Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Piccolo Spoleto Festival Exhibitions Slip Away Again

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

Even with the best of intentions on my part, once again many of the Piccolo Spoleto Festival visual art offerings have slipped away before I could get by to see them. Even some of the exhibits I did get to see are over before I could post a blog about them. I have always said that the Spoleto and Piccolo Festivals were not designed to fit my schedule. I have to have my June issue turned into the printer before the festivals even start and then once they have started I’m delivering papers and then preparing for the July issue. It’s just not a good time for me to get out and see all that is being offered. This blog helps some, but not enough. But, I did get to see some and a few will still be on display for some time to come.

This year I did not get to visit the Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibit 2009but once and that was not a long visit at that. I got reports about what was going on from various sources, but that’s not the same as being there and getting a first hand impression from artists and visitors. Sixteen days sounds like a lot of time, but it’s not. I have always said that this show is the marathon of all visual art events and that the artists who go through it in South Carolina’s “what next?” weather challenges are the toughest folks around. Not to mention putting up with the viewing public’s repetitive questions. It can also be a roller-coaster ride of emotions – watching your neighboring artist make sales while you don’t; making sales while others don’t and not being able to feel good about it or at least brag about it; wondering what else you could have done with these 16 days; and promising yourself this is the last year you’ll do this. But, in the end it all turns out all right and most return – year after year. And, they end up meeting some wonderful new customers and a lot of old customers who are now friends – that return year after year.

If you want a little taste of what it’s like being one of the 100 + artists down in Marion Square Park in Charleston, SC, during this exhibition visit Amelia “Mimi” Whaley’s blog. You can review her 16-day journal of being there.

While delivering the June issue I did get by to see the exhibit, From Quilts in the Attic to Quilts on the Wall: Exploring Textile Art by African Americans, on view at 10 Storehouse Row at The Navy Yard at Noisette (on the former Charleston Naval Base) in North Charleston, SC. This exhibit ended on June 7, 2009, like many of the Piccolo Spoleto exhibits. This exhibit was also part of North Charleston Arts Festival which took place early in May. The artists in this exhibit explore and depict their African heritage through quilting – some traditional, some non-traditional. Here’s a few images of some of the quilts.

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Sophia Rising by Torreah Washington

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Sacred Letters by Dorothy Montgomery

Here’s a little commentary for the folks developing The Navy Yard at Noisette. If they don’t do something about the main roads there – people will never come there and I’m going to stop coming and tell people not to go there. Paving over those roads is long overdue.

I also got to see the exhibit, BREAKING OUT, a Piccolo Spoleto art exhibition for adults with intellectual disabilities, sponsored by the Hulsey Law Group and presented at Charleston City Hall at 80 Broad Street in downtown Charleston. At the four corners of the law to be exact. This show also ended June 7, 2009.

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The exhibit was coordinated by: Special Olympics of South Carolina, City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs, VSA Arts of South Carolina and SC Arts Commission. It provided an opportunity for artists with intellectual disabilities to speak using the vocabulary of art. The artists communicate through their paintings and pottery and in so doing break down the walls raised by their disabilities. But the location of this exhibit wasn’t going to break down the walls of competition for viewing exhibits during these busy Festivals. The lobby at City Hall is not made for exhibitions and people don’t expect to find exhibits there and other than the Spoleto Festival’s opening ceremony – nothing else happens in that part of the city – as far as Festival events go. This show could have been placed at the Charleston Visitor Center.

Without knowing the particulars of this exhibition most viewers might not know these people were not your average artist guild novice, folk artists or visionary artists, but considering their disabilities, the works can take on an exceptional quality.

Although there were people (I don’t want to use the word artist) here from Beaufort, SC, and Spartanburg, SC, it would be nice if this was an exhibit which was the result of a statewide competition among adults creating works with intellectual disabilities. That would add an extra level of accomplishment for the participants.

Some might ask why is this work being presented at these major art festivals? Well, creating something is a powerful action. The arts are used by many, other than artists, for expression, therapy (physical and mental), and for relaxation. Why shouldn’t that side of the arts be seen at an arts festival?

