Archive for the ‘Unbelievable but True’ Category

Bringing “Carolina Arts Unleashed” a Blog by Tom Starland, Editor/Publisher of “Carolina Arts Back” from the Dead

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

The shock of losing my blog, Carolina Arts Unleashed, was about as much of a shock that it could be recovered and how soon it was back – thanks to our Super Blog Guru Zelda Ravenel. And, thanks to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, which keeps track of 435 billion web pages – including Carolina Arts.

I’ve used the Wayback Machine in the past to check out how some people have tried to change their history or make people forget about it by “upgrading” their website. I just didn’t think about it when we lost Carolina Arts Unleashed. I guess I just wasn’t thinking clearly. It’s a good thing others, who know alot more about how the Internet works are around for folks like me who don’t have a clue about any of it – other than using it as a tool for communication. What hurt the most was that I had forgotten what was all there to be lost.

I haven’t been using Carolina Arts Unleashed that much in the last year or so as I’m posting more items at our blog Carolina Arts News. We post items people send me to pass on to our readers, where as posts at Carolina Arts Unleashed usually are generated by me – which takes more time – time I don’t seem to have much of these days. As is – Carolina Arts Unleashed has been up more than a week now and I’m just finding time to make my first posting post lost/return.

Unfortunately, while the blog went missing we lost our spot in the rankings of the Internet search engines. I’m not sure we’ll ever get back to where we were, I guess it all depends on how people discover what we have on the blog. Our Super Blog Guru tells me that all the links people made to different post we had there should all still be functional – I hope they are and I’m sorry for any that don’t work, but I guess the good thing is they can now be re-made.

Well that’s all for now. It’s good to be back.

As an Artist or Art Lover – You Should Go See the Movie – “The Monuments Men”

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Before the Winter Freeze of 2014, when the lights when out and the phone and Internet service crashed, Linda and I went to see the movieThe Monuments Men.

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It’s a movie based on a real situation when during WW II President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a good democrat and apparently lover of art, dispatched a group of middle-aged men – art historians, museum curators, architects, and other arty types to go to Europe and save the art the Nazis were stealing and perhaps would destroy at the end of the war – as they were loosing. As it turns out – they also saved it from the Russians who would claim it as their spoils of war.

Critics had panned the movie, but I’ve learned not to listen to them and after the movie was over I knew why. There were no special effects, limited explosions, no car chases, and get this – no sex scenes. What kind of movie can that be? Well, there was an offer of sex.

What George Clooney, the movie’s director, presented us was a slightly Hollywood juiced up movie of historical facts, with an all-star cast. The basics were that the Americas would save the art from the Nazis, who looted five million works of art, and returned what they could to the original owners. And as usual, our good allies the French didn’t trust us to do the right thing.

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American GIs, under the supervision of Capt. James Rorimer, carry paintings down the steps of Neuschwanstein Castle in southern Germany, where about 21,000 items stolen by the Nazis from French art collectors were recovered.

What was hard to believe in the Clooney movie was that seven arty types would do all this without the help of any regular Army types. In reading about the real events, from 200 to 350 men and women worked on this project – including our allies. I would think a letter from the President would get you more help than a jeep driver who spoke German. But Hollywood can’t help being Hollywood.

I won’t say much more about the movie, except it was much better than critics stated, but Clooney could have told more of the story.

The movie turns out to be quite timely as last year German authorities found 1,400 pieces of stolen art from WW II in a Munich apartment, including works by Matisse and Picasso. And recently an 18th-century painting from that group was returned to Poland, nearly 70 years after it was stolen by the Nazis.

There is an older movie about this same subject called The Train (1964), which was directed by John Frankenheimer and staring a very physical Burt Lancaster – playing a railroad official who stopped a train full of stolen art headed to Germany. It’s a great black and white film.

Tom Starland: An Interview With Myself – Part III, with questions and answers by Tom Starland

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Twelve years ago, back in the year 2000, I came up with an interesting idea – I would interview myself so I could address some issues on my mind. No one else in the media seemed to be interested so why not do it myself. My ego isn’t that big that I wasted space in our printed papers to include such a self-serving piece, and they were too long to include anyway. So they were posted only on our website (www.carolinaarts.com) – where they are today (Archives – Special Features), and every once in a while someone comes across them and really learns something about this paper and me – if they can get through it all. In reading back over them I have to say, if anything I’m consistent. My opinions have stayed the same on most of the subjects covered, although some of the subjects have gone through major changes or disappeared all together.

The first interview dealt with a lot of the paper’s history. Tom Starland: An Interview With Myself, with questions asked by Tom Starland was offered in May/June 2000. You can read it at this link (http://www.carolinaarts.com/600tominterview.html).

