Category: Kennedy Center

Obama's 2013 budget calls for 5% increase for arts and culture

February 14, 2012 |  6:27 am

President Obama’s proposed 2013 budget, released Monday, calls for a 5% increase in spending for three cultural grantmaking agencies and three Washington, D.C., arts institutions.

Obama aims to boost outlays from $1.501 billion to $1.576 billion, encompassing the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities (NEA and NEH), the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the Smithsonian Institution, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the National Gallery of Art.

The arts and humanities endowments each would get a 5.5% boost, to $154.255 million -- nearly restoring cuts announced in December. But if Congress approves the president’s proposal for the fiscal year that begins in October 2012, the NEA and NEH will still be well short of the $167.5 million each was set to receive before two separate rounds of cuts instigated by Congressional Republicans during 2011.

Obama is proposing $231.9 million for IMLS, a $439,000 reduction.

The Smithsonian Institution, by far the heavy hitter of federal cultural spending, would receive $856.8 million -- a 3.7% hike for its operating budget, which would rise to $660.3 million, and a 12.3% increase in capital expenditures, to $196.5 million. The biggest capital expense would be $85 million, to continue construction on the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

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Monster Mash: NBC's 'Smash'; Big Daddy Roth museum

December 27, 2011 |  7:30 am

TV to stage? Could "Smash," the coming NBC series about making a musical on Broadway, actually spawn a musical for Broadway? (New York magazine)

Permanent collection: Darryl Roth wants to see his collection of his father's hot-rod art in a museum (Los Angeles Times)

Kennedy Center broadcast: CBS will air Tuesday night the recent Kennedy Center Honors that recognized cellist Yo-Yo Ma, jazz musician Sonny Rollins, singer Barbara Cook, pop star Neil Diamond and actress Meryl Streep. (Playbill).

Going, going, gone: Thursday and Friday are the last chances to see "The Addams Family," "Private Lives" and "Bonnie and Clyde" on Broadway. (

Smart shooting: Phone photography accounts for a growing percentage of the photos taken each year. (Wired)

Role unclear: Founder and artistic director Dennis Nahat will have an as-yet unspecified role with Ballet San Jose under its new arrangement with American Ballet Theater. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Lost, found: A Boston music student was reunited with the $170,000 violin she forgot in the overhead compartment of a bus she rode last week. (Boston Globe)

Passings: Sori Yanagi, a pioneer of Japanese industrial design, at 96, and modern architect Andrew Geller, 87.

Also in the L.A. Times: The Salty Shakespeare troupe brings the Bard to the streets of Los Angeles and Woody Allen talks about his love of jazz.

-- Kelly Scott and Sherry Stern

Image: Poster for "Smash." Credit: NBC

New budget plan cuts NEA and NEH 5.6% but boosts Smithsonian

December 19, 2011 |  9:06 am

The budget passed Friday by the House of Representatives cuts arts grant agencies by 5.6%
The National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities each will see a 5.6% budget reduction in fiscal 2012 under a spending bill passed Friday in the House that's expected to prevent a feared government shutdown.

Under the bill, each agency would have $146.3 million to spend during the budget year that began in October, down from $155 million. It's the second cut this year for the two grant-making agencies, which began 2011 with budgets of $167.5 million. The combined cuts now total 12.7%.

Americans for the Arts, the national advocacy group that lobbies to maximize arts spending -– or at least to minimize arts-spending cuts -– said that $146.3 million is what President Obama had penciled in in his original budget proposal for the NEA and the NEH, representing a compromise between the $155 million suggested by the Senate and the $135 million proposed by the House during earlier subcommittee negotiations over the budget.

The Senate passed the spending bill Saturday morning, and it now moves to President Obama for his signature.

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Ahmanson lands Broadway's 'Follies' to fill gap in its season

December 6, 2011 |  9:00 am

Follies Broadway production Joan Marcus photo

“Follies,” the 1971 musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman, will play at the Ahmanson Theatre May 9-June 9 (with previews starting May 3), filling a gap in the season created when a planned revival of “Funny Girl” fell through.

Center Theatre Group announced Tuesday that it would import the production now on Broadway that originated in May at Washington's Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Michael Ritchie, CTG’s artistic director, said “we are currently in discussions” to lure members of the Broadway cast led by Bernadette Peters, Elaine Page, Jan Maxwell, Jayne Houdyshell and Danny Burstein. “Follies” is scheduled to close on Broadway Jan. 22 after a four-month run.

The Ahmanson staging will be a special, one-off engagement, rather than part of a tour. It’s a big production, featuring a 40-member ensemble that performs flashbacks to vaudeville-era Broadway. Reviews have been mostly positive.

“It is a coup for CTG to get it and a gift for Los Angeles audiences to receive it,” said Ritchie, whose nonprofit company was at risk of taking an economic punch had it been unable to fill an empty slot at the Ahmanson, where the generally more commercial fare is expected to help subsidize the generally edgier shows at the Mark Taper Forum and Kirk Douglas Theatre.

