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NY Times Article Re Koch Theater

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There is an article in today's NY Times regarding the newly refurbished Koch Theater, and the relationship between City Opera and NYCB. The article mentions that NYCB may waive $9 million owed by City Opera for the construction project if the opera will "give the ballet some performance weeks in the fall." This raises some interesting possibilities. I always thought it was detrimental for NYCB and ABT to have competing seasons in the Spring.

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The article mentions that NYCB may waive $9 million owed by City Opera for the construction project if the opera will "give the ballet some performance weeks in the fall." This raises some interesting possibilities. I always thought it was detrimental for NYCB and ABT to have competing seasons in the Spring.
Don't the extra fall weeks amount to a way for NYCB to increase its box office take to compensate for NYCO's $9 M default? It doesn't say anything about NYCB losing spring weeks.

The body language in the photo is interesting. Steel sits compactly in his seat, hands folded over his lap, each elbow resting on the armrest on either side of this seat, neatly contained. Martins, across the aisle, has his non-aisle arm draped authoritatively over the seatback beside him, a foot sticking well out into the aisle. There's more to the disparity than Martins' height. Despite the article's suggestion of amicable relations, the photo suggests a very unequal balance of power.

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I think what's been done to the theatre is detrimental -- some of the better seats have been removed, and I wonder how those bare, hard aisles are going to sound under peoples' feet, especially latecomers' (or early leavers'). Removing some carpet will liven the acoustics of the place, but remove it from the aisles? The new Four Seasons Center in Toronto has surprisingly lively acoustics, given the marginal sightlines, apparently in part by having no carpet (on the main floor at least) except in the aisles, where it softens footsteps and prevents slipping.

But I'm glad the 40-inch row depth has been maintained -- in my day, we had little trouble getting to the center seats from the ends of the rows, thanks to that.

So, abatt, what do you think will happen in the Spring? Will NYCB move some of its programs into a lengthened Fall season in "competition" with the Met Opera? And do you see the NYCO opposite ABT? Will that make everyone happier? (A few of us were happy running back and forth across the plaza at intermission in the Spring, but we were the exceptions!)

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Hmm, I had not considered the body language issue. Steel certainly has a lot to be nervous about, which may explain his body language. There are frequently reports in the press that City Opera cannot survive because its financial picture is too bleak. I had assumed that NYC Ballet, with its 8 week spring season, 8 winter season plus 5 weeks of Nuts, had already maxed-out its capacity. I don't think there is enough audience interest for adding even more weeks of performances by NYCB. That's why I assumed that there might be a swap of a few weeks of winter or spring performances for a few weeks of fall performances. While I certainly don't have any ill feelings toward City Opera, I hope that the Koch Theater has more free weeks in the future so that international ballet companies can visit us here in New York. We are now by-passed because of the lack of availability of an appropriate theater for companies like Kirov, Bolshoi and Royal Ballet in which to perform. If you want to see these major companies, you now have to go to Washington, D.C.

By the way, Jack, I too have done the shuttle between NYCB and ABT on certain evenings to catch portions of each company's performance on a single night. I thought I was the only person who was avid (nutty) enough to do that! I'm happy to hear I'm in good company.

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Here's a link on another piece from the NYTimes Art Beat.


This is some more info on the renovations at the Koch Theater, although it really pertains to the NYCO.

After years of controversy, and in light of (hopefully) some acoustical improvements, the sound enhancement system (read "amplification" ) used for City Opera performances has been done away with!

Ding , dong, the witch is dead!

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My first thought was the same -- how could NYCB justify adding more performances? A seasonal switch may work, if that makes sense for the musicians, stagehands, etc. , and the union contracts can be worked out.

In a recent "Opera News" article, I think it was Patricia Racette who said that the Met was dropping it's long book-ahead dates, and was starting to schedule not so far in advance, like in Europe. A season shift might not impact NYCO, if the global trend is booking later.

I remember not only shifting between ballet performances, but also between NYCB and the Met Opera or Avery Fisher Hall.

