Arts, Entertainment, Living

'Mad TV' is back, this time on The CW with a new cast

Tuesday, 26 July 2016 08:14 AM Written by

mad TV cw

A reunion special featuring many of the original cast members from Fox’s “Mad TV” (1995-2009) aired on The CW in January and now it’s followed by a new, weekly “Mad TV” series with a new cast (9 tonight,. WPCW).

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Start Riding With These 3 Simple Tips

Tuesday, 26 July 2016 06:58 AM Written by
As a "professional" in the business of cycling and cycling training, I'm often asked about how to start riding if you haven't been on a bike in years or if you don't even own a bike.  The importance of just "getting started" one way or another was reall brought home…

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How party affiliation impacts TV viewing choices

Monday, 25 July 2016 01:40 PM Written by

Another week, another political convention.

Last week it was the Republicans in Cleveland; this week it's the Democrats in Philly.

So what TV series are the party faithful most likely to watch when not convening? Find out after the jump. ...

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Chilly Billy Cardille: A Video Retrospective

Friday, 22 July 2016 03:26 PM Written by

chilly billy

Darrell Sapp/Post-Gazette

The best way to pay homage to a Pittsburgh institution like the late Bill Cardille is watching him in action.

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New Community Visions and the Arts Sector

Friday, 22 July 2016 09:52 AM Written by

 Three people with their backs to the viewer, outside painting a colorful mural on the wall of a building.

We in the non-profit arts talk a lot about ticket sales, individual donors, foundation and corporate support, memberships, and public support for the arts.  Understandable.   Steady, reliable income streams are essential to our survival and to our abilities to reach and serve the public. 

But, increasingly, our sector is having different kinds of conversations.  In a variation on the words of President Kennedy offered in 1960, we’re saying: “Ask not what our communities can do for the arts, ask what the arts can do for our communities.” 

One platform where these ideas are taking shape is the “New Community Visions Initiative” of Americans for the Arts (AFTA), the nation’s largest arts service organization, of which the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council is a member. 

The Initiative’s starting point is the premise that the arts don’t stand alone.  We are, instead, one of 30 linked “contributors” which can make our communities healthy, vibrant, and equitable.  Sectors, in addition to the arts, range from social justice, the environment, faith, aging, cultural heritage, and the economy to innovation and technology, education, the workforce, health and wellness, the military, and infrastructure, among others. 

The over-riding question for the Initiative is: “What roles can the arts sector play, in partnership with these other sectors, to help our communities become more vibrant, healthy, and equitable over the next decade and beyond?”   We as a sector seem no longer satisfied to be “amenities”—as nice but not really necessary, at least in some eyes.  How can we make a difference on this broader platform?  

I recently had the opportunity to participate in one of the AFTA Initiative’s many national conversations, a gathering of 120 arts leaders from around the country held on June 16-17, 2016, in Boston.  The group generated a number of visions for how, in the future, the creativity of artists can and will work in partnership with other sectors to make positive change in communities:

  • In the face of neighborhood gentrification and displacement, artists will help preserve cultural traditions, and bring new and existing residents together
  • The arts will provide ways for individuals, including recent immigrants, to express their true identities in the face of pressures to deny and suppress those identities
  • As new devices create ubiquitous connectivity, artists and other “creatives” will be a driving force in the design, structure, and nature of those devices
  • The arts will be integrated more fully into the health care system and entrusted with the care of our citizens though arts-based therapies and preventative regimens
  • In response to pressing ecological issues, artists will increase their production across all mediums that will create new public knowledge, dialogue, and action. (We're doing that, soon with the Re:NEW Festival

Realizing these ambitious visions, of course, will not be easy.  Within the year, AFTA will be offering “A Blueprint for 21st Century Healthy Communities through the Arts,” a combination of visions and practical, how-to strategies to help the arts sector along this path.   

In the meantime, GPAC, for its part, held a workshop called “The Why, When, and How of Cross-sector Arts Partnerships” in May to explore the risks, challenges, and benefits of artists and arts organizations working across sectors.  We drew on the experience and expertise of three local organizations—The Sprout Fund, the Office of Public Art, and New Sun Rising.  Based on their collective, cross-sector experience with government, community development organizations, real estate developers, environmental groups, the gathering identified a number of keys to cross-sector success:

  • Meet people and organizations where they are
  • Build trust and familiarity
  • Define and agree on specific goals-- some shared, some individual—and develop strategies to reach all of them
  • Anticipate, communicate, negotiate (and communicate some more)
  • Be sure you have “skin in the game”

It’s clear that cross-sector arts partnering is here to stay and will likely grow.  The days of focusing mainly on income streams are over. Yes, there is much to learn, and much to aspire to.  But going forward, the arts sector will continue to seek collaborative ways to engage our communities that help ensure those communities are healthy, vibrant, and equitable.  

David B. Pankratz is the Research and Policy Director at the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council. Thank you to Citizens for the Arts in PA and the PA Council on the Arts for a 2016 Professional Development & Consulting grant to participate in the New Community Visions conference. 

photo: courtesy of Neu Kirche Contemporary Art Center, artists and community members painting a mural, together.


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My review of guitar virtuoso Barney Kessel's recently unearthed live 1954 performance at a Phoenix jazz club, available on vinyl and CD.

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Deaths on 'Tyrant'

Thursday, 21 July 2016 08:58 AM Written by

SPOILER ALERT: This post includes spoilers for Wednesday's episode of "Tyrant" on FX. You've been warned.

TYRANT 301 0075d

There are TV shows where it's clear the creators had a road map ("Penny Dreadful," "Babylon 5") and TV series where it's clear they were making it up as they went along ("Lost"). After the first three episodes of its third season, it's pretty clear FX's "Tyrant" falls in the latter category.

After all, why introduce the military leader bastard son Rami (Keon Alexander) of Jamal (Ashraf Barhom), only to kill Rami off with no ramifications? No one seemed to care when he died because it happened at the same time Molly and Emma came under attack. Rami seemed like he might become a major player when he was introduced in season two but after spending all that time establishing his character, to see him go down with no repercussions is disappointing. Did the actor become unavailable? Or did the writers just not have a place for him once they decided to kill Jamal?

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