative actions and civil disobediance,” she says.

“This country needs a Canadian version of an Arab Spring, a flowering of popular movements that demonstrate that real power to change things lies not with Harper but in the hands of the people, when we act together in our streets, neighbourhoods and workplaces.

June 3, 2011

Key political risks to watch in Tanzania

TANZANIA— After a series of boycotts, protests and demonstrations at public and private universities across the country over delayed and insufficient student loans. Kikwete has accused his political rivals of orchestrating student boycotts and street demonstrations in an attempt to make the country ungovernable. Analysts warn unrest over loans and tuition fees could spread to more universities in Tanzania.

Trade union leaders have planned nationwide demonstrations to protest against a rise in power tariffs by 18.5 percent at the start of the year. No date has been set. The government has defended the tariff rise, saying it was caused by underlying financial and economic factors. But union leaders blame the government for failing to improve pay and conditions for workers amid rising living costs.

Tanzania is expected to unveil plans this month to tackle a chronic energy crisis and rein in inflation, while keeping an eye on political unrest in some parts of the country.

The east African country’s 2011/12 budget reading is due on June 8. Concerns over an economic slowdown this year have prompted several parliamentary committees to reject pre-budget plans from a number of government ministries and demand more public investment in infrastructure projects.

June 3, 2011

Spending cuts ‘risk damaging Britain’s universities’ global standing’

UNITED KINGDOM—International league tables show only Oxford and Cambridge currently perform among the world’s elite in the provision of key academic subjects. Many other institutions fail to even make it into the top 200 in a global ranking charting performance in philosophy, modern languages, linguistics, history, geography and English.

But researchers warned that Britain risked plunging further down the rankings – or axing the subjects altogether – under Coalition plans to overhaul university funding.  From 2012, all direct state funding to teach the arts and humanities will be cut, with universities allowed to plug the gap by charging between £6,000 and £9,000 in student fees.

But it was claimed that many universities with relatively poor-quality courses will struggle to justify the price tag – making it hard to recruit students and potentially rendering courses financial unsustainable.

According to the QS World University Rankings, Oxford was the best British-ranked university in most subjects, followed by Cambridge.

Oxford topped the table for geography and came second in the other academic disciplines. Cambridge was the best university for linguistics, being ranked third or fourth for other subjects.

Top US universities dominated the rankings. Edinburgh was the only other British university to make the top 10 after being rated seventh for linguistics.

“This is the greatest danger to the arts and humanities in our country and if we do not support universities offering a wide range of subjects then very soon it will just be a handful of institutions that, literally, can afford to offer arts and humanities.”

June 2, 2011

Steven Holl to design new contemporary art building for VCU

RICHMOND- Steven Holl Architects and BCWH Architects have been selected to design Virginia Commonwealth University’s new Institute for Contemporary Art. The 32,000 square foot Institute will provide gallery space, classrooms, offices, art storage spaces and an auditorium, and accommodate a sculpture garden and a café.

“Situated at one of the most traveled entrances to the city, the Institute for Contemporary Art will become the gateway and symbol of the creative energy of the city of Richmond,” said Joseph H. Seipel, Dean of the VCU School of the Arts.

Steven Holl said, “We are very enthusiastic to be working with Virginia Commonwealth University. The Monroe Park campus environment presents unique opportunities for the Institute of Contemporary Art to act as a social condenser. We envision a new architecture as a catalyst between the public and the great School of the Arts.” reports that the selection process was to find an architect-led team and not to select a specific design. The selection process was to find an architect-led team and not to select a specific design. “We are honored to have Steven Holl, internationally recognized as one the most inspired and significant architects of our time,” said Seipel. “With Holl leading this endeavor, I am confident the ICA is destined to become an iconic building for VCU and the city of Richmond and will find its place as a prominent example of Steven Holl’s contributions to the history of architecture.”

June 1, 2011

Foundation in Houston school district approves $80,000 in grants

HOUSTON- The directors of Spring Branch Education Foundation (SBEF) in Houston, Texas have approved $80,000 in grants that will be used for diverse education-enhancing projects throughout Spring Branch ISD, including a variety of arts programs.

The funds are designated for district-wide projects and SBISD campuses. Twice a year, the foundation calls for grant applications, up to $5,000 each, from any of its 47 school campuses, and district departments. Faculty members and volunteers are encouraged to apply.

“It’s the generosity of our community members, as they support fundraisers and make donations, that make funds available for these grants,” said Donnie Roseman, a member of the SBEF board of directors and chair of the Program and Assessment Committee. “Through their support of the Foundation, they are offering these programs to the district’s students and faculty. All grants applications are carefully evaluated on the affect they will have for students.”

June 1, 2011

Kansas governor eliminates all State funding for arts

TOPEKA- Kansas Governor Sam Brownback eliminated state funding for arts programs on Saturday, leaving the Kansas Arts Commission without budget, staff, or offices. Brownback seeks to replace the commission with a private, non-profit foundation, noting that “the arts will continue to thrive in Kansas when funded by private donations.”

Christopher Knight of the Los Angeles Times reports that Kansas’s nonprofit arts and culture organizations support 4,612 full-time equivalent jobs, which generate $95.1 million in household income to local residents and deliver $15.6 million in local and state government revenue.

The future of many of those jobs is now in limbo. Kansas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stands at 6.7% – 2 points higher than the rate at the September 2008 start of the nation’s economic crisis. Brownback’s 2010 race for the governship was based on local job creation.

As a result of the governor’s action, Kansas will also forfeit a likely matching grant of nearly $800,000 from the NEA next year, plus more than $400,000 from the Mid-America Arts Alliance. Those combined funds are nearly double the arts appropriation that had been recommended by the Kansas Legislature, which Brownback nixed. The state projects a $500-million budget shortfall next year.

June 1, 2011

Once a campus outcast, Reserve Officers Training is booming at universities

Palo Alto — On an early May morning 43 years ago, fire swept through Stanford University’s Navy ROTC building, destroying a structure that had been damaged in another suspicious blaze just two months earlier.  No arrests were ever made in the two arson fires, but they came at a time of angry, sometimes violent demonstrations against the Vietnam War on college campuses nationwide. Those protests often targeted the closest symbol of the U.S. military, the Reserve Officers Training Corps — with more than 200 campus ROTC units reporting vandalism during that war.

On a recent afternoon, Stanford senior Ann Thompson wore her Army ROTC uniform with pride as she helped staff a recruiting table for the military training program at a campus activities fair. She chatted with visitors about the ROTC’s scholarships as a few dozen students marched nearby to protest the program’s likely expansion at Stanford

“There definitely are people not supportive of ROTC, but we still have respectful conversations,” said Thompson, 22, of Paso Robles. “I can’t fathom anyone burning a building down.”  Helped by the recession, more active recruiting and a sea change in student perceptions of the military, enrollment in ROTC programs on college campuses is booming.  Even with ongoing U.S. involvement in conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya, participation in the program has surged 27% over the last four years — to 56,757 men and women, according to the Defense Department. The military boosted the number of ROTC scholarships to help expand the wartime officer corps, and the recession made the offers attractive to students.

June 1, 2011

M.I.T. Program in Art, Culture and Technology
Royal Academy of Art, The Hague
CCS Bard
Vermont College of Fine Arts
Gerrit Rietveld Academie