Volker Hagedorn: “You might think you’re just there for the music, but the fact is that you are still participating in an entirely invented, cultish religion. … For me, Bayreuth nowadays is more of a curiosity than anything else. A gigantic hamster wheel, with directors racing each other to prove their relevance; an exhausted Dracula, sucking the lifeblood from artists from outside the music scene; a museum of local history, starring an international elite of singers, who appear to be of the opinion that no one needs to understand the words.”
The oldest form of physical media is actually holding up quite well. According to PwC’s Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2018–2022, the consumer market for physical, printed books is holding its own in an increasingly digital world (see “Print Presses On”). Between 2018 and 2022, sales of physical video games, home video, and music are expected to decline each year, in some instances by double-digit percentages. By contrast, sales of physical books are expected to grow modestly, by about 1 percent annually, every year.
Fashion is about the only ad category in the print edition that looks healthy. Visual arts reviews used to be surrounded by notices paid for by art galleries. Now that Friday section is lucky to have a small promo from one of the auction houses. Other sections of the newspaper are even more ad-deprived. Sports and Metropolitan commonly have none. The New York Times Sunday Magazine, once fattened with messages from General Motors and Coca-Cola, is an editorial skeleton without commercial muscle. Only the perfect-bound T has flesh on its bones.
“While the majority of Bergman’s movies are available for streaming (largely thanks to Criterion) and cinephiles will always be viewing and discussing them, most audiences today know about his work only through parodies of The Seventh Seal” — the one about the medieval knight who plays chess with Death.
The institution somehow came back from trying to cancel the 2017-2018 season to go bigger than ever, and remain relevant to its city. “Over the coming season, it will play free concerts at every branch library in the city, collaborate with the Guadalupe Dance Company, attempt to stage a performance with a Mexican orchestra, deliver a series of free concerts for children and play Veterans and Memorial Day shows.”
Times are changing, and poets? Well, they draw huge crowds. “The face of poetry in the United States looks very different today than it did even a decade ago, and far more like the demographics of Millennial America. If anything, the current crop of emerging poets anticipates the face of young America 30 years from now.”
The Passepartout Duo aren’t kidding with their name: They go everywhere, landing (for good) nowhere in particular. “At this point, we’ve completely given up location-dependent life. That’s to say: we’re homeless, and we’re happy about it. We have four small bags: one backpack and one instrument case each. We each have one pair of shoes and we use them for everything, until they fall apart; then, we pick up a new pair and keep going.”
In June, vandals cut a water pipe to the Kansas City (Missouri) museum – which is in the building where the Negro Leagues were founded in the 1920s. The vandalism wasn’t discovered for hours, and by that time, water had caused more than half a million dollars in damages. The museum president says “Small contributions are coming from virtually every corner of the country. … It’s lifted everybody’s spirits.”