Friday, May 30, 2008

TeatroStageFest '08

For the second year, several New York City theater companies will team up with colleagues from Latin America, the Caribbean and Spain to present a two-week celebration of Latino performance at several locations around the city. The festival, which includes plays, concerts, comedy, panel discussions and even a high school playwriting competition, starts on Monday, when Bianca Marroquin, Broadway’s current Roxie Hart in “Chicago,” performs a solo evening at Joe’s Pub, offering a mix of her original songs, show tunes and Mexican standards.

Other festival participants include the stalwart New York company Repertorio Español, now in its 40th-anniversary season, which will present “Doña Flor y Sus Dos Maridos” (“Doña Flor and Her Two Husbands”), a surreal Brazilian comedy about a woman living with — and sleeping with — both her new husband and the ghost of her dead ex. Among the visiting troupes are Teatro La Zaranda, from Andalucía, Spain, offering the absurdist clown tale “Los Que Ríen Los Últimos” (“Those Who Laugh Last”), above, and Grupo Doble Ve, from Buenos Aires. That Argentinean troupe will perform two one-act plays, “Harina” (“Flour”) and “Guardavidas” (“Lifeguard”), to be presented in Spanish with live English translation.

From ‘Theater Listing’ in the NYTimes by Steven McElroy

Thursday, May 29, 2008

IRA Incentive

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill that would renew a tax break that encourages older Americans to give money from their individual retirement accounts to nonprofit causes. Until December 31 of last year, donors age 70½ or older were able to transfer up to $100,000 to charity from their individual retirement accounts each year without paying income taxes on the money. Members of Congress have been working to revive the tax break, and the House on Wednesday approved legislation that would extend the break for one year, from January 1, 2008, through December 31.

Grandma, Grandpa, time to pony up.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Theatre FIT

The network Theatre FESTIVALS IN TRANSITION (FIT), involving eight festivals in eight European countries, was founded in 2005. Between 2005 and 2006, FIT organized a series of contemporary theatre projects and highly regarded symposia on ‘festival policy′, which took place at all the participating festivals: Homo Novus in Riga, Latvia, Divadelna Nitra in Slovakia, Sirenos in Vilnius, Lithuania, SPIELART Munich in Germany, Exodos in Ljubljana, Slovenia, Krakow Theatre Reminiscences in Poland, 4+4 Days in Motion in Prague, Czech Republic and Baltoscandal in Rakvere, Estonia. Discussions gathered festival programmers, artists, supporters and cultural policy makers on local, national and European level and were focused on the role of festivals as a generator for a European cultural network.

With an enlarged network now involving ten festivals, from 2007 FIT embarks on a new project - a MOBILE LAB for Theatre and Communication. Ten European festivals focusing on contemporary theatre creation have come together to create a travelling laboratory to explore, develop and test drive innovative practices of discourse, critical writing and communication between artists, programmers and audiences in response to contemporary performance. Through carefully developed artistic programs, public discussions, collaborations with the media and Mobile Lab workshop programs for young theatre critics and writers, the project aims to facilitate a deeper and more wide ranging communication around contemporary art to a wider audience.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

‘Leaving’ Marks Havel’s Return

This weekend commemorated Václav Havel’s return, after nearly two decades, to the Czech stage with his new play Odchazeni (Leaving). Touted as Europe's most eagerly awaited theatre event of the year, Havel, who served as the Czech Republic’s president from 1989-2003, was typically low-key and did not make any grand speeches. Instead, the audience at Prague's Archa theatre heard recordings of the distinct gravelly voice of Havel interrupting the drama at regular intervals. Click here for a print article and audio.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Dream of a Global Wireless Web

In 2005, Martin Varsavsky, aiming to create a global wireless network, founded FON, a Madrid-based company that’s goal is to unlock the potential power of the social Internet. FON’s gamble is that Internet users will share a portion of their wireless connection with strangers in exchange for access to wireless hotspots controlled by others. Click here for the article about him and his current struggles to make it a reality.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

U.S. Colleges - Not So International

This is the entirity of an article by Scott Jaschik published on

College presidents boast these days about how international their institutions are — and many indeed are opening campuses abroad, promoting the study of foreign cultures, and sending more and more students outside the United States for a semester. But a study being released today by the Center for International Initiatives at the American Council on Education finds plenty of evidence that at a large number of institutions, borders very much exist.

