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PBS in PerilWhither Great Perfomances?


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#16 4mrdncr

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 09:24 AM


Unfortunately, I don't live "north of the border" or in Europe, or Japan, or any other culturally enlighhtened country that supports its arts and public television stations.

OT: Generally speaking, Canada is not culturally enlightened. There happen to be two provincial educational channels, British Columbia's and the Franco-Ontario one, which have a weekly slot, dedicated to classical music, and where ballet gets an airing from time to time. (The Anglo-Ontario network pays no attention to the arts, but it does a fair job with everything else.) Today they are what PBS used to be, and certainly BC's Knowledge Network actively seeks the financial support of its viewers. But neither network can afford to produce its own arts content apart from a few shorts.

However, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is a proof that a massive government subsidy guarantees nothing. What the CBC spends its money on these days is Coronation Street imports, several painful sitcoms, Hockey Night in Canada, a late-night chat show hosted by a former VJ and absolutely no arts programming. This, evidently, is what the public wants. It pains me to see PBS gradually going down the same route, because in the CBC's case it's been a road of no return.



Very many thanks for informing me/us of the state of arts programming in Canada etc. This is very sad if that is truly the trend. I seem to remember at least 3 or 4 Canadian-produced ballet documentaries (2 dancer or company bios, and a few performance films) made in the last couple of years getting broadcast or theatrical viewings. (Though of course not seen much here yet) And at least some cinema chain up there is showing 'live' HD broadcasts of the RB et.al. in theaters, whereas here it is only MET broadcasts of operas (and then in only limited theaters and limited runs) and nothing else. I also think there were 1 or 2 multi-part doc series about ballet (sorry, can't remember the title(s)--I think maybe one word, but maybe not. Also don't know if they were produced by CBC or others, or how long ago; I don't think more than 10 yrs ago?) and was much encouraged by their existance and consequently evidence of both network/producers' and audience interest... I guess this is no longer the case. The last multi-part documentary series about ballet that I can remember broadcast in the USA was the one with Margot Fonteyn 30+ years ago. Have there been any since that I missed? (I don't mean one-offs such as PBS American Masters)
Either way, there is a dearth of classical arts programming on television in the US, and if PBS is still the only broadcast distributor of such programming in the USA, it's demise would be even more of a blow.

#17 dirac

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 10:28 AM

It pains me to see PBS gradually going down the same route, because in the CBC's case it's been a road of no return.


In the case of PBS some of it has been from hunger. With the decline in public support they have to rattle the cup more often. NPR's classical music programming has been cut because although the classical music fans whined a lot, they didn't actually send in much money, and the people who listened to the talk shows did.

#18 puppytreats

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 10:31 AM



Unfortunately, I don't live "north of the border" or in Europe, or Japan, or any other culturally enlighhtened country that supports its arts and public television stations.

OT: Generally speaking, Canada is not culturally enlightened. There happen to be two provincial educational channels, British Columbia's and the Franco-Ontario one, which have a weekly slot, dedicated to classical music, and where ballet gets an airing from time to time. (The Anglo-Ontario network pays no attention to the arts, but it does a fair job with everything else.) Today they are what PBS used to be, and certainly BC's Knowledge Network actively seeks the financial support of its viewers. But neither network can afford to produce its own arts content apart from a few shorts.

However, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is a proof that a massive government subsidy guarantees nothing. What the CBC spends its money on these days is Coronation Street imports, several painful sitcoms, Hockey Night in Canada, a late-night chat show hosted by a former VJ and absolutely no arts programming. This, evidently, is what the public wants. It pains me to see PBS gradually going down the same route, because in the CBC's case it's been a road of no return.



Very many thanks for informing me/us of the state of arts programming in Canada etc. This is very sad if that is truly the trend. I seem to remember at least 3 or 4 Canadian-produced ballet documentaries (2 dancer or company bios, and a few performance films) made in the last couple of years getting broadcast or theatrical viewings. (Though of course not seen much here yet) And at least some cinema chain up there is showing 'live' HD broadcasts of the RB et.al. in theaters, whereas here it is only MET broadcasts of operas (and then in only limited theaters and limited runs) and nothing else. I also think there were 1 or 2 multi-part doc series about ballet (sorry, can't remember the title(s)--I think maybe one word, but maybe not. Also don't know if they were produced by CBC or others, or how long ago; I don't think more than 10 yrs ago?) and was much encouraged by their existance and consequently evidence of both network/producers' and audience interest... I guess this is no longer the case. The last multi-part documentary series about ballet that I can remember broadcast in the USA was the one with Margot Fonteyn 30+ years ago. Have there been any since that I missed? (I don't mean one-offs such as PBS American Masters)
Either way, there is a dearth of classical arts programming on television in the US, and if PBS is still the only broadcast distributor of such programming in the USA, it's demise would be even more of a blow.


