Saturday, January 31, 2009

Kate: I'm Breathless

Posted By on Sat, Jan 31, 2009 at 4:00 AM

Seriously Stylish, Outrageously Sexy... I'll take it.

The IMA is showing the movie Breathless as part of its Winter Nights series in the new Toby Theater.

Breathless is a French New Wave flick made in 1960 starring the dreamy Jean-Paul Belmondo.

I could stop right there.

That description in itself should be enough to perform a couch to movie theater butt-transfer.

Here's the real reason I'm so excited about it...

Breathless plays an integral part in my very favorite book Youth in Revolt: The Journals of Nick Twisp .

In the book, the adolescent protagonist, Nick, is convinced by his love interest (he having more interest than she) that he must become a rebel if they are ever to be together.

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In Breathless , Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo) is a young thug who models himself on the film persona of Humphrey Bogart. After stealing a car in Marseille, Michel shoots a policeman who has followed him onto a country road. Penniless and on the run from the police, he turns to his American girlfriend Patricia (Jean Seberg), a student and aspiring journalist, who sells the New York Herald Tribune on the streets of Paris.

Both the book and the movie will inspire you to be a little rebellious... and who knows, maybe even steal a VCR.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Rita Kohn: 75 years of comics

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 4:00 AM

From Krakow to Krypton

By Arie Kaplan

Foreword by Harvey Pekar and JT Waldman

Jewish Publication Society; $25

www.jewishpub.org; www.ariekaplan.com

Native Americans in Comic Books

By Michael Sheyahshe

McFarland Publishing; $49.95

www.mcfarlandpub.com or call 1-800-253-2187

Arie Kaplan represents the current generation of comic book writers ranging from Speed Racer to Tales from the Crypt. With From Krakow to Krypton he zaps through the amazing story of the industry birthed in the Great Depression by a man looking for a way to support his family after he's fired, and re-born for each generation since by equally venturesome and creative businesspeople, writers and artists.

Starting with hand-size compilations of funnies from newspapers, it was with Action Comics #1 that a superhero first gripped a nation grappling with economic downturn and the spread of Nazism. Enter Superman, the fantastic "Man of tomorrow/Man of Steel" invented by two teenagers from Cleveland, who grew up in the industry and paved the way for a pantheon of American-made superheroes and villains whose heroism and villainy reflected expectations of mainstream family values, eventually morphing into the X-Men and Fourth World sagas of the 1970s and impacting pop culture. Star Wars films are direct descendants, but so is the counter-culture with underground comix that surfaced in alternative newspapers and the vanguard comics and graphic novels epitomized by Maus. Kaplan follows in the footsteps of cartoonist/playwright Jules Feiffer who initially legitimized comics with his academically oriented book, The Great Comic Book Heroes.

Michael A. Sheyahshe is a member of the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma with writing credits in several magazines. His is a cultural history of comic books from the point of view of a Native American reader. He's openly honest about how he feels about comics following the lead of novelists and historians with distorted portrayals as either brutal savages or noble savages, marginalized as sidekicks to white heroes. Of special interest is the in-depth look at what elements in mainstream American culture led to and championed misrepresentation of Native Americans, and how this has affected us as a nation. Sheyahshe delivers a much-needed analysis and overview.

Sheyahshe was a featured guest at The Eiteljorg program on "Western & Native Reflections in Comic Books" on Jan. 24. He spoke of growing up with comic books in an isolated community, but with a friend who shared his passion. His critical analysis is informed by this sharing and passion. It's hard to put the book down once you start reading. Native American comics are available at The Eiteljorg Museum Trader. More information at www.eiteljorg.org or call 317-636-9378.

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NUmedia: NUVO in Editor & Publisher Magazine

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 4:00 AM

Yes, total self promotion- but I thought some good news should be shared. I and nine other publishers and ad directors were recently interviewed for a story about organizations "Bucking the Trend" of bad news for media. I know some of the others personally and they are leaders in the industry. Problem solvers and bold decision makers, every one. We could all use a little good news. Check it out here:

http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003935035

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Wendy: Visions of Central and Eastern Thailand

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 4:00 AM

David and I are winding down our magnificent trip to Thailand. We've got 3 more days left in the Bangkok city and then we head back to South Korea. I was thinking earlier today about how strange it seems to miss Korea because for so long I've simply been missing home (as in the USA). It will be nice to get back into the swing of things: the long waits for our apartment elevator, our weekly grocery trip to E-Mart and countless hours playing with cute and cuddly Goguma.

