News

Islamist student group said to terrorize Pakistan campuses

PAKISTAN—After philosophy students and faculty members rallied to denounce heavy-handed efforts to separate male and female students, Islamists on campus struck back: In the dead of night, witnesses say, the radicals showed up at a men’s dormitory armed with wooden sticks and bicycle chains. They burst into dorm rooms, attacking philosophy students. One was pistol-whipped and hit on the head with a brick. Gunfire rang out, although no one was injured. Police were called, but nearly a month after the attack, no arrests have been made.

Few on Punjab University’s leafy campus, including top administrators, dare to challenge the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, or the IJT, the student wing of one of Pakistan’s most powerful hard-line Islamist parties.  At another Lahore campus, the principal disdainfully refers to the Islamists as “a parallel administration.” The organization’s clout illustrates the deep roots of Islamist extremism in Pakistani society, an influence that extends beyond radical religious schools and militant strongholds in the volatile tribal belt along the Afghan border.

University administrators fear that the IJT’s influence on many campuses will lead to an increase in extremism among the middle class, from which the next generation of Pakistan’s leaders will rise.

July 30, 2011

Housing protests galvanize Israelis students

TEL AVIV — There’s a free massage corner in the tent city, a compost heap, a makeshift kitchen filled with donated food and a whiteboard bearing a list of tasks for volunteers, from cleaning to leading brainstorming sessions. Signs announce evening lectures and open-air movies at the “Revolution Theater.”  A growing protest movement against rising housing prices in Israel has spawned the tent camp that sprawls along Tel Aviv’s elegant Rothschild Boulevard. With similar encampments popping up in other cities, the movement is posing a serious political challenge to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who on Tuesday responded by unveiling a plan for affordable housing.

The demonstrations reflect growing discontent among middle-class Israelis, particularly young working people who say that rising costs of housing, food and fuel are outstripping their wages. The sense of hardship has intensified despite an expanding Israeli economy and a drop in the unemployment rate to a record low of 5.7 in May, according to official figures released Monday.  “The feeling is that no matter how hard you work, you can’t make it through the month,” Leef said at the protest camp headquarters.  The housing protests, including a march by thousands Saturday night in Tel Aviv, have punctured the public apathy toward political and social issues that had seemed particularly prevalent in the Mediterranean city, with its reputation for hedonism and self-absorption.

The movement, which has mobilized Israelis in ways that weighty questions of war and peace have not, shows the influence of the Arab Spring, emulating not just its organization methods but also some of its slogans. “Corner of Rothschild and Tahrir,” read a hand-lettered banner at the tent camp here, invoking the Cairo square that was the epicenter of the Egyptian revolution this year.

July 28, 2011

Yale Establishes Institute for Preservation of Cultural Heritage

NEW HAVEN- Yale University has established a conservation center, the Institute for Preservation of Cultural Heritage, which aims to advance conservation science and its practice on an international level. Emily Sharpe of the Art Newspaper reports that the Institute will focus on developing tools and techniques for conservation as well as work to digitize artifacts—an activity in line with Yale’s recent “Open Access” project, which made 250,000 works from its collections available online, free of charge. Sharp notes that the Institute will “explore areas of research such as the use of nanotechnology to slow the degradation of works of art and computer-based tools to care for ancient mosaics.”

University spokesman Robin Hogen describes the Institute as “the first of its kind” adding that “new technology will not only help us protect our most valuable cultural assets, but also expand access to those assets for people around the world.”

July 27, 2011

Hundreds of funded PhDs and Masters courses cut

UNITED KINGDOM—The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is cutting the number of PhDs it funds by 1,002 from 2,902 in 2010-11 to 1,900 in 2011-12.Similarly, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) is cutting funded Masters courses from 607 to 490. The figures were given in response to a parliamentary question by shadow universities minister Gareth Thomas. The data shows the National Environmental Research Council (NERC) will no longer provide funding for the 285 Masters places it funded in 2010-11. However, it will increase the number of funded PhD places by five from 325 in 2010-11 to 330 in 2011-12. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is also reducing its PhD places, from 730 to 660 over the same period.

Mr Thomas said: “These cuts in PhD and Masters places will have a devastating and profound impact on the range, depth and quality of advanced research, innovation and study taking place in Britain’s universities.A spokeswoman from the ESRC said the funding of 730 PhD places in 2010-11 was “an all-time high”, with the council funding on average 600 students.

July 27, 2011

Chilean Students Continue Hunger Strike

CHILE—Twenty students are engaging in a hunger strike in Chile to protest the government’s continuing mismanagement of public education. The twenty students say they have their parents’ support and that they expect other students will join the strike unless Education Minister Felipe Bulnes meets with the strikers to discuss edcuation reforms.