The second interview dealt with a lot of frustrations about how bad things in the visual art community were – in 2006. Tom Starland: An Interview With Myself – Part II, with questions asked by Tom Starland was offered in March 2006. Things were bad, but who knew the bottom was going to drop out in 2008. You can read it at this link (http://www.carolinaarts.com/306tominterview2.html).

A lot has happened in the six years since the last interview – the economy went to hell, funding for the arts has been under attack, we stopped printing our paper and became an electronic publication, and we got a new President. And, a lot of things have stayed the same.

So in our 25th year of covering the visual arts in the Carolinas, first in Charleston, SC, then the State of South Carolina, and finally in 1997, both North and South Carolina – it’s time for the third interview to take its place in an issue of Carolina Arts.

Q: Are you a little surprised that we are doing this for a third time, considering the bridges you burned in the first two interviews?

A: The biggest surprise is that they still couldn’t find anyone better than you to do this. Or, were you referring to the fact that we have made it through 25 years of publishing an arts newspaper?

Q: I see we are going to have the same banter of the first two interviews.

A: Smart-ass questions deserve smart-ass answers. And, in response to your first one – yes, I am surprised that no one has replaced us in covering the visual arts in the Carolinas. Some have tried or think they will, but they have a rude lesson to learn. And I’m happy to let them learn it.

The main problem is that there is not enough profit in covering the visual arts in the Carolinas while we are still in business and in 25 years we’ve learned to deal with that reality. And, yes I’m surprised we made it through the last six years – which have been a nightmare of change – a changing market, a changing medium, change, change, change.

Q: I take it you don’t like change?

A: I hate all change unless it is easy and benefits me. Who likes change that is bad? We’ve had enough of that in the last six years. If someone told me I had to change the font we use in the paper – I’d hate that, just for the sake that it is a change of what I’m used to, but if they said it would double our readership and be as easy as resetting something on my computer – I still would fight it, but eventually would embrace it, but I wouldn’t like it. First because if it was that easy to double readership by changing a font – that would make me feel stupid for not doing it long ago. Second, because it didn’t take that much effort to change for the better. But, not all change is that easy.

Q: So what changes have been good?

A: Well, the big change of not printing the paper and going online with an electronic version of the paper was hard, but it turned out to be the best change we ever made – next to starting out years ago picking Apple computers to work on. Our readership has gone from a possible of 10,000 (the amount of papers we printed each month) to an average of 100,000 downloads of the paper each month.

A lot of credit for these downloads go to the people and organizations which help us distribute the paper to their e-mail list and friends and contacts. They help spread the paper beyond our reach.

Not printing the paper has saved a lot of trees, landfill space, and money. Although entering our third year online, we are still paying off our printer for previous printings of the paper before 2010. We are also saving a lot on transportation cost, but I feel a little cut off from the art community we cover by not delivering papers to it every month. And, the time spent delivering that paper was consumed in more time spent on the computer covering more areas of the Carolinas. We’re operating a lot more green then before and that’s good for the environment.

We are also able to publish the entire paper in full color vs. a color cover and the rest in black & white or in the end just black & white like we started. I never liked covering the visual arts in black & white. The paper also has active links in it so that readers looking at ads can click and go to the advertiser’s website or click a link from an article and go to a website.

Our ad rates also went down while the size of the paper stayed the same. Which was good for the art community as a whole considering the decline of the economy and arts funding in the last six years.

Q: So what changes were bad?

A: All of them. Like I said I don’t like change. The biggest complaint we have comes from people still stuck in the 20th century. They say they like to hold a paper in their hands to read it. They say they have trouble downloading the paper which takes less than a minute on most modern computers with any decent internet service – other than dial up. And, now they say there is too much to read.

Most of these complaints are really about people not being able to deal with technology. I understand, I feel their pain – I’m one of those people. I have to be dragged kicking and screaming to try something new. Linda, my better half, is an adventurous explorer when it comes to the computer. She enjoys telling me of things she discovers that can really make a difference and I have to be embarrassed into trying them – which turn out to be really cool things – real time savers. I hate it when she does that, but I also love the new tricks. They’re amazing.

So these folks who have a hard time adjusting to the new technologies – I know what they’re going through, but they are going to be left behind as the world changes – if they don’t change. Besides holding an iPad or any of the new tablets in your hands is a great way to read any book, magazine or newspaper.

Look, some of these folks who ask where they can get a printed copy make the mistake of saying they used to pick it up at some gallery or art space, but in the last few months it’s been hard for them to get by these places. We haven’t printed the paper in two years. These are not regular readers we need to be concerned with – apparently they didn’t read it that often to begin with.

The other change that is bad for me is the fact that doing this new paper and all the components that go with it – our three blogs, Facebook and now Twitter – has me chained to my computer. We’re providing more information than we would have ever dreamed of in a timely fashion – sometimes within minutes of receiving info from someone on the blogs and Facebook, but it all takes a lot of time to process. And, we are now covering all areas of the Carolinas that we hear from when we used to only cover areas where we got advertising support.