Still though, we're soaking in every last second of our time here. I uploaded about 200 or so photos onto my Fickr account (still haven't edited them..it will take ages!) so I'll narrate via visuals:

**Photos are not edited.

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Changing of the guard at the Grand Palace

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I love the look on this guys face - great smile! :)

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Feeding birds in the park! A woman was (practically) forcing passers-by to take the bags of corn she was selling. A rather photogenic moment, however.

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Flowers at a cute cafe down the street from our hostel. I am going to do a business feature on them for Miseducated.net and probably post something on my blog - stay tuned for some cute-orific photos!

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A statue outside of the Siam Paragon mall (which is grandiose, to say the least).

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An outdoor restaurant that David and I ate at the other day. We ordered stirfry with sticky noodles that was scrum-diddly-umptious (word?)

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Perhaps it was rather boorish of me to scratch my head and ask what this was...I really should have known better but I'm telling myself I was just verifying. :)
FYI: It's an offering for the Buddha Lord.

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World-famous bridge over River Kwai

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This thing was so statue-like it took several walks past it to even notice it was there!

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Me and a Tiger. The tiger pictures were taken in Kanchanaburi province near the border of Burma (Myanmar). It's a Buddhist temple that serves as a refuge center for tigers and houses 13 of them, I believe. The reason they appear so docile is not due to drugging but instead likely due to their nocturnal nature, the hot heat and perhaps a splash of buddha magic?

This woman was coming to tell me not to lie down. I laugh in the face of danger (or cuddle with cute-looking Tigers).

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David hanging out with one of his favorite animals ever (he had the biggest grin on his face the whole time...how I adore him!)

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Gorgeous, right?

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A baby tiger

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Christmas card material.

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This photo was taken at Chatachuck Weekend Market at Chatachuck Park. It's the biggest open-air market in Southeast Asia and home to thousands and thousands of vendors. You can find everything you'd ever dreamed of (and things you hadn't even begun to dream of), including flowers, vintage-wear, hand-painted shoes (I bought a pair), jewelry, pottery, textiles, fluffy puppies, fighting cocks, animal clothing, etc. Insane!

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Freshest olives I've ever tasted! (Chatachuck)

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I love this color pallette. (Chatachuck)

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The building furthest back is called The Banyan Tree Hotel, a ritzy, top-notch joint that boasts the best views of Bangkok. It's only fitting that there's an al fresco restaurant perched on top of its whopping 61 stories. It used to be a helicopter pad but is now a 5 star restaurant that is easily one of the most romantic locations in the world!

David and I paid a visit right before sunset and ate our delicious dinner as the sun faded away. It felt like we were on the set of a movie. The food was divine (I had Lobster Bisque soup and honey-lavender icecream for dessert) and the view was even better. Here are a few photos:

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Later that evening we were walking down the streets of Silom when we happened upon a large creature...an elephant!

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To end our romantic evening, we grabbed drinks at a nearby sit-down restaurant. I ordered a "Bangkok Dream" (what else?!).

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Like I said, I haven't had time to edit the photos, but hopefully these whet your appetite for more to come! :)

Until next time, Wendy Rose Gould

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

NUmedia: Don't take my call...

Posted By on Thu, Jan 29, 2009 at 4:00 AM

Really. If you're considering investing in advertising, don't take my call or any other media rep's call until you read below. (Unless you work for an ad agency. In which case, please feel free to take my call.)

Meeting with an advertising rep should be quite different from meeting any other salesperson. Why? Because the nature of what's happening is not transactional- at least not fundamentally, the way it might be for office equipment. Many more things are in play.

When you meet with an office equipment rep, you might have a list of questions: What is the upfront cost? What will my total cost be? What is the service like? Is there a warranty? Should I purchase or lease? And on...