The hunger strikers are all from Santiago, Chile’s capitol, but the voices of protest against the rapidly-declining quality of public educaton are heard from every quarter of the country. Massive student demonstrations, backed by wide and deep support from many other sectors, have demanded quality education, a demand the government has done very little to meet.

The latest proposal from the upper echelons of the government was roundly panned by students and the Federation of Associations of Employees of the University of Chile, saying it was focused on the wrong issues, cast in stone the mistakes of the current system and pushed profits into fewer hands, a sure recipe for continued failure

July 26, 2011

Basement project aims to reverse drain of Leeds’ art talent

UNITED KINGDOM—Artist and teacher Bruce and Debs Davies have transformed the basement of their terraced house – which they admit themselves is a little ‘ramshackle’ – into a cultural facility which they hope ultimately will be available for residencies and exhibitions on a regular basis. Bruce acknowledges that the project is an ambitious one for the more deprived south of the city – but has lofty goals to help the city retain some of the graduates who leave Leeds following graduation because of a lack of opportunites and be financially and artistically free from constraints. He said:

“It’s no secret that Leeds has real problems retaining its talent. I know from experience that it’s incredibly difficult for artists to get residencies or to showcase their work and they have to go elsewhere to do it. I tried for six years to exhibit but it was a real struggle. I hope ultimately that people who want to get to the next level can come here and be part of a residency programme.

“But we’re reliant on getting the money in place to redo the basement up, create working spaces, get its own door so people don’t have to come through the house. That’s going to be the next challenge.”

The art space is currently a cleared-out basement – but that hasn’t stopped the couple holding four events there. More than 25 people squeezed into the space for a recent talk by current HMI research fellow Allan Antliff called ‘Attacking Gentrification: the anarchitecture of Adrian Blackwell‘. The basement also acted as a starting point for a 10km art run/studio crawl around Leeds’s underground art studios.

July 26, 2011

Policing the student fees protests in London cost Scotland Yard £7.5 million

UNITED KINGDOM—The Metropolitan Police spent another £2.1 million providing security at the TUC anti-cuts demonstration in March, £1.9 million on the Pope’s visit to Britain, and £2.2 million around last year’s general election campaign. A further £6.5 million has gone on protecting North African and Middle Eastern countries’ embassies in London this year amid heightened tensions linked to the popular uprisings in the region known as the Arab Spring.

Scotland Yard spent a total of £34.8 million policing 42 major public order events between April 2010 and March 2011, reveal figures disclosed to the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA). Together these operations took up 87,676 police officer shifts and 3,305 shifts of support staff, including police community support officers, caterers, drivers and engineers.The biggest bill for policing the series of student demonstrations against university tuition fee hikes and education funding cuts was for the protest on December 9, when an angry mob attacked the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall’s car as they drove to the Royal Variety Performance.

Providing security that day cost the Met £1.3 million, including £545,000 in overtime and extra staff allowances, and required 2,476 police officer shifts.The Met said in a report to the MPA: “The event was attended by several other organisations and certain elements that were intent on causing disorder. The response required a lengthy policing operation resulting in associated overtime payments.”

The policing operation for Pope Benedict XVI’s time in London during his four-day trip to Britain last September, which included a vigil in Hyde Park and protests against his visit, involved 4,712 police officer shifts and resulted in a £300,000 overtime bill.Deploying officers to cover demonstrations outside the UK embassies of countries caught up in the Arab Spring unrest cost £6.5 million between February and May this year. Scotland Yard said a “significant policing response” was needed for the protests and noted that the operation was “ongoing”.

The Met also spent £6.3 million policing the annual Notting Hill Carnival last August, £1.2 million maintaining public order in London during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and £214,000 protecting former prime minister Tony Blair at his second appearance before the Iraq Inquiry in January.

July 26, 2011

Rivlin allows student housing protests at Knesset

ISRAEL—Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin on Monday instructed the Knesset Guard to allow student housing protests outside of the Knesset and to allow the students access to MKs but not to allow them to get out of control. ”Protest is legitimate and even necessary in a democracy, but there are rules which must be followed. The need for the protest is clear to us, the Knesset is the home of the people,” Rivlin stated.

Rivlin met privately with the organizers of the tent demonstrations and student leaders. Stav Shapir, one of the leaders of the Rothschild Boulevard tent protest told Rivlin that the protest’s organizers were making an effort to ensure that the demonstrations would not become violent. She added that “the people now feel a sort of power and they want to burst forward.”