Now that’s a policy I’m still wrestling with. Ever since we began we have fought against being just another “you pay, you play” publication. You know what I’m talking about – a publication which only includes info about the people who buy ads. I’ve always felt that by including everyone, it makes the paper more interesting and informative. When we were printing the paper and delivering it we had to restrict our coverage to areas where we received advertising support and areas near those places. We did include everyone who sent us info on our website once we launched it in 1999.

When we went totally online and didn’t have to print the paper or deliver it, we decided to include everyone the same, but as the amount of info increases we find ourselves doing a lot of work including areas (some very large areas) with little or no support coming from those areas. When it gets to the point that we can’t handle it all at the expense of those who do support us – we may have to make some cuts of those areas. And, that day may be getting closer and closer.

You see, there are a lot of folks who think the media has to cover them as a service to their readers or at least that’s what they hope. They think that by sending the media a press release and saying, “Thanks in advance for helping us spread the word on this important event,” is all they need to do.

Q: I hear and read you asking people to send you info all the time. Is that just a ploy to get them to eventually advertise with you?

A: I know it’s the stupidest thing I do. I want to cover everything and do encourage people to send us info about their exhibits – that’s the focus of the paper – exhibitions taking place in the Carolinas – commercial and non-profit. It’s my Catch-22 (Google it folks).

I want Carolina Arts to offer the most informative and inclusive coverage of the visual arts in the Carolinas, (which we do already – but we want more) but time is limited and we are a business. We can’t do it all for free – all the time.

Q: So you do hope people who are sending you info will advertise or as you would put it – support the paper.

A: You will never get a cold call from us asking you to advertise. We have no advertising sales staff. Yes, we hope the light bulb will go off in people’s head eventually when they tell us how we are providing such a wonderful service to the community that they will one day support us with advertising. They could just send us piles of money, but I’m not holding my breath. Advertising gives you something for your money. Each month we send out an e-mail to those who have advertised with us if they want to again. Eventually people are taken off if we don’t hear from them again.

As far as the time factor goes, here’s the deal. I can process a well written press release in minutes and prepare an image sent in a few more and it’s ready to be placed in the paper. After 25 years you get a system down pat. What takes time is when people send you a mess that is incomplete and you have to go back and forth collecting the info they should have sent to begin with. Some articles take weeks to process. I don’t mind that when it comes to supporters, but it’s a pain when it’s coming from folks who are not. And they seem to always be the most drag on my time.

We expect more from people who are being paid to do this – it’s their job, but we are often disappointed, and we cut those who are beginners some slack, but eventually expect them to catch on, but you’d be amazed at how little people can remember from month to month – year after year. And then there are those special few who actually read the paper, study it and deliver their press releases exactly the way I would have processed it. Folks, their stuff goes in the paper first and is always in the best spots – if there is such a thing.

But getting people to send us info about their exhibits is the frustration that never seems to change. It’s the biggest problem in the visual art community – a lack of communicating and when they do – a lack of knowing how to do it in a professional and timely way. And that goes across the board – commercial galleries, non-profit art spaces and art museums. Some of the worst are colleges and universities – which have better resources at hand to do this job.

Q: I can tell you are tired of this subject by the look you are giving me. How did you like The Hobbit?

A: You are a hobbit.

Q: So how’s your relationship going with the SC Arts Commission?

A: You are a stupid hobbit. Ask me something that matters.

Q: So what do you think is next?

A: Well, you got me there. I have no idea what change will come next. I just know I won’t like it already and probably after years of doing it – what ever it is – won’t understand how it works. And, The Hobbit was great.

Q: What would you like to see happen in the future?

A: I’d like to be able to tell my computer what to do. That’s probably already possible, but either too expensive or to complicated for me. But, that would be nice.

I’d like to get more coverage and advertising from areas we never hear from. I know exhibits are being offered everywhere, we just never hear about them and the people who are presenting them probably think no one wants to hear about them, but I do and I think our readers do too.

Every once in a while I get some free time to do some research on the internet and you’d be amazed at the great exhibits that are taking place around the Carolinas in places that rarely get regional coverage – much less local coverage. I feel sorry for those art spaces that are in the area of coverage of a major city – which has a bunch of non-profit institutions presenting exhibits. Try getting coverage for the little guy when space in most publications for the arts is shrinking and these big institutions are always pleading for local coverage. Oh, it happens when a big name artist is showing in a smaller space – that’s news to these papers, but what about the talented local artist? There’s no room for them in arts coverage in major publications.

Some would say that’s the natural process of survival. The cream will rise to the top, but that’s a bunch of bull droppings. I know a lot of talented artists who will never get their spot in the sunlight, and a handful of less than talented artists who always seem to get their 20 minutes of fame -over and over.

