To help you make it through Christmas without such arts-world news items as these:
- Just like the Texas Ballet Theater, the Atlanta Ballet had to cut costs two years ago by nixing its live orchestra and going with taped recordings. Public scorn and a decline in ticket sales followed. Then two patrons donated $250,000 in September to bring back the orchestra. The results may just reflect the recession, but ticket sales have seen no welcome-back bump up. In fact, they were down 30 percent for “Swan Lake.”
- The Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth’s Star-Telegram, unfortunately, have been trendsetters. They started sharing arts critics and freelancers last month, and then — the real shock for Dallas and Fort Worth fans — they started divvying up the sports beats between them. Now it’s those other longtime rivals, The Washington Post and the Baltimore Sun. They’ll soon be sharing news and sports stories and even photos.
- Twenty years ago, I helped start the Dallas Theater Critics Forum Awards. The idea was not to hand out sparkly trophies while wearing tuxedoes, sequins and forced smiles. It was to give a little more media ink to the often-fleeting work of local stage artists. As shabby and suspect as the whole prize-giving business has gotten (“I wish to thank my producer and the People’s Choice Awards”), Tom Chatfield argues that at least literary awards do perform a worthwhile function:
- “Prizes are an attempt to mould, and to pre-empt, posterity. Their answers rarely satisfy; they seem, sometimes, to possess an astonishing capacity for ignoring talent. Yet they occupy an increasingly crucial, and volatile, position amid those imperfect processes by which writing is turned into literature.”