July 25, 2011

Since revolution, a lull in Egypt’s fast-growing private arts sector

EGYPT—In the weeks leading up to the 25 January revolution, a number of large-scale, privately-funded art projects were on the verge of launching. On 22 January, Tache Gallery, part of the Designopolis complex on the Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road, opened with its first show, a retrospective of the work of Egyptian artist Huda Lutfi. Two more examples were real estate developer SODIC’s plans for a marble sculpture symposium in February, and Cairo-based art adviser Fatenn Mostafa gearing up to open a new contemporary art space, Cairo Art Initiative, in March.

It was fateful timing, and political unrest in the country has since stalled many large-scale plans, although exhibitions continue to be held at existing spaces. Mostafa has put the Cairo Arts Initiative on hold for the time being and foresees a return to the project only in the distant future. SODIC has postponed their marble sculpture symposium until early fall, though in May they held another sculpture event, in which the choice material was metal.

At Designopolis, a number of arts-related plans have been in the works, including opening up an auction house and a subterranean level called “SoHo” that would offer artists space to display and sell work without gallery representation. But at the moment, this later phase of the complex’s development is on the backburner.

“Our priority now is getting the mall ready. Some things are more important than [the art space], and we decided to just deal with those first,” says Menna Saad al-Din, public relations manager for Designopolis’s parent company Bonyan.  The revolution may have stalled plans for SODIC, Designopolis, and the countless galleries popping up in and around Cairo, but over the past several years there has been a growing surge of private money and support behind arts initiatives in Egypt, where for a long time arts patronage was somewhat monopolized by the state.

July 25, 2011

Rhode Island art dealer gets 16 years in invention scam

PROVIDENCE, R.I.—A former Rhode Island art dealer convicted of defrauding a wide range of investors — from a wealthy Japanese sword collector to a school janitor — was sentenced to 16 years in prison Thursday for his elaborate multimillion-dollar scheme. Judge William E. Smith imposed the sentence on DeSimone, 58, of Johnston, in U.S. District Court in Providence.

Prosecutors said DeSimone deserved a stiff sentence because he is a “career con man” and criminal who bilked his victims of more than $6 million, saddling them with “broken dreams, empty bank accounts, and untold distress.” ”Justice was served today. Rocco DeSimone is a remorseless, recidivist thief,” said U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha. “He deserves every day of the 16 years he was sentenced to today.”

DeSimone was also ordered to pay more than $6 million in restitution and sentenced to three years of supervised release following his prison term.Defense attorney Thomas Connors had asked for a lesser sentence. But he noted that Smith did not impose the stiffer sentence of 17.5 years that prosecutors sought. “We expected it was going to be a heavy sentence,” Connors said. “I think the judge was fair with what he had to deal with.” DeSimone was convicted in March of money laundering and seven counts of mail fraud. Prosecutors say he used his ill-gotten gains to fund a lavish lifestyle of fancy cars, valuable art works and ancient Japanese swords.

The trial focused on an invention called the Drink Stik, a device that connects beverage containers to respirators and gas masks worn by soldiers in contaminated areas. Prosecutors argued that DeSimone lied about access to deep-pocketed investors and promised the inventor he would sell the Drink Stik in exchange for a one-third stake in its patent. They say DeSimone then convinced investors to buy shares in his Drink Stik stake by falsely claiming that major international corporations, including Fidelity Investments and Raytheon Corp., had offered to buy it for millions of dollars.

Prosecutors told the jury he employed similar tactics to fraudulently solicit investments in two other inventions, including one in which he had no ownership stake at all.

July 22, 2011

Hundreds of medical students join protest for improved working conditions

ISRAEL—Hundreds of medical students from all over Israel gathered Friday morning at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hopsital in support of the medical interns’ struggle for improved working conditions. The students set out on a protest march from Ichilov hospital to Tel Aviv public library and cultural center, Beit Ariela. They were joined by some of the participants of the ‘Tent City’ protest against high housing prices.

Protesters carried signs saying, “It’s better being a dog than a doctor” and some of them brought dogs along for the march. Leaders of the tent city protest are preparing for mass demonstrations on Saturday night. The protesters are expected to march from their tent encampment on Rothschild Blvd. to the plaza in front of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, where a rally will be held. Currently the only two definite speakers are the head of National Union of Israeli Students, Itzik Shmuli, and Dafne Leef, who organized the initial housing protest. Those involved in coordinating the event said no politicians will be speaking.

Organizers declined Thursday to predict the size of the demonstration, but said it would be a significant moment in their campaign. On Friday, a wrench was thrown into efforts to resolve the ongoing doctors’ strike when a large number of residents walked off the job yesterday and joined protests against the emerging agreement.

July 22, 2011

What would happen if you hacked into a library?