It also should be noted that beyond the exhibit’s main sponsor many contributions were made by some of Charleston’s commercial art businesses and commercial art galleries. These people contribute to a lot of non-profit efforts, but when it comes time to think about who should receive public funding or public help in tough times, these same folks are left out of the picture. It’s not all about making money for these folks – it’s about being part of the greater art community and community in general. It’s time they should get some credit for that.

And, Mayor Joseph Riley (Charleston’s Mayor), you better do something about your streets too. Stop saying it’s the SC Highway Department’s duty to keep your city’s streets decent.

Well, although I couldn’t draw any visitors to these exhibits, by reviewing them before they were over, beyond our pre-coverage of these events in Carolina Arts and on our website Carolina Arts Online, we have given them a little recognition and life in cyber space. That’s the best we could do this year.

What’s Wrong With This Presidential Election

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

That’s not a question, but there are plenty of answers if it was.

During the day I’m working on my computer – a lot. Most of that time I’m listening to a random selection from my iTunes playlist, listening to news/talk shows on public radio, or watching cable news – CNN and MSNBC – all the elite news media.

When it comes to the cable news – I’m amazed at who is paying for the coverage of this presidential campaign – energy companies, mortgage lenders, and tax avoidance firms.

I hear a lot about clean coal – that doesn’t exist yet. There are no power plants in America burning clean coal to create energy. They had plans of building a clean coal burning power plant, but the estimated costs were running so high that they scrapped the plans to build the test model. And, that said – it doesn’t matter how much coal we still have in the ground – we need cleaner alternative fuel sources – like wind and solar power. But the energy companies have lots of money to buy commercials to have a woman dressed in all black ( I can only figure she wears black due to all the coal dust in the air) walk around telling us lies about clean coal – the solution. Dig baby dig!

There is also a lot of money being spent on commercials by mortgage companies – some, the same companies who got us into this economic mess to begin with. When the commercials are not on, the talking heads on the news are telling us there is no money for home loans – even if someone wanted to buy a home now that would be worth less – much less – the day after they purchased it – with what kind of loan? Probably some new kind of loan – designed to help homeowners. Right! And, why not buy a home you can’t afford now, from a company that is going broke – when Uncle Sam will pick up the tab? Are these companies trying to run up their debt to get a bigger piece of the bailout?

And, while I’m listening to the lies about taxes – who’s going to pay more and who’s going to get a rebate from Warren Buffet and Bill Gates during the great redistribution of wealth – I see these commercials about people who had huge delinquent tax bills, but they hired some ex-IRS employees and now they don’t have to pay anything. “We owed $100,000 in back taxes, but we hired (fill in the blank tax firm) and now we only need to pay $25″. And, they say this with a smile on their face. The whole commercial is a parade of couples who owe back taxes and end up paying nothing but pennies on the dollar – just because they hired these tax pros (or cons). I wonder what you have to pay these companies to save you that much money? And, how many lunches and beers do these guys have to buy for their old friends at the IRS to get such favorable rulings?

Why would people who make over $250,000 ever worry about being taxed, when all they have to do is not pay their taxes and then hire these wizards of tax loopholes.

But then there are a lot of people who seem to think they are making over $250,000 a year (even when they are not) and are going to have their wealth taken away and given to homeless people paying no taxes. Dang, those lucky homeless people! But then again isn’t that what our current President and Treasury Secretary are doing – taking our tax dollars – current and future – and giving it to people who bought houses they couldn’t afford, predator lenders, stock brokers, financial speculators, and hedge fund managers who blew it all on the product featured in my favorite commercial.

This one tops them all. A man is driving in this big pig of a car – almost the size of a tank. It’s got everything in it and can carry a dozen people – yet he’s the only one in the car and he’s wondering why they don’t use hybrid technology on this kind of car instead of those dinky little cars. Then he smiles and says – “Oh did I spoil the secret” – and he zooms off burning gallons of fuel a minute. In print across the screen we learn that this car now gets 50% more mpg. In small print it tells you that’s up to 14mpg from the 9mpg it used to get in the city – and now 20mpg on the highway. Wow, why wouldn’t you want to pay $40,000 to $50,000 for a car that can now get that kind of mileage a mini-van gets without hybrid technology. Gas prices are falling, so let’s buy big cars again! Why isn’t that auto maker putting hybrid technology in that mini-van? And, we just gave America’s automakers $25 billion to bail them out – what, so they could make bigger SUV with hybrid technology?