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Thanks, richard53dog, for that link. It's short, so I thought it was worth posting in full.

Opera purists may be pleased to learn that the renovation of New York City Opera’s home at Lincoln Center, the David H. Koch Theater, has eliminated the amplification system for live voices installed in 1999. New York City Ballet shares the house — formerly known as the New York State Theater — with the opera, and the stage had originally been designed to muffle footfalls. The acoustical system was revamped twice before amplification was added. City Opera opens its season Nov. 5 in the renovated theater, where the changes include new acoustic side walls installed near the stage and new seats that have been tested for sound absorption.
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Everything has a political component. This one is appears to be toxic.

I would urge those who would consider attending any performance at this theater to consider the resume of the David Koch and his extreme right wing political views. I find it very troubling that Martins and the owners of the Building would accept money from someone who has aligned himself with some of the following:

"In 1984, Koch founded Citizens for a Sound Economy. Koch also funds Americans for Prosperity, a conservative advocacy group that has recently used new media technologies and other efforts to create opposition to President Barack Obama's proposed health care reforms."

"Americans for Prosperity is led by Tim Phillips, who was a former partner with Ralph Reed's Century Strategies. That organization became well-known when it was revealed in a US Senate investigation that convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff was laundering money through Century Strategies and Americans for Tax Reform to oppose legislation that his Indian tribe clients wanted to defeat.[8][9] From 2003 to 2007 AFP was led by Nancy Pfotenhauer (Koch Industries' chief lobbyist from 1996 to 2001), who left to become an adviser for the 2008 John McCain presidential campaign."

"Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation (CSEF). According to internal documents leaked to the Washington Post, 85 percent of CSE's 1998 revenues of CSE's $16.2 million came not from its 250,000 members, but from contributions of $250,000 and more from large corporations.

Between 1985 and 2001, CSE received $15,993,712 in 104 separate grants from twelve foundations:

* Castle Rock Foundation[citation needed]

* Earhart Foundation[citation needed]

* JM Foundation[citation needed][2]

* Koch Family Foundations (David H. Koch Foundation, Charles G. Koch Foundation, Claude R. Lambe Foundation)[citation needed]

* John M. Olin Foundation[citation needed]

* Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation[citation needed]

* Philip M. McKenna Foundation, Inc.[citation needed]

* Scaife Foundations (Scaife Family, Sarah Mellon Scaife, Carthage)[citation needed]

Other CSE funders (not included in above funding total) have included:

* Archer Daniels Midland[citation needed]

* DaimlerChrysler[citation needed]

* Enron[citation needed]

* General Electric[citation needed]

* F.M. Kirby Foundation[citation needed]

* Philip Morris[citation needed]

* US West[citation needed]

* $380,250 from ExxonMobil (1998 - 2001)[1]

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Everything has a political component. This one is appears to be toxic.

I was originally upset about the Koch renaming, but a Marxist friend -- and a great Balanchine fan -- has said it's alright. Anyway it's better it goes to NYCB & the Opera than to a football stadium or a presidential library. In "The Recognitions" I think one of the benefactors, or someone like one, has happily confused Das Rheingold with Miss Rheingold.

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He really is a right wing conservative. You'll notice that giving money to anyone who has some sort of power or influence is the name of the game. If you have plenty of money you spread it around and blunt the attacks of those who oppose you. Wall Street, Pharma, Insurance etc all do it to congress critters. it works!

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He really is a right wing conservative. You'll notice that giving money to anyone who has some sort of power or influence is the name of the game. If you have plenty of money you spread it around and blunt the attacks of those who oppose you. Wall Street, Pharma, Insurance etc all do it to congress critters. it works!