And, I could get rich if I just got a dollar for every time someone asked me “why” I was including this or that exhibit. I collect $5 in my head for every time they ask why I placed that same article next to their’s. It’s a dog eat dog world out there when it comes to media coverage. And some what it to be an exclusive club with restricted membership.

Q: Yet you say you have to beg for people to send you info.

A: There’s the rub. We’re still living in a world where print media coverage is still on top. Who know’s how long that will last – I don’t know, but that space is getting harder to come by. There are a lot of folks out there that don’t think an online publication is worth anything.

Don’t get me wrong, I know coverage in our paper doesn’t compare to a local gallery space or artist getting coverage in a local publication that all their friends and neighbors will see. That’s an exciting occasion, but it also stops at the extent of that publication’s coverage – which is limited. An article in our paper has regional coverage which for an artist and gallery has the potential for growing their market. Coverage in our publication might get you a future show in another region of the Carolinas or a visit from a traveler who takes home some works off your gallery’s walls.

For folks under 30 – online media and social networking is their way of life, they don’t know much of anything else. For folks over 30 – it’s all so new and change is coming too fast for many of them. And, for most people the older they are the more they cling to the old ways. But, more and more older folks are seeing the light and are making the leap into the future and finding an amazing world out there. We’re hoping more and more of those folks who say they loved the old Carolina Arts will one day find us online and discover we are better than ever and that turning pages on a tablet is easier then re-setting the clock on their old VHS recorder.

But getting back to the subject at hand – we offer a great opportunity for any art space that presents exhibitions to get coverage in our paper. And, for the time being – it’s free. All you have to do is get the info to us by deadline. I’d tell these folks all about how they can get the info about doing that on our website at (www.carolinaarts.com) under the heading “How the Paper Works” – a phrase I’ve written and spoken a million times, but they’re probably not reading this. At least I hope they haven’t been reading our paper all this time and are still not sending us info.

Q: What else do you hope for in the future?

A: Beside computers that do the work when you tell them what to do and for people to promote their exhibits in Carolina Arts? Well, how about Star Trek style transporters, and non-fattening, vitamin enriched, ice cream? I’m ready for that kind of change – where’s that?

Oh, I got one. I wish someone, preferably Apple would come up with something that replaces Facebook. If Apple does it I hope it works better then them trying to replace Google maps.

Q: Well, I was thinking more about the visual arts.

A: Do I get three wishes – that kind of thing?

Well, I wish more people would buy art and buy it at galleries, art fairs, artist’s studio tours, and even online and say they did it because ofCarolina Arts.

I wish Americans would realize that funding for the arts is like the government funding other industries – like corporate farmers, energy companies, and the defense industry. Stop using the arts as a political whipping post. And, the arts should stop wasting some of the money they get from the public by giving the money to artists who insult the public.

And, I guess my third wish would be that I wish the SC Arts Commission and Carolina Arts were BFFs.

Q: The SC Arts Commission keep popping up. What’s that about.

A: Is about me pulling your chain and making people read on hoping I’m going to drop a bomb on them, but I’m not. Like a lot of folks my age, my Momma told me that if I couldn’t say anything nice about someone – don’t say anything at all. I don’t really want to be BFFs with them, they have enough of them already.

Q: Any closing statement?

A: Ya know, here’s another change. So much that I’ve talked about in these three interviews has stayed the same that there’s no reason to go over them again and again. But, here’s an answer to a question a lot of folks have asked me.

If I won the lottery tomorrow and they gave me $300 million in take home cash, the first thing I would do is call my cousin Joyce, who I promised would be my first call, and no I would not go back to printing Carolina Arts. I would definitely spend some money making it a better online publication, but I would not go back to print – ever. This is the future.

And don’t call me again for one of these interviews until another six years passes. I want to be surprised as to where we are then.

American College of Building Arts Graduates Seven in Charleston, SC

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

Here’s a headline I didn’t find on the Post and Courier website today. I had to see it in The State – 7 graduate from American College of Building Arts.

Read more here: (http://www.thestate.com/2012/05/05/2264061/7-graduate-from-american-college.html).

I have two questions: How much money did it cost the City of Charleston and the local community to have these seven people graduate? Money that could have gone to other things. And, how many of the seven will end up staying in Charleston – six months to a year from now?

I wish this was a joke, but it’s just another of Mayor Joe Riley’s follies.

Oh – let me throw in a third question: I wonder how many students will graduate from Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, NC, this year? Another of Mayor Joe Riley’s follies.

Shoestring Publishing Company Has Been Publishing an Arts Newspaper for 24 Years

Friday, July 8th, 2011

In early 1987, I got a real crazy idea. For some reason I thought what Charleston, SC, needed was an arts newspaper to tell its story and inform the good people of Charleston what was going on, from month to month, in its art community. I waited until after the Spoleto Festival was over to launch the paper in July, 1987. Now, 24 years later I’m thinking – What was it thinking?