Are we stupid? Do they think we are that stupid? Don’t answer that – we don’t want to really know.

Don’t Mix Apples and Oranges in Politics

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

I got a call the other day from a woman in North Carolina who was very upset with my recent comments (Oct. 08) in Carolina Arts on how the arts do better under Democratic leadership compared to Republican leadership.

Her complaint was that she had just spent two days visiting art galleries in North Carolina and had never been so ignored in her life. She couldn’t understand how these galleries could complain about the government and economic conditions when they themselves treated people so badly.

The caller kept going back and forth between these two subjects and even for me – it was hard to get a word in the conversation. Once I found out which commentary she was taking exception to I found my feet.

She explained that although not being a person of means, she has purchased a lot of art in her day, but was just amazed that upon entering these galleries she couldn’t get the time of day – even after explaining that she was new to the area and would like to know something about the artists and the work on display. She also couldn’t see how I could blame the Republicans for any of these galleries’ woes – being an Independent herself, she voted for the person – not the party – wishing there were more choices.

I had a hard time arguing my point on my recent commentary, since she mingled the two subjects together. Every time I pointed out that the Republican leadership has broken our economy, she would point out that the galleries were ruining their own business by treating visitors so bad. I would agree that this is a problem that I have talked about in other commentary and that even our writer from Australia, Judith McGrath, has also brought up this subject – she just kept going back and forth.

One of the reasons I travel under the radar in galleries is to see how people are treated in galleries and I have to say that at times I’m amazed at how much time I can spend in a gallery and not be approached once on whether I had a question or was interested in anything. This is not just a problem in North Carolina – my caller had also been to art communities in South Carolina and gotten the same treatment – as I have. But I’ll also add that in my experience this is the exception – not the norm. I’ve had wonderful experiences in our galleries.

On the other hand, I’ve also been trapped in galleries that made me feel like I was being held captive in a car dealership – where I couldn’t leave until they made a deal that would make me happy. Sometimes too much attention can be just as bad as too little.

On the subject of how the art community fairs under one party or another I would not yield. On the subject of how the average person is treated in art galleries I had to agree there is a problem, but also told my caller to make a complaint. Many times people attending galleries are not the owners of the art galleries. But, my caller was only interested in first impressions and was too busy to change the art world, who in her opinion was just interested in blaming someone else for their problems. She also thanked me for my time and said she would continue to read my paper.

I know what city this caller was talking about – I even know the gallery where she picked up our paper, but this is a general art gallery problem. And, I’ve only heard her side of this complaint. So no use in naming names.

My caller was contacting me to give me another side to consider, which I appreciated. And, I’ve responded about her concerns and complaints. Only problem is – most likely the people who read my commentary are not the ones treating visitors so badly. They are usually people who are working in a gallery because it’s just a job or an owner of a gallery who is just in business to make money. They don’t care about the art community the way I do, my caller does, and readers of this blog and our paper do. Apparently they don’t care about much – even people who take time to come see the art in their galleries. That’s too bad.

On the subject as to how you should vote in this election, I’ll ask readers the same question Sen. Barack Obama asked a restaurant owner in Ohio who sold him a slice of pie. The owner was a long time Republican. Obama asked him how his business was doing? The owner said terrible – people don’t have money to come in and eat. Sen. Obama said he should give the Democrats a try for once – it can’t hurt and it might get better. Well, he said a lot more than that, but you get the drift of his point.

How has your business been doing?