Among the findings:

At 27 percent of institutions, no students graduating in 2005 studied abroad.

The percentage of colleges that require a course with an international or global focus as part of the general education curriculum fell from 41 percent in 2001 to 37 percent in 2006. Less than one in five had a foreign-language requirement for all undergraduates.

Less than 40 percent of institutions made specific reference to international or global education in their mission statements, although that figure is up from 28 percent in 2001.

Most institutions do not have a full-time person to oversee or coordinate internationalization.

The survey found different international strengths at different types of institutions, with doctoral institutions more focused on including international education in strategies and having full-time personnel to work on the plans. Bachelor’s institutions have the highest participation rates in study abroad. Community colleges were more likely than other sectors to create professional development programs for professors, focused on global issues.

The survey results appear in Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses: 2008 Edition.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Check by Jowl: Small Co. to Global Phenomenon

In 1981, Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod founded Check by Jowl, a company that would be small, supple and cheap to run. They would offer an eclectic repertoire that would travel incessantly. As an article in the ‘Guardian’ recently chronicles, “[27 years on], that tiny troupe has given way to a multinational, multi- lingual operation, currently with three productions on the go: a French-language Andromache touring Belgium, a revival of their Russian Boris Godunov preparing to transfer to Salford - and the new Troilus, which comes to London via the Netherlands and Romania before flitting off to Spain.”

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tips for Cheap Flights

Informative article with useful links in the NYTimes about the current hunt for discount airline tickets. This on the heels of American Airlines announcing they are going to start charging to check baggage. With the summer travel season approaching and the price of oil at an all time high, some of these tips might help you save some money.



Blanchett’s Company Declares Deficit

Despite the appointment of Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton as co-artistic directors, and Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani's large cash donation, the Sydney Theatre Company yesterday announced a loss of $253,007 -- its third consecutive deficit.

The deficit occurred despite box office receipts of $11.2 million last year, the second-highest figure in the company's history, and a 9% increase in sponsorships and philanthropic donations, reaching a record total of $2.6 million.

The STC had sellout seasons of three main productions: Blackbird, which Blanchett directed, Upton's play Riflemind, directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman; and Patrick White's The Season at Sarsaparilla, directed by Benedict Andrews. The STC is fortunate that it has been able to dip into its cash reserves of more than $1.6million to offset the deficit. Thanks to federal and state government subsidies, the STC now will receive about $500,000 a year from this year to 2010.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Theatrical Archaeology

Many of us may have been waiting twenty years for the newest instalment of the Indiana Jones film franchise, but some theatre geeks have been waiting much longer to unearth some neglected and forgotten play scripts. An article in this past weekend in Canada’s ‘Globe and Mail’ talks about one such instance when Jonathan Bank, the artistic director of New York's Mint Theatre Company, arrived in Niagara-on-the-Lake clutching an envelope to chat with Shaw Festival artistic director Jackie Maxwell. She was in the midst of a hugely successful run of Githa Sowerby's Rutherford and Son, and Bank delivered exactly what she'd been searching for: one of Sowerby's missing plays, The Stepmother, never performed publicly and all but forgotten. This sowed the seeds of what Maxwell likes to call “archeological programming” – the presentation of lost, forgotten and undiscovered plays at the Shaw Festival.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Commie Brecht

Amusing little article in this Sunday’s Guardian by Nick Cohen about Brecht and how most people (theatre artists and audiences alike) overlook or ignore that he was a communist playwright. Cohen suggests that people either a) “deodorise him by pretending he was really a liberal humanist” b) “have an adult argument” or c) “shrug and walk away”. I’m guessing it’s mostly the third, with a little of the first, and almost never, if ever, the second. Does it matter that he was a communist and, if many of his themes actively embrace that philosophy, are his plays even relevant anymore? We can certainly credit him with giving us ‘alienation’, but has he cursed that fate upon himself?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Greater London Theatre

London's County Hall, the former home of both the Greater London Council and the Saatchi Gallery, is to become a three-theatre entertainment complex called the Greater London Theatre.

