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Cheating, Lying, Stealing by Scottish Ballet April 23, 2009

Posted by goldblatt in Academy of Ballet.
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37I was blown away by this new piece by Ashley Page of Scottish Ballet. Not having read the programme notes, here is what I assume it is about: a weekend trip to the scottish countryside by two young couples devolves into a treacherous visit to society’s seedy underbelly, with adultery being the main sin, here made to look devilish yet passionate and rebellious. the whole thing is like some kind of sexy modern noir thriller where you’re riveted to your seat to find out what happens next. costumes are indeed skimpy and worn by attractive dancers (well, duh), but its more than that: a couch bursts into flames, strobe lights pulse, and the music pulses with loud rock bass drum kicks and electric guitar riffs cutting in like jagged knives.

the set shows a misty mysterious countryside seen on a lost highway over the dashboard of a car. a giant red square signals the passion and excitement conveyed in the dancing. and the dancing is incredible. Ashley Page has set the lovers spinning around the stage in jazzy, syncopated, innovative riffs on the modern ballet canon. The men lift the women with gusto in difficult, twisted positions, allowing the women to spin and fly around the stage with fierce passion.

the music, by Icebreaker, is modernist, minimalist, math rock bliss. philip glass meets sigur ros. they deconstruct tempo in divinely perverse ways.

a show so good that i felt compelled to post it to the blog after a long hiatus! I would highly recommend this show! it comes with another ballet based on carmen that i heard was superbly average, but the ticket price is worth it for this show.

BUY TICKETS HERE I believe there is a student discount for last minute tix or something

Of Montreal: Id Engager December 10, 2008

Posted by goldblatt in Conservatory of Music.
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Festivals, Tourism and Social Change November 26, 2008

Posted by goldblatt in General Studies.
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5164v6df2el_bo2204203200_pisitb-sticker-arrow-clicktopright35-76_aa240_sh20_ou02_This book provides a fascinating anthropological look at festivals and events around the world that have conflicting relationships with tourism. There is a neat introduction which examines the modern roles of festivals and events with regards to social change, and then we are off to the races, with 15 great case studies on interesting events that create / experience social change because of / in spite of “tourism.” The G8 Summit Protests in Quebec are analysed as a counter-culture movement discredited by some as a tourist activity, but which actually have a much more complex relationship with tourism and festival theories. On that note, the evolving face of Gay Pride festivals are analysed with the same concerns about consumerist tourism versus subversive politics. I also enjoyed the case study analysis of the Edinburgh Mela, which looks at the positioning of this organic festival alongside more commercial ventures. In summation, this is an easy-to-read book with a nice selection of thoughtful and entertaining case studies.

Arts Management by Derek Chong November 26, 2008

Posted by goldblatt in English Department.
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51bxq50txwl_bo2204203200_pisitb-sticker-arrow-clicktopright35-76_aa240_sh20_ou02_Wow, now HERE is a book on arts management. A perfect compliment to William Byrne’s Arts Management introductory textbook, this is your next step in looking at some of the contemporary issues in the industry. Chong writes with an acid wit, combining provocative issues with a deconstructionist analysis to give the reader a truly entertaining ride through the world of the arts as we manage them today.

How would I compare Chong to Byrnes in terms of their books on arts management? Byrnes is a Milwaukee businessman with a wife, 2.5 kids and a dog. Chong is a divorced chain-smoking Buddhist living in a loft in Greenwich Village. Byrnes is Ted Koppel, Chong is Jon Stewart. Byrnes is the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, Chong is the Kronos Quartet. Byrnes is the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Chong is the Saatchi Gallery.

The book’s attraction and also its usefullness lie in the combination of hip references (including, but not limited to Black Flag with Henry Rollins, De La Guarda, LL Cool J and White Cube) which are paralleled with intelligent business case studies (such as McDonalds, McKinsey, KPGM, Starbucks, Exxon Mobil and more). Although occassionally bogged down in theoretical analysis, these easy reference points keep the issues accessible to Joe Six-Pack.

Often Chong takes the French approach and over-analyses or deconstructs organisational practices without offering an alternative solution. Such snobbery makes for delectable if occassionally impractical reading.

ethno-techno November 11, 2008

Posted by goldblatt in General Studies.
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possessionritual_lo1i was familiar with the iconic performance art of Guillermo Gomez-Pena but had no idea he was such an accomplished writer and scholar of the madness that is modern life. This book is a treat, and apparently he has published a few before. Part academic performance theory university level post social dialogue, part post apocalyptic provocative performance poetry, ALL NOURISHING.

This is a brilliant read for anyone interested in art and identity. Gomez-Pena is frank and self conscious about the intersections between the world of ideas and the world of commerce; the book provides an excellent and hilarious road-trip through the modern artist’s journey to sustain him/her/itself through art. Of much note is his lament to the thief who steals his laptop. Of more note are references to activities like crashing the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a dominatrix leading him around on a leash while he is dressed like a crazy primitive/futuristic Mexican identity crisis.