Your Presidential Choice, A Simple One

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

I could spend a lot of time listing all the ways Sen. John McCain has changed his views, to get the nomination by his party and to be elected President, on what used to be the principles that made him a maverick politician. The list would include tax cuts for the very rich, drilling for oil off-shore and in our national parks, bowing to the religious right, compassion for immigrants, sucking up to President Bush while at the same time trying to deny he ever knew him before the cock crows three times, and being Mr. straight talk express – to name a few. Now he’s just another Washington politician – his home for 26 years – lest he forget that point when he talks about Washington being broken.

His selection of Gov. Sarah Palin to be his running mate alone shows he’ll do anything to be President. The good Governor sees herself as another maverick – fighting against big business, their lobbyists, and government earmarks – while Alaska lives off sucking on the teat of big oil and government earmarks to the tune of $400 million plus in her two years in office. She turned down the bridge to nowhere after it was unpopular, but kept the money that was to pay for it. The only fighting she did against big oil was to get a bigger share of the profits for Alaska while her followers rant – drill baby drill. Were they talking about dentist? Gov. Palin is nothing more than a poster child for the extreme right.

We’ll go back to the question Ronald Regan asked when he was running to be President. Are you better off after the last four years or worse off and I’ll add – are you better off after the last eight years – under Republican leadership or the eight years before under Democratic leadership?

Ronald Regan gave us deregulation of the airlines and the Savings & Loan bailout (John McCain was one of the Keating Five); George H.W. Bush gave us the first Iraq War for nothing and high inflation; and George W. Bush has given us Enron, IqWII (the search for WMDs), and the worst economic disaster since the depression. Republicans have made the government bigger, made our debt bigger, deregulated everything so greedy stockholders and CEO’s can profit while the companies fail – making the rich richer and foreign oil a dependency we can’t live without.

Bill Clinton – although he couldn’t keep it in his pants – gave us a balanced budget and a surplus, no wars, millions of new jobs, and more money for the working class. The rich didn’t do so badly either. Was the meaning of “is” that big a deal?

The choice is simple for me. I need a tax cut – daddy Warbucks doesn’t; I need universal health care at a reasonable price; I don’t want my future grandchildren’s children fighting in the Middle East and paying for IqWII and the bailout of greedy financial corporations; I need a can-do country that can say “screw big oil” and turn to alternative energy sources (not using corn for energy driving up food prices); I want a President that is smarter than me (I’ve got plenty of people to drink a beer with or go fishing with); I need a country that can get over the color of someone’s skin; I need a press corps that can stand up to their corporate handlers; I need people to stop being so lazy that they refuse to register to vote or stand for jury duty (although jurors are also selected from driver’s licenses and ids issue by the state); I need an America that welcomes all comers with open arms; and I want the America my parents and their parents enjoyed and the world respected.

Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin can’t deliver what I need. They don’t even want to. I don’t even know if Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Joe Biden can deliver what I need either, but I’ve got a better chance with them and the leadership they will bring to Washington. I can’t take eight or even four more years of Republican leadership.

What do you need?

Near the end of the election season Sen. McCain will promise you everything – he’s shown that. And no matter what happens Gov. Sarah Palin will turn on him like the barracuda she claims she is for being taken on a ride. I don’t blame her – she’s being used. And, I won’t feel sorry for her, because she is enjoying the limelight.

I’m not saying vote a straight ticket – that’s stupid, but Obama and Biden will need all the help they can get in the US House and Senate.

Just ask yourself – How much more of this can you take? and What do you need? If you’re truthful with yourself – you’ll do the right thing.

If you’re not voting – forget about you and stop reading my blog.

Another View on SC Arts Commission’s LINC

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

On Aug. 20, 2008, I posted a blog entry about the South Carolina Art Commission’s $100,000 grant to implement the Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC) program in South Carolina.

I’ll admit my comments were jaded and pessimistic, but they are based on my 20 plus years of experience in our art community and dealing or not dealing with the SC Art Commission. They have not given me much reason to be optimistic. I still have hope for a different kind of art community, but not to come from them. I can assure you, they feel the same about me. So be it.

That said, it doesn’t mean that has to be the same experience for everyone. I’m always telling artists to apply for their programs, because if they don’t – they have no right to complain when they give rewards to the people who do apply. I also ask these same artists to watch what the Arts Commission does – don’t just listen to what they say or write in a report. And watch who they do it with. What they say is not always what they do.