With “Follies,” Ritchie segues neatly, if perhaps improvisationally, from presenting a show that tells the story of one of the signature stars of the famed Ziegfeld Follies -- "Funny Girl" heroine Fanny Brice -- to one that focuses on former members of a Ziegfeld-like stage extravaganza who reunite inside their dilapidated old theatrical haunt on the night before its demolition.

Sondheim and Goldman’s musical about the youthful pasts and haunted presents of veterans of the fictitious Weissman Follies won seven Tony Awards  in 1972 for its initial Broadway staging, directed by Harold Prince and Michael Bennett. The current revival is directed by Eric Schaeffer, a Sondheim expert who is artistic director of the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Va.

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Monster Mash: Crystal Bridges Museum is ready for its close-up

November 11, 2011 |  7:45 am

Crystal Bridges
A new museum:
Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton is unveiling the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., on Friday. (Wall Street Journal)

Buying big: The art auctions ended with a flourish as Sotheby's sold $316 million of art, the best result of two weeks of sales and led by a $61.7 million Clyfford Still abstract. (Associated Press)

Sound familiar? An actor making his Broadway debut as Peter Parker in "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" has been injured during a performance but is expected to return to fly again. (Associated Press)

Old is new again: The 207-year old New York Historical Society on Central Park West reopens Friday after a three-year, $65 million renovation. (Associated Press)

Cash poor: The Dallas Symphony could run out of money in 90 days. (

Eastern Standard Time: The New York Times' Roberta Smith reviews a bunch of Pacific Standard Time exhibitions. (The New York Times)

Good ol' girl: Actress Holland Taylor has written and will perform a one-woman show about the late Texas Gov. Ann Richards at the Kennedy Center. (

Copter plague: The L.A. County Board of Supervisors wants the feds to help deter helicopters buzzing the Hollywood Bowl during concerts. The Phil says: It's about time. (Los Angeles Times)

Real vs. unreal: The Pushkin Museum of the Fine Arts in Moscow is exhibiting a Modigliani painting that at least one Russian art collector concluded is a fake. (The Art Newspaper)

Casting call:Michael O'Keefe and Roger Bart are joining the previously announced Bradley Whitford for Pasadena Playhouse's revival of "Art." (Culture Monster)

Campaign call: Mitt Romney has said that if he is elected president he would cut funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. (Culture Monster)

Passing: Annabelle Lyon, a dancer with Balanchine, has died at 95. (New York Times)

Also in the L.A. Times: Charles McNulty reviews "Radiance" at the Geffen Playhouse; Charlotte Stoudt reviews "The Language Archive" at East West Players.

-- Kelly Scott and Sherry Stern

Photo: Crystal Bridges Museum. Credit: Danny Johnston/Associated Press


'Follies' on Broadway: What did the critics think?

September 13, 2011 |  2:20 pm


The Broadway season has just begun and already there is Tony Awards chatter about "Follies," the new revival of the 1971 musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman that originated at the Kennedy Center in Washington.

"Follies," at the Marquis Theatre, features a 40-member ensemble cast headed by Bernadette Peters, Elaine Page, Jan Maxwell, Jayne Houdyshell and Danny Burstein. The revival is directed by Eric Schaeffer, with choreography by Warren Carlyle.

The musical takes place on the final night before an old theater is demolished. A Broadway revival in 2001 was directed by Matthew Warchus and featured Blythe Danner, Judith Ivey and Treat Williams. The original 1971 Broadway production was directed by Harold Prince and Michael Bennett.

How have critics reacted to the new production of "Follies"?

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Sondheim and 'Follies' heading back to Broadway

June 15, 2011 |  4:03 pm

FolliesThe Kennedy Center’s $7.3-million production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Follies” is going to be a Broadway Baby.

After weeks of speculation by musical theater aficionados, the landmark 1971 musical will return to the Great White Way for the third time this summer, 10 years after the last Broadway revival disappointed at the box office.

The big question, of course, is casting.  At the Kennedy Center, the limited run of “Follies” (ending  Sunday) stars a bevy of actors with multiple Tony-nominations atop its 41-person cast, including Bernadette Peters, Jan Maxwell and Linda Lavin.

Each of those three actresses, when asked, said last week that they would consider following the show to New York if the opportunity arose, but no actors have been announced for the run, which will begin a limited engagement this summer at the Marquis Theatre.

(There is a possibility that for a brief New York run, the producers could keep the current actors and even add a few more marquee names to the cast.)

The key cast member would seem to be Peters, seeing as how she anchored the extension of Sondheim's “A Little Night Music,” keeping the seats filled after Catherine Zeta-Jones left the Trevor Nunn-directed revival.  “This my sixth Sondhiem role,” Peters said after a recent performance. “They’re all gifts.”

