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Wednesday Morning Roundup
by Stephen Becker 3 Nov 2010

Today in the roundup: An early look at SXSW, a new argument for arts advocates and reviews of PBS’s Circus.


AN EARLY LOOK AT SXSW: South by Southwest has announced the first wave of confirmed performers for its 25th anniversary conference. And the biggest name on the list is probably the one from Dallas – Erykah Badu. Of course, it’s way early, so there’s plenty of time for any of these bands to flake. But it is nice to look ahead to one of the best weeks of the year.

RETHINKING ARTS ADVOCACY: Each of the last two years, when the City of Dallas has threatened arts funding, the rallying cry has always been that the arts have a significant economic impact. It’s a strong argument, but the opposite point has to be considered: If there is a time when the arts don’t have as significant of an economic impact, does that mean it is OK to cut funding? That question has led a group of Canadian arts advocates to reconsider the messaging behind arts funding. One of their conclusions is that convincing the bean counters of the arts’ aesthetic importance may be as important as showing the economic benefit. Of course, that’s a more abstract argument to make.

UNDER THE BIG TOP: Circus, a six-part look into the lives of circus performers, debuts tonight on PBS. So is it worth your time? Robert Philpot sees the potential but isn’t yet fully convinced. “The first couple of hours don’t lack drama, but they do lack focus, and that needs to improve before Circus shows us whether it justifies its running time,” he writes in his dfw.com review. Neil Genzlinger was decidedly more charmed. “Circus, filmed over the 2008-9 season, isn’t a mere highlight reel; it takes the time to let you get to know this unusual collection of misfits and perfectionists, making their triumphs and especially their setbacks truly affecting,” he writes on nytimes.com. Judge for yourself tonight on Channel 13 at 8 p.m.