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In The Limelight For April 14, 2011: National Arts News

A look at what's in the limelight this week in national arts news.


Photo: creative commons

American arts organizations have come together to ask China to release Ai Weiwei, the Chinese conceptual artist who was detained in a Beijing airport on April 3.

Here’s a look at what’s in the limelight for the week of April 11, 2011 in national arts news.

Detroit Symphony Back Onstage

After a long and brutal strike, the musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra are back onstage. They performed their first concert in six months on Saturday, after reaching an agreement with management last week. By the terms of the new contract, members of the DSO will take a pay cut — the minimum salary dropped over 25 thousand dollars — and the number of permanent players will drop from 96 to 81. The DSO has suffered due to Detroit’s crumbling economy; even with the new agreement, the Orchestra will continue to run an annual deficit of $3 million. Yet many had to be turned away from the packed reunion performance Saturday night. After a five minute standing ovation, music director Leonard Slatkin addressed the audience with the words, “Welcome home.”

US Arts Organizations Reach Out On Behalf Of Ai Weiwei

Less than two weeks after the April 3 detainment of Chinese conceptual artist Ai Weiwei by Chinese authorities in a Beijing airport, American museums and foundations are uniting to petition China for his release. In a statement currently circulating on Facebook and Twitter, the Guggenheim Foundation addressed Cai Wu, China’s Minister of Culture, on behalf of “members of the international arts community,” expressing “concern for Ai’s freedom and disappointment in China’s reluctance to… nurture creativity and independent thought.” It is hoped that Ai will make his way to New York by May 2, when his large-scale public art installation Circle of Animals/ Zodiac Heads is scheduled to open at the Pulitzer Fountain outside of the Plaza Hotel. The first major outdoor exhibit at that location, Zodiac Heads is an homage to a fabled fountain-clock of eighteenth century China, which featured each animal of the Chinese zodiac spouting water at two-hour intervals.

New Home For Houston Ballet

The Houston Ballet opened its new Center for Dance Saturday night. The new building is six stories high and 115,000 square feet; it was designed with sustainable features by the architectural firm Gensler. The facility is a study in silver linings. It cost a total of $46.6 million, about seven million dollars less than it was originally estimated, in part because of the lower prices of steel and concrete due to the current economic downturn. It’s also opening earlier than anticipated, since decreased construction around the Houston area after the economic crisis has meant more readily available construction crews and resources. The building, which features nine dance studios, a dormitory, shoe room, sewing room, music library, and more, is connected by a “skybridge” to the Wortham Theater Center, where the company performs. It’s the first building to be constructed in generations that looks out through great windows on Houston’s main waterway, the Buffalo Bayou.

Rachel Lyon

A native of Brooklyn, NY, Rachel Lyon came to Bloomington in 2009 to pursue her MFA in Creative Writing at IU. At WFIU, she is an announcer for All Things Considered and classical music, and she produces features for Artworks. Rachel's glad to be working in radio again after a long drought since her undergraduate years, when she was a DJ for WPRB, the independent station in Princeton, NJ.

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