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I mean, why did I wait until after Spoleto, when the largest arts audience was in town? I knew why I started the paper. There wasn’t enough coverage of the arts in Charleston and it’s still a problem today – not just in Charleston but all over the Carolinas.

Somewhere along the line we decided to just focus on the visual arts – mainly exhibitions.

I’m sure there are many more people out there besides me who are wondering – How has that paper survived this long? All I can contribute on my behalf is – just stubborn I guess. I have no excuse for Linda, my better half – she should know better. But, I’ll shift the blame to all those people who over the years provided us with information (by deadline) and took out paid advertising – which is what really kept us alive. And, some credit goes to our printing company, Tri-State Printing – who we’ll still be paying money to for awhile.

I’m not going to take you readers on some long historical journey, I’ll save that for the 25th anniversary – if we make it. I just wanted to mark the occasion and say – Thank You – to all our supporters. Maybe by the 25th I’ll get that fourth interview with myself done. I always enjoy talking to that guy.

Truth Be Told About Spoleto Festival USA – Straight from the Horse’s Mouth

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

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I found these two quotes from Nigel Redden in an interview from the Reuters News Service about funding cuts to the arts on the internet. They are the first quotes I’ve seen with some truth told about the festival mixed in with a little wishful thinking.

The first quote is the wishful thinking on the financial impact of the festival: “Those cuts have come despite the fact that the Spoleto Festival brings between $55 million and $70 million to South Carolina each year,” Redden said.

$55 to $70 million – that’s quite a spread there. But, if this was true, the hotels, restaurants, and airlines should put up most of the $7.5 million budget for the festival – they’re the ones that would benefit the most. But those numbers come from economic formulas – not hard numbers. It’s economic guessing.

The second quote was the truth part: “The festival draws 25,000 to 35,000 people to the coastal city, and they buy 73,000 performance tickets and spend money on hotels, food, merchandise and tourist attractions,” he said.

Finally, we get the truth about how many people the festival attracts each year. They used to repeat this phrase until every reporter had it ingrained in their vocabulary when talking about Spoleto. “The Spoleto Festival attracts 100,000 people each year to Charleston and generates $70 million in economic impact”.

One year I called the box office after the festival was over and asked how many tickets they sold. The answer was around 70,000. Very interesting.

Unless 30,000 people were getting free admission, that was a long way from 100,000. There are a lot of folks who get given free tickets, but you have to be someone of fame, power, or at least have influence over funding. I knew there were very few people who come to Charleston to just attend one event. I also knew that a lot of locals go to Spoleto events. So, it wasn’t hard to figure that the real number was closer to 25,000 people coming to Charleston for the festival and it could even be less than that. It could be as little as 10,000 people coming from out of town to attend Spoleto events and if you start thinking about how many people come from towns and cities not too far from Charleston, but are in-State residents – the number could even get smaller.

There is a good reason Spoleto starts its festival every year during the Memorial Day Weekend. Charleston will be full of people that weekend and it makes it look like they’re all here for Spoleto, but if you ask people on the streets if they are here for Spoleto, 9 out of 10 won’t be and 7 of those won’t even know what Spoleto is. The festival has contracted the College of Charleston to do surveys, but what that means is positioning students in front of Spoleto venues before performances and asking folks going in the doors if they’re here for Spoleto – it’s very scientific.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re lucky to have the Spoleto Festival, but it has been over-sold for years as far as its impact on the economy and the city of Charleston. And, 10,000 well-off folks spending money in Charleston is nothing to throw away. But the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition, a visual art event, says they attract the same number of people, if not more, and have the same economic impact, if not more – and it’s an extended weekend compared to the three weeks of Spoleto. Of course its audience might be considered a little less refined. But they spend big bucks all the same.

Frankly, all events like this embellish the numbers on attendance and economic impact – they have to in order to attract donations and sponsorships. It’s the American way. We can’t be happy with reality – we have to be BIGGER than life.

It was refreshing to see the truth said for once – even if it was in an interview not seen in any local or regional papers. They’re all still repeating the original phrase of 100,000 visitors/$70 million impact.

Of course Spoleto could improve those numbers – if they actually put a visual art component back into the festival. But because they have no place they can present such visual arts and charge admission – they’re not interested. But it would attract more donations, more press coverage, and more people interested in visual art events.

Of course without the Spoleto Festival USA there would be no Piccolo Spoleto Festival – the “little” festival with its overkill of 700 plus events. And, without Piccolo there would be no cover for the City of Charleston to inject more funding into local performing art groups – who are paid to participate – here, there, and everywhere.

