Artistic director resignations, more traveling Austin artists, and the missing BS.
Museum Returns Millions
Now that's an April Fool's Day headline if ever there was one. But just this once, it's no foolin'. The Austin Museum of Art has told the city, "Thank you very much, but we won't be needing the $13 million in bond money that Austin voters approved back in 1985 for us to build a new downtown facility." AMOA is now confident that it can build its new home entirely with private funds. For more on this once-in-a-lifetime story, see "Naked City," p. 24.
Artistic Directors Resign
Yes, that's a plural in that headline. Sad but true that last week saw artistic directors for two local theatre companies resign their positions. Paul Norton, artistic director for the Austin Shakespeare Festival for the past three seasons, has left that company. Rick Schiller, executive/artistic director for Austin Theatre for Youth since its founding in 1995, has left that group. Both will be missed, for their vision, experience, and the welcome professionalism they brought to their respective companies.
The departure of Schiller is especially tough for ATY; it must continue its longtime struggle to build an identity and struggle with financial woes minus its founding visionary. "That really is a loss for us," says Mimi Rosenthal, ATY board president. But, she adds, "We are going to continue. That is our goal." Although it's putting stage productions on hold for the time being, ATY will go forward with its fall academy classes, and the board will continue to work at raising both the level of awareness of ATY in the community and the funds to keep going. Notes Rosenthal, "None of this comes cheap."
BS Skips a Year
Fans of comedy may have been wondering where Austin's funny smell has gone. The Big Stinkin' International Improv & Sketch Comedy Festival, one of the more welcome additions to Austin's annual confabs, has been missing since its fourth big blowout in April of 1999. Is the Big Stink gone for good? Not at all, says BS Big Kahuna Ed Carter, who checked in with an update last week. Festival organizers had been planning a BS fest for October 2000, but as time ran out and they realized what they had wouldn't quite match the standards set by BS 1-4, they chose to skip 2000 and do BS 5 in October 2001. It's a long time off, I know, but good laughs are worth the wait.
Art Travels II
And now more reports of news of Austin artists on the move: In July, Stephen Mills hit Southern California to create a new work with Ballet Pacifica as part of its annual Pacifica Choreographic Project. The new Ballet Austin artistic director was one of four choreographers who had taken part in the Project previously and were invited to return for the 10th anniversary. Mills is at home this week, giving locals a close-up look at his work in a special program at One World Theatre, but more travel is on tap for Mills (or his ballets) in the coming year: His dances are on the seasons of Louisville Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Fort Worth/Dallas Ballet, and Dayton Ballet... Fellow choreographer Acia Gray has been taking her rhythm tap act on the road, as a featured guest at San Antonio's Southwest Tap Festival in June and Missouri's St. Louis Tap Festival earlier this month. The Tapestry Dance Company co-founder wraps up her summer travels next week at the Southeast Tap Explosion in Atlanta, Ga... Still more art travels next week.