CAMBRIDGE MA—We usually think of university libraries as a bastion of free thought, with scholarly publications that are freely shareable by all, but former Reddit staffer and digital activist Aaron Swartz has been arrested by federal prosecutors and accused of hacking into the library of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer network and downloading almost 5 million academic documents. If he is found guilty, Swartz could face up to 35 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million — penalties that seem inappropriate at best for a crime that appears to have no real victims.

According to the indictment that was filed in Boston (PDF link), the 24-year-old programmer — who is the co-founder of a non-profit political action group called Demand Progress, and also co-authored the RSS specification when he was still a teenager — used a laptop and a number of software tools to hack into the MIT computer system and download more than 4 million scholarly papers and journal archives. The indictment notes that when these alleged offences occurred, Swartz was a fellow at Harvard’s Center for Ethics.

The journals and documents that Swartz is alleged to have downloaded are held in the so-called JSTOR archive, which is a database of thousands of scholarly journals maintained by a non-profit organization created in 1995 to allow institutions to share these publications easily. According to a statement from JSTOR, the organization is not involved in the indictment against Swartz. Its statement says that after it noticed unauthorized access to its documents occurring at MIT late last year:

We stopped this downloading activity, and the individual responsible, Mr. Swartz, was identified. We secured from Mr. Swartz the content that was taken, and received confirmation that the content was not and would not be used, copied, transferred, or distributed.

July 20, 2011

Montreal police launching unprecedented wave of student arrests

MONTREAL - Saying they must battle a “wave of repression” that is sweeping the province, students took the Montreal police force to task on Monday for turning student protesters into criminals with the recent arrests of four activists months after a demonstration against tuition fee hikes.

“This is an unprecedented wave of arrests,” said Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, spokesperson for L’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante.  ASSÉ says four of its members – three of them on the group’s executive comittee – were arrested recently in connection with the occupation of Finance Minister Raymond Bachand’s office on March 24 and a demonstration on March 31.

Nadeau-Dubois said each student is facing between four and nine charges, including mischief, aggression and breaking and entering, and more arrests are expected. “We are a legitimate organization that represents 45,000 students,” Nadeau-Dubois said at a news conference. “There is nothing criminal in our intentions or actions.”

It was the second time in a week that a group has criticized Montreal Police’s GAMMA unit, created in January to deal with increasing vandalism and assaults on police officers during protests. Last week, the Coalition against repression and police brutality accused the Montreal force of targeting people for their political beliefs.

Both groups have filed complaints with the Quebec Human Rights Commission. Last winter, Quebec announced a plan to raise university tuition by $325 a year over five years beginning in September 2012, which sparked several protests. Nadeau-Dubois said more demonstrations are planned for this fall, as well as the possibility of a strike.

July 20, 2011

Student group complains to Human Rights Commission

QUEBEC—A radical student group is going to the Quebec human rights commission, accusing the Quebec government of expressly forming a special police unit to shut down student protests.Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois with the group ASSÉ, says students were arrested by the Gamma team, 4 months after they took part in two separate demonstrations and sit-ins in March to protest against tuition hikes.

“This squad is really a new kind of policitical police to fight against social movements,” says Nadeau-Dubois. Nadeau-Dubois is asking that they force police to divulge their true mandate. Police say they do  have a Project Gamma, that was formed after the May day protests. They insist students can demonstrate, as long as they so so peacefullly.

July 19, 2011

Student’s family to appeal over riot jailing

UNITED KINGDOM—The family of Charlie Gilmour are to appeal after he was sentenced to 16 months in jail for violent disorder during the student fee protests. During the demonstrations in central London, the adopted son of Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour was seen swinging on the Cenotaph. He is said to have gone on a drink and drugs binge after being rejected by his natural father, poet Heathcote Williams. Friends of the 21-year-old said Williams sent Gilmour an “incomprehensible” email in November saying he was cutting him out of his life after an initial reunion last summer.

The Cambridge University student, who was “devastated” by the rejection, was arrested after throwing a bin at a convoy of cars carrying Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall during the protests on December 9. Kingston crown court heard he had taken LSD and valium. He was also accused of sitting on a protection officer’s car and smashing a window. Last week he was jailed after admitting violent disorder, despite a plea for leniency because of his personal problems. Today his solicitor, Robert Brown of Corker Binning, confirmed the family, including his mother, author Polly Samson, are “actively considering grounds for appeal”. They are said to be hopeful of cutting his sentence.

July 18, 2011

Students ask regents to reject proposed UC tuition hike

SAN FRANCISCO — Students appealed Wednesday to University of California regents not to proceed with a proposed second tuition increase for the coming school year but conceded that the fight against the higher fees is probably lost.   Several students addressing the regents at their meeting in San Francisco said families had not been given enough warning to come up with the additional $1,068 the proposed increase would require and urged university officials to look for the funds elsewhere. Regents will vote on the increase Thursday.