A fellow Carolina blogger, Christopher Rico, has offered on his blog, Machinations of a Distracted Mind, another view on the LINC program and his experience. (http://machinationsdistractedmind.blogspot.com/2008/08/kind-of-blue.html) It’s good reading for all artists.

What Joe Riley Wants – Joe Gets

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

In an Aug. 19, 2008, Post and Courier article David Slade explains that the Charleston, SC City Council is considering a $734,500 loan to the American College of the Building Arts – requested by Charleston’s Mayor, Joe Riley.

The article doesn’t really tell us why the college needs the money. It doesn’t tell us the full terms of the loan, but it hints that it’s the kind any of us would die for, but it does tell us why the City Council will probably approve the loan.

Mayor Joe Riley wants it done and Pierre Manigault is chairman of the college’s board of trustees – he is also chairman of the board of Evening Post Publishing, parent company of Charleston.net and The Post and Courier.

The article reports that Manigault said the “school’s survival is not in question but the next six months will be a critical time for the institution.” This was not a direct quote. It’s too bad we’re not told what the problem is at the College, other than a lack of funds.

Here’s just another case of it’s not what you do – it’s who you know.

The article paints a picture of an institution that has been given every break in the world and after four years is not accredited, which makes its students unable to get federal loans and other financial aid, operates in the red, lives off private donations and government grants – and to top it off – has only 55 full-time and part-time students. Out of the Class of 2009, 15 students started the program and only 7 will hopefully graduate this Spring. That’s less than a 50 percent retention rate.

I wonder what the staff to student ratio is at this institution?

This loan represents $13,354.54 per student. That’s quite an investment Charleston’s taxpayers will be making in these students and this college. That’s almost paying the tuition for each student for a year (Tuition is $18,372).

The loan will come from the City’s $18.4 million emergency fund.

I wonder if that money will be missed when Charleston has a real emergency – like another hurricane?

The article offers a historical timeline on the College’s finances and accomplishments since forming in 1998 – nine years after Hurricane Hugo did much damage to historical buildings in Charleston and there was a shortage of skilled craftsmen to do repairs.

Overall it seems like a good thing – having an institution which trains the next generation of skilled craftsmen – for Charleston, South Carolina and the Nation. Much like lots of other good ideas which people would like to get funding for, but it just seems like some get all the breaks and we’re asked to overlook problems which in other cases would be a deal breaker.

I hope the College survives and continues to be an asset for the overall community. I just offer this example up to readers to show – it’s not what you do – it’s who you know, and what Mayor Joe Riley wants – he gets. Anyone trying to accomplish something in Charleston better have the support of the Mayor or they are going to have a very hard road to travel. And I mean real support, not lip service. The Mayor gives lots of lip service to causes that just seem to be spinning in place.

And, as far as the Post and Courier goes, we’ve seen this kind of soft-server reporting on other troubled institutions like the SC Aquarium (continual problems), Spoleto Festival USA (past problems), and the Charleston Symphony Orchestra (continual problems). Nothing new there. You offer some facts, conceal others, and present it all with supporting quotes by important people, but never offer an opposing view. They save the real reporting for things which they do not favor.

That’s Charleston.

SC Arts Commission Talks the Talk for Grant

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

We’ve seen it before – many times. The SC Arts Commission snags a grant by talking the talk, but never delivers results. This time it’s a $100,000 grant from the Ford Foundation for a program called – Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC), a national initiative to improve conditions for artists.

Here’s the first two paragraphs of the press release the Commission issued on June 17, 2008.

“Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC), a national initiative to improve conditions for artists, has awarded the South Carolina Arts Commission a $100,000 project grant. The Arts Commission will use the funds to implement practical strategies that address key concerns of S.C. artists.”

“We are very excited to receive funds to implement this valuable initiative,” said S.C. Arts Commission Executive Director Suzette Surkamer. “This is a great opportunity to help expand South Carolina’s creative economy and offer new resources to artists throughout the state.”

That’s as far as I can go before I start feeling nauseous. You can find the rest of the press release on their website.

