By CORNELIA SECKEL
It will be hard in the future to claim that cultural events have little impact on tourism and revenue for a community. For those of you that didn’t see any follow up of the economic impact that Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Gates had on NYC here are a few of the statistics: There were 4 million visitors (typical for this time is 750,000 visitors) to Central Park during the 16 days and they generated about $254 million in economic activity. Hotels, Restaurants, other Cultural Institutions, as well as the horse-drawn carriages and bicycle taxis (which usually suspend business during February) reported business up, some as much as 200% from a typical 2-week period in February. The Central Park Conservancy has sold about $4 million in Gates memorabilia and $70,000 in other goods that it offers. During a typical February, the Conservancy ordinarily sells about $15,000 in merchandise. I’m so pleased that I got to spend some time walking through the gates and being part of this New York Happening.
Burt Silverman was honored by the Newington-Cropsey Cultural Studies Center with their 7th Annual Award for Excellence in the Arts. This elegant affair, held at the Lotos Club in NYC, was a gathering of artists, art students, museum and school directors, artwriters, friends and family, all wishing this excellent artist congratulations. Silverman’s work was critiqued by Raymond J. Steiner in ART TIMES in both the April 2001 and the December 2004 issues (the latest critique is also online on our website www.arttimesjournal.com). During the remarks made by artists Jacob Collins, Joseph Keiffer and Everett Raymond Kinstler, Silverman’s life as a painter, the humanity in his paintings and his dedication to the tradition of realism were addressed. In accepting the award, Burt gave credit to Music and Art HS for helping him focus on growing into the artist he became. A champion of realistic art. Silverman also struggles for rationality and bringing humanistic experience into his work. Congratulations, Burt, on an honor well deserved.
I received a CD, Let My People Go! A Jewish & African American Celebration of Freedom, by Kim and Reggie Harris & Rabbi Jonathan Kligler, and produced by Appleseed Recordings, an independent record company founded in 1996 by Jim Musselman, an activist attorney, who worked for numerous years on many social justice issues in Washington D.C. He believes strongly in economic justice for all and is committed to issues of human rights. Appleseed is dedicated to sowing the seeds of social justice through music and exploring the roots and branches of traditional music. Appleseed's "bottom line" is a devotion to music full of hope and spirit, in the tradition of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. They believe, according to their website, that the power and resilience of music will transcend corporate efforts to dominate it. To learn more about them call (610) 701-5755 or go to the website: www.appleseedrec.com. This particular album has a number of guest musicians including Pete Seeger, Bill and Livia Vanaver, Sonny Ochs Matt, Marshall Jones, and others. The premise of the CD is that Jews and African Americans both draw inspiration from the Exodus, the biblical account of oppression, slavery, and the possibility of liberation. This, for Jews, is the story of Passover; for African Americans, it is the story that gave strength to their struggle for liberation. For Rabbi Jonathan Kligler, of the Woodstock Jewish Congregation, Woodstock, NY, he told me that part of his ministry is to bring a mixed audiences together — to remind us, particularly during the season of Passover, that the Exodus was not just about Jews gaining their freedom and leaving Egypt. The 18 songs on this CD reflecting true accounts of freedom, are truly enjoyable and a timely reminder to all people of what can be accomplished. The booklet accompanying the CD is a delightful look at the people that participated in this project.
And now that it is Spring, my cold/flu has finally cleared, I expect to get around more, and to report on some of the upcoming cultural events in our region.