And many of those questions will be warranted with an ad rep as well. But there is another list of questions: Ones you should be able to answer prior to your meeting.

1) What's my budget?

There are many, many marketing efforts that can be done for free or close to it. (There's an idea for another post...) And others can be done for no cash outlay (trade in-kind). But if you wish to create a broad, consistent advertising effort you should identify your budget upfront. Consistency in advertising is key, so your budget should be one that will allow you to reach the broadest swath of a medium's audience several times.

2) Who am I trying to reach?

3) What am I trying to tell them?

Before you sit with an ad rep, spend some time with the media you are evaluating. Turn your eye less to the content and more toward the ads. Who gets your attention? Who is making obvious mistakes? Give some thought to who this outlet delivers and look for those who leverage it best. Ask your rep, when you meet, for their opinion on those you selected. Ask to hear about successes (and failures) from their clients.

4) What are my goals?

5) What will my metrics be?

You may know what you want to accomplish. Higher sales, for sure. More foot traffic. Better recognition. More people visiting your website. All reasonable goals. But for each, you should have an idea as to how success will be measured. Whether that's a strict Return On Investment analysis, web traffic numbers, survey responses, use of coupons- before you set your campaign in motion, you should have the measures for success defined.

If you can answer these questions, not only will you be in a great position come time for negotiating rates, but your eventual efforts will have a better chance of success.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

NUmedia: Advertising? In this economy?

Posted By on Tue, Jan 27, 2009 at 4:00 AM

Yes, absolutely. 100%. Couldn't be a better time.

And yes, I know how ludicrous that sounds. Believe me. I work in an environment whose financial health relies on the availability of marketers and our ability earn fair share of their budgets (which are currently being attacked with red ink and hostility). However, if you have a solid handle on these three things, then yes, you are currently being presented with an opportunity.

1) Message- Who are you hoping to attract? What are their lives like right now? What role does your product or service play in their lives? Relating to your customer/client is crucial in times like these. Things that have been taken for granted- job security, healthcare, schooling- have become daily stressors and are garnering more of their time and attention. But for those same reasons, consumers across the country are modifying their once habitual spending behaviors- looking for lower prices or better value. (See Mayor Ballard approving the purchase of Toyotas for the city, despite the sticker price, for their better fuel economy.) Decision makers are actively looking for options!

Yet, at such an opportune time, most organizations are cutting back their marketing budgets. It is often a short-sighted reaction. Customers you gain now, while difficult to earn, may offer the best long-term return as they stay with your high-value product or service, even after the economy recovers.

2) Media- I truly believe there's no such thing as bad media. That's not to say, however, that all media will perform equally for you. Most companies- when faced with a financial decision- will cut their budget by a necessary percentage or dollar figure, then figure out how to allocate it. If I were in the room, I might suggest a different tact. That being ensuring media are subjected to performance reviews prior to budget adjustments and allocations. If I have advertising efforts that outperform some other revenue generating factor, then perhaps that should be considered at the same time as the expense burden. Which brings me to...

3) Metrics- Advertising carries with it an inherent risk. But these days the technology exists to greatly diminish that risk and make reasonable and scientific conclusions about the success of your efforts. These could range from something simple- like a physical coupon in a Super Shopper- to the advanced- like post click conversion analysis for online advertising. But, at the minimum, you should know how much a customer/client is worth (on average) and how much it costs to attain them (per media outlet).

Amazon, several years ago, somewhat famously stated that they had an unlimited budget for advertising. But there was a significant caveat: The budget was unlimited for any source that would produce a customer for less than $33 a piece- above their profit threshold at the time. Amazon tracked all of its sources closely. For any media that generated customers for, on average, $33 or less, they continued to reinvest.

I wouldn't expect everyone to match Amazon's analysis of media. But I would hope that in a competitive environment, marketers and business owners alike see the difference between cutting costs and cutting revenue.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

NUmedia: Google ends Print Ads program

Posted By on Mon, Jan 26, 2009 at 4:00 AM

Last week, Spencer Spinnell of Google announced the company would end the Print Ads component of its popular Adwords service, effective February 28. Google launched the program in 2006 with about 50 newspapers and grew its number of partners to over 800. Customers who have already purchased print ads will have until the end of March to place those ads in partner publications.

