WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (January 9-15, 2012)

ARTS & CULTURE

Back to School, Not on a Campus but in a Beloved Museum.” By Douglas Quenqua. New York Times. January 15, 2012. Wanted: 50 former science majors with an interest in teaching — no experience, please — and a willingness to relocate. Must be comfortable sharing a classroom with dinosaur bones and giant squid. This June, the American Museum of Natural History will introduce its first Master of Arts in teaching program, in which students with a background, if not a career, in science can spend 15 months learning to become earth science teachers. Tuition is free, thanks to the New York State Board of Regents, and students will receive $30,000 stipends and health benefits. “We’re looking for people who want to make a career of teaching and stay in the business,” said Ellen V. Futter, president of the museum, “whether they be just out of college or former participants in a volunteer corps or career changers or veterans.” The goal is to produce 50 new science teachers over two years for the state’s middle and high schools, which have long coped with a critical shortage of math and science instructors. As with nearly any attractive offer, there is a catch: Graduates must commit to spending four years teaching in a high-needs public school, and may be assigned anywhere in New York State

With $11 mil donation, YUAG reopening on schedule.” By Urvi Nopany and Tapley Stephenson. Yale Daily News. January 10, 2012. A major donation to the Yale University Art Gallery announced in December will put the final touches on an 11-year construction project. The $11 million donation from Stephen Susman ’62 will fund the Stephen Susman Galleries on the museum’s newly created fourth floor, part of the ongoing renovations to Street Hall and Swartwout Hall that began in 2008. The renovation was one of seven major projects stalled by the economic recession that year but one of two to be revived and funded entirely by donations. Susman’s gift came at a “critical time,” University President Richard Levin said in a Dec. 21 press release: With the donation, the Art Gallery renovations will be complete for its reopening, scheduled for December 2012. While the art gallery had raised enough money to complete construction on its building, Susman’s donation was necessary to cover the costs of reinstalling of the gallery’s artwork, Levin told the News on Monday. The art gallery renovation was one of two projects able secure enough donations to continue during the recession without University resources, Levin said. The other, construction of the new School of Management campus, received separate donations of $50 million and $10 million in 2010. When the recession hit, Levin said, Yale assessed each of its major projects in terms of fundraising potential. Those for which donors would be harder to find, Levin said, were delayed or funded by the University where possible. Such projects included the 13th and 14th residential colleges, renovations on Hendrie Hall and construction of a new building for the School of Drama.

Churchly Sanctuary for Music Cuts Back.” By James R. Oestreich. New York Times. January 10, 2012. Perhaps no institution responded more wholeheartedly to the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks last year than Trinity Church. As well it should have; located prominently at Broadway and Wall Street, Trinity was a near neighbor of the World Trade Center, and its satellite St. Paul’s Chapel, a few blocks up Broadway and directly across from the Trade Center grounds, served as the prime staging area for rescue workers. Trinity’s weeklong commemoration relied heavily on its music program, long impressive and thriving in recent years as never before. On Friday, Sept. 9, to set the tone for a weekend full of official ceremonies, Trinity imported choirs from Washington, Boston and Bethlehem, Pa., to represent cities and a state directly affected by the attacks, and presented no fewer than 10 concerts, alternating more or less hourly between the church and the chapel. For at least one listener who took it all in, it was a stunning event. And it was far from the only highlight of the program in a year of glowing promise and stellar achievement. In fact, having installed Julian Wachner as its director of music and arts in September 2010, Trinity Church, the major spiritual center of the financial district, was bidding fair to become its major cultural center as well. But with the new year, the church’s hard-charging music program seems to have hit a serious speed bump. On Friday the performance was interrupted for brief remarks by the Rev. Canon Anne Mallonee and Mr. Wachner. Ms. Mallonee began by congratulating Mr. Wachner “on a wonderful and ambitious first year,” a sentiment that met with sustained applause from the audience and the musicians. Then she announced that the Bach at One concerts were being put on a “short hiatus,” while the church, to determine “the best ways to promote music and the arts,” explored “additional funding sources and programming options.” It seems safe to say that Trinity Church is not an impoverished institution. On the other hand, it has a right to determine its own priorities and it is unquestionably doing a world of good in many important areas. The happy marvel for a time seemed to be that it could do all of that and become a major cultural force.