The building's original debating chamber - having witnessed well-publicized clashes between Livingstone and Thatcher in the 80s - will be the main theatrical space. Creative company Weird & Wonderful - which already runs Movieum, an exhibition of film props, in the building - is also in talks to build a black-box studio; outdoor productions will be staged on County Hall's riverside terrace. With the creation of the Greater London Theatre, the plan is to turn the building into a cultural centre to rival other off-West End venues such as the Battersea Arts Centre in south London.

According to Marcus Campbell Sinclair, the project's joint artistic director, the new venue will be multi-disciplinary. "It will work brilliantly as a bridge between fringe and West End theatre," he said. "We are creating in-house productions, and are also in talks with external companies who wish to come in and utilize the space. It will be a mixture of new writing, classical works and other performance theatre."

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Crime Pays (for the Arts)

The Scottish Government has announced a £600,000 package of funding available for arts projects that create social inclusion for young people. The so called ‘CashBack for Communities’ funding will use money seized from convicted criminals and require matched business funding from the private sector - in cash or kind - to release £1.2 million over the next two years.

The project is the first culture scheme supported by the Proceeds of Crime Act. The funds will be used to promote social inclusion through the arts for young people between ten and 19 years, in particular those who may not otherwise have such opportunities.

Culture Minister Linda Fabiani said, "Recycling the money of criminals into arts and cultural opportunities is poetic justice indeed and I now want to see this fund benefit young people across Scotland, particularly those who may not have the parental support to encourage them out to try new and different activities."

Friday, May 16, 2008

Festival for New Modes of Moving and Existing

NEW LIFE BERLIN is a contemporary art festival dedicated to new modes of moving and existing. Curated from the online art community WOOLOO.ORG, NEW LIFE BERLIN aims to connect the critical resources of a global network of artists with the physical geography of Berlin, as Europe's pre-eminent centre for cultural production. NEW LIFE BERLIN is taking place in Berlin from June 1-15, 2008 in collaboration with BERLINAUT.

The NEW LIFE BERLIN artistic program is focused on participation and is open to proposals from international artists. By inviting participation (while still retaining curatorial control), NEW LIFE BERLIN will investigate the much discussed 'online community' - How effective is this community? What binds this community? What governs it? In contrast to traditional art festivals and biennials, NEW LIFE BERLIN will not represent a set of cultural conclusions, but create a model for a fluid cultural landscape. Artists working in all mediums are encouraged to apply for participation in the various NEW LIFE BERLIN projects. All applications must be made online.

Participation in the NEW LIFE BERLIN artistic program is open to artists and writers and is structured along three main themes:

Transnational Communities. What do 'community' and 'identity' mean today? Presenting projects from both artistic and sociological starting points, NEW LIFE BERLIN will use group participation to explore real-life cultural mobility.

Artistic Social Responsibility. What is the relationship between cultural practitioners and corporate entities in the new millennium? How does contemporary cultural production relate to the concept of "Corporate Social Responsibility"?

Participation and Intervention. How do participatory arts practices affect the socio-cultural environments in which they take place? How and why can local audiences become involved in artists' projects, and what does their involvement mean in terms of civic engagement and
social empowerment?

Please click
here for additional information.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

U.S. Taxation of Artists from Abroad

The Taxation on International Artists Task Force was formed in June 2007 and is dedicated to improving opportunities for international cultural exchange. U.S.-based organizations should be informed about compliance with Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Social Security Administration (SSA) requirements, as they pertain to the engagement of foreign guest artists.

We are working to urge the Internal Revenue Service and Social Security Administration to support international cultural exchange by easing the burdensome tax requirements foreign guest artists engaged by or on behalf of nonprofit arts organizations.

These are issues that have been brought to our attention:

· IRS requirements for withholding for foreign guest artists are complicated, unclear, and subject to inconsistent interpretation by the IRS.

· Many nonprofit arts organizations must withhold a full 30% from compensation for foreign guest artists, as it is often difficult or impossible to access existing forms of exemption from withholding.

· To comply with tax requirements, individuals are required to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN), which is increasingly difficult and often impossible for foreign guest artists visiting the United States for only a brief period of time.

· Without an SSN, artists can not avail themselves of the exemptions from withholding available via tax treaties. The IRS Form 8233 – the application for individual exemption from withholding – requires a U.S. tax identification number.