The speakers expressed particular concern for middle-income students who may not be eligible for financial aid and who, according to a new report, make up a declining share of enrollment at the 10-campus university.Claudia Magana, president of UC’s system-wide student association, said the late timing of the proposed hike, along with its size, is causing widespread concern and distress. “UC students have been hit too hard in too short of a time period,” Magana, a UC Santa Cruz senior, told the regents.

The proposed 9.6% increase would be on top of a previously approved 8% boost that is also scheduled to go into effect for the fall. Combined, the two would mean an increase of $1,818 over the 2010-11 figure and bring system-wide undergraduate tuition for California residents to $12,192 plus an average of $1,026 for campus-based fees. Room, board, books and other costs can bring the total for an undergraduate to attend a UC campus to about $31,000 annually.

July 14, 2011

Dutch stage massive protests in response to arts budget cuts

AMSTERDAM- Gary Schwartz of Art Newspaper reports that following the announcement in September 2010 that the Dutch new centre-right coalition intends to cut the arts budget by €200m—25% of current expenditure—as of 1 January 2013, people working in museums and performing arts companies, and those in arts education have rose up in protest. The government is looking for reductions in public spending of only 16%: to compound the misery for art organisations, the government is also increasing the value added tax (VAT) on tickets for concerts and performances from 6% to 19% in July. The rise does not apply to several other forms of entertainment, including cinema tickets, zoos or sporting events.

Despite a wave of protests, the government remains unwilling to compromise. A demonstration, the March for Civilization, took place on June 26 and 27, before a parliamentary debate on the cuts to the culture budget. The protest began on the island of Terschelling at the Oerol Festival, continued in Rotterdam on Sunday afternoon, with demonstrators marching 20km to The Hague and sheltering overnight in a number of participating theatres and venues, regrouping to lobby parliament the following morning. It followed other major protests in November last year, under the banner, The Netherlands Is Shouting for Art. The concern of arts institutions is shared by municipal and provincial governments, worried that the arts bodies will come to them to fill the financial gap.

The timetable for the changes is adding to the anger. The government first intended to raise VAT on 1 January this year, in the middle of the performing arts season. This was postponed to 1 July, only after the upper chamber of parliament threatened to vote down the entire motion.

Meanwhile, the Arts Council (Raad voor Cultuur), a government advisory body, recommended that the government softened the proposed €200m cuts, by reducing them to €125m and implementing them gradually between 2013 and 2015. The ministry of education, culture and science usually adopts the recommendations of the Arts Council, but last month Zijlstra submitted his final position, under the heading “More than quality: a new vision for cultural policy.” This confirms the €200m cuts, as of January 2013.

Although few institutions know exactly how they will be affected, anger is directed not only at the cuts but at what is being widely perceived as government disdain for culture. This is especially insulting to institutions which, like Veen’s Nieuwe Kerk, have for years been professionalising their operations and raising more money from sponsors and trading activities. While organisations including the world famous Concert­gebouw Orchestra, the Rijks­museum (indeed most museums in the country) and the Netherlands Dance Theatre will suffer only minor damage, the indispensable Netherlands Theatre Institute faces closure, the 140-year-old Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten may be decimated, and the Netherlands Institute for Art History, one of the world’s leading art historical research centres, has been threatened with a forced merger with the Rijksmuseum.

July 13, 2011

Cal State Tuition Hiked Another 12 Percent

CALIFORNIA—Cal Poly Pomona students will see an additional 12 percent fee hike – $196 per quarter – when school starts in the fall.  The California State University Board of Trustees Tuesday voted in favor of the tuition increase, according to a news release. The latest hike is on top of a previously approved increase of 10 percent or $148 per quarter that the trustees voted for in November.

Officials point to the final state budget Gov. Jerry Brown signed recently that slashes state funding to the CSU system by $650 million for 2011-12. The Board of Trustees had said that an additional tuition increase would be needed if the cut to state funding went beyond the initial $500 million reduction the Legislature adopted in March.

“The enormous reduction to our state funding has left us with no other choice if we are to maintain quality and access to the CSU,” said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed in a statement. “We will focus on serving our current students by offering as many classes and course sections as possible. We will also be able to open enrollment for the spring 2012 term, which is critical for our community college transfer students.”

July 13, 2011

Chilean reform plan fails to stop student protests

CHILEDisappointed by new higher education measures announced by President Sebastián Piñera, which included a $4 billion education fund, Chilean students have called for a national strike on 14 July. But the vice-chancellors of Chile’s 25 state-run universities seem to have buried their hatchets and are talking to the government again.