Carnegie Hall to Establish National Youth Orchestra.” By Daniel J. Wakin. New York Times. January 11, 2012. Ireland has one. Norway has one. Sweden has one, and it will be at Carnegie Hall on Jan. 26. Even Iraq has one. National youth orchestras exist by that name in many countries, but not on the vast terrain of the United States, where young players generally strive to make all-state ensembles, join metropolitan area groups or attend major music camps like Interlochen that have high-level orchestras. Now Carnegie Hall, in its latest act of musical empire building, is establishing the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, it said Wednesday. The reality is a bit less grandiose than the name. The orchestra will convene for three weeks in the summer and consist of musicians from ages 16 to 19. The first two weeks will be spent rehearsing on the campus of Purchase College of the State University of New York, in Westchester County. Then comes the payoff: performances at that college’s performing arts center and the Kennedy Center in Washington, and a tour that will take the orchestra to Moscow, St. Petersburg and London, all with the noted conductor Valery Gergiev on the podium. The first session will take place in July 2013. The orchestra will not play at Carnegie until the following year because of renovation work. Professional musicians from major ensembles will coach sections of the orchestra, and Mr. Gergiev will arrive in the second week to take over rehearsals. A different conductor will be chosen each year. The program’s first three summers will cost several million dollars. Mr. Gillinson declined to be more specific. Financing is coming from Joan and Sanford I. Weill; the Weill Family Foundation; the Rockefeller Foundation; and the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation. Mr. Weill is Carnegie’s chairman and a longtime patron. Carnegie’s educational wing, the Weill Music Institute, is organizing the program.

Gardner shows off its graceful update; $114m wing unveiled with founder’s vision in mind.” By Geoff Edgers. Boston Globe. January 12, 2012. When leaders of the 109-year-old Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum unveiled its $114 million addition today, they did so with an eye toward the past, referencing the project not as an expansion but as a “preservation.’’ Isabella Stewart Gardner herself could never have anticipated that her palace-museum would grow to the point that roughly 200,000 visitors stream in each year, officials said. The influx created stress on the palace and made it hard for the Gardner Museum to expand its programs. The new building should solve those problems.
Related stories:
Special section: The Gardner Grows; A look at the expanded Gardner museum.” Boston Globe. January 15, 2012.

Remembering the Chicano arts collectives of Highland Park; In the 1970s, some Mexican American artists set up shop in Highland Park as Mechicano Art Center and the Centro de Arte Publico. An exhibit opening Saturday looks at the collectives’ history and showcases work from the artists.” By Esmeralda Bermudez. Los Angeles Times. January 14, 2012. Back in the 1970s, when Chicano art was synonymous with East Los Angeles, its storied murals and its art center, Self-Help Graphics, a group of Mexican American artists decided to break away. They headed north, seven miles, to start their own Chicano arts collective in Highland Park, an area that was still mostly white with little presence of Latino art. For about four years, the group set up an arts colony on the second floor of an old music building on North Figueroa Street. They printed an art magazine, created murals, paintings and silk-screen posters that became a part of the Chicano art movement — iconic political, social and cultural images. Their legacy lives on in Highland Park’s Avenue 50 Studio, a Chicano art gallery co-founded by Roberto Delgado, an artist involved with the movement. Ten years ago he had the idea to showcase the story of the Chicano artists in Highland Park, and on Saturday it will finally be told. Their work will be on display through Feb. 5 in an exhibit called “Resurrected Histories: Voices from the Chicano Arts Collectives of Highland Park.” The gallery will also preview a one-hour documentary on the group, put together with grants and in partnership with KCET-TV. The exhibit offers a look at all the Chicano art groups that sprouted in California four decades ago and how they were connected. They formed clusters in Fresno, San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles that supported one another at a time when Chicano art had no place in mainstream museums or galleries.

Clash hastened Opera Boston’s demise.” By Geoff Edgers. Boston Globe. January 15, 2012. Why did Opera Boston abruptly shut down. The company, it turns out, couldn’t recover from largely being abandoned by its biggest booster. It’s deficit had grown from about $250,000 in July to $500,000 by Christmas. With an expensive February production scheduled, “The Midsummer Marriage,’’ the board projected falling as much as $1 million in debt. That’s for an organization with a $2.5 million budget. Dropping the curtain on as an organization with a reputation for creative programming seemed the only solution.

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