I'm sure that Koch's donations in the poliitical sphere have influence on the parties receiving donations. I'm not sure that's necessarily true with respect to donations to the arts. Koch (far right) and Caroline Kennedy (left/center) are both influential donors to ABT. However, I would doubt that either of them influence Kevin McKenzie regarding what ballets to present, or who to hire. With respect to Peter Martins, there is no indication that Koch has in any way influenced programming or hiring. The bigger problem w. Peter Martins is not that his decisions are influenced by big money donors, but that his decisions are clouded by nepotism.

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The arts are built on oil money, tobacco money, slave money, indentured servitude money, broken backs of labor money, serf money, etc. Why is this different?

I believe you are exactly right regarding the traditional history of financial support for the arts.

What is a bit different is the level of public awareness. We have so much more information available to us today via the media and the internet and people are able to make connections that would have been much more difficult, say, twenty years ago.

Take for instance Alberto Vilar, who was a philanthropic icon in the 90s. Would he have seemed like such an unbelievable gift from the stars today? Perhaps but perhaps not.

Note , I'm not making any kind of a comparsion about the political/economic position of either individual but both seemed to get things named after them!

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I don't like the concept of wealthy people supporting the arts. I think it is an unfortunate consequence of how this society has structured itself.

Rather than have the arts supported by the "people" (the government) they are largely dependent on private wealthy people who receive a tax credit for their charitable donations.

If you look back at the Guilded Age, Carnegie et all made enormous wealth on the backs of working class and then gave money for the construction of libraries, museums, theaters and so forth hardly any of which the tired, poor over worked working class had the time or the education to enjoy. They are gifts to themselves and the middle class who are their "managers". (I graduated from one of "his" universities)

And so goes noblesse oblige. I suppose it's better than hoarding, but what why out these crooks on a pedestal because they give away some of their ill gotten or unearned or inherited wealth, which of course is excess money they can't find something to spend it on anyway as they've mostly bought everything they want in spades for themselves and their entire family.

Bill Gates is full of so much guilt about his wealth that he is now devoted all his time to assuaging that guilt by trying to help the less fortunate.

Marie Antoinette had human emotions too. hahaha

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The question of what wealth is ill-gotten and what is hard-earned aside, there is at least something democratic about private individuals supporting artists and arts organizations they like, rather than all funding being doled out by unelected officials. I think we need both.

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It's always been hard to achieve a balance between public and private financing of the arts.

The political reality in the U.S., however, is currently decidedly against serious government spending in this area, preferring to rely on tax incentives. (Efforts to demonize "socialism" and "elitism" -- whether or not these terms have any relevance to the projects at hand -- have been remarkably successful since the 1980s.)

Given that, we have very little choice in the matter nowadays. So, what practicable alternatives are there to what we have now?: that is, dependence on private philanthropy and its hand maidens, big Tax Deductions and serious Social Climbing?

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It's wonderful to support the arts... everyone should do it, but the arts should not be in private hands. The arts belong to the society, in a sense, and society should take care of them. The arts are what we have of our history, are our culture and as such belong to and should be accessible to all people, not those who can afford to experience art.

Money ruins everything it touches.

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Money ruins everything it touches.

Unfortunately, lack of money ruins things too. Especially in something so costly as the performing arts.

Isn't the goal, in the end, to have a strong, artistically independent NYCO as well as NYCB operating on relatively equal terms at Lincoln Center? That certainly seems the best way to assure both private (individual and corporate) and public funding in the future.

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For those who missed the article, here's the NY Times report/review of the NY City Opera opening at the Koch. (God, it's hard to say "Koch" instead of State Theater.


New York City Opera opened its 2009-10 season on Thursday night with a celebratory program, “American Voices,” and for once at an opening-night gala, there really was a great deal to celebrate. The company is back in business, and its long-imperfect home, the New York State Theater — now the David H. Koch Theater — has been extensively and attractively renovated, at a cost of $107 million.

[ ... ]

For all the appealing new amenities of the theater, especially the two aisles running through the orchestra seats, which make the house feel inviting and intimate, and for all the technical upgrades, including a hydraulic lift that allows the orchestra pit to be raised, the main reason for the renovation was to improve the theater’s inadequate acoustics.

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