The new fund, announced on 5 July, will increase the number of student loans, offering merit scholarships for students from the poorest 40% of the population and for those enrolled in technical programmes, along with extra revenue for public universities. Two institutions, one a policy group and the other to monitor and sanction non-compliance, have also been proposed. A key issue in the conflict has been for-profit universities. While they have been legally banned since 1981, many have been established. Two government ministers, Education Minister Joaquín Lavín and Cristián Larroulet, a minister in the presidency, are currently being investigated over their investments in Universidad del Desarrollo, one of Chile’s more than 60 private universities.

Students are not only calling for an end to for-profit institutions but are also questioning the very existence of private universities. They want higher education to be provided by the government. The Confederation of Chilean Students says that the recovery of public education is the cornerstone of its demands. They say knowledge generation is not a commercial product and that the student-teacher relationship should not be equated with that of client and supplier. Piñera promised in his speech to open a national debate to define clearly what constitutes a for-profit university. Those classified as such would pay taxes, with the tax revenue going entirely “to finance scholarships and loans for the most vulnerable students”

July 12, 2011

British Art Council announces plan to improve art education

LONDON- The Arts Council recently announced an ambitious plan to improve local delivery of arts opportunities for children and young people. Through five “bridging” organizations across London – and another nine across the UK, the council said it wanted to exploit regional knowledge of the arts and create new opportunities for children, through better collaboration.

A New Direction, an arts, culture and educational charity based in east London and one of the organisations chosen to bridge the gap between schools, the creative and cultural sector and other partners, will receive a three-year £1.1m grant starting in 2012. The organisation already works with 230 schools across London with an annual budget of £3.2m.

To learn more about the way organizations are allocating the funds, click here.

July 11, 2011

Cultural historian Theodore Roszak dies at seventy-seven

HAYWARD- Theodore Roszak, the Cal State East Bay historian professor emeritus credited with coining the term “counter culture,” passed away late last week. He was seventy-seven. Monique Beeler of Cal State East Bay|writes that Rozak, a Guggenheim fellow and two-time National Book Award nominee, was “acclaimed for writing popular books analyzing complex social trends—from youthful antiestablishment dissent to perils posed by the computer age.”

“Students particularly appreciated his abilities as an eloquent lecturer and as an incisive critic of our society,” said Alan Smith, dean emeritus of what was then known as the School of Arts, Letters and Social Sciences. “He was, I believe, very important in establishing a high intellectual level for the social and political debates that took place on our campus during the 1960s and ’70s.”

In the 1970s, when history departments nationwide began reconsidering the types of courses they offered, Roszak, who originally taught Tudor-Stuart England history at Cal State East Bay, designed classes focusing on historic figures, such as Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, and on a literary classic that appealed to students.

“He would do these interesting courses, like his Frankenstein course,” said Reichman, noting that Roszak wrote a novel based on a retelling of the story from a different point of view. “The course used the myth created by Mary Shelley, looking at how human beings react to technology.”

“He was a nationally known public intellectual,” said professor emeritus Henry Reichman. “The eclecticism of his interests was dazzling.”

July 11, 2011

Moroccan Police Violence a Test for Revised Constitution

MOROCCO – The constitutional revisions approved in the July 1, 2011 referendum can significantly advance Moroccans’ rights, but only if authorities use these new constitutional principles to reform repressive laws and practices, Human Rights Watch said today.

Among the practices that need to be brought into line with the constitution is the police response to peaceful protest, Human Rights said. Since Moroccans began demonstrating in the streets on February 20 to demand major political reforms, inspired by the protest movements sweeping the Arab world, the police have responded on several occasions with extreme brutality. They have beaten peaceful protesters to the point where scores required medical care such as stitches and treatment of broken bones. At least one died in the hospital after being beaten, although the cause of death remains unclear.

“The real test of the Moroccan government’s commitment to human rights is in whether it respects its citizens’ rights in practice,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “It’s not enough to adopt a constitution that affirms, ‘No one may harm the physical or moral integrity of another in any circumstance’ and then allow the police to club peaceful demonstrators.”

The constitutional reforms include several provisions that reinforce citizens’ rights, including gender equality, freedom of expression “in all its forms,” freedom of association, assembly and peaceful protest, the right to a fair trial, and the criminalization of torture, arbitrary detention, and forced disappearance. The constitution precludes press censorship. It requires the authorities to tell anyone they detain “immediately” of the reasons and of their rights. The amendments also grant powers to the prime minister that previously were exclusively the king’s.