Talk about affirmative action and art welfare – Piccolo Spoleto is the poster child for propping up art groups who operate in the red constantly. And after June 11 – they will disappear until September when and if they can afford to present a “season” once more. I think of them as the part-time arts community, but with benefits. Except for the underpaid musicians of the Charleston Symphony who have to be the cheapest professionals on the planet – I’m not sure you should be able to call yourself a professional when your income is way below the poverty level.

So what’s my point in all this? It’s very simple.

The visual art community in Charleston is the real economic engine in this area and they get very little support or respect from the local, state, and national government sectors. They’re offering the arts all year long – in most cases for free. There is no “season” for the visual arts community. Sure, some times of the year are busier than others, but the show goes on no matter what.

So, maybe it’s time to concentrate on giving the visual art community some support, which will deliver a bigger economic payoff for the community, instead of pouring money down a black hole in trying to support arts groups who will always be a drain on the resources of the community.

But, then again, when I think that we have the same leadership in the arts community that we’ve had for the last 20-30 years – I know nothing is going to change.

How Much Do SC’s Public Workers Get Paid?

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

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I was surfing through The State newspaper (online version) in Columbia, SC, as I do many Carolina newspapers keeping up with what’s going on and I noticed a headline which has probably been there for months, but for some reason caught my eye today. The headline was, “How much do SC’s public workers get paid?”.

The State offers a date base (http://www.thestate.com/statesalaries/) of what some State employees make each year. This database contains names, positions and salaries of state government employees making $50,000 or more a year in base salary, as furnished by the agencies in response to SC Freedom of Information Act requests. I just had to look and then I wished I didn’t. And as far as I know, these salaries do not include the value of State benefits and other perks (use of cars, travel expenses, etc.) given to these employees.

Here’s the question. Should Ken May, head of the SC Arts Commission make $91,664.009 a year?

That’s almost as much money as our new Governor was paid to raise funds for a Columbia hospital – another headline story in The State(http://www.thestate.com/2011/03/16/1738514/hospital-no-one-here-filled-out.html). According to The State, the not yet Governor was hired as a fundraiser by Lexington Medical Center in August 2008, a position created for her at a $110,000-a-year salary, which she held until April 2010 – although the not yet Governor had no experience as a fundraiser – other than being a politician. But that’s no big deal – lots of people in SC government are given important jobs with no experience.

Now, I’m going on record here. Ken May thinks of me as his nemesis. So I guess wondering if the job he is doing is worth $91,664.009 – it could be considered another poke at him and the SC Arts Commission.

But, I’m also wondering if Harriett Green, visual arts coordinator, should make $55,284.009 a year? I’m not sure that’s the kind of money anyone should be paid for moving a few exhibits (the same exhibits) around the state from year to year. So, it’s not just about Ken May.

Of course I guess these salaries are based on the old SC Arts Commission – the one that had twice the budget a few years ago – compared to the new Commission which will get smaller and smaller over the next few years – it not disappearing all together. And, I wonder how they figure in the .9 cents?

And, folks don’t forget – a smaller budget at the SC Arts Commission means smaller grant funds to groups and artists and smaller services rendered – but it seems the salaries… Well, maybe they’re less than what they used to be? Isn’t that how it works – the less money you have (I can’t say make) the less money you get?

Well, anyway – I wish I hadn’t clicked that link at The State. I was much happier not knowing. How about you?

Carolina Arts Has Facebook Envy

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

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I don’t know what it is but Facebook and I don’t get along. Maybe it’s because I ignored it for so long, but when we converted to an online paper, people told us – we need to get on Facebook.

Unfortunately after setting up the page, I did something (don’t let me near your computer) that has set us a back a few light years. I can’t even explain what I did, but there also doesn’t seem to be anyone at Facebook who will answer our pleas for help, so we go forward – limping into the future.

Our Internet guru Zelda helped straighten us out some, but I’m still the weak link in our organization. With a monthly newspaper that has doubled in size and two active blogs, I find myself left with little to add on Facebook, but I’m sure I’ll find my voice – someday. I didn’t understand blogs at first either.

So far, 102 people have liked us, and I’ve liked a few back, but I’ve been warned to stay away from the Facebook page until I understand what I’m doing. So, here I am – in a medium I understand – asking any and all out there who are reading this – to go to our page and like us.

I know we should have more people out there who really do like Carolina Arts, but some don’t do Facebook, or like me don’t know how to do it. Oh, they have a Facebook page that someone set up for them because they were also told they needed to be on Facebook, but like me – they have now been warned – don’t touch.

So, you folks who do Facebook and still read blogs – go to our Facebook page at (http://www.facebook.com/carolinaartsnewspaper) and like us. Ask your Facebook friends to like us. I want more likes. I need more likes. I have like envy. People won’t believe so many people are reading Carolina Arts, (over 17,000 so far this month) yet it has so few likes. What those two numbers have in common I don’t know, but we could use a few more likes.