The other question left unknown in Wednesday’s announcement about the Broadway transfer is the size of the orchestra.  Both critics and the cast members have spoken out about how one of the best aspects of Eric Schaeffer’s production is the 28-piece orchestra.  (The Zeta-Jones/Peters “Night Music” by contrast had only eight musicians in the pit.) 

However “Follies” survives the move to Broadway, at least for the summer, it’s still here.


Dispatch from Washington: Is this full-scale 'Follies' bound for Broadway?

— James C. Taylor

Photo: Jan Maxwell in "Follies" at the Kennedy Center in Washington. Credit: Joan Marcus.

Dispatch from Washington: Is this full-scale 'Follies' bound for Broadway?

June 14, 2011 |  8:00 am


Starring in an out-of-town revival of a Stephen Sondheim musical has been a good route to Broadway lately -- the Raul Esparza "Company" came from Cincinnati in 2006, and Patti LuPone's "Gypsy" began at Chicago's Ravinia Festival before opening on Broadway in 2008.

The big question for musical theater fans this summer: Will the stars of the Kennedy Center's deluxe staging of Sondheim's 1971 musical, "Follies," be enough to move it to New York after its brief run closes on Sunday? 

It's been 10 years since "Follies" was seen last on Broadway, but there is no consensus about whether this $7.3-million production -- reportedly the most expensive musical ever staged in the nation's capital -- is going anywhere else. "Follies" takes place on the last night before an old theater is demolished. Will this production, like the Follies of the story, end when the curtain comes down? 

Director Eric Schaeffer says it was never intended to tour -- but that he wouldn't rule out that it could.  "We did it just to do it right here," he said, "and if something happens, it happens."

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$40 million for arts education threatened in federal budget fight

March 3, 2011 |  5:27 pm

Quincy Federal funding totaling $40 million for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ educational programs, arts education grants for the disabled and grants to train arts teachers are just some of the arts-related programs on the chopping block as Congress and the Obama administration wrangle over how much to cut the 2010-11 federal budget.

The cut was included Wednesday as President Obama signed a temporary budget resolution designed to keep the government operating through March 18 while the White House and congressional Democrats and Republicans continue talks to reach a final budget agreement.

The Kennedy Center’s spokesman, John Dow, said Thursday that cuts would total $16 million for the Kennedy Center and its affiliate, VSA (formerly Very Special Arts), which has a national and international scope in supporting arts learning for the disabled. VSA is part of the Kennedy family’s legacy, having been founded in 1974 by Joan Kennedy Smith, the last surviving sibling of John, Robert and Edward Kennedy.

Americans for the Arts, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group, issued an alert Thursday calling for arts supporters to urge members of Congress to preserve the $40-million program, called Arts in Education.

Obama has proposed ending that program in his budget plan for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1; its elimination would be accelerated if Wednesday's stopgap budget measure takes effect for the rest of 2010-11.

According to the Education Department’s website, “similar activities” to the ones funded by Arts in Education would receive federal support under a new, wider-ranging program the president has proposed for 2011-12, called Effective Teaching and Learning for a Well-rounded Education. It would offer $246 million in competitive grants for states and local school districts “to develop and expand innovative practices” in teaching a wide range of subjects, including arts, foreign languages, physical education, health education, environmental education, civics and government, history and geography, and economics and financial literacy.

Other federal cultural agencies face uncertainty in both the current-year and coming-year budget fights. The president has pegged the National Endowment for the Arts for a 13% cut in 2011-12, while a large group of congressional Republicans has targeted the NEA for elimination. 


WashingtonDCSkyline House Republicans unveil plans to end federal arts and humanities agencies and aid to public broadcasting

Obama budget proposal would cut 13.3% from cultural grantmakers

Americans for the Arts compiles National Arts Index, a cultural S&P 500


-- Mike Boehm

Photo: President Obama prepares to award Quincy Jones a National Medal of Arts on Wednesday. Credit: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.

Kennedy Center's boss says the arts are in trouble, blames lack of excellence and daring on timid administrators and funders

February 19, 2011 |  8:00 am

MichaelKaiserLindaSpillersAP One of the last things one expects to hear from an arts impresario is disparagement of his product.

But that’s what Michael Kaiser, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., did this week, at least in general terms. 

“What Is Wrong With the Arts?” was the headline of his column in the Huffington Post.

“It is no surprise to most of us that the arts are in a parlous state….The arts are in trouble because there is simply not enough excellent art being created,” Kaiser wrote.

The names he dropped as having too few worthy heirs were Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins in dance; Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Rubinstein, Vladimir Horowitz, Richard Rodgers and Igor Stravinsky in music; and Tennessee Williams in theater.

Raw talent still abounds, Kaiser acknowledged, but “far more inventiveness can be found in popular entertainment than can be found in the classic arts.” He pinned the blame on arts administrators: “Boards, managers and producing consortia are overly-involved…overly conservative,” and too glued to the bottom line.

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