July 11, 2011

Los Angeles County grants $4.1 million to arts organizations

LOS ANGELES- Mike Boehm of the Los Angeles Times reports that Los Angeles County will issue $4,118,000 in arts grants for the 2011-12 fiscal year that began July 1, holding steady at the level reached after last year’s 6.8% reduction.

The grants -– which go to nonprofit arts organizations, rather than to individuals — will be spread a tad thinner, however. The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved the 184 grants proposed by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, an average of $22,380, down from $24,807 a year ago, when the $4.1 million went to 166 organizations. The grants are paid out over two years -– so last year’s recipients weren’t eligible for this round, and the ones OK’d Tuesday won’t be eligible in 2012-13.

For more information on the recipients, please see the following article in the Los Angeles Times.

July 6, 2011

Chile proposes $4bn education fund as students protest

CHILE–President Sebastian Pinera, facing student protests, has proposed the creation of a $4bn (£2.5bn) fund for higher education. In a televised speech, Mr Pinera outlined measures including more grants and cheaper student loans.

The fund would be partly financed by revenue from the main export, copper. Thousands of students have been protesting to complain of financial hardship and to call for a reform of Chile’s “unequal “education system. “It’s time to stop the protests and recover the way to dialogue and agreements,” Mr Pinera said on Tuesday.

Announcing the plans for the $4bn fund, President Pinera said the “great mission of improving education in Chile required an enormous financial effort”. As well as more grants and student loans, Mr Pinera said the government would look at improving the admission and accreditation systems of the universities.

Reacting to Mr Pinera’s proposals, student leaders indicated their protests would continue to seek a more equal education system. Students say they want an end to a market-oriented education system

July 6, 2011

Dutch Parliament maintains plans for massive de-funding of arts despite outcry

THE NETHERLANDS– The demonstration in The Hague against disproportionate, arbitrary and punitive cutbacks was a predictable failure in that it did not sway parliament. Zijlstra’s plan was debated in the Second Chamber immediately after the demonstration ended officially. A smaller, unofficial demonstration moved from the Malieveld, where the large gathering had taken place, to the parliament buildings at the Binnenhof – where encounters with the riot police ensued.  The debate did not see the government budge on any of the major issues. A few symbolic sweets to the provinces outside the metropolitan Randstad area, but that was about it. All the institutions and media that have been mentioned before remain under acute threat.

July 5, 2011

Chilean education protests continue to grow

CHILE–With chants of “An educated people will never be deceived” and “We want a free, quality education,” tens of thousands of Chilean students, parents and teachers took to the streets on June 30 in the latest protest against the privatized education system set up under the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Giorgio Jackson, president of the Federation of Catholic University Students (FEUC), estimated that 200,000 people took part in the demonstration in Santiago, while Federation of University of Chile Students (FECH) president Camila Vallejo put the number at more than 300,000. By most accounts the Santiago protest was twice the size of a June 16 march that local media had called the largest since the return of democracy 21 years ago.

The Santiago march was only part of the day’s action. Organizers said 200,000 protesters marched in other cities around the education demands; meanwhile, students have occupied some 200 schools and 30 universities over the last three weeks. More and more people from different sectors of Chilean society were joining the movement, FECH president Vallejo said. “Each time we have more support.” Violence broke out at the end of the Santiago march when groups of youths tried to loot downtown stores. The police used tear gas and water cannons on the crowd. At least 38 protesters were arrested and some 20 police agents were injured, according to the authorities. Protest organizers denied responsibility for the violence. “I feel that a large percentage of these people wearing hoods are infiltrators,” Vallejo had told the Cuban wire service Prensa Latina the day before the demonstration. She noted that Chile had a history of the use of provocateurs.

Rightwing president Sebastián Piñera responded to the protests by saying that “the strikes, the demonstrations are legal, but education isn’t improved with strikes or demonstrations.” (La Tercera, Santiago, June 30; La Jornada, Mexico, July 1, from correspondent; Prensa Latina, June 29).  After a July 2 meeting at the University of the Frontier (UFRO) in Temuco, capital of the Araucanía region in central Chile, the approximately 30 organizations in the Chilean Student Confederation (CONFECH) announced plans for another strike and day of protests on July 14. FEUC Jackson noted that the Federation of Mapuche Students had participated in the meeting and that the movement’s demands now included a call for new scholarships and greater enrollment of indigenous students along with respect for cultural differences in the schools. The Mapuche are Chile’s largest indigenous group. (PL, July 3)

July 5, 2011

Prince Twins Seven-Seven, Nigerian Artist, Dies at 67

NIGERIA–Prince Twins Seven-Seven, a prominent Nigerian artist and leading representative of the Oshogbo School, whose brightly colored, intricately patterned paintings evoked the world of Yoruba folklore and religion, died on June 16 in Ibadan, Nigeria. He was 67. The cause was complications of a stroke, Harriet B. Schiffer, his dealer, said.