On cable, in NYC, we have some middle of the night broadcasts on a CUNY-related channel regarding old films of the arts, including ballet, and we also enjoy the Ovation channel. We have to pay for these channels, though, and cannot always stay awake for these shows. We have seen documentaries, such as the recent Paris Opera Ballet piece, on public television in the past year.

#19 volcanohunter

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 01:29 PM

The last multi-part documentary series about ballet that I can remember broadcast in the USA was the one with Margot Fonteyn 30+ years ago. Have there been any since that I missed? (I don't mean one-offs such as PBS American Masters)

The last multi-part ballet documentaries in English I can think of were the BBC's Dancer, hosted by Peter Schaufuss, and Ballerina, hosted by Natalia Makarova, from the mid-1980s. Perhaps they weren't documentaries so much as introductions to classical dancing. I'm pretty sure that both were carried by A&E. There was also a BBC series from the mid-1990s called The House, which dealt with, among other things, the Royal Ballet, though I don't remember whether any American network aired it.

Unfortunately, the screenings of Opus Arte offerings at Canadian cinemas petered out after two-three years. Perhaps there was no audience for it, or perhaps potential audiences weren't interested in pre-recorded performances. I thought the series was very badly marketed. It's a great pity, since it strove to screen almost as many ballets as operas. Both American and Canadian chains are now attempting to relay live, or nearly live, performances from the Bolshoi Ballet, though Canada has more per-capita screens. On the other hand, Canadians don't have access to the live relays from the Paris Opera Ballet or the Royal Ballet, which have been available in at least some parts of the U.S.

#20 4mrdncr

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 08:36 PM

On cable, in NYC, we have some middle of the night broadcasts on a CUNY-related channel regarding old films of the arts, including ballet, and we also enjoy the Ovation channel. We have to pay for these channels, though, and cannot always stay awake for these shows. We have seen documentaries, such as the recent Paris Opera Ballet piece, on public television in the past year.


Puppytreats, you are lucky to live in a major metro area that is also the center of dance in the USA. Elsewhere, unless PBS broadcasts it, or one can afford the pay channels like Ovation (if its even offered) there is not much chance to see anything unless PBS shows it.

That POB doc shown on PBS this past year was Frederick Wiseman's film "La Danse". It was not produced by or for PBS; it was an independent documentary film production. But its acclaim, and of course Mr. Wiseman's renowned 'track record' probably got PBS interested in broadcasting it. (Of course they also showed his earlier film about ABT many years ago.)

The PBS broadcast is also an example of what I wrote before: PBS is the only broadcast venue (free, not pay-per-view, not cable, not seen in only a few cities--eg.NYC)left to 'arts' filmakers for US broadcast distribution. And a gatekeeper/monopoly mentality at PBS that allows limited broadcast hrs to the arts doesn't help anyone. But with their funding problems, unless the public speaks up for more arts/ballet programming and/or helps alleviate those funding problems (eg. by letting Congress know etc.) I don't expect anything to change soon.

#21 dirac

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 10:06 AM

And the cable channels are not picking up the slack. Ovation vanished from my cable menu for awhile and when it returned the programming had moved away from the arts to movies and television series. And even before that the programs were cut and commercials frequent. Bravo and A&E followed a similar path and I rarely watch them now.

But with their funding problems, unless the public speaks up for more arts/ballet programming and/or helps alleviate those funding problems (eg. by letting Congress know etc.) I don't expect anything to change soon.


Yup.

#22 carbro

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 08:50 PM

On cable, in NYC, we have some middle of the night broadcasts on a CUNY-related channel regarding old films of the arts, including ballet, and we also enjoy the Ovation channel. We have to pay for these channels, though, and cannot always stay awake for these shows.

CUNY-TV is not a premium channel. At least theoretically, it is available over the air as UHF channel 75. Its shows are all old ballet films -- lots of Russian and Royal Ballet -- and videos, most of which are widely available. It is also often pre-empted by college sports. Much better than nothing, of course, but not a spectacular windfall.

#23 carbro

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 09:02 PM


However, I'm not sure that I would miss PBS if it went away, there is so very little classical dance programming on it. One truly original, classical ballet every 2 or 3 years? The last live ballet was the NYCB 'Romeo & Juliet' and that got mixed reviews on this board. Instead, we get lots of Celtic Sister (or Celtic Whatever) and 1960s folk reunions and Antique Roadshows.

[size="2"]That's my feeling, too. Is PBS worth saving?[/size][size="2"]
...
By way of disclaimer, I am an American living north of the border, so I don't have access to secondary or tertiary PBS stations, nor any related radio stations, just the main network, which I hardly ever watch and probably wouldn't miss.[/size]

I find that I watch PBS least during pledge drives (i.e.,now). Years ago, those were the days I wanted to be sure to stay home, or at least set my vcr to record. But once Pledge Week is over, I enjoy American Experience, Nature, Frontline, an occasional Nova or Nova Science Now, and American Masters. I depend on PBS' public affairs programming. It's important, especially as print media are devoting rewer resources to real reporting and investigating.