The news on the web seems more than a littler Bearish about the impact that this decision will have on print industry. "Google can't save newspapers, either" announced the LA Times. "Death of Print:..." was the header on Mediabistro.

But I wanted to take a harder look at why this decision was made. First, this announcement follows closely on the heels Google's first ever round of layoffs, which began in Q4. Spinnell states in his post that Google will, "refocus our efforts on those [projects] that will delight millions of users." He lists Adsense, Google Maps, YouTube, and Google News among them. Google, for this first time, is being forced to narrow their focus due in part to the economic climate.

Secondly, what Google offered was not an option to build an effective print campaign. Google leveraged the Adwords tool to allow advertisers to bid on "remnant", or unsold space, in print publications. This had more than one negative impact on the transaction.

A) In this scenario, the bidder is presented to the media as a lower priority than local/ retail clients. I'm certain at least some advertising was rejected by publishers. Inexperienced advertisers may have never returned once a bid was rejected. Others may have never adjusted their strategy to reflect the situation.

B) Google relied too heavily on the existing Adwords interface. While it is an effective bidding system, it hindered the ability of a bidder to create an effective branding campaign.

C) The metrics-driven Adwords system attracts a certain type of advertiser- one that relies heavily on metrics. While print publications may be able to offer a real ROI and tracking thereof, the interface Google presented did not.

Overall, Google created a square-peg/ round-hole issue in trying to apply the 1-2-3 process of placing text ads online (and naming your own price) to a medium that works in a very different way.

Finally, while their 800 print partners sounds like a staggering number to the layperson, the truth is Google didn't have near enough participation from the print industry. Gannett, parent company of the Star, owns over 900 publications alone. So Google had only a small percentage of American publishers on board, though no doubt targeted those with the broadest geographic reach. Google should have been aware that it's own search engine is guiding more and more people away from these giant publishers to bloggers and micro-media with highly targeted audiences, whether due to geographic or topical relevance. They couldn't offer that same level of targeting via print with the partners they had in place.

Google was never going to "save newspapers". That wasn't the plan. It was to augment incremental income by offering a tertiary service to online advertisers. Neither the margin nor the volume they wanted was there, so they are moving on.

Spinnell said in his post, "We believe fair and accurate journalism and timely news are critical ingredients to a healthy democracy. We remain dedicated to working with publishers to develop new ways for them to earn money, distribute and aggregate content and attract new readers online." Realistically, I think this will mean rolling out those core Google services in a way to capitalize on the existing bases of millions already interacting with the news outlets, rather than trying to augment traditional advertising. Google News and Earth may be a way to enhance the experience for audiences of some publications, but only for those who will pay to play.

You can see Spinnell's announcment here:

http://google-tmads.blogspot.com/2009/01/turning-page-on-print-ads.html

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Hoppe on the Arts: Blood Wedding

Posted By on Mon, Jan 26, 2009 at 4:00 AM

Movement is all the rage in theatre today. I suspect this is because the world we experience increasingly places us at a loss for words. Once, finding the "right" words was enough -- more than enough in the case of a Shakespeare, say. or someone closer to home, Eugene O'Neill. It's not for nothing that for many theatregoers, their favorite artform is, at base, a literary experience acted out in three dimensions.

But, as I said, this way of thinking about theatre is actually a way of thinking about language. Artaud was possibly the first Westerner to suggest that language wasn't enough -- that the experience theatre was capable of creating might transcend words, no matter how brilliantly spoken. This is still a subversive position as far as a majority of the theatre community is concerned.

Nevertheless, movement has been finding its way into theatre to increasingly great effect. From the spectacles of Cirque du Soleil to stark renditions of Bhuto, if one looks, one is liable to find movement that doesn't merely aim to decorate the spoken word but take us places words may seem unable to go.

Just as we are living in an era where the visual usurps text, so movement may be usurping the spoken word on stage.

I was reminded of this the other night while watching a Criterion DVD of Carlos Saura's 1981 film, Blood Wedding starring the amazing Flamenco artist Antonio Gades. Saura's film takes place in a dance studio, a rehearsal hall where Gades' company is preparing a production based on Lorca's tale of passion and betrayal.

