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Art Scoping

Maxwell L. Anderson

Art Scoping is a podcast featuring protagonists in the fields of art, architecture, design, publishing, art law, public policy, and culture generally. We’ll skip the elevator speeches and find out how arts leaders are coping with change, what keeps them up at night, and what gets them out of bed.

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A short episode in which you’ll hear about the basics of a new endeavor announced by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley of Barbados. Called the ROAD Project (Reclaiming our Atlantic Destiny), it includes a massive digitization project, the creation of a memorial to enslaved people by Adjaye Associates, and the planning for a new heritage district to incorporate a museum and archives, performing arts venues, and associated amenities. Stay tuned to the Barbados Government Information Service to follow this compelling project.

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A special episode recorded in Barbados with attorney, activist, and music producer Audu Maikori. Attending the island nation’s rebirth as a parliamentary republic, and assisting with ambitious plans to build a heritage district, we cover that momentous transition and his encounter this past week with another prince, the Prince of Wales, his roots as a member of the Ham royal family of the Nok people, the quest for restitution of its looted heritage, and the need for a suitable Museum to receive it. A social activist who was arrested for alleged incitement to violence, he prevailed in court and was awarded damages against the Governor of Kaduna State and the Nigerian police force. His work as a music producer has taken him in multiple directions, from discovering new talent and seeing artists reach millions of listeners globally, to combating piracy and helping develop copyright protections in Nigeria, to serving as a judge in the first season of Nigerian Idol. Erudite, generous, and philosophical, he opens the door to greater understanding of several issues facing one of the world’s most populous nations, brimming with possibilities.

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Min Jung Kim took the helm of the Saint Louis Art Museum a few weeks ago, and we hear her first thoughts about her new city, post-pandemic audiences, economic impact studies, major exhibitions, the value of free general admission, the cultural district including the museum, and how she spent her first few days on the job getting to know the building and everyone from curators to art handlers and guards.

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Architect Mark Cavagnero shares anecdotes about his formation working for Edward Larrabee Barnes, his personal experience with Marcel Breuer’s body of work, and insights about the competing issues facing architects designing and building cultural facilities. He touches on his designs for the Walker Art Center, the Oakland Museum of California, and his hopes for the downstream effects of the new infrastructure legislation signed into law by President Biden.

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Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art is led by Nora Burnett Abrams, who takes us through the situation on the ground in an oasis of free expression and adventure in the Western United States. We cover a lot of ground, including her recent leasing of a satellite space, the challenges and opportunities of being a non-collecting institution, her views on NFTs and their likely reshaping of the art world, a novel program allowing local residents to borrow works by artists from a free-standing collection, and how peer institutions share new ideas and best practices.

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Travel! This week we speak with Jim Friedlander, President of The Museum Travel Alliance & Arrangements Abroad Inc. And learn about post-pandemic cultural experiences awaiting the (well-heeled) traveler. From air travel to seafaring to luxury trains, Jim shares developments with trips to places ranging from Cuba to Central Asia. Put your feet up and have a vicarious sampling of adventures abroad.

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The next time you go to the theater, there may be no intermissions. That’s just one of the changes awaiting us in a post-pandemic world seeking to reassure audiences concerned about their health. Teresa Eyring is Executive Director and CEO of Theatre Communications Group (TCG) since 2007 and walks us through how the performing arts are adapting to this new world, including anemic ticket sales and shortages in working capital. Asking artists during the shutdown what they want to change yielded new ideas about collective leadership, holistic support, hybrids of live and virtual programming, and how to promote artists as problem solvers. We learn about the next in-person gatherings, TCG’s dedication to DEAI, recent transformative 7-figure grants, professional development opportunities, the surprising vitality of TCG’s publishing ventures, and many other facets of the world of theater.

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Museum leaders in the U.S. are at an inflection point, with disgruntled staff, missteps in reaching DEAI, pandemic-related disruptions, and board disaffection. But in Australia, long accustomed to honoring indigenous peoples, we hear from an upbeat Tony Ellwood, director of the National Gallery of Victoria. Generous government support, public affection for his museum’s mission, collegiality with other leaders, the business community’s embrace, and all the sunny optimism we have come to expect from Australians.

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Renowned art dealer Anthony Meier, who is currently president of the Art Dealers Association of America, is back from Basel, and gives us an insider’s view of the state of art fairs, the upcoming ADAA fair in New York, his San Francisco gallery’s adaptation to the pandemic, private sale competition with auction houses, how he identifies new artists to represent, the museum and arts scene in the Bay Area, the uncertain future of major exhibitions, and his recent discussions with the Treasury Department about upcoming anti-money laundering legislation.

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It's been a while since the last episode of Art Scoping--it will hereafter follow no set schedule, but episodes will pop up here and there.
This episode is a recorded tribute to my late grandfather
Maxwell Anderson--playwright, lyricist, author, and journalist. I delivered it on March 24, 2022 at an event on the campus of the University of North Dakota, marking the unveiling of the first literary landmark in the state.

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