Now, could someone explain to me what a like is?

Artists, Art Collectors, Everyone – Beware!

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

There is an interesting article everyone in the visual art community should read in Columbia, SC’s  The State today (10/24/10) written by Helen O’Neill, an AP correspondent. Here’s the link. I’m sure this story is appearing in a lot of Sunday newspapers around the country.

Don’t think things like this couldn’t happen in the little old Carolinas – they have. It might have been on a much smaller scale but it has happened and could be taking place now.

The lesson is – make the arts more business like and less – who you know or who you think you know.

Annual Carolina Renaissance Festival Takes Place in Huntersville, NC – Weekends Through Nov. 21, 2010

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

I don’t think it’s really fall until I’ve tasted some of the King’s nuts. Once I have, I know I’m back at the Carolina Renaissance Festival, usually in costume, where most people think I’m part of the festival. I love those roasted almonds. The King only accepts the best.

I’ve been going back in time for about a decade. I guess I keep hoping one year they’ll be offering some of the Queen’s tarts. Well, anyway I know all about it but there may be a few of you readers who don’t know a thing about this festival. So here’s the scoop.

Located just north of Charlotte in Huntersville, NC, is a village where imagination, fantasy, and history burst to life. It is a place where adults can feel and act like children while children are treated as royalty. It is a magical realm where you will forget about your daily cares and enjoy the magic of a simpler time and place.

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It is the Carolina Renaissance Festival and Artisan Marketplace.

Introduced to the Charlotte area in 1994, the Carolina Renaissance Festival and Artisan Marketplace contained just six acres of village attractions. Now, the event has grown to become one of the largest renaissance themed events in the country as well as one of the largest attractions in the Carolinas.

Operating 7 consecutive Saturdays and Sundays in October through November 21, 2010, the 22-acre tree-lined Renaissance Festival village is nestled amongst 245 acres of beautiful forest coated in autumn colors. A perfect setting for a fictional, story-book renaissance village filled with charming cottages, castles, kitchens and pubs, all with the feel of a 16th century European village. A fictional village called Fairhaven – a peaceful shire where pleasure and celebration rules the day.

It is within the walls of Fairhaven that villagers, artists, crafts-people, musicians, performance troupes and food vendors have gathered together to create a marketplace festival in celebration for the arrival of their visiting King and Queen.

Entertainment

With trumpets blaring and cannon blasting, the gates of Fairhaven swing open at 10am and close at dusk. The day is filled with an abundance of attractions appropriate for all age groups, including 11 stages, each packed with a unique mix of continuous music, dance, comedy shows, and circus entertainments. From sword swallowing to one-of-a-kind old world musical instruments, the entertainment options are endless. The shows are always spontaneous, and you can take part in the action if you wish – or sit back and enjoy watching the audience volunteers who make a spectacle of themselves. You will never know what happens next, on stage or off.

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The “Not to be Missed” Don Juan & Miguel Show

One of the special features of the Carolina Renaissance Festival is that the entertainment is not confined to the stage. The fun takes place right in front of you on the streets of Fairhaven Village, as a costumed cast of 300 medieval commoners, knights, and royalty celebrates a 16th century day of play. Part of the Renaissance experience is meeting and interacting with the colorful characters roaming the village, creating an interactive street theater. Musical fairies and lively woodland sprites embody childlike innocence. Close up magicians amaze and amuse. Wonderful statuary comes to life. There is even a walking tree! You can take audience with the King and Queen, or mingle with the mud covered peasants who endlessly proclaim… “Welcome to the greatest show in Earth!  Huzzah!”

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Outrageously unpredictable and unstoppably hilarious, the Carolina Renaissance Festival blends the comedy of Monty Python with the mythology of The Lord of the Rings.

One would be remissed without mentioning the incredible array of live musical performances – many of which are accompanied by ethnic dance influenced by Ireland, Scotland, India, Africa, and the Middle East.  Ancient old world instruments such as the hurdy gurdy, hammered dulcimer, penny whistle, along with classical guitar ensembles and gentle harp music all fill the lanes of the village. Even scurrrvy pirates and old Irish folk songs have a home with adventure filled ballads that make you sing and shout along – all part and parcel of the Festival day.

Attractions

In addition to the non-stop schedule of entertainment, you cannot miss the birds of prey exhibition where the royal falconer will don his hunting garb and take you on a thrilling trip into the past explaining and demonstrating the use of falcons, hawks, owls and more in the ancient sport of falconry! Listen to fascinating bits of history delivered while a hawk flies overhead in a simulated hunt displaying the unique skills that enraptured nobles long ago and made falconry the sport of kings. It is both educational and awe inspiring as you learn about the popularity of falconry in the renaissance while watching a falcon dive at over 100 miles an hour!