The film opens like a documentary, with the dancers entering a communal dressing room and getting ready for what will be a dress rehearsal. We observe them warming up and getting into costume. Then Gades, who is not only the lead dancer, but artistic director, tells his company of dancers and musicians that the time has come to run through the piece in its entirety, without interruption.

The story unfolds before us with mythic power. There are no sets; the space is defined by its empty purity and the energy the artists performing there bring to it. Whatever language there is is sung. There is only ambient light, but the air is charged nonetheless by the musicians. The only props are knives. The rest depends on humans, moving.

Everything depends on these performers.

It would be easy to call this a ballet and settle back into the comfort of the tried and true -- a place for everything and everything in its place. This would not be wrong, but I think it would miss a larger opportunity. That opportunity is about understanding what is essential to what we can experience when we enter a space where a performance takes place.

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Mike Beas: Super Bowl XLIII storylines

Posted By on Mon, Jan 26, 2009 at 4:00 AM

We're not even to the weekend of Super Bowl XLIII and already the storylines, intriguing and the mundane retread, are inescapable. It's safe to assume that by the morning of Feb. 1 we'll have been fed life-altering morsels of information such as:

The influence Kurt Warner's Sunday School teacher had on the Arizona quarterback all those years ago.

Who was the last person bold enough to take scissors to the scalp of Pittsburgh's All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu. Given the length of Polamalu's dark locks, this individual could have passed away three years ago.

How St. Louis fans feel now that the quarterback they let go is leading the Cardinals to the Super Bowl while their beloved Rams have since gradually lowered themselves into the National Football League's abyss.

Why Tampa is such an amazing, marvelous, unmatched location for a Super Bowl even though the city previously hosted two of the worst games ever — the Raiders' 38-9 dismantling of Washington in 1984 and Baltimore's 34-7 snoozer over the New York Giants in 2001.

Whether or not the stiffest of south Florida breezes or Terry Bradshaw's breath can even slightly move one strand of Jimmie Johnson's helmet hairdo.

Compelling stuff, alright. Information the American football fan thirsts to know. Well, not really, but that's what happens when media members are given 14 days to fill notebooks, film practices and interview everyone short of the guy who carts the water coolers to each bench before the game.

It's been argued that the two-week bridge between conference title games and the Super Bowl is too long and that so much time risks making us sick of the game days before the ceremonial pregame coin-flip takes place.

True? False? Probably a little of both. There is, however, a bright side. Some high-ranking NFL executive years ago could have made it three weeks and elected not to.

PARTING SHOT: Chances are that a microscopically small percentage of fans not saddled with Arizona mailing addresses are predicting a Cardinals victory against the favored Steelers.

Arizona's never been to a Super Bowl. This is Pittsburg's seventh. Whether deserved or not, the Cardinals come in with more of a finesse reputation, while the Steelers . . . did you see the Baltimore game? Pittsburgh packs all the subtlety of a bullhorn.

But then the New England Patriots were supposed to floss their teeth with the New York Giants a year ago on the big stage and wound up on the wrong end of a 17-14 score.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 27, Arizona 14. Prediction II: Steelers' wideout Hines Ward is MVP.

And now the truly disturbing part: The Indianapolis Colts are better than both these teams.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Hoppe on the Arts: Uh-oh

Posted By on Fri, Jan 23, 2009 at 4:00 AM

Talk about being out to lunch...

I went to lunch today and when I got back there were these two related bits of bad news in my IN box. The first concerned the American Cabaret Theatre's decision to move out of the Athenaeum, a building the ACT virtually rescued back in 1990 when the rest of the city, in its architectural wisdom, had all but left this historic landmark for dead.

Claude McNeal was head of the ACT in those days. He drummed up the funds to fix the roof and resurrect the theater space. Since then, the Athenaeum has made a kind of comeback. It houses a YMCA and the splendid German restaurant, The Rathskeller. But the building, like just about everything else these days is, as they say, facing financial challenges. Losing the ACT can't help.