Management and the Arts November 10, 2008

Posted by goldblatt in Academy of Ballet, Conservatory of Music, English Department, Theatre Department.
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management-and-the-artsThis is essential reading for anyone who wants to be a modern arts producer. An easy-to-read, step-by-step guide to the business of producing art in America. The book offers a thorough foundation of business skills to shepherd any artist into the world of managing an organisation. At the same time, the author maintains a steady recognition of the art world’s glorious peculiarities. Art is not business, rather, business is the vehicle to deliver great art to great audiences. The book is splendidly interactive, with many real news clippings from exciting and relevant current events and a series of assignments for the reader to engage with the concepts.

As the American touchstone in this topic, the book espouses the American system of arts administration, which, like it or not, has pervaded large arts organisations around the world. There is little time spent on those peculiar arts companies from other countries that stray from the American model.

It’s Easy Being Green: Hydro Connect shows going green can be cost effective November 10, 2008

Posted by goldblatt in Conservatory of Music.
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hydro-map001Introduction

Due to increased awareness of global warming in the Twenty-First Century, the theories and practices of sustainable living have achieved exponential growth in Great Britain. Environmentally Friendly Practices (EFPs) include the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle), alternative energy (solar, wind, water), and the overarching goal of going Carbon Neutral (eliminating or offsetting carbon dioxide emissions) in order to better maintain our natural environment. (Brassington 2008)

EFPs are emerging in all industries, including the ever-shifting music industry, where, in 2007, DF Concerts launched Connect Festival at Inverary Castle, Argyle, a major music festival dedicated to carbon neutrality. (DF Concerts 2008)

As emerging festivals are increasingly committed to sustainability, Connect is learning the challenges and opportunities associated with going green. By mastering change management in the areas of transport, vendors and marketing, DF Concerts is finding that an environmentally sustainable music festival can also be economically sustainable.

Greener Strategies

Transport at large-scale music festivals presents a considerable customer-relations challenge. An attendee’s lasting impression can often be the long walk to the distant carpark, followed by an hour spent queuing in his/her car to get out. Likewise, transport is a music festival’s single largest contributor of carbon emissions. (Fennell 2008)

By smoothly marketing mass transport as an integral part of the Connect experience, DF Concerts CEO Geoff Ellis improved customer relations while cutting down significantly on pollution. When purchasing tickets, attendees were strongly encouraged to purchase a seat on a coach which would pick them up from one of 35 different locations and deliver them much closer to the actual staging area than the carpark. (Woolman 2008)

The consumer benefits of this scheme include cost savings (the price of the coach was less than the petrol required to drive to Connect), added freedom (the ability to eat and drink on the bus without worrying about driving and following directions to the remote location), increased safety (a professional driver navigates windy highland roads), and the opportunity to socialise. The positive feelings associated with the coach ride were so strong that passengers, consuming food and drink, meeting their fellow festival-goers and enjoying the highland scenery, maintained amiable notions of the festival organisation despite a two-hour bus delay.

The organisational benefits of the coach scheme include cost savings (fewer car-parks to maintain), organisational freedom (due to decreased traffic), greater insurance (less possibility of dangerous driving) and less pollution both in the air (carbon emissions) and on the ground (terrain disruption). Greener travel options, then, has created a happier experience for all stakeholders while providing cost savings.

In Ecotourism, sustainability measures not only environmental impact, but also impact on local economies and cultures. (ecotourism 2008) Connect provided Loch Fyne Oysters and Loch Fyne Whiskies prominent locations, superior facilities, and free publicity in all official marketing, thus emphasizing local product as a core element of the festival. Local vendors save funds on travel and shipping costs while using less carbon dioxide than vendor carts from out of town. Such a gesture endears Connect to the locals of Inverary, thus positively impacting the culture. By creating a strong, public relationship with the Duke of Argyle, Ellis cemented Connect’s bond with the local culture. (DF Concerts 2008)

A legitimate carbon neutral policy does wonders for an organisation’s public image. In patronising Connect, attendees feel they are supporting sustainable living and making the world a better place. They achieve self-actualisation, what Abraham Maslow coined in 1943 as the greatest in his hierarchy of human needs and that which arts managers have since adopted as a cornerstone in arts marketing. (Byrnes 2003) Indeed, green self-actualisation drives all stakeholders to support Connect: consumers to attend, staff to work hard, vendors to participate, sponsors to invest, government to support and even bands to perform (Radiohead now requires carbon neutral initiatives in their riders). (Fisher 2008)

The danger is that Connect’s feel-good image will be exposed as “greenwash,” or marketing which falsely paints an organisation green. (Brassington 2008) A rough comparative analysis shows that Connect uses far more EFPs than similar events, while recognising that carbon neutrality is difficult to measure and an often contested concept. Connect uses carbon offsetting, a process which some detractors categorise as greenwash, but which no less is a charitable investment on the part of DF Concerts.