In addition to public television, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting also funds NPR and all of its local constituents, including (if you're in the US) yours.

#24 dirac

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 04:19 PM

Depressing news, if true:

The N.E.A. began notifying applicants by mail late last week of the grant amounts they could expect. According to public television executives apprised of the numbers, who would not speak for attribution because the figures were confidential, "Great Performances" and "American Masters" were told they would receive $50,000 each in the 2012 financing cycle, down from $400,000 each in 2011. The 2011 figures are in the public record.

The independent documentary series "Independent Lens" was told it would get $50,000, down from $170,000, while the documentary series "POV" learned it would receive $100,000, down from $250,000.


These are savage cuts to several of PBS' outstanding performing arts shows. Write to the NEA, write to your congressman, write, write, write.....

#25 sandik

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 04:22 PM

Depressing news, if true:


[size=3]The N.E.A. began notifying applicants by mail late last week of the grant amounts they could expect. According to public television executives apprised of the numbers, who would not speak for attribution because the figures were confidential, "Great Performances" and "American Masters" were told they would receive $50,000 each in the 2012 financing cycle, down from $400,000 each in 2011. The 2011 figures are in the public record. [/size]

[size=3]The independent documentary series "Independent Lens" was told it would get $50,000, down from $170,000, while the documentary series "POV" learned it would receive $100,000, down from $250,000. [/size]


These are savage cuts to several of PBS' outstanding performing arts shows. Write to the NEA, write to your congressman, write, write, write.....


I happened across an interview with Ken Burns that went further than the usual 'fund PBS because it's great' rhetoric

#26 California

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 04:56 PM

These are savage cuts to several of PBS' outstanding performing arts shows. Write to the NEA, write to your congressman, write, write, write.....


It won't help to write to NEA. The most important people to contact, especially if you live in their congressional district, are the members of the House Subcommittee on Appropriations for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, which oversees NEA (and NEH). The most effective letters are individually written on paper, giving specific examples of how important that funding is to you. If you are a teacher or live in a rural area without access to big city performances, talk about that, e.g. Congressional offices have a specific system for counting up constituent respones, and these letters count for much, much more than e-mail or petitions. Write to your own member of Congress and Senators, too, of course, but that committee is where the big decisions will be made.

Here's the membership list:
http://appropriation...Environment.htm
Republicans
  • Michael K. Simpson, Idaho
  • Jerry Lewis, California
  • Ken Calvert, California
  • Steven C. LaTourette, Ohio
  • Tom Cole, Oklahoma
  • Jeff Flake, Arizona
  • Cynthia M. Lummis, Wyoming
Democrats
  • James P. Moran, Virginia
  • Betty McCollum, Minnesota
  • Maurice D. Hinchey, New York
  • José E. Serrano, New York


#27 dirac

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 08:48 AM

Thanks, sandik, for that link - it also mentions Art21, a good show.

#28 sandik

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 09:12 AM


These are savage cuts to several of PBS' outstanding performing arts shows. Write to the NEA, write to your congressman, write, write, write.....


It won't help to write to NEA. The most important people to contact, especially if you live in their congressional district, are the members of the House Subcommittee on Appropriations for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, which oversees NEA (and NEH). The most effective letters are individually written on paper, giving specific examples of how important that funding is to you. If you are a teacher or live in a rural area without access to big city performances, talk about that, e.g. Congressional offices have a specific system for counting up constituent respones, and these letters count for much, much more than e-mail or petitions. Write to your own member of Congress and Senators, too, of course, but that committee is where the big decisions will be made.

Here's the membership list:
http://appropriation...Environment.htm
Republicans
  • Michael K. Simpson, Idaho
  • Jerry Lewis, California
  • Ken Calvert, California
  • Steven C. LaTourette, Ohio
  • Tom Cole, Oklahoma
  • Jeff Flake, Arizona
  • Cynthia M. Lummis, Wyoming
Democrats
  • James P. Moran, Virginia
  • Betty McCollum, Minnesota
  • Maurice D. Hinchey, New York
  • José E. Serrano, New York


I'm leaving the entire quote intact here, because this is such good advice -- letters of support to the agencies are cherished by the people who read them, but they are the equivalent of preaching to the choir -- the real work lies in persuading the men and women who control the purse strings. (a term which is even older than I am!)

#29 dirac

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 10:50 AM

I wasn't thinking of a letter of support, believe me.

#30 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 09:09 PM

I stopped watching TV and paying for cable altogether years ago.


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