But then the ACT isn't a service organization. In a press release you can find elsewhere on NUVO's site, ACT Board Chair Barbara Weaver Smith listed several reasons for wanting to move out of the building, all of which add up to the organization's not being able to afford working there any more. ACT also laid off four full-time employees, but retained Shannon Forsell as their Managing Director. They say they're going to produce "more intimate" shows -- which may be true, but is also another way of saying "low budget."

ACT hopes to announce a new venue in "the coming weeks."

The other bit that was waiting for me came via the Indianapolis Business Journal. It appears the Capital Improvement Board is running a $20 million deficit for Lucas Oil Stadium. This comes as no surprise. Everything about a facility like the Luc costs more than advertised; it figured that that the CIB would get hammered with a large bill.

Nevertheless, this is news that arts advocates have been dreading. The CIB provides the Arts Council with $1 million a year for grants. It also helps fund the Cultural Development Commission, one of this town's more successful ventures in support for the arts. The fear in arts circles has been that, given its financial stress, the CIB will begin to back away from arts support, if not eliminate it completely.

But if the CIB turns its financial predicament into an excuse to walk away from its support for the arts, the city it supposedly serves, especially downtown, will suffer for it.

Arts organizations in Indianapolis are taking it on the chin. The Beckmann Theatre has given up the ghost. The Writers' Center is on hiatus. ACT is moving out of the Athenaeum. Even the IMA is experiencing a pinch. It's safe to say this is probably just the beginning of a troubling trend. And it speaks to how precarious the Indianapolis arts scene really is.

Indianapolis spent the better part of a decade investing in efforts to turn itself into a cultural destination. Although that mission has yet to be accomplished, real progress was made. This, to a great extent, was thanks to the CIB's recognition that Indianapolis cannot live by sports alone. It needs cultural vitality if it wants to be the full-service convention and tourist attraction it has staked its future on becoming.

This is not the time for arts funders, no matter what other challenges they're facing, to take the lazy way out and cut their modest contributions to the arts. If they do, they'll be amazed at how quickly 2009 will seem like 1999.

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Kate: Yo Yo Ma is the new Ashlee Simpson

Posted By on Fri, Jan 23, 2009 at 4:00 AM

Yo Yo Ma is a faker. OK, just when it's below freezing.

If you tuned in to the inauguration festivities on Monday, you may have witnessed the superstar quartet comprised of cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Itzhak Perlman, pianist Gabriela Montero and clarinetist Anthony McGill perform "Air and Simple Gifts".

According to reports, they used a previously recorded audio tape for the broadcast of Barack Obama's inauguration ceremonies.

(CLICK HERE for the full story)

"They were very insistent on playing live until it became clear that it would be too cold," says the rep.

Apparently, instruments don't totally stay on tune in the chilly weather.

Violinist Perlman told a reporter, "It would have been a disaster if we had done it any other way. This occasion's got to be perfect. You can't have any slip-ups."

However, the Marine Band did indeed perform live, said the inauguration committee PR person.

Guess brass instruments do better in cold weather?

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Arts: American Cabaret Theatre leaves the Athanaeum

Posted By on Fri, Jan 23, 2009 at 4:00 AM

The American Cabaret Theatre has announced a major shake-up that brings in new leadership for the organization and a new location -- that's yet to be determined.

In a press release issued by ACT board president Barbara Weaver Smith, the organization declared that it would be leaving its long-time home in the historic Athenaeum Building in the Mass Ave Cultural District. "The space has served us well," Smith is quoted as saying, "however rising lease fees, restrictions that exclude ACT from receiving beverage revenues, and sound issues from outdoor concerts have made this no longer a viable space for the organization."

ACT says it will announce a new venue "in the coming weeks."

ACT will also eliminate four full-time staff positions, including Artistic Director Bob Harbin. Veteran cabaret performer Shannon Forsell has been named Managing Director.

The ACT Board is calling these developments a "new era" for the theater, which they are calling "Rediscover Cabaret." Forsell is quoted: "The theatre is returning to its roots but also making changes to reflect current audience trends. ACT will produce smaller, more intimate and authentic cabaret shows, shows more true to the cabaret art form."

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