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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2019 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Superconductor Presents: The Sausage Awards

The Very Wurst of 2017
by Paul J. Pelkonen
How sausage is made: it isn't pretty. Animated still by Gerald Scarfe
from the film Pink Floyd: The Wall © 1982 MGM/UA.

Hi everybody, it's time for the first of a series of year-end wrap-up posts as we close the books on 2017. This will forever be remembered as the year that the government of the United States decided to start undoing the hard work and social programs of the 20th century, and as the year when long-buried sex scandals in the entertainment industry finally began to come out in the light.

Here are five things that Superconductor (that is I,) did not like about 2017.

One: The Pageview Collapse
The current Washington administration's repeated attacks on the press may have had a negative effe on the way that this website's numbers are calculated. This resulted in a steep and precipitous drop in traffic over the summer. Now normally, there is a valley in those months as festival coverage attracts less viewers than the season in New York which is my so-called bread and butter.

However, this drop (starting in June) was sharper and faster than normal, and it led to a dark summer full of depression episodes and questioning whether this blog still fulfills a purpose. (It does, which is why I'm writing about this here.) For those of you here and to the arts organizations supporting this blog through advertising, thank you. And if you want to lend your support there's a Patreon link right on the main page.

Two: Industry Sex Scandals
It is not appropriate at this time to comment on guilt or innocence, but the brush of the #metoo movement tarred the reputations of two veteran conductors with decades of experience leading operas and symphonies. We would like to take this opportunity to express the hope that a newer, wiser, and hopefully less creepy generation of musicians will lead orchestras and opera companies in new, wise and less creepy directions in the coming year. (It is also a sad state of affairs that reports of these scandals were the only coverage of music in two major New York City newspapers this year but that's another rant.)

Three: Fundraising Meltdowns
Superconductor lost an advertising client this year because the organization that was working with us lost two donating board members. Those donors are needed to provide the funds which in turn lets the marketing department buy the advertising. This is a tenuous business sometimes, folks. Look no farther than David Geffen Hall, where the New York Philharmonic's grandiose plans to renovate that 53-year-old facility were put on an indefinite hold because philanthropists are not as willing as they once were to pay for art.

Four: Government attacks on the NEA
Compared to what European and Asian nations spend to fund performances of art and music, America is cheap, preferring to force orchestras, artists and opera companies to bow and scrape for the goodwill of those financial types willing to fund performances of symphony, opera and ballet. However, the current administration's plans to gut the (tiny) National Endowment for the Arts in the next budget will hurt outreach, education and funding for those small artists and performers that can't host a gala dinner on the roof of their concert hall.

Five: The Climate of Fear and Dread
This is the biggest change since the 2016 election and it is endemic across this great country of ours. People are scared, scared to go outside, scared of their neighbors of a different shade or religion, and emboldened to practice unthinkable ideologies that America fought a long and bloody global war to quell. Evil has risen again and may its defeat be the goal of all of us in 2018: in the concert hall, the opera house, and at the ballot box.

OK. I've said my piece. That's the bad stuff. Good stuff for 2017 to follow.

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