Prince Twins Seven-Seven changed his birth name, Olaniyi Osuntoki, to signal his status as the sole surviving child of his parents’ seven sets of twins. “They believed that I was the reincarnation of twins they had lost,” he told The Baltimore Sun in 2001. “Prince” was more than a flourish. His grandfather was king of Ibadan in the 1890s and, until the artist became seriously ill, he was about to be installed as chief of his clan, the Osuntoki.

“Twins was the great modernist of the Yoruba tradition,” said Henry Glassie, an emeritus folklore professor at Indiana University and the author of “Prince Twins Seven-Seven: His Art, His Life in Nigeria, His Exile in America” (2010). “He turned back to tradition, just as Kandinsky or Klee did, but in his context drew on Yoruban sources to figure out an escape from tradition into modernity.”

In 1964 he crashed a party at the Oshogbo art school and soon became integrated into its group of artists. After an exhibition of his work was mounted in Oshogbo, he moved to Lagos and later to London. His work was included in the 1989 exhibition “Magiciens de la Terre” (“Magicians of the Earth”) at the Pompidou Center in Paris.

He came to the United States in the late 1980s and settled in the Philadelphia area, although he traveled abroad frequently. His life entered a turbulent period, filled with drinking and gambling, he said. Destitute, he found work as a parking-lot attendant for Material Culture, a large Philadelphia store that sells antiquities, furnishings and carpets.

In 2005, after being nominated by President Olosegun Obaganjo of Nigeria, Prince Twins Seven-Seven was named one of Unesco’s Artists for Peace, a position that gave him new international visibility.

Prince Twins Seven-Seven, who lived in Ibadan and Oshogbo, is survived by many wives, children and grandchildren.

July 4, 2011

Vancouver arts groups grapple with Harmonized Sales Tax referendum

VANCOUVER–As the public is being asked to weigh in on the future of the Harmonized Sales Tax, some in the arts and nonprofit sectors say they are worried about a backlash from the province should the tax be repealed. “I’ve heard there’s a bit of concern that, if that [HST] revenue is no longer coming into the province, what further cuts will they make? And what won’t get funded?” said Amir Ali Alibhai, executive director of the Alliance for Arts and Culture, referring to cuts to gaming grants and to the B.C. Arts Council budget.

Heather Redfern, executive director of the Cultch, said she will be voting to repeal the tax. “Our tickets weren’t subject to PST, but they are subject to HST, so the tax on tickets went from five percent to 12 percent,” she noted. “That definitely has an impact—it makes people think you have really expensive ticket prices when actually you don’t. We tend to advertise them as an inclusive price, because that’s what people prefer.”

Redfern said the Cultch was recently informed its $40,000 gaming grant would be cut in half this year, and its bingo revenue, which is being phased out, was reduced by $10,000 this year. “It has meant for us, anyway, we need to earn more at the box office, so our prices are going up. Between the HST and funding cuts, gaming funding cuts and funding cuts to the B.C. Arts Council, they [the provincial government] are taking more and they’re giving less.” Redfern said she is not concerned about the possibility of an HST repeal triggering deeper cuts to arts funding. “The point is that they increased taxes and they already cut funding,” she said. “You know, pretty soon there’s not much left to lose here.”

July 4, 2011

Cultural groups rejoice as city restores proposed cuts

NEW YORK–Despite threats of deep cuts to institutions from the Metropolitan Museum to Staten Island’s Botanical Gardens, nearly all of the money was restored in the city’s final budget.  The cultural institutions group—made up of all the arts groups in city-owned building ranging from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden on Staten Island—received an initial restoration of $20.5 million of its proposed $33.7 million cut. Sources say Mayor Bloomberg is going to put in an additional $10 million from discretionary funds, nearly fully restoring the CIGs funding.

Funding for the hundreds of arts institutions that are not in city-owned buildings, like the Museum of Modern Art, received a restoration of $9 million, basically erasing their proposed cuts. Arts executives had expected little restoration this year because of the city’s precarious financial state. Though they were thrilled with the final numbers, they questioned why they have been forced to go through this “budget dance” every year.

The New York Public Library, which waged an aggressive campaign to keep its city funding, received a restoration of $36.7 million of its proposed $40 million cut. Library officials said the final budget would allow it to avoid layoffs and keep all libraries open at least five days a week.

July 1, 2011

The Hong Kong Institute of Education
SFAI
SACI Florence Italy
St Moritz Art Academy
Malmö Art Academy
M.I.T. Program in Art, Culture and Technology