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A modern recreation of the Renaissance era wouldn’t be complete without a depiction of one of the grandest events of the time period – the tournament Joust! Easily the Carolina Renaissance Festival’s most popular attraction, the joust is full of pomp, pageantry, and chivalry. Three times daily, noble Knights strap on the heavy suits of armor and mount two tons of snorting steeds. With plumes waving and chain mail clanking, they take up their lances and charge at one another in tilt. Shattering lances, clashing swords, and daring deeds of bravery all collide into a realistic recreation of a joust to the death! These Knights (actually stunt riders and actors) battle inside the village on a large tournament field in a 2,000 seat arena.  Adults and children alike can join in the fun and cheer their favorite knight with creative and sarcastic chants taught by the Fairhaven rabble rousers!

Games & Rides

The Carolina Renaissance Festival is home to plenty of activities for children including a most unusual collection of people powered rides and games of skill. Inspired by the joust? Try your skill with a lance on the Slider Joust challenge game. You can storm the castle in a paintball battle or try to solve the riddle of climbing Jacob’s Ladder. Mix skillful pleasure and comic adventure by throwing tomatoes at the insulting fools locked in the stocks at Vegetable Justice. Test your skill at games like the Dragon Climbing Tower, the Archery Range, and the Maze. Fly high into the sky on the Pirate’s Assault Catapult. Take a ride on Christopher Columbus’ Voyage to the New World, the Piccolo Pony (a rocking horse bigger than an elephant), and Leonardo’s Flying Machine; a people powered amusement ride based on Di Vinci’s designs for human flight.

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A family favorite is Mother (and Father) Goose brought to life with their costumed ducks and geese, the Petting Farm, and Camel and Elephant Rides.

Already the Carolinas’ largest costume party, put the Carolina Renaissance Festival on your Halloween list of things to do with free event admission for all children 12 and under, with free tricks & treats to be found all around the Festival village, and a Halloween Treasure Hunt with prizes! Children are encouraged to show off their Halloween costumes and enter the Halloween Costume Contest!

Shopping

In addition, the Renaissance Festival is a great place to buy your Halloween costume or accessories. Early holiday shoppers can peruse over 100 craft shops in an open-air village market which provides a diverse selection of handmade items such as pottery, jewelry, perfume, glass blown ornaments, ceramics, bath & body products, medieval costumes, hand carved candles, unique musical instruments, children’s toys, a full spectrum of clothing, and much more. You can even create your own special gift at the raku pottery booth.

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Housed in rows of storybook shops and medieval style tents, you can watch artisans make a masterpiece right before your eyes. Enjoy demonstrations of fine skills such as weaving, woodcarving, blacksmithing, glassblowing, pottery, and jewelry making – all through the use of ancient skills and low technology.

Eating

Did you work up an appetite perusing all the shops and enjoying all the entertainment? Well you will be pleased to know that the food is as spectacular as all the attractions. In addition to the shows, music, crafts, and the wonder of getting lost in another time, people visit the Carolina Renaissance Festival for the food as well. Village kitchens cook up an endless feast of bread bowl stews, steak-on-a-stake, gourmet sausages, and the festival’s famous giant roasted turkey legs. For dessert, try the fresh crepes, the cakes and cookies from the Monks Bakery, candy delights from the Chocolate Shoppe, Italian ice, gelato, and a favorite of all renaissance wanderers: a bag of cinnamon-roasted almonds (the King’s nuts). Festival pubs soft drinks, a wide variety of craft beer, wine, champagne, ale, honey mead, lemonade and Medieval Margaritas to compliment the day-long feast of hearty foods fit for royalty.

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Each year the Carolina Renaissance Festival adds new entertainment and new facilities making it the fall destination for quality entertainment in the Carolinas. And for visitor convenience, the Festival has embraced modern times. In addition to purchasing advanced discount tickets at Harris Teeter grocery stores region-wide, visitors can now print their own tickets in advance on the Festival’s website at (www.RenFestInfo.com). So bust out your sense of good cheer, leave your cares behind, and take a day trip out to the wildly popular and entertaining time machine known as the Carolina Renaissance Festival and Artisan Market Place.

Advance Discount Tickets: $18 for adults, $7 for kids ages 5-12; available at Harris Teeter Stores region wide. Children under 5 are always free. Tickets purchased at the gate are $1 more, or print your own online at (www.RenFestInfo.com). Senior (60 and over) and adult Military discount tickets are $17 at the gate. Parking is free courtesy of Harris Teeter.

Event Sponsors: The Carolina Renaissance Festival is presented by Harris Teeter, Carolina Blonde, Pepsi, and the Charlotte Observer.

For more event information call 704/896-5544; toll free at 877/896-5544, or on the web at (www.RenFestInfo.com).