· Entering into a Central Withholding Agreement (CWA is usually not an option for visiting guest artists.) The nature of scheduling, booking, and confirming highly sought-after artists, guest soloists and performing groups- usually on a case-by-case basis - makes it extremely difficult arrange a tax agreement in advance. CWAs and mini-CWAs are currently available only to individuals and are not available for groups of artists.

· The IRS does not have a reliable and accessible process in place for recognizing the nonprofit status of foreign arts groups. Currently, IRS requires a letter from a U.S.-based attorney, stating that the foreign entity would be eligible for 501(c)(3) status in the U.S. It is often impossible to obtain such a letter.

· Foreign guest artists performing with nonprofit arts organizations are subject to the same tax burden as large, for-profit foreign stadium acts. For foreign artists earning modest compensation, this tax burden may prevent them from accepting a U.S. engagement.

More information can be found

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

European Association for Theatre Culture

Akt-Zent/Protei/Scut was founded in 1994 under the artistic direction of Jurij Alschitz as mutually independent international theatre centers in Berlin, Rome, Stockholm and Oslo. In 2000 they joined forces to create the European Association for Theatre Culture with the objective to bring together the world’s different theatre traditions, primarily those of Western Europe and Russia. All its programs are designed to promote the on-going education of professional actors, directors, pedagogues and scholars. In master-classes, seminars, conference, laboratories and festivals, the aim is the research and exploration of theatrical processes. Applications are currently available for their International theatre Summer Academy, which offers four training courses: 1. School for Professional Actors 2. School for Young Actors 3. School for Directors, Acting Teachers, Choreographers and Playwrights and 4. Open School of Ideas. Click here for more information about the organization and programming.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tony Nominations

Though the monster that is the ‘American Musical’ doesn’t seem to have any global competition, the Brits have once again invaded Broadway and given us Yankees a run for our theatrical money. All eight musicals (original and revival) nominated for the Tony Award are ‘Made in the USA’, but only one out of the eight plays is from the States. Laurence Fishburne of Thurgood will be competing with four other Brits for best lead in a play, while on the flip side, Kate Fleetwood of Macbeth will compete with four Americans for best lead actress (though, in my opinion, Amy Morton should have been put in the featured category so that she and Deanna Dunagan can both take home awards). As far as my two cents, August: Osage County and Passing Strange are my personal favorites, though many of the other nominations are quite good. Let’s just all be thankful that crap like Young Frankenstein barely got recognized.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Creative Australia?

Here’s a brief summary article about the recent 2020 Australia Summit. One of the ten subjects covered was ‘Creative Australia’. A diverse group of ‘creatives’ was invited (including Hugh Jackman and Cate Blanchett) to meet with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Though the government claims that the culture is one of the “critical areas’ of Australia’s future, critics claim that the whole event was a crude publicity stunt designed to validate the PM’s existing positions. As the article concludes “In terms of harvesting ideas, it was a brilliant success. What remains to be seen is whether the Australian government will use them as more than decoration.”

Sunday, May 11, 2008

European Performance Art Festival

The Centre for Contemporary Art at Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw, Poland is calling for submissions from emerging performance artists for the European Performance Art Festival 2008. The deadline is June 10 and they will accept 10 artists. The festival will take place from September 11-13, 2008.

Qualified artists will receive: materials, equipment and CCA space required for performance; board and lodging during the festival; photographic and video documentation of the performance presented during the festival; the author’s fee of 1000 PLN and travel costs.

The following is required for applications:
1. First name and surname, biographical note, address
2. Short description (not longer than 2000 characters) of the proposed performance, including the duration of the performance, materials, equipment and space requirements.
3. Video material with the documentation of previous performances (with a description containing the title, date and place of the performance) 3 photographs documenting previous performances

Submissions should be mailed to the following address:
EPAF 2008
Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castleul.
Jazdow 200-467 Warszawa Poland

Friday, May 9, 2008

US Foundation Giving Up 10%

As recently reported by the Foundation Center, the USA’s 72,000 grant-making organizations increased their giving by 10% in 2007 to $42.9 billion. The 2008 edition of Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates found that a nearly 12% growth in foundation assets in 2006 — the first double-digit gain in assets since 1999 — contributed to the increase. The establishment of new foundations, while occurring more slowly than during the late 1990s and early 2000s, also helped to raise the level of foundation giving.

