From Alec Baldwin to the renaming of the University of Southern California’s School of Theatre, this sure was an interesting week in art news. I admit, while doing my due diligence and researching these stories, I often find myself frustrated by the lack of tangible and worthwhile news that is out there concerning the art industry. I feel part of this is because art news is treated much like art in schools — it’s nice and interesting, but it isn’t essential. Luckily for you artaphiles out there, we strongly disagree with that sentiment, which is why we try out best to call out interesting art news of all varieties. Please enjoy our latest collection.
1. In news that may only be interesting to myself and alumni of the University of Southern California’s School of Theatre, administrators have decided to change the name of the school and it will now be referred to as the USC School of Dramatic Arts. The school essentially made the switch to show it is committed to a broader base of dramatic platforms, but they did make sure to point out that theater will still be the cornerstone of the school. Anytime something as well known as USC’s School of Theatre changes its name, there are some re-branding concerns. But considering how similar the two names are, and considering that nothing else about the school or its faculty is changing, this is strictly cosmetic news. So, in other words, move along people! Nothing to see here.
2. If there was ever a more obvious symbiotic relationship than movie stars and the National Endowment for the Arts, you would be hard-pressed to find it. As art budgets and grants continue to be the subject of scrutiny, they need as much publicity as possible, and who better to provide that publicity than Hollywood’s biggest stars. Now, if I had to choose an excellent champion of this cause, I could do much worse than movie and television star Alec Baldwin, who joined musician Ben Folds and a slew of other artists in Washington, D.C. last week to lobby Congress for more funding for the arts. Celebrity artists of all shapes and sizes have been doing similar work for years, but it’s still nice to know that there are some (at least partially) self-aware celebrities who are willing to throw their influence around.
3. In California they didn’t even need Alec Baldwin to stand up and fight for the arts, because a coalition of state politicians, parents, and business leaders are drumming up support to put the arts back in the California public school system. It turns out that business leaders want to hire creative employees rather than automated robots with advanced degrees, I know, go figure. This news helped spawn Create CA, a initiative designed to bring funding, awareness, and formal education of the arts back to the California public school system. The initiative is still in its infancy, so art lovers shouldn’t be celebrating just yet. But it is extremely encouraging to see that a broad group of concerned citizens from all walks of life are willing to fight for their arts.
4. Remember that study from the National Endowment for the Arts that said arts education can be extremely beneficial to students in low-income schools, well the government took notice, and now Obama and his decision-makers have decided to pump up the arts education in eight struggling schools with the hopes that student achievement will be positively affected by an increase in creative education. It’s nice to see the government recognize that students in low-income schools haven’t had much exposure to the arts at all, and now the government will inject an additional $1 million into each of the eight schools and hope that music classes, drama classes, and painting classes will help spur the children’s academic performance in other areas as well. Only time will tell, but you can’t help but love the willingness of the government to try something new when nothing else seems to work.
5. Forbes deserves kudos for bringing this to our attention, but infusing my favorite Gameboy game, Pokemon, with artistic expression could be one of the cooler things I have seen in months. This Tumblr account asked 151 artists for their artistic take on each Pokemon character and the results are breathtaking both in beauty, imagination, and diversity. Does this project have any significant worth in the grand scheme of the noble pursuit of art? Probably not. But it is a really cool way to showcase 151 different artistic styles in one project, so they deserve mentioning.