And, before the naysayers start on their calls – did you participate? No, I’m way past wasting my time with the Arts Commission. I’ve made the effort in the past and the results have never been worth my efforts. But, you don’t have to participate to see the process unfold and judge the results. Simple observation can do that.

Well, let’s start with this – it only takes $100,000 to improve the lives of artists in SC. Why did they have to wait for an outside grant? If that’s all it is going to take – even if that’s a $100,000 a year – why didn’t they just put that in their multi million dollar budget – say 10 or 20 years ago?

This reminds me of the Open Studio: The Arts Online project. It was a five year national project to help individual artists and nonprofit arts organizations become effective information providers on the World Wide Web. From 1996-2000, Open Studio: The Arts Online, a national initiative of the Benton Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts provided funding for Internet access and training to artists and nonprofit arts organizations ensuring the communications environment of the 21st century thrives as a source of creative excellence and diversity.

What happened in SC? Workshops were held, money was distributed – lots of artists and organizations got shiny new websites and in a few years it all fizzled away. The community didn’t really build a resource that would continue to teach organizations how to launch and maintain their websites, so as the few who learned something during this period faded away – so did the future benefits of the program. The results today is that many of these organizations have websites that can barely tell you what is going on currently in their organization. Many are just web address books. You’d have to call them to find out what is going on.

The turnover of staff at these organizations is so bad that anything invested in one person usually walks out the door with them in a few years. As soon as the money for the project ran out – the SC Arts Commission had no further interest in helping SC’s art community effectively use the Internet to communicate.

The way most of these projects, programs, initiatives work – you get some people together to express their needs, you write up a report, you publish some goals and strategies – the money runs out and it’s all forgotten. There is never any follow-up to see how effective the program was and what impact it had. That’s not important. What’s important is talking the talk.

You can get a good idea of how effective this LINC program is by looking at the blog (http://scartistslinc.wordpress.com) the Arts Commission set up. The blog was started in Aug. 07 and it really never took off – by Jan. 08 it seems to be dead in the water and there wasn’t much interaction going on. Another successful Arts Commission effort.

Why didn’t more people participate – well maybe some expected more from the Arts Commission than what they were getting, maybe the Arts Commission expected a surge of participation and when it didn’t come they grew uninterested, or maybe most people are like me – they won’t be fooled again.

But maybe I’m jumping the gun – maybe the real push hasn’t even taken place yet? What should we expect for a year’s worth of effort? After all the state goal is simple – “The Arts Commission will use the funds to implement practical strategies that address key concerns of S.C. artists”.

What does that mean? Write up a report? Make some suggestion as to what they think artists should do to improve their lives? Post some links to what other organizations that receive this same funding did?

I’ve seen what happens when the Art Commission conducts one of their Canvas of the People programs to find out what the Arts Commission and the art community should do in the next 5 or 10 years. They get some people together. They direct them through a pre-programed process. They publish the observations. They gather some more folks together to come up with goals and strategies for a 5 or 10 year plan. Publish another “final” report. And, whammy – problem’s solved.

It’s like George Bush and company – they published the road map on how to get from here to there – for leaders in the Middle East. If you get lost along the way, just can’t follow the map, find that the map leads to nowhere, or even find that the word “map” doesn’t mean the same as you think that word means – it doesn’t matter. They tried.

Does the Arts Commission ever call those same people together to see what went wrong or if anything was achieved? No, that’s not important. Why? Because the people giving the money for these programs don’t care either. They did their part. And if a report is required on the results and impact of the program – who do you think makes the report. There’s nothing like self-analysis to find success.

I know I’m still waiting to benefit from some of those goals stated in some of those Canvas of the People 5 or 10 year plans. I’m sure a lot of other people are too. LINC looks like another display of smoke and mirrors and I wouldn’t expect any changes to come out of it. I wish there would be some positive results, but I’m not banking on it. Unfortunately some artists out there will believe change is just around the corner.

Charleston’s Museum Mile – the old Bait & Switch

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

It looks like Columbia, SC, isn’t the only place where the use of county accommodation tax money ends up helping commercial enterprises when it is shielded as support for non-profits.