According to the report, independent and family foundations — which represent almost 90% of all private foundations in the U.S. — increased their giving by 12.7% in 2007, compared to a 9% increase in 2006; community foundations boosted their giving by 13.9% — the fourth consecutive year of double-digit increases and a slight increase over the 11.8% jump in 2006; and corporate foundation giving rose 6.6%, following a modest 2.6% increase in 2006.

According to the survey, foundation assets grew an estimated 9 percent in 2007, to a record $670 billion, which suggests that foundation giving overall will show positive, albeit modest, growth this year.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

UK Foreign Artist Visa Announcment

The UK Home Office has announced that foreign actors and musicians will not need to obtain a visa when coming to the UK for less than three months. Instead, performers will only need a certificate of sponsorship from a UK-based employer when new visa rules are enforced in the fall.

This is a reversal of a previous proposal which would have required all artists from outside the European Economic Area to obtain a visa, which would have deterred artists from coming to the UK and prevented venues and promoters from hosting them.

Details of how the new points-based system for temporary workers will run have been published by the Home Office. Along with the visa exemption for foreign staff in the UK for up to three months, the document has also outlined that employers will have to adhere to a Code of Best Practice created by industry bodies including the Nation Campaign for the Arts, Equity, Society of London Theatres and the Theatrical Management Association.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Royal Court's 'Unheard Voices'

Michael Billington writes about the Royal Court’s ‘Unheard Voices’ workshop, focused on young British Muslim playwrights. As part of the Young Writers Programme, the Royal Court went to local schools, colleges and community centers in an attempt to find individuals between 16-26 years old who had original voices and an interest in writing. Starting in January, the participants took part in a 10-week playwriting course and then were sent off to write a play. As Billington concludes, “I suspect new British drama, in the years ahead, will increasingly come from minority groups; by giving a platform to these fledgling writers, the Court is spreading information and light. We all need urgently to learn about the multicultural society in which we live.”

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Performing Arts Network Japan

Performing Arts Network Japan is a site dedicated to disseminating information about the contemporary performing arts market in Japan. They also have an eye on the international scene and monthly highlight presenters from around the globe. They have also recently published an English edition of Theater in Japan: An Overview of Performing Arts and Artists. Consisting of two parts, the first presents commentary on the latest developments in the contemporary performing arts scene and the second focuses on the small-theatre dramas. This month they interview playwright, Shiro Maeda, winner of the 52nd annual Kishida Drama Award.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Stoppard at HighTide Festival

Here’s an interview with Tom Stoppard from The Guardian before his appearance at the HighTide Festival of New Work. Questions include: How important is new writing? Can writing be taught? and Have you become less of a control freak? One of plays in the festival is by Joel Horwood who I met last year while he was here in New York as part of the Old Vic/New Voices program. Great young playwright.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Huis en Festival a/d Werf

Huis en Festival a/d Werf is the public platform for theatre, music and visual arts in Holland where young artists can develop their work. Every week, guest companies tread the boards, while new work is created in the studios. From May 22-31, 2008, the festival takes the city of Utrecht as its stage, to present productions at surprising locations, indoors and in the open air. Art for now and art of the future - together under one roof. Check out the English and Dutch sites.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

EU-Mexico Cultural Exchange

This program aims to promote cultural cooperation between the EU and Mexico, through the implementation of cultural exchanges between both regions, leading to participation of artists from EU Member states (and eligible countries) in cultural festivals in Mexico as well as other meetings and cultural policy dialogue between cultural operators in EU and Mexico. The deadline for the submission of projects is June 1. Applications must be made by the Mexican nationality partner. See guidelines (in Spanish only) for all details.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Negative Views Of U.S. Still Strong in Arab World

A new survey, conducted by the University of Maryland and Zogby International, finds that 8 out of 10 Arabs have unfavorable views of the United States. Polling 4000 respondents living in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates, 80% said their opinions were based on the policies of the U.S. government, not by American values or culture. The poll also looked at some public diplomacy efforts and found that viewership of the U.S.-sponsored Al Hurra TV service remains at 2%, while Al Jazeera receives 53% of Arab audiences.