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New York City is looking to join Chicago, Houston, Denver and other major cities by passing legislation to create its first comprehensive cultural plan.

The legislation, which the City Council passed by a vote of 49 to 0 on Tuesday, requires the city to analyze its current cultural priorities, assess how service to different neighborhoods can be improved, study the condition of arts organizations and artists, and plan how the city can remain artist-friendly in a time of high rents and other economic pressures.

The bill was introduced by the council members Stephen Levin (Brooklyn) and Jimmy Van Bramer (Queens).

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A survey has found that support for the Guggenheim’s Helsinki project is weak among city councilmembers in the Finnish capital, raising questions about the financial future of the museum’s latest global outpost. The January 16 questionnaire, published by the Yle newspaper, found that 39 of 68 city councilmembers polled either do not support the Guggenheim Helsinki at all or object to the provision of public funds to the Guggenheim. These findings follow contentious public discussions of the funding for the Helsinki franchise in Finland, most recently in June 2014, when Guggenheim director Richard Armstrong walked out of an interview after being asked pointed questions about the project’s budget.

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Tuesday, 28 October 2014 12:06

Oslo’s City Council Approves Munch Museum Plan

Oslo’s city council approved a plan for a new Munch Museum on the waterfront in a vote on 22 October. A new building designed by the architecture firm Herreros will be constructed at a cost of 2.8m Norwegian kroner. A few weeks ago, the national government announced that it would support the project with 605m kroner of funding; the city had originally asked for 920m kroner, so it will have to make up for the difference elsewhere. A vote on the zoning is still due to take place in November.

The long-delayed project has hit a number of political hurdles since the architects were first chosen in a competition in 2009.

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The former director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome (Macro) says that the institution is facing a financial crisis. Alberta Campitelli, whose contract expired at the end of June, told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that cuts by the city council mean the museum is at risk of closing. The municipal budget has been reduced from €350,000 in 2013 to €61,000 this year. “We literally have €5,000 a month [from the city],” Campitelli says. In April, the city’s culture councillor, Flavia Barca, announced funding cuts of between €10m and €15m for the capital’s culture and heritage sector.

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New York City is allocating another $23 million for arts education in the upcoming school year.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina said Tuesday the city will hire another 120 arts teachers.

It also will rehabilitate dilapidated arts facilities in dozens of schools.

The funding is part of the budget approved by the City Council last week. It covers fiscal year 2015, which began Monday.

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A public square in Paris’s 13th arrondissement will be named after Jean-Michel Basquiat after the French capital’s City Council approved a proposal from  Jérôme Coumet, the 13th arrondissement’s mayor.

“Basquiat is one of the biggest contemporary artists,” Coumet told Le Figaro. “He defended the cause of African-Americans in the US, and was also a lover of France. He was the artist who blazed the trail for street art, and art in public space.”

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Since 2012, the New York Public Library has received considerable criticism stemming from its plan to renovate its landmark building on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. On Wednesday, April 16, the backlash continued when a group of scholars filed a lawsuit stating that former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his administration approved the renovation project without fully evaluating its environmental impact.

The lawsuit argues that the project was approved the same day that the library submitted its application, which did not allow for an adequate assessment of the effects of the renovation. The suit asks the court to annul the approval and assign the matter to the City Council or another agency.

Initially, the New York Public Library planned to clear out the book stacks in the century-old back portion of its building, which would require relocating over three million volumes to a storage space under Bryant Park as well as another facility in Princeton, NJ. In July 2013, a group of historians and preservationists filed a lawsuit asking library officials and the project’s architect, Norman Foster, to reconsider their plan. The group also filed an application to have the library’s iconic Rose Main Reading Room landmarked in order to protect the book stacks. When the city approved the library’s proposal in December 2013, it demanded that the library develop a plan to protect the reading room and create an historical record of any book stacks that could be demolished in the renovation. The library has been working with Foster to create a new design that would retain the reading room and the book stacks. The plan has not yet been released.

Two lawsuits aiming to halt the renovation are still pending.

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Wednesday, 07 August 2013 18:31

Helsinki Awaits Second Bid for a Guggenheim Museum

Helsinki, Finland is expecting a second proposal for a Guggenheim museum after rejecting the first offer due to its high cost. Plans for a Guggenheim franchise in the Finnish capital were vetoed by the Helsinki city council in May of last year, despite having the support of the city’s mayor Jussi Pajunen. The original proposal speculated that the project would cost around $186 million to complete.

Helsinki’s deputy mayor Rita Viljanen told AFP that executives of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in New York have been talking with several Finnish representatives. Together with the foundation’s director, Richard Armstrong, they are trying to determine a way to improve the project plan while keeping costs down. A new proposal is expected to be submitted to the city by September 2013.

The Guggenheim’s proposition has been met with some opposition from The Greens, Finland’s Social Democratic Party, the Left Alliance and the populist Finns Party. Dissenters feel that the Guggenheim’s endeavor is motivated more by tourism than a true interest in the development of contemporary art in Finland.

The Guggenheim currently has museums in New York, Bilbao, Berlin, Venice, and another is under construction in Abu Dhabi.

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On Wednesday, March 13, 2013 Norwegian officials announced that the country’s government would help fund a new museum devoted to the influential painter and printmaker Edvard Munch (1863-1944). The new institution will replace the current Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway, which was built after World War II in a notoriously rundown neighborhood. Many believe that the shoddily constructed museum does not do justice to Munch, his art or his legacy.

The city council has been discussing the creation of a new museum since 2008 but plans were stymied by disagreements over cost, location, and architecture. After years of disputes and little progress, the Norwegian state decided to step in by offering to help fund the $278 million project as well as assist with project management. State officials are asking Oslo’s city council to make a formal request for the support, which would hopefully lift the museum out of its dismal financial situation.

Upon his death in 1944, Munch bequeathed a large portion of his collection to the city of Oslo including two versions of his seminal painting The Scream. While many people hope that the government’s offer will help move the museum project along, others are not as optimistic. Carl Ivar Hagen, a member of the city council, doesn’t expect the matter to be resolved anytime soon. Hagen believes that even with the state’s assistance disputes over the new museum’s location will continue to halt progress.

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Thursday, 20 December 2012 17:31

Frank Lloyd Wright House Safe From Demolition

A house built in 1952 by Frank Lloyd Wright for his son, David, has spent months on the brink of demolition. Fortunately, an anonymous buyer has purchased the Phoenix, Arizona home, ensuring its preservation.

The buyer paid $2.387 million for the house, which overlooks the picturesque Camelback Mountains. The former owners, Steve Sells and John Hoffman of the Arizona-based development company, 8081 Meridian, continued to raise the price of the house after purchasing the property for $1.8 million this past June.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, an organization devoted to preserving the seminal architect’s legacy, facilitated the recent sale. After hearing that the former owners planned to level the house and split the lot to build new homes, the conservancy petitioned the city with the help of other organizations, asking that the house be granted landmark status. While three local government bodies approved the proposal, the City Council, which would be the deciding vote, repeatedly postponed their decision.

One of Wright’s most significant later works, the house in Phoenix features a coiled design similar to the one Wright employed for the Guggenheim Museum in New York. For years ago, Wright’s granddaughters decided to sell the house to a buyer they thought would preserve it. However, the house was sold again in June to 8081 Meridian putting it in danger of demolition.

While the house is in need of approximately $300,000 worth of restoration, the conservancy is helping to establish a nonprofit organization that will maintain and operate the house as well as oversee the renovation. The new owner plans to acquire landmark status for the house so that it can be made available for educational purposes on a limited basis.

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