Accommodation tax money is a special tax collected from hotels, motels and vacation rentals to promote area tourism.

The Museum Mile project was first proposed to help support cultural institutions which have seen declining visitor numbers in recent years by pulling together and promoting the participating parties located on or near Meeting Street – in the space of a mile. The institutions that would benefit were proposed to be – the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry, the Charleston Museum, the Gibbes Museum of Art, the Historic Charleston Foundation, the Preservation Society of Charleston, the South Carolina Historical Society, Colonial Dames (a.k.a. the Powder Magazine), the Washington Light Infantry and the newly reopened Old Slave Mart Museum.

The picture is museums on or near Meeting Street within a mile of each other.

The project was awarded $100,000, in Nov. 2007, by Charleston County Council to help pay for brochures, bulletin boards, a website and other forms of advertising to promote the Museum Mile – like signs on buses already driving around Charleston and flags on street poles. The idea behind this kind of promotion is that there are plenty of people visiting Charleston – they just don’t know the right places to go. As we all know Charleston is one of the least promoted cities in the country. I guess they think most people just go to the Visitor Center to go to the rest rooms.

With five months to go on its first year since County Council approved the funding we’re beginning to see a different picture of Meeting Street’s Museum Mile – which now seems more like Charleston’s Miracle Mile (in that it can be anything the group wants it to be).

Here’s some of the new attractions being promoted on the Museum Mile website: Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon, located at 122 East Bay Street; The Mills House Hotel, located at 115 Meeting Street; and the Sticky Fingers Ribhouse, located at 235 Meeting Street.

At this point any institution and any commercial business located in Charleston County would seem to have a legitimate claim to be included in the Museum Mile – since the original premise has been stretched beyond belief.

How do you judge who can be part of this promotion? By age? The Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry isn’t that old. By location? If you can include locations on East Bay Street – why not King Street or even Rutledge Avenue? Did they mean a square mile? And, how did commercial hotels and restaurants get into the mix?

It might have something to do with paid membership – I don’t know, but that’s the only thing that would make sense.

People who find this Museum Mile website will soon see that its creators were not serious about presenting Charleston’s cultural institutions and the members of Charleston County Council got taken by the old bait and switch.

Sticky Fingers – ummm them is some cultural tastin’ ribs. I’ll have to be institutionalized if I swallow this logic.

Of course this is the second time this same group has repackaged this same idea of joint promotion of cultural institutions. What is it that President George W. Bush says? Fool me once, shame on you. Shame me again, I’m a fool or… well you know what he says.

I’m not sure Charleston County Council will get it right the third time around either when these folks come back for money again.

Sunday Mornings Will Never Be The Same

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

I’m sort of a political/news junkie. When I’m working on the paper I’m most likely listening to our local public radio station – the one with the talk shows, not the classical music. Some days I’ll have a small TV tuned in to CNN or MSNBC – never FOX. When I’m delivering papers on the road – it’s NPR and BBC news at night, but my favorite day for political news is Sunday.

The routine is turn on the computer, get the Sunday paper and read it, check e-mail and then settle in for the Sunday morning political talk shows starting with Meet the Press on NBC, then This Week with George Stephanopoulos, and finally Wolf Blitzer on CNN. Then I’ll scan regional newspapers on the web for Sunday art news.

With Tim Russert’s sudden death this week all that has changed. Russert was one of the best in the business and as a result of his death – the news cycle stopped. The NBC news division was in mourning and the other news networks were paying tribute to a fallen colleague.

Russert was always prepared to ask the right questions and when one of his guest tried to claim that they never supported an issue or never said something – Russert was ready with several video clips of this same guest saying exactly what they just claimed they never did or said – busted. So, the seasoned politico came prepared to be asked the hard questioned and to have the correct answers. There was not much room for spin on Meet the Press.

I’m sure NBC will come up with a capable stand-in, but they will never replace Russert. He was one of the giants of the news biz – and he’s now gone at such a young age – 58, just one year older than myself.

My Sunday mornings will never be the same.