Ellis has eschewed the greenwash threat with careful, honest marketing. Instead of over-promising unattainable green outcomes, he emphasizes the significant green inputs unique to Connect. He humbly confesses that “The greenest festival is the one that doesn’t happen, but at least you can try.” (Woolman 2008)

Perhaps Connect’s greenest outcome is the audience, who are constantly educated about how they can make a difference. In 2008, Connect became Hydro Connect after securing a lucrative sponsorship from Scottish Hydro, the UK’s leading supplier of green energy. The sponsor’s recognition online, in print and at the festival was carefully tailored to first educate consumers on green alternatives and second promote both Connect and Scottish Hydro. DF Concerts, whose flagship festival T in the Park is limited by a much more conservative sponsor, has been very creative with Scottish Hydro in maintaining a mature marketing plan aimed at their media-savvy, educated, humanitarian demographic.

Conclusion

Through innovative approaches to sponsorship, marketing, local product, transport, and other aspects too numerous to mention here, DF Concerts has exhibited effective change management in the organising of Connect Festival, proving that a major green festival is a feasible business venture. Connect has proven to be economically and environmentally sustainable, and can stand as an inspiration to others in the industry.

References

Burt, Kate. 2007. How one festival this summer will be getting into an eco-friendly groove. The Independent, May 17.

Byrnes, William J. 2003. Management and the Arts. 3rd Edition. Burlington: Elsevier Science.

Fisher, Alice. 2008. Hello Glastonbury! Are you ready to rock and recycle? The Observer, June 8, p.13.

Fennell, David. 2008. ecotourism. New York: Routledge.

Hasted, Nick. 2008. Going green on the festival scene. The Independent, March 7.

Woolman, Natalie. 2008. Hydro Connect Festival – Eco-friendly. The List, August 21.

DF Concerts. [online] Available from: http://www.dfconcerts.com [Accessed October 26, 2008]

Should UK Music Festival Organisers Implement Environmentally Friendly Practices into Event Management? 2008. A Greener Festival. [online] Buckingham Chilterns University College. Available from: http://www.agreenerfestival.com. [Accessed October 26, 2008]. Figure 1: Grow your own! Connect sees the flowering of three organic initiatives.

Can’t Smile Without You October 26, 2008

Posted by goldblatt in Conservatory of Music, Theatre Department.
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51sb307j62lThe incredible Barry Manilow musical hit the Edinburgh Festival Theatre last week. Starring Chesney Hawkes, and two other reality television stars, this was an evening of good old-fashioned, no-pretenses showbiz schmaltz. And it was fun. With an audience made completely of middle-aged women singing along, what’s not to enjoy?

The Russian Debutante’s Handbook September 28, 2008

Posted by goldblatt in English Department.
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Another triumph by Gary Shteyngart.

So delighted was I by Absurdistan that I promptly secured Shteyngart’s first novel, The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, and proceeded to ravish the 456 pages. Delightful. This first novel, winner of the Steven Crane prize, shows a momentous output by Shteyngart and contains the seeds which grew Absurdistan into a tale for our time.

Debutante is set in the retro feel-good land of 1993, where a Russian-Born Slacker (like Misha Vainberg in Absurdistan) seeks the American Dream in New York through drink, women, and quaint adoration of all things American. Also like Misha, his marriage to the US is not perfect and he finds himself instead in an allegorical post-Soviet Eastern European crazyland country. This time, it’s not Absurdistan (read: Turkemenistan? or similar?). No, he’s landed in Prava, which is most certainly meant to read Prague. And let me tell you, Prague in 1993 has never been so well documented/fictionalized.

This novel is a brilliant farce on international diplomacy as well as a gripping touchstone for generation x-ers who want to relive the 90’s (who doesn’t?)

I laughed, I cried, I kvelled, I ate my bagel and raised a glass of vodka to say to Shteyngart: L’Chaim! And also: Mazel Tov.

Absurdistan September 28, 2008

Posted by goldblatt in English Department.
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Go out and read this book right now. I eyed Walter Kirn’s initial NY Times review with some interest, and then found that the Times rated it as a top 10 of 2006, but didn’t get to read it until this summer.

Wow! What a hilarious knockout book, in the tradition of A Confederacy of Dunces and The Master and Margarita, Absurdistan follows a fat but lovable fool as he bribes and stumbles his way around the newly globalized planet. Misha Vainberg is an endearing, unforgettable character; author Gary Shteyngart has given us a poster-child for international 20-somethings coming of age in the new millennium.

The story is of Misha’s quest to get on the good side of US Immigration and preserve his relationship with his Brooklyn shorty, overcoming the obstacles of his Russian mob ties and the shifting waters of international immigration. It takes place in early September of 2001 and ends on September 10.

Read this book, you won’t regret it